Kawasaki revived the iconic KLR650 dual sport in 2022. The third-generation model broke cover four long years after Team Green discontinued the second-generation KLR650 in 2018, adding contemporary styling and fuel injection without sacrificing the bike’s utilitarian nature.
In 2022, Stateside riders can choose between three KLR650 trims. The base model courts light packers, while the Traveler edition sports a top case for extra carrying capacity. The Explorer variant, however, ups the ante with panniers, crash protection, and auxiliary lighting.
Australian customers don’t enjoy such a robust range, though. Off-roading Aussies can pick between the standard model or the Adventure trim, but each variant comes with ABS in stock form. According to Motorcycle's super sleuth Dennis Chung, an update to Australia’s vehicle certifications on June 16, 2022, hints that a new KLR650 variant could touch down Down Under in 2023.
The bureau lists the Marketing Designation of the new trim as the KLR650S. When cross-referencing with the U.S. KLR model VIN numbers, it becomes evident that the KLR650S isn’t a model currently available in the States. While that rules out the Traveler edition, Kawasaki doesn’t provide any other clues for the S variant.
On the other hand, common motorcycle nomenclature regularly designates S models as “Sport” trims. While we’d love to see a road-oriented KLR with a 19-inch—or dare we say 17-inch—front wheel, we doubt Team Green would push the dual-sport into a duel with its own Versys 650 adventure touring bike.
Instead, we turn to the KLX lineup for guidance. Kawasaki introduced the KLX230 platform in 2020, but the KLX230S joined the fray in 2022. Suiting shorter riders, the KLX230S features a lower 32.7-inch seat height. The two-stage front suspension and Uni-Trak rear suspension also decrease front suspension travel from 8.7 inches to 6.2 inches and rear travel from 8.8 inches to 6.7 inches.
The 2022 KLR650 currently boasts 7.9 inches of travel at the front and 7.3 inches in the rear. Its 34.3-inch stand-over height can also intimidate novice off-road riders and the inseam-challenged. A more accessible "short" variant would certainly broaden the KLR base, but like all speculatory reports, we’ll have to wait for the manufacturer to officially confirm or disprove our theories in the coming months.