Jamie Robinson Reviews The Kawasaki KLR650

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Dead-simple and proven or heavy and dated? Jamie takes another look at that old ADV standby, the Kawasaki KLR650.

  • Jason 848

    The KLR 650 was my first bike (2011) it did everything I asked without ever complaining. My GF and I went 2up everywhere off road and on, all winter when we were the only bike on the road. It was a pleasure to own and the KLR forums are positive, insightful and supportive.

    I sold it this april for a husky 510 supermoto which has sat broken in the shop for over 3 weeks waiting on parts. It has 1200 meticulously maintained kms. Fail Jason, fail.

    New KLR comin end of summer when the 2014s hit and 2013s get cleared out.

    Thanks Kawasaki for keeping it real.

    • kevin

      RE: KLR forums
      To the rest of the world it would be weird to have random people from the internet offer to come over to your house and help you pull your doohickey.

      In KLR world we call that Tuesday.

      • http://metabomber.com/ Jesse

        Infamous Doohickey Job.

        ( Not a KLR owner, but have friends that are. )

  • Mike Bell

    Not having a fuel light and having dated styling gets a 5/10? From watching the video it doesn’t sound like a bad deal at $6.5k!

    • Tyler 250

      For $500 more, you can get a Husqvarna TR650, which is lighter, makes 20 more horsepower, has better suspension and fuel injection. That doesn’t make the KLR bad, but it does make it look like not so great a deal.

      • Mark

        But the KLR won’t break down. I’ve never known of anyone with a KLR that’s ever been stranded. Rode mine broken several times to get me back to civilization and it’s always been there for me, despite my less than meticulous (pretty poor even) maintenance schedule.

      • Jason 848

        My experience w Huskavarna in Vancouver area has been abysmal. Awful dealers, long wait times for service, parts are totally unavailable during the shift over to ktm and they are anything but reliable. I’m sure the TR650 is much more dependable than my 510 but after such a bad experience w a brand new bike I’d never even look at another.

        I gave it a shot and was let down at every step. Who even knows what’ll happen to that model line w the switch to ktm

      • Mister X

        When I start hearing about Huskys touring the planet without breaking for a decade or so, then I might… consider one, otherwise, it’s a KLR for my (Adventure) riding.

        Gotta admit tho, the Husqvarna’s are very nice looking bikes, I sat on ‘em all at the motorcycle show last winter, a bit too tall for my mostly street oriented tastes, but well put together.

        By the way, does your Husqvarna TR650 have one of those apparently crucial low fuel lights?

    • roma258

      First bike review I’ve seen where Jamie wasn’t super stoked about the bike he was riding. I think that fact alone earns it the low score.

  • J. Brandon

    I ride the snot out of my 2005 KLR650. Bought it a year ago for $2,000. Added about $1K in adventure farkles. Have put more than 10,000 miles on it. Last month on the home stretch of a 1,700-mile trip an electrical short resulted in the bike catching fire. I rode it home. This weekend on a group ride in the back country, a friend had trouble on a tricky water crossing. Dropped her KLR in the knee-deep creek. We had it running again in 10 minutes. Then she rode it more than 500 miles home.
    I plan to keep my KLR forever.

    • Mark

      I was on a group ride and two people dropped theirs in a deep water crossing (water was as deep as the front tire is tall). One of the two dropped bikes was totally submerged.
      Let it dry for 5 mins and the expert in the group pulled the spark plug and cranked it a couple times. After reinstalling it and cranking on and off for a couple mins it fires up and was spraying water out of the muffler for a bit. Rode home and changed his oil, still on the road 3 years later.

  • JC Maldonado

    My buddy purchased his new out of a crate. 51,000 miles later it’s still running strong.

  • david forsythe

    What’s that badass bike rack on the back of Jamie’s KLR? I’m not up on my adv accessories, but if something like that could be added to my camping gear it might be quite awesome

  • Mister X

    This review contradicts the score given this bike, and is ambiguous at best with that consideration.

    To whit, for 2 minutes and 30 seconds Jamie talks up the features and
    positive points of the bike, then spends 30 seconds of that 3 minute
    review talking about his dislikes, but at 2:36 he says, “overall the
    Kawasaki is an excellent, excellent machine”, yet the bike gets rated
    only a 5?!

    Wow, you guys must be getting soft, this bike has proven itself to go
    anywhere on the planet and reliably at that, so it’s difficult to
    believe that because this bike has/is “quite an unusual front mud
    guard”, the “seat is slightly dated and not the most comfortable”, and
    it’s “quite a dated looking machine now”, and “it doesn’t even have a
    fuel light”, that those basically trivial items would knock off 5
    points.

    Then there’s this gem from Jamie, “especially when you’re an adventure
    rider, it’s always good to know where you are with the fuel”, yeah like
    it’s a big deal to watch your odo mileage, or Gasp!, even stop to open
    the fuel tank cap and have a look while sloshing the tank between your
    knees, like every motorcyclist did for 100 years before the apparently
    vital for adventure riding “fuel light” became available, yeah, Jamie,
    we don’t want to be “roughing it” do we, how many points did that knock
    off?

    Did it occur to you that the reason the price is so low is that it
    doesn’t have, nor need, up to date “styling” with new boy
    wonder/Adventure graFX, a fuel light/gauge, or fuel injection?

    You guys crapped out on this review, it needs a remix.

    • Jai S.

      It looks like this review was done by MotoGeo, and not RideApart. I agree with the score, but that’s not to say that the KLR cannot be a great bike. In its stock form it’s a 5 out of 10, but upgrade the suspension, brake lines, doohickey, and seat it’s a much better bike. Part of the issue is that the KLR is so cheap, and has cost cutting measures in places it shouldn’t.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      5 = average. I don’t think anyone would argue that the KLR is anything more than average. It’s great that it’s fairly cheap and fairly reliable, but the game moved on oh….about 15 years ago.

      • Mister X

        Okay Wes, I’m in agreement that it’s average these days, upon reflection it seems I was really reacting to Jamie’s weak negatives in the video review, but I hear you that it really wasn’t all of it, so I “get it” now. Thanks as always for keeping your cool, and “apologies” Jamie, I was so harsh on ya man, I wasn’t looking at the big picture.

  • Stephan Alessi

    so to be clear is this an official Rideapart rating of 5 or the default not yet rated 5?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      I’ve personally rated every bike in our Buyer’s Guide. I’m in the process of going through and building out reviews for each one too.

      • Mike Bell

        So the rating is independent of the video, which was only Jamie’s take on it. Cool; that makes more sense. Thanks for clearing up the confusion, Wes.

        Also, apparently a doohickey is an actual thing. I had no idea. You KLR folks are weird.

  • BillW

    Jamie, you might want to make sure you spell your sponsor’s name right in the credits: Kriega, not Kriga (unless it’s some similarly named company of which I’m unaware.

  • http://motorcycletouring.corylogan.com/ Cory Logan

    Nice little review you’ve got here. That’s also quite a setup you’ve got for hauling a bicycle around. It is a simple bike, but you gotta love it for what it does.

    http://motorcycletouring.corylogan.com/articles/choosing-a-motorcycle-for-your-grand-adventure