This great write up by Andrew Bornhop may be found online at cycleworld.com . And BTW, I agree with every word he has written as would anyone who has tested the KLR's reliability and versatility. I have ridden many different motorcycles, but there is something about the simple, rugged, unpretentious, KLR that puts a smile on my face every time I take it out. If you ride a KLR, then you probably know what I mean. If you do not, then read on...
September 1, 2014 By 0 Comments
“A KLR is not a motorcycle; it is a blank canvas with which to paint the rest of your life.
Okay, I admit it: I nabbed this quote from klrforum.com. It’s good stuff, even if the literal side of my brain quibbles with the bit about this Kawasaki not being a motorcycle. The KLR most assuredly is one, a good one at that, and there’s nothing wrong with a motorcycle, any motorcycle, being considered a “blank canvas with which to paint the rest of your life.”
The KLR, however—one of the longest-running models in motorcycling history—does elicit passion like few others. Since it came out in 1984 as a 600, this Kawasaki has won people over with its easy rideability, its tantalizing versatility, and the enticing prospect of where it can take you. It’s a great everyday bike, an affordable dual-sport machine that shines as a commuter or a fully bagged world explorer. Countless folks use KLRs in just this way, exploiting the bike’s reliability, range, and go-anywhere nature. Heck, the US military even has some KLRs, converted to diesel and helping our soldiers in far-flung locations.
Chances are, if you are in some remote part of the world and see a traveler ride by, he’ll either be on a bigBMW R1200GS or a KLR. Great bikes, both, but many will argue that the significantly lighter and less expensive Kawasaki is the wiser choice. It’s old school, for sure, but the counterbalanced, liquid-cooled, 651cc single just keeps plugging along on regular-grade unleaded, and the bike’s lack of technical complexity is seen as a bonus. No traction control? No ABS? No active suspension? No problem. That just means there’s less stuff to break or go wrong.
And therein lies the beauty of Kawasaki’s electric-start KR650. It’s simple. It’s honest. It’s unpretentious. It’s like a Timex watch: It takes a licking and just keeps on ticking. You might actually be able to repair it on the trail. What’s more, the KLR has huge aftermarket support and a very active online community. No wonder it sells better each year than the Honda XR50L and Suzuki DR650 combined.
Apart from the frame-mounted fairing and new engine for the 2008 model, plus a more powerful alternator, Kawasaki hasn’t done a whole lot with the KLR over the years, opting instead to keep it affordable for the masses. And it’s a philosophy that continues to this day with the 2014.5 KLR650 New Edition, whose firmer suspension and wider seat add only $100 to the cost of the bike but make it a significantly better off-road machine without sacrificing one iota of on-road comfort.
Or, put another way, Kawasaki has made the KLR650 “an even better canvas with which to paint the rest of your life.” Amen.