Ever since Kawasaki announced the reborn KLR650, the internet has been ablaze with hate that it's not a fire-breathing Yamaha Ténéré 700 beater. It's not a fair comparison. You could take my word for it, or you could watch Adventure Bike Troop turn this into a fair comparison.
Of course, the new KLR isn't as good as the T700. Even I, a KLR fanatic, freely admit that. Look at the prices, though. While the T700 starts at $9,999, the most basic ABS-equipped version of the KLR will sell for $6,999. You can get an even cheaper KLR by skipping the ABS, but for the sake of comparison let's set up the two bikes identically, with ABS and without any other rider aids. Equipped this way, the T700 is $3,000 more than the KLR, or 43 percent more expensive. Therefore, we should expect the T700 to be a 43-percent better bike, right?
The T700 has a 689cc parallel-twin engine, while the KLR has the same 652cc single it's always had, though now with fuel injection. That's not much bigger, but two cylinders are better than one, so the T700 wins there. Although Kawasaki hasn't announced a horsepower figure yet, we do know it will make 39.1 lb-ft of torque. The T700 makes 50, which is 28 percent more than the KLR. Its parallel-twin revs much higher than the KLR's single. Horsepower is a product of torque plus RPM, so the T700 is likely to give you something close to the extra 43-percent horsepower you're paying for.
The video touches on many other aspects of the two bikes, such as weight, ground clearance, suspension travel, brakes (a clear T700 win), and fuel tank size (a clear KLR win). The overall result is that while the T700 is definitely a better bike, it's not 43 percent better than the KLR.
Furthermore, the Honda XR650L also sells for $6,999, yet is an older design without fuel injection, ABS, and other features the new KLR has. The same goes for the Suzuki DR650, selling for the same base price of $6,699 as the non-ABS KLR. It's no T700, and never will be. Compared to similar dual-sports, however, it's by far the best choice.