Good news, dual-sport fans; the Kawasaki KLR650 is back. One of Kawasaki’s most popular models since its introduction in 1987, the return of the KLR650 for the 2022 model year (to be released in the 2021 calendar year – yeah, we know it’s confusing) is sure to bring a huge smile on the faces of those who are intrigued by the rise of adventure bikes lately, but want something more… utilitarian.
The last time I rode a Kawasaki KLR650 was fifteen years ago, in San Francisco as a photo op for a story about the Motorcycle Emergency Response Corps. MERC was a non-profit organization composed of motorcyclists volunteering their skills to provide mobility, rescue, and communications during a disaster. Sadly, the MERC website now leads to a health blog, and any search I conducted didn’t turn up recent MERC information, so I must assume the organization has disbanded. But, the threat of disaster looms as large now as it did back then. Whether it be an earthquake, tornado, tsunami or zombie apocalypse the KLR650 remains the ultimate get-the-hell-outta-Dodge machine.
With this month’s Buyer’s Guides focusing on Touring ( Touring America: Buyers Guide, And Advice, Motorcycle Touring: Do-It-Yourself Touring) concocting a touring-focused Top 10 seemed more than appropriate. Large-displacement tourers are abundant and receive lots of press, especially in our bigger-is-better country. Choosing 10 mid-displacement bikes to shoehorn into the category turns out to be more difficult than one might think. The 10 bikes here represent more of what’s available in the category rather than a rating countdown from 10 to one. So, in alphabetical order we give you 10 sub-1000cc bikes that span a wide range of sporting, as well as, touring capabilities.