A return of the Kawasaki Swiss army knife?
The adventure motorcycle segment is booming at the moment. Almost all the manufacturers have a player—sometimes even two—currently entered in the game with new models continuously added. I say “almost” all manufacturers because there is one very obvious absentee. Since it discontinued the KLR 650 in 2018, Kawasaki has been conspicuously absent from the segment. That could be about to change and we could see something new come to Team Green’s lineup as early as 2021.
For a little while, I’ve been wondering whether Kawasaki has any intentions of returning to the ADV segment. Always curious, I poked around every chance I got and asked the folks at Kawasaki about a possible replacement for the KLR. Of course, nobody was willing to openly disclose anything on the matter but everyone I asked so far ended up having the same quizzical smile as soon as the name “KLR” was uttered. I was even told by a Kawasaki contact that “I wasn’t wrong” to think it would make sense for Kawasaki to relaunch the model or at least something along the same lines.
A rumor documented by our colleagues over at OmniMoto suggests that the KLR could get a descendant. According to their source, the revival could come in the shape of a KLX—a model introduced in the early 90s as a more rugged alternative to the KLR—though there is uncertainty about the favored nomenclature.
In order to make this happen (and viable), the same rumor suggests the new ADV will run on a twin-cylinder mill rather than its original big single—possibly borrowing the 649cc twin currently used in the Ninja and the Versys. The displacement could even be boosted to a 700 because why not make it obvious that Kawasaki is trying to step on Yamaha and KTM’s toes?
We have a few KLR aficionados on the team at RideApart—both Kate and Justin own well-loved 650s. I asked them what they thought of a revival with a twin to replace the single and they were onboard (Kate even said something along the lines of “it’s about time!”). It would give the bike some extra versatility, just as long as Kawasaki keeps a lightweight approach to the overhaul.
I, for one, am excited to see what’s going to happen next for Kawasaki. H2s and W800s are sweet but a new KLR sounds even sweeter. How would you feel about a twin-cylinder KLX 700?
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