Is the Killer 650 the longest-running Japanese motorcycle? I think it is, and it doesn’t count that Kawasaki dropped it from the line-up for a year or two. Its price and performance always assured the KLR was widely available to a huge swath of dual-sport enthusiasts (along with just plain motorcycle enthusiasts): Now it’s even more broadband, thanks to a seat height that’s 2.3 inches lower via shortened and revalved suspension front and rear, combined with a resculpted seat: S for short.

That takes the seat down to 32.1 inches, says Kawasaki, on a 460-pound moto ready to ride including 6.1 gallons of gas.

We’d go for the ABS version if it were us, in Pearl Storm Gray, for $7,199. But leaving off the new-fangled brakes drops the price to $6,899 and opens up the Candy Lime Green color option.


Kawasaki Press Release:

2023 KAWASAKI KLR650 S

ESCAPE. EXPLORE. ENVY.

After the return of the widely popular and all-new KLR650 last year, Kawasaki expands its KLR650 motorcycle lineup by introducing the KLR650 S model. The legendary dual-sport lineup returns better than ever and now features seven different model configurations. Whether it’s long distances or making the daily commute, this adventure-hungry on-and-off-road machine offers the versatility and toughness required to accommodate adventure.

The new KLR650 S is built off of the reputable and reliable KLR650 platform and carries over all of the same great features, including its fuel-injected 652cc single-cylinder engine, multi-functional digital instrumentation panel, high-tensile double-cradle frame, and LED headlight. For 2023, the KLR650 S receives lowered front and rear suspension with dedicated settings that help enhance the rider’s reach to the ground yet retain the excellent handling and comfort characteristics of the KLR650. Accompanying the lower suspension settings is a new low seat, updated shifter-to-footpeg distance, and shorter side stand.

 KLR650 S HIGHLIGHTS:

  • NEW Lower front and rear suspension
  • NEW Suspension settings
  • NEW Low seat
  • NEW Shifter and footpeg positioning

SUSPENSION & WHEELS

  • NEW Lower front and rear suspension
  • NEW 4mm longer tie-rod
  • NEW Spring rates and suspension valving

The KLR650 S model features lowered front and rear suspension with settings that have been optimized to help facilitate a comfortable reach to the ground while retaining the same excellent KLR650 performance. Up front, the 41mm forks offer 6.7” of suspension travel to meet the demands of both on and off-road riding. The fork spring rate and damping force have been tuned specifically for the KLR650 S, providing excellent bump compliance and bottoming resistance while also reducing front-end dive under heavy braking.

An adjustable Uni-Trak system with 7.0” of suspension travel can be found on the rear and complements the new front fork settings. The Uni-Trak tie-rod length has been increased by 4mm, optimizing the swingarm’s initial down angle. Similar to the forks, the rear shock spring rate and damping force have been tuned specifically for the lower suspension of the KLR650 S, which helps resist bottoming in rough terrain and accommodates heavy loads. Rear spring preload and rebound damping adjustments allow riders to fine-tune suspension settings to suit the riding conditions and rider’s preference. Together, the front fork and rear shock settings complement each other for light, sharp handling on smooth roads while providing the capability needed off-road.

Complementing the KLR650 S motorcycle’s powerful engine is a large 300mm front brake disc that delivers substantial braking power. The round disc adds to its tough appearance. On the rear brakes, the thick disc design provides excellent heat dissipation when under heavy braking. Similar to the front, the rear disc shape is round. Models with and without ABS are available and the ABS offers additional rider reassurance when riding on low-friction surfaces.

The KLR650 S comes equipped with a 21” front wheel and 17” rear wheel that allows riding to continue even when the paved road ends. The front and rear tires are tube types, facilitating roadside repairs. A large-diameter front and rear wheel axle contribute to both durability and handling.

ERGONOMICS

  • NEW Low seat
  • NEW Shifter and footpeg positioning

The KLR650 has long been known for its comfortable, upright riding position, and for 2023 the KLR650 S has been fine-tuned to deliver an easier reach to the ground with a lower overall seat height.  Fitted with a new low seat, the seat thickness has been reduced by 35mm and the urethane inside of the seat has been optimized for comfort and to reduce fatigue when out on a long adventure. The new low seat, paired with the lower suspension, produces an overall seat height that is 2.3” lower than that of the standard KLR650. Also updated on the KLR650 S was the shortening of the side stand length by 30mm, contributing to the lowered seat height and ensuring ease of use when sitting in the seat. Additionally, the gap between the shifter and the footpeg has been increased by 15mm to improve the ease of toe entry and the toe’s degree of freedom around the shifter. This results in enhanced shifter usability for various foot sizes.The handlebar and footpeg positions provide adjustability and put the rider in a relaxed position, to support longer hours in the saddle. The handlebars and footpegs are rubber-mounted, reducing vibration for excellent comfort. The fuel tank design has been fitted to the KLR650 S chassis, offering a natural fit with the rider’s knees for comfort and controllability. The fuel pump draws from the very bottom of the tank increasing usable volume and contributes to a long cruising range.

Aiding the rider up front is a stylish windshield that features two-position bolt-on adjustability, allowing windshield height to be conveniently increased by a further 30mm. Passenger grab bars are fitted for passenger comfort.

BODYWORK & STYLING

The robust design of the KLR650 S reflects the bike’s capabilities for an unforgettable adventure. The colors and graphics were specially chosen to emphasize its ruggedness. Its modern styling includes a protector-equipped shroud design that contributes to a functional and rugged image, while the side cover design and tail cowl tie the robust styling package together. In addition to the windshield offering great wind protection, it also adds to the tough adventure tourer appearance that Kawasaki engineers set out to achieve on the KLR650 S.

A bright LED headlight illuminates the way when the ride continues past sunset and also contributes to the intended adventure styling. In the back, a revised taillight and turn signal design add to the tough styling. Long mirror arms help with the rearward field of vision.

An all-digital instrument panel offers information at-a-glance through a large display and easy-to-read LCD screen with white backlighting. The instrument panel features a speedometer, odometer, dual trip meters, fuel gauge, clock, and indicator lamps. The display list prioritizes visibility of the speedometer and fuel gauge.

ENGINE

The KLR650 S is powered by one of the most well-known, reliable, and trusted engines in the motorcycle industry. Its liquid-cooled, four-stroke, 652cc single-cylinder engine features a DOHC cylinder head and produces a flat power curve that lets you navigate challenging roads and cruise at freeway speeds. It’s equipped with fuel injection, which, combined with the fuel tank’s great useable volume, contributes to excellent range between fuel stops. 

Thanks to fuel injection, starting the KLR650 S is a breeze, especially at high altitudes or in cold conditions, and it helps increase reliability and performance. A 10-hole fine-atomizing injector sprays 60 µm droplets, which contributes to efficient air-fuel mixing for efficient combustion. Intake and exhaust cam profiles deliver strong mid-range power and torque characteristics. A strong cam chain guide material and shape add to the reliability.

The exhaust pipe diameter was carefully selected to achieve strong mid-range torque characteristics that suit everyday riding. An oxygen sensor provides feedback to the fuel injection system, contributing to clean exhaust emissions and fuel efficiency. In order to achieve a smooth-shifting feel and keep weight at a minimum on both the clutch and transmission, the clutch release bearings utilize thrust-needle bearings and a special finishing treatment was used for fourth and fifth gears.

A sealed battery adds to the convenience and keeps weight at a minimum. The starter, ignition coil, and evaporator canister have all been designed to keep the bike as light as possible.

CHASSIS

The 2023 KLR650 S motorcycle’s proven and high tensile, semi-double-cradle frame includes a rear frame that is integrated with the main frame to provide optimal torsional rigidity for a composed ride. The long swingarm design and pivot shaft diameter contribute to its excellent handling.

ACCESSORIES

A number of Kawasaki Genuine Accessories (KGA) will allow riders to personalize the looks of their KLR650 and offer added comfort and convenience. Kawasaki accessory side cases and top case were developed to provide a clean look with their well-matched design.

The side cases feature a top-opening design that makes it easy to add and remove items when they are mounted on the bike. The side cases easily clip onto their mounting brackets for a secure fit. The top case is large enough to accommodate an off-road style helmet. Improving convenience, side cases and the top case can be fitted with a one-key system. Complementing the accessory luggage, a larger aluminum rear carrier offers improved carrying capacity. In addition to its exclusive luggage, accessories include a grip heater set, LED auxiliary light set, engine guards, DC power outlet, and USB socket.

2023 Model Variations

Kawasaki KLR650 S ABS

Color: Pearl Storm Gray

MSRP: $7,199

Kawasaki KLR650 S

Color: Pearl Storm Gray, Candy Lime Green

MSRP: $6,899

Availability: Now


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