Kawasaki KLR650

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 KLR650 Reviews View all Reviews


Kawasaki brought a fleet of Ninjas in every displacement to Chuckwalla Raceway and turned us loose. If that doesn't sound like a great way to spend the day, you're probably reading the wrong website.

Inside the 2013 Supercross Works Bikes

The start of a new Supercross season brings with it a lot of anticipation over and above race results. It’s the first time fans, riders and team personnel get to see what the competition has brought to off-road racing’s largest stage.

2013 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R Review

Known for shaking up the status quo, Kawasaki is looking to jolt some life back into the middleweight sportbike class with the 2013 ZX-6R. The magic number behind the new ZX: 636.

2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 Review

Bad news for those who own a motorcycle in the quarter-liter category: the 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 has officially made your bike obsolete.

2013 Beginner Sportbike Shootout - Video

With the 250cc sportbike market in America reaching a high point, we figured it was time to see which model stands out – the Honda CBR250R, Hyosung GT250R or Kawasaki Ninja 300.

2013 Sport-Touring Shootout 1.0 - Video

Since Yamaha was kind enough to revamp the FJR1300 for 2013, we thought it was high time to see how it stacked up against the Honda ST1300 and Kawasaki Concours 14 in a sport-touring shootout.

2013 Honda CRF250L vs. 2013 Kawasaki KLX250S - Video

With the introduction of Honda's all-new CRF250L in October, the 250cc dual-sport class grew into a collection of motorcycles that truly offers something for everyone looking at this segment and displacement range of motorcycling.

find Kawasaki KLR650 Specs

Choose your Kawasaki KLR650 to build, configure or compare

Looking for a specific make, model or year of Kawasaki KLR650, and how it compares to the competition? Looking to design your own Kawasaki KLR650? Use our Motorcycle Finder, below, to get everything you need on 2004 to present Kawasaki KLR650s.
  • Manufacturer
  • Category
  • Year
  • Model

Kawasaki KLR650 Motorcycle News View all Kawasaki KLR650 News