Dual-sport and adventure motorcycles effortlessly romp over tough terrain, but that go-anywhere nature comes at a price: high seat heights. To accommodate the inseam-challenged, Kawasaki introduces the new 2023 KLR 650 S. Sporting the same rugged attitude and budget-conscious features, the S variant lives up to KLR standards while accessing a whole new demographic.
Team Green doesn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, though, with the liquid-cooled, DOHC, 652cc single still burbling in its semi-double-cradle frame. However, Kawi suspends that lot with a 41-millimeter fork and Uni-Trak rear suspension (with linkage) that benefit from modified valving and setup. The result is 6.7 inches of travel fore and seven inches of rear wheel travel. Most importantly, the new configuration and low-profile saddle result in a 32.1-inch seat height, two inches lower than the standard KLR.
Gallery: 2023 Kawasaki Models
For the adventurous souls that don’t gravitate toward Kawasaki’s big thumper, the Versys 650 LT and Versys 1000 SE LT+ return to the lineup in 2023. Both models may favor adventure touring over off-roading but the Versys lineup commands just as much respect from diehard Kawi fans. Those hoping to cover as many miles as possible will most likely default to the returning Vulcan 1700 Vaquero ABS, though.
The H2 line is also alive and well with the return of the Ninja H2R, Ninja H2, and Ninja H2 Carbon. All the while, the Ninja ZX-14R ABS puts drag-racing pedigree on the road. There are no less than three flagship superbikes on Team Green’s 2023 roster with the Ninja ZX-10R, Ninja ZX-10RR, and Ninja ZX-10R KRT Edition, but the Ninja ZX-6R and Ninja ZX-6R KRT Edition lock down the supersport category.
In the naked segment, the Z125 PRO still helps noobs get on two wheels, while the Z650 RS brings some retro flare to the party. At the top of the totem pole, the Z900 ABS never goes short on thrills but the Ohlins-suspended Z900 SE amps up the performance potential with canyon-carving caliber. Lest we forget the W800, which remains just as timeless and aesthetically pleasing in 2023.
Sources: Cycle World, Kawasaki