Hey, guys, remember when we were saying Kawasaki should seriously consider introducing a follow up to the popular and unkillable KLR650? At the time, speculations about what a descendant would look and be like abounded.
Kate, a RideApart alumni and proud KLR owner, hoped we'd finally see the age of the Kawasaki parallel-twin adventurer. We also discussed the possibility of a KLX 700 replacement for the prehistoric dual-sport, one that's better aligned with its modern competitors. We talked about what could happen on Kawasaki's dual-sport front. A lot.
Well, folks, it's here. It's finally here. For real! And get this, you're really going to get a kick out of this: not only is the Kawasaki KLR650 back, but it's pretty much a carbon copy of its predecessor.
Kawasaki played it ultra-conservative on the update front and banked on the bike's iconic status to stand out in the ultra-competitive and increasingly more crowded mid-size adventure and dual-sport segment. Team Green is taking the same approach as Yamaha with the Ténéré—offer a bike that's straightforward, affordable, and devoid of fancy electronics and systems.
When you build a new generation of one of the most reputable bikes in the market that's known for its durability and versatility, you don't want to mess with the recipe too much, right? A super high-tech KLR would feel a little out of character.
The Looks and Ergos
Design-wise, the Kawasaki seemingly fished the LED headlight out of the Z H2 parts bin. The semi-fairing is more modern-looking with complex surfaces and angles that give the bike a more athletic appearance.
The indicators are mounted higher on the fairing and tucked away to reduce the risks of unfortunate breakage in close encounters. The windscreen is now two-inches taller and can be raised by another inch to increase road comfort. The mirror stems are also longer for better visibility.
The handlebar is 10mm wider and the foot pegs are placed 10mm outward for a more relaxed position. Kawasaki also opted for handlebar and foot pegs rubber mounts to help reduce those big thumper vibrations. As for the handguards, they come standard—one less accessory to worry about.
The bike is fitted with the same cavernous 6.1-gallon fuel tank as its predecessor, however, Kawasaki revised its shape to leave more space for the legs. The single-piece, two-person, enduro-style seat remains but Kawasaki revised its shape and thickness and added rubber dampers for added comfort. It's also slightly lower at 34.3 inches (versus 35 inches).
For 2022, the KLR enters the 21st Century with a new LCD digital display to replace the analog gauges. No TFT or colors, for now. You need to ease your way into new technologies, right?
To make sure the KLR can keep up with all the electric accessories—including the LED headlight, heated grips, and power outlets—Kawasaki increased the generator's output to 26 amps. The battery is now sealed which requires less maintenance.
Under the fairing, the KLR is built on a high-tensile steel frame with a now-integrated subframe designed to increase torsional rigidity. The frame is supported by a 41mm telescopic fork with 7.9 inches of travel and an adjustable Uni-Trak system with 7.3 inches of travel, paired with a longer swingarm to improve road handling.
This new-gen KLR gained a few pounds in the process, now tipping the scales at 456 pounds (non-ABS version) versus 432 pounds for the previous model.
The asymmetrical wire-spoke wheels' diameter remains unchanged at 21 and 17 inches. To improve the bike's stopping power, however, the front brake setup is slightly larger than in 2018 with a 300mm round disc. At the back, the size of the 240mm disc doesn't change, however, it's one-millimeter thicker to better disperse heat, according to Kawasaki.
The KLR650 is now available with dual purpose ABS—optional if you're going for a more purist experience. Kawasaki explains that it developed this system with Bosch and designed it to delay reaction time so that the ABS isn't as intrusive in off-road settings. It should allow a certain amount of slide before the system kicks in.
If, like Kate, you were team parallel-twin, we're sorry to disappoint. The KLR is thumping and proud. Inside the semi-double-cradle frame, a 652cc single happily churns along. For reference, that's a one cubic centimeter increase over the 2018 model-year's displacement.
Team Green did revise the cam profiles to improve the bike's mid-range grunt. The exhaust pipe is now narrower and ends on a quiet muffler with low noise output for riding in what Kawasaki refers to as "sensitive areas".
What about the bore and stroke? Oh, and the compression ratio? Yep, they're all the same at 100 x 83 mm and 9.8:1. It should at least have a six-speed tran... Wrong! The transmission had five speeds in 2018, so, five speeds it is for 2022.
Thankfully, Kawasaki didn't entirely reject modernization and replaced the Keihin carburetor with a DFI 40mm throttle body, so, there's that.
For added protection against the rugged terrains, the sump guard comes standards.
For 2022, the new-ish Kawasaki KLR650 is offered in four trims, equipped with varying levels of equipment. The non-ABS model is your entry point into the lineup and you can work your way up the scale by adding ABS, opting for the Traveler trim level that adds a top case, a USB port, and a power outlet, or for the fully-loaded Adventure model equipped with sidecases, auxiliary lights, and an engine guard.
Pricing for the 2022 Kawasaki KLR650 lineup gos as follows:
- 2022 Kawasaki KLR650: $6,699
- 2022 Kawasaki KLR650 ABS: $6,999
- 2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Traveler: $7,399
- 2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Adventure: $7,999