2008-2017 KLR650 Review - April, 2007 KLR650.NET - 2008-2017 KLR650 Review and Specs (Full Kawasaki Specifications, New Edition separate).

Second Generation 2008 Kawasaki KLR650 Review
2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 KLR650 are the same.
2014.5, 2015, 2016, 2017 New Edition are fitted with stiffer rate springs in the suspension.
Ridden and evaluated By Glenn
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Click here for 2008-2017 KLR650 specifications
(full specs listed below)

KLR650 Review: April, 2007
Monterey, California

More than two decades ago Kawasaki set out to create one of the most dependable and versatile dual-purpose motorcycles ever produced. During that time Kawasaki has become a leader in the industry, surpassing all competition making Kawasaki's KLR650 Motorcycle THE best-selling dual-purpose motorcycle in the world. The bike has sold so well in fact, that it's the 4th best-seller of all Kawasaki motorcycles!

Riders all around the world view the KLR650 as a go-anywhere ON-ROAD/OFF-ROAD adventure motorcycle. It has been proven to endure some of the harshest riding and environmental conditions a motorcycle can be subjected to. South America, Africa/Dakar, Moab Utah, these are all great places to test the capability and durability of the KLR650.. however for some, a day dream during their morning commute to work on the KLR650 will have to suffice. You don't have to take a journey around the world to experience the exhilarating feeling of excitement riding this machine, but should you feel inclined to do some adventuring you'll have a very capable motorcycle to take you there and back.

Let's get down and dirty! For 2008 the KLR650 received some very nice, much needed improvements. Most of which, I'm happy to say.. are functional improvements that have been carefully thought out. After riding the new KLR650 it became clear to me that Kawasaki has been receptive to riders suggestions over the years on how it could be improved and, here we are. Glancing at the new KLR650 the first thing you will notice is the redesigned fairing which provides much better protection from the elements, even allowing you to tuck your legs in to get out of a cold wind or nasty weather. Having ridden the new '08 in the rain, the over-all protection it offered is notably better than the older model. The larger fairing and hand guards will deflect most of the wind and moisture away from you. A few people have been vocal about the durability of the new fairing, wondering just how tough it really is. The fairing is made of tough ABS-type plastic, and underneath it has multiple steel supports enforcing the outer shell.
So worry not, as the fairing will resistant damage if it is lightly laid over.

After straddling the new KLR you'll notice the redesigned, frame mounted gauge cluster with a large temperature gauge that is MUCH easier to read than the old style kettle thermometer. The turn signals are now push-to-cancel, which is one of the improvements you will appreciate right away. The handlebars come from the factory with bar-end weights installed, which neutralize pesky vibrations before they get started. Out front the KLR now sports a set of 41 mm forks which help out tremendously with stability and they allow the bike to track truer. The brakes now consist of Kawasaki Ninja style brake rotors, the front is fitted with a 280 mm diameter rotor equipped with a twin piston caliper. Weak brakes are a thing of the past, and the new setup greatly reduces required effort to come to a screeching halt. The rear brake is no slouch, either! It also sports a new twin piston caliper.

The wheels are laced with larger 4 mm spokes which increases rigidity and allows energy to be more effectively transferred to the suspension system. Speaking of which, how about a progressively wound rear spring straight from the factory! Now you can forget about shelling out extra cash to update components. After you've been in the saddle a while you'll notice it's more comfortable than the previous model, thanks to higher density foam construction. It eliminates the need to stop so often and is easier on the derrière. When you do decide to stop somewhere the large footprint on the new, stronger kick stand will prevent it from sinking into hot asphalt, sand or mud. What if you need to tote something that's bigger than usual? No problem! The cargo rack was also redesigned, it is 90 mm longer and 130 mm wider for more cargo space. The grab handles have also been relocated, they are easier to attach saddlebags and luggage to, and if you get in a tight area where you have to muscle the bike around they are in a more convenient location. Along side the rack you'll notice new, sleeker turn signals that increase your day and night-time visibility to other motorists.

The power plant in the 2008 KLR has a multitude of revisions. Revised cam timing, a now fully transistorized ignition system, an added throttle position sensor* on the Keihin CVK40, as well as a balancer system revision. Cooling has been improved with a larger radiator which allows for 20% better cooling efficiency and a more consistent engine temperature. Cool!
The piston rings are also improved, providing more oil retention while riding at sustained high RPM as would be experienced on the highway or interstate. The engine packs more of a punch, and acceleration seems to happen more rapidly. The engine seems to pull harder in the mid to upper rev range. One improvement that many cold weather riders will be able to appreciate is the increased alternator output. It's been increased to 17amps, or 36W of added capacity, to allow for the use of heated grips, heated vest, and to power other accessories. Speaking of juice, did I mention the brighter headlight?
Night time visibility had previously been a concern to some riders, however the new dual bulb headlight will put those concerns to rest.

So now you've got some more insight on the technical aspects of the new KLR, but how does it ride?
The 2008 KLR650 is one smooth machine! Power delivery is well balanced, it is more enjoyable to ride, and it is a far more stable machine over all. I did not experience any instability whatsoever, vibration is greatly reduced, and buffeting in a crosswind is no longer an issue, even at high speed! Getting out there and really riding the new KLR, and pretty aggressively I might add.. allowed me to directly compare between old and new.
The issues people have been griping about for years have finally been addressed, and I can honestly say the new '08 is a better bike over-all. It does of course feel very similar to the older model, because it is still a KLR after all. The refinements just make it more fun to ride and I felt that I could ride longer without feeling any discomfort. Straight line acceleration is good, keeping in mind it's no ZX-14. However on a curvy and windy road, its performance is very impressive.

So what's a guy to do? Whether you're a first time KLR buyer with a burning desire to get into adventure touring, or if you're just looking for a fun commuter with the capability to ride trails on the week-end, going with the KLR650 is a sound decision.
For those of you who like to accessorize, Kawasaki offers a full line of accessories for the 2008 model! These will include rubberized vinyl saddlebags, expandable tank and tail bags, a taller windshield which is also wider, and a gel seat available at your dealer! In addition they will soon be offering a center stand and heated grips. The 2008 KLR650 is AVAILABLE NOW in Candy Lime Green, Sunbeam Red, or Blue 21. Even with all of the upgrades and improvements, Kawasaki managed to keep the price of the 2008 KLR about the same. For a mere 150 dollars more than the previous model, the 2008 KLR650 is absolutely a best buy.


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2008-2017 Kawasaki KLR650 Specifications (error corrected)
Same for all years (except New Edition spring rate)
Engine Four-stroke, DOHC, four-valve single
5w40 diesel oil,10w40,15w40,15w50,20w50 (depending on climate)
Displacement 651cc
Bore x stroke 100.0 x 83.0mm
Compression ratio 9.8:1
Cooling Liquid
Carburetion Keihin CVK40
Ignition Fully transistorized
Transmission Five-speed
Final drive Chain
Frame Semi-double cradle, high-tensile steel
Rake / trail 28 degrees / 4.4 in.
Front suspension / wheel travel 41mm telescopic fork / 7.9 in.
Rear suspension / wheel travel UNI-TRAK® single-shock system with 5-way preload and stepless rebound damping / 7.3 in.
Front tire 90/90x21
Rear tire 130/80x17
Front brake / rear brake Single 280mm petal-type disc, twin-piston caliper / single 240mm disc, twin-piston caliper
Overall length 90.3 in.
Overall width 37.8 in.
Overall height 53.1 in.
Ground clearance 8.3 in.
Seat height 35.0 in.
Dry weight 386 lbs.
Fuel capacity 6.1 gal.
Wheelbase 58.3 in.
Color choices Candy Lime Green, Sunbeam Red or Blue 21
Good Times™ Protection Plan 12, 24, 36 or 48 months
Warranty 12 Months

Applies to: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 KLR650 review. 2014.5, 2015, 2016, 2017 KLR650 New Edition Review and specs.