2022 Kawasaki KLR 650 Video Review – First Ride

Ryan Adams
by Ryan Adams

Kawasaki's ADV workhorse is back

The Kawasaki KLR has been kicking around since its first 600cc iteration in 1984. Despite being a strong seller for Team Green and developing a cult following over the decades, Kawasaki announced in 2018 that the old workhorse was being put out to pasture. Likely due to tightening emissions standards and other modern regulations, the KLR was put to rest briefly, only to be resurrected for the 2022 model year. With more than a handful of updates and welcome changes, the KLR 650 is back like it never left and will still occupy the simple, affordable adventure niche it had dug out for itself over the years.

The big story with the new KLR 650 is fuel injection. The 100mm by 83mm bore and stroke as well as the low 9.8:1 compression ratio remain unchanged, but where there was once a Keihin carburetor, a Keihin throttle body now sits with a 10-hole injector linked up to an O2 sensor to keep the KLR running and starting smoothly regardless of elevation or temperature.

2022 Kawasaki KLR 650 Review – First Ride

The 2022 model also receives a larger front rotor, longer swingarm, beefier axles, redesigned fuel tank (with the same 6.1-gallon capacity), increased carrying capacity from its one-piece frame, and a new LCD display that unfortunately offers less information than the last dash set up. Some transmission parts have been upgraded for durability, though the cam chain tensioner or Doohickey, as the KLR connoisseur calls it, remains unchanged from the previous model (meaning you may want a tighter spring in there). That all adds up to about 24 pounds more heft from the 2018 model as well.

For those who wanted the KLR 650 to remain the same affordable, easy-to-ride adventure machine that it always has been, rest easy in knowing the 2022 model is largely the same machine with the base model starting at $6,699. Folks who had hoped the new KLR would be on par with the performance of a machine like the Yamaha Ténéré 700, we’re sorry. But, don’t write Kawi off just yet. Maybe we’ll see a Versys-X 700 come onto the scene to fight that battle.

Whatever the future may hold, just know that the KLR 650 is back. And yes, better than ever, just not too much better. When asked what motojournos thought at the introduction, “It’s a KLR,” was muttered more than a few times. “Damning with faint praise” comes to mind, but I suspect there will be plenty of people who are happy with just that.

Become a Motorcycle.com insider. Get the latest motorcycle news first by subscribing to our newsletter here.

Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams

Ryan’s time in the motorcycle industry has revolved around sales and marketing prior to landing a gig at Motorcycle.com. An avid motorcyclist, interested in all shapes, sizes, and colors of motorized two-wheeled vehicles, Ryan brings a young, passionate enthusiasm to the digital pages of MO.

More by Ryan Adams

Join the conversation
2 of 11 comments
  • Patriot159 Patriot159 on Sep 13, 2021

    At the weight this porker comes in at IT IS a middleweight ADV. I would barely consider it a dual sport if at all now. I like performance and my modded DR650 offers much more and even though its 'old school' air cooled and has carby, it runs perfectly. The KLR is more of a Japanese RE Himalayan.

  • 12er 12er on Sep 13, 2021

    Almost raided the rainy day fund for a cherry modded to the max '07 Saturday. But no room in the garage and things are slowing down for the wife so figured I'd hold onto the cash for now. Maybe sell off my table saw and some other woodworking tools I no longer use to make space and beef up the fund.

    And it may just be me but this seems like the Happiest Ryan has been in a vid like this after an intro.