Email Print Kawasaki KLR

Talk about longevity, Kawasaki launched two Kawasaki KLR models in 1984, and both are still a part of Kawasaki’s new-model lineup. The Kawasaki KLR650 began life as a 600, and in the United States the Kawasaki KLR250 was replaced by the KLX250S and KLX250SF but continues in other countries as the Kawasaki KLR250. Besides splitting the 250 into two models and increasing the displacement of the 600 to 650cc, both bikes soldier on largely unchanged since their introduction nearly a quarter century ago.

In 1984 the dual-purpose Kawasaki KLR250 and Kawasaki KLR600 were introduced to the motorcycle public. As dual-sport bikes, the Kawasaki KLRs were both street-legal, but with long-travel suspension and semi-knobby tires, they were also capable of tackling unpaved riding much better than purpose-built road bikes, but not as effectively as off-road-specific models.

The original Kawasaki KLR600 was powered by a four-stroke, DOHC, liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine that produced 42 horsepower. Panned by enthusiast publications for being underpowered, Kawasaki increased the engine’s displacement to 651cc for the 1987 model year, which bumped horsepower to 44. After which, besides minor changes, the Kawasaki KLR650 remained the same bike until it received a makeover for the 2008 model year. Because of the similarities of each model, aftermarket products are abundant for the Kawasaki KLR650.

2011 Kawasaki KLR650

The 2008 KLR650 was visually different from the previous Kawasaki KLR, which helped signify a change in a bike that hadn’t been changed in 20 years, but the abundance of new bodywork meant more to fix/replace in the event of an accident, which is a common occurrence on heavier dual-purpose bikes. Besides cosmetics, the new KLR featured a host of upgrades/changes including a revised 651cc engine, tweaked suspension, a new swingarm, increased radiator capacity, a new instrument panel, a larger diameter fork and more. In 1984 the Kawasaki KLR600 retailed for $2,999, the 2011 KLR650 retailed for $6,149.

The 1984 Kawasaki KLR250 remained the same motorcycle for its entire product life, not even receiving an engine upgrade like the KLR600. The last official year of the Kawasaki KLR250 in the United States was 2005.

In 2006 Kawasaki introduced the KLX250S. Unlike other KLX models, which are for off-road riding only, the KLX250S was street legal. The KLX250S is a more dirt-oriented dual-purpose bike than the Kawasaki KLR250. The Kawasaki KLX250S remains street legal but its long-travel suspension and other qualities of the bike could be tuned for better off-road performance than the KLR250’s compromise between street and off-road riding.

In 2009, the Kawasaki KLX250S was upgraded with a new chassis and better brakes, and in the process spawned the Kawasaki KLX250SF, a supermoto machine with less travel in the suspension and wearing more appropriate 17-inch rims for a better selection of street tires, compared to the KLX250S’s 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels.

Kawasaki KLR Reviews

2013 Kawasaki Early-Release Models

Kawasaki has just released news about changes to four of its existing models for 2013, including the addition of an electronic steering damper to the potent ZX-10R and the option of adding antilock brakes to the versatile Ninja 650.

2011 Kawasaki KLR650 Review

The KLR 650 has been the top-selling dual-sport bike forever. For thousands less than other big dualies this is a competent, reliable bike that you can maintain yourself, get parts for easily and it will haul your adventurous butt to just about anywhere.

2010 Kawasaki Middleweight and Dual-Purpose Roundup

To remind us of a few of its underexposed models, Kawasaki invited us on a two-day road/dirt riding excursion from Kawasaki’s HQ in Irvine to the mile-high cabin resort at Idyllwild, Calif.

Riding with the Wind of Change

"I used to own a KLR," I replied. And indeed I did. I logged thousands of miles on my former police-issue KLR, both on pavement and off. I have been on every kind of terrain imaginable with that bike, and because of my past experience on the old KLR, I kn

The 1999 Kawasaki KLR650

Bombing around pothole-infested canyons of a Big City downtown? No problem. Smoking the unpredictably serpentine curves of a treacherous mountain fire road? Yes, please.

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Kawasaki KLR Comparisons

2005 Adventure Touring Comparo

Looking for an bike that can handle your on- and off-road adventures? We found four bikes we knew you'd be interested in, plus one you should be interested in: the Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom, Triumph Tiger, KTM 950 Adventurer, BMW R1200GS and Kawasaki KLR 650.

2000 Valuebike Shootout

"Can I buy you a drink, or do you just want the money?" You, being the avid biker with the suave ghetto-smooth moves that you are, naturally end up with a date for the evening with a pick-up line like this.

2015 Kawasaki KLR

2014 Kawasaki KLR

2013 Kawasaki KLR

2012 Kawasaki KLR

find Kawasaki KLR Specs

Choose your Kawasaki KLR to build, configure or compare

Looking for a specific make, model or year of Kawasaki KLR, and how it compares to the competition? Looking to design your own Kawasaki KLR? Use our Motorcycle Finder, below, to get everything you need on 2004 to present Kawasaki KLRs.
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