Kawasaki KLR650 Motorcycle Reviews on Cycle Insider (13)
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2008-12-29 2004 Kawasaki KLR650 Motorcycles View Listings

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This bike has never been back to the dealer. I have been warned by everyone about the cam chain tensioner parts breaking and grenading the lower end. I adjust it on each oil change and no problems. I also don't red line the engine at every opportunity. My bike usually has mud on it because I spend most of my time on dirt roads standing on the pegs. My original battery is currently shot and I will replace it in the spring. I have a 06 Harley Softtail for social events, but, if I really want to have fun riding the KLR-650 is my first choice. My bike makes the right kind of noise, has excellent power and the reliability is unsurpassed. Why buy a KLR650? If you really like to ride a motorcycle you want all the options you can get as to where you want to go. A KLR650 is a vehicle you can truly explore all the places you were afraid to go because it might be hard to get to. If you treat the bike well and keep it maintained, it will never leave you on the side of the road.
- Joel Nelson, Westfield, Massachusetts

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2004-12-23 2004 Kawasaki KLR650 Motorcycles View Listings

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The KLR is written to be great bike for those really seeking to do some true dual sporting. Honestly it could be helped in the dirt department. The suspension and tires don't do the trick in the stock form. The gearing could also be more dirt suited. Kawasaki claims that the bike is a true road worthy machine but in all actuality it's only good on the street for short amounts of time. The bike excels in twisties and does very well on rough roads. If you have to ride 100 miles or so to get to the good twisties, you will most likely ache from the vibration of getting there. Freeway travel is improbable due to so much vibration and lack of power to sustain the bike at high speeds. The bike is so light cross winds and truck winds will toss it around more than I feel comfortable with. I think Kawasaki did so, so in making a on/off road bike. They didn't make it enough of either to satisfy me or to really live up to the expectations the put out on the prospective buyer. An enduro is better for dirt and something like a V-Strom or a BMW GS is an answer to the street touring capabilities. All things considered the KLR650 is an inexpensive bike and that is some times as important as performance to riders.
- Lewis, Bakersfield, California

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2004-10-13 2004 Kawasaki KLR650 Motorcycles View Listings

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I wrote the 1500 mile review; only a few things have changed. The little quirks from the factory have all been repaired or replaced, so I feel the bike is solid every time I get on it. The comfort is a bit rough. If you plan on long trips it is good to set aside some rest time every 100 or so miles. However, I have taken many short (under three hundred) mile trips and still feel I have the best bike in groups. I have become used to the weight and off roading is again an all out sport. The bike feels like a street bike at times when off road. When I need to ride hard I take the dirt bike and leave the KLR at home. Of course that involves a trailor and some planning. It is nice to hop on a bike ride to the dirt, get dirty and cruise home without ever getting off the bike. The road handling is great under 75mph. I can keep up with the best of 'em. Over 75 and I feel like I don't have enough life insurance. So, I love the bike. I will never sell it, it is still the best bike I have ever owned. Although somtimes I miss the speed.
- Rich R, Vancouver, Washington

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2004-10-12 2004 Kawasaki KLR650 Motorcycles View Listings

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Let me start by saying that this is my 4th bike in 4 yrs, and my first review. Mainly due to the fact that I plan on keeping this one. Bought my '04 in April and have put on about 9000km so far, mostly as an everyday commuter, to and from work etc and one trip at the end of Sept. 1300km. My previous bikes included a V-Star 650, '01 Honda F4i (great bike!) and an '02 V-Strom (yuck). For one reason or another, they were all bikes that I knew I wouldn't keep for more than a season or two, and I was really looking for something that could perform a lot of roles. My first impression really wasn't that great, especially coming off a twin. When I started her up and she sat there shakin' away I thought to myself. "I just bought a lawnmower!". But that changed pretty quick when I actually started to ride it. The thumper's got some decent torque and a pretty good spread of power. It's not really quick, but if you have realistic expectations it can surprise you with the amount of pull it has across the rev range. The frame is set up pretty good to. I don't think it's strong or light enough for serious dirt riding, but for the street/backroads it's pretty stable. Most of the bike's high speed instability comes from the long raked out front end, the squishy front fork, and the big airplane wing they call a fender. The motor will actually putter you along at a sustained 140kph and top out about 160, but at that point the front end is movin' around pretty good, and she's not really that happy goin' that fast anyway. Which is fine because the brakes aren't really that good. Pads or at least braided lines should be a definite upgrade. The suspension, other than the weak front end, is fine for most duties, as are the seat, controls, ergonomics and wind protection. There are tons of aftermarket parts available for this thing, and it's very easy to find a specific part that you might want to improve. Overall though, it's a great all around bike and is really very good in both city and highway conditions as well as a bit of backroad. Fuel mileage will vary, especially with a jet-kit installed. I get about 380km (before reserve) in the city, and as low as 330km at sustained 120-140kph on the highway. It probably won't fufill every lust you have, (I've already put a deposit down on an '05 SV1000s - the V-Strom also taught me I need more than one bike!) but it's pretty versatile and is the best city scooter I've had yet. It's got a cool "get the job done" attitude and can be pretty agile with street biased rubber. It's tall, but has a pretty low center of gravity so you never really feel like it's going to tip, unlike the V-Strom which loved to fall over more than life itself. Trust me, after riding around on something that probably weighs about 390lbs wet, a lot of other bikes regardless of seat hight will seem pretty chubby. that's it! I've done some mod's to improve on an already solid package, and I expect to keep it for a good many years.
- Rob Vause, Calgary, Alberta

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2004-09-15 2004 Kawasaki KLR650 Motorcycles View Listings

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I have had the bike for 4 months now and have added a lot of parts to it to make it what it should become, which is an economical bike but a great one with some after market parts. It's true that the mirrors vibrate and are useless really. My only complaint is that it is a little underpowered on the highway, you will clench your butts cheeks when trying to pass someone. Other than that, I find it comfortable, has longer range capabilities than most bikes and unlike others I don't notice the vibration too much. Having said that I did install gel grips to take out the handle bar vibration and couldn't be happier. If I had the money I would buy a KTM or BMW, but for those who want a bike that can do everything that the rest can do, for half the price, the KLR650 is your answer.
- bishop, saskatoon

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2004-09-11 2004 Kawasaki KLR650 Motorcycles View Listings

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I have rediscovered the joy of riding. Like most, I started in the dirt, but after 20 years of only street bikes I had become bored with it. Then I decided to get a toy, something to just putt around on. It has become my primary transportation, rain or shine. Its street performance is wonderful. The seat is much wider than the vinyl g-strings on other dual-purpose bikes. 70 to 80 mph is a comfortable speed on the highway, however at speeds over 80, truck turbulence and high crosswinds can cause stability issues. Probably due to the light weight, (light for a street bike) and the tall profile. I have added the saddlebags and taller windshield. The windshield is much thinner and flimsier than the stock, it's not meant for offroad use, but is easily changed back. The saddlebags are not waterproof, so you'll need a can of waterproofing spray. The bags aren't large but have enough room for rain gear, and clothes for a weekend trip. I have the triple clamps slid 2 inches down on the fork tubes to lower the bike a bit, so I can stand flat footed at red lights. But for anyone with less than a 32 inch inseam it would be a stretch. Overall, street riding is comfortable, but this isn't a cross-country bike. With the six gallon tank and more than 50 mpg, your butt won't let you stay in the saddle from fuel stop to fuel stop. I have not done a lot of off-road riding with it (yet), however, I have been off-road enough to know that if you plan to hit the trails with a full tank of gas you'd be better off to stay in bed and sleep late. Six gallons of gas is heavy, making the bike very top heavy and hard to keep upright on very rough terrain, and difficult to pick up when you drop it. It's lighter than most street bikes but much heavier than any motocrosser. My advice, burn up half a tank before hitting the trails.
- Don Plummer, Coraopolis, Pennsylvania

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2004-08-19 2004 Kawasaki KLR650 Motorcycles View Listings

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I purchased my bike in March 2004 after reviewing the options in the dual purpose category, which these days are a bit limited. The bike runs fine, but unlike others I top out at 44mpg, but I also cruise 80mph for 40 miles a day. The engine has a slight knock and used to have a squeal near the oil pump which went away with a 2nd oil change. First upgrade will likely be some different front shock springs and these bottom out very easily and I rarely take it offroad. So far I ride, occasionally fill it up and perform maintenance. What more could you want.
- wolfman, manteca, California

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2004-06-18 2004 Kawasaki KLR650 Motorcycles View Listings

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So you want a dual sport.. or another dual sport. Dont want to fork over 15,000 for a BMW? This is your only choice. The other Japanese Bikes dont come too close to this (maybe a vstrom for street but that's not too dual) Build quality. Kawasaki (and their dealers) feel that tightening a bolt or screw is YOUR responsibility. My bike has kept all its screws (that I can find) but some other bikes have rattled apart. don't forget to adjust your tensioner, they break after 30k miles or so. It's real tall too.. I am 6'3" and I have trouble getting off it on any kind of uneven ground. I gave it 4 stars in performance because of the brakes and front fork. The fork is squishy and twisty. Takes a bit of G's to settle into a corner. The brakes are a compromise between dirt and street and are quite soft (at least you won't lock them up easy right?) The horse power will lift the front wheel off the ground under improper shifting and acceleration in first and second, but it won't toss you off the back. It's good enough to out-accelerate any car and will cruise at 4000rpm (7500 redline) at 60mph (at which the wind has its way with that tall big fender). Off road, its heavy 350 lbs, is basically like a jeep, it will do anything sane, with moderate experience, you can get crazy. Comfort loses a point or 2 for the saddle, or lack of. The saddle is made of some very thin hard foam. Corbin saddle required. Windshield.. though not a throw away, is terribly small. So far as reliability, it seems to be good. The cargo rack may not be stylish but is awesome for getting that 1 or 2 things from the store without having to lug a body anchor (back pack). The rear foot pegs are a joke. Mounted above rear suspention, only chinese contorsionists could sit there. Special quirks. THe mirrors as is are all but useless. they resonate with the bike and depending on speed and rpm you have one or both mirrors displaying a fuzzy blur. my clutch safety switch fails occasionaly, makes starting interesting, going thru all the switches to see what to do to complete the circuit. City light accessory wires- dont know what that is, but it hooked up some fog lights pretty well and doesnt run down the battery. (55w mini lights) You cant relate to other riders, they all have dim headlights (klr uses a standard H4 or 9003 car halogen) you can see over cars, you can turn better than the cruisers OR the big sport bikes, it doesnt track with lines in the pavement, soaks up speed bumps, and it vibrates real low (thump thump thump) I really like my klr. It is a very low volume bike (so i dont have to pass them all the time), but has been out since 88 litteraly only the color has changed, so there are tons of after market. It fits me pretty well (wont fit u if you are under 6' PERIOD!) (comma there are lowering kits) with a softer seat you could do cross country with it. (people usually settle for round the world and such) Had a guy take a picture of it in traffic the other day (probably due to bike's accessories)
- DINGO, Haleiwa, Hawaii

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2004-06-02 2004 Kawasaki KLR650 Motorcycles View Listings

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Purchase my 2004 Klr 650 and put 3,000 miles the first month, 2000 of that in a 10 day trip from Houston, TX to Big Bend National Park in far west TX. Rode the highway, dirt roads, cross country, low water crossings with high water flowing across. Rode it in high wind, rain, hail and mud. The highwinds (50+mph) were the only time I was a little concerned. My friends on their GS 1150s left me on the flat open highways, but I left them on the rest......especially on the low water crossings where they declined to attempt. Mileage averaged about 52mpg. Can't beat that 6.1 gallon tank.
- kelly covington, Houston, Texas

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2004-01-18 2004 Kawasaki KLR650 Motorcycles View Listings

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For those of you looking to buy a dual-purpose bike, this is it. I bought mine new in 2001 and put 11,000 miles on it the first year. I used it to commute, trail ride, and even ventured onto a motocross track a few times. I have had ZERO problems. On the road it handles extremely well. I rode around the streets with a couple of friends on their sport bikes and they couldn't believe what mine could do. If you are looking to go 100mph you may want to look at a different bike, but I've had mine a little over 90 with no problem. If you're into wheelies, it's a little tough getting the front end up when traveling above 20mph but it can be done. I've heard that re-jetting and modifying the exhaust will help with this small problem. From the starting line though, it will come up easy. For the normal boring commute this is the best bike I've ever ridden. It sits high, has great acceleration, handles exceptionally well, and gets excellent gas mileage. I averaged 47mpg. Ok, so the Harley riders don't always want to wave back, but that's their problem, not mine. Off road it's a little heavy but once you get used to it you can have a lot of fun. There is a ton of low-end torque and it will climb some serious hills. I suggest you take off the mirrors and get some good hand guards if you do a lot of heavy duty off roading. Also, if you like to get a lot of air time you may want to get a better rear shock. But that's ONLY if you want to get some air. The stock is great otherwise. There are a ton of accessories to be had for the KLR. It's amazing what is available for these bikes and it's amazing what some people have done. I've only added a few minor things to mine and that was for off road protection. I haven't felt the need to modify it for power. Overall this has been the best bike I've ever owned. I'll ride this one until it pukes and then I'll buy another one.
- Mike Mildenstein, La Plata, Maryland

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2003-10-30 2004 Kawasaki KLR650 Motorcycles View Listings

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I bought a 2002 KLR 650 new and have 3000 trouble free miles. I intalled the tall windshield, rear rack bag, Big Gun exhuast, K&N filter, rejetted, added lowering links to drop the seat height 2 inches, a dual-star skid plate, a 16 tooth front sprocket and a fork brace. I love this bike, I can cruise comfortably on the freeway at 75 mph and the fork brace works great! No shimmies whatsoever. the retuning and exhaust added a ton of low and mid range power. This bike really moves! a better skid plate is a must as I found out the first time I went off road and scuffed up the cheap plastic plate. the rear expandable bag can hold a couple frozen pizza's, loafs of bread, canned goods and two gallons of milk, about two small bags of groceries. where this bike excels is driving around town on city streets. It handles extremely well like a sport bike, sits high enough to look over traffic, slow speed 5 mph handling is awesome and I can pull away from 99.9 % of the cars at a traffic light. This is the perfect "to work" commuter and as I have already stated, I have not had one single problem with this bike. I have owned almost a dozen bikes over a period of 27 years of riding and this is the best bike I have ever owned.
- Tim Flanagan, Reno, Nevada

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2003-09-26 2004 Kawasaki KLR650 Motorcycles View Listings

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It was a big toss up between a XR650L & the KLR650. I must have went to both dealers 5 times trying to decide between each bike. I'm so glad I got the KLR. It's a fun bike to ride. The bike gets a lot of looks, rides great on the street and handles trails really nice. The Honda was a turn off cause of the 37" seat height,air-cooled,small gas tank, and uncomfortable seat. Spending $5400 for the Honda, another $225 for a bigger gas tank, $190 for a seat, was a big turn off. The KLR has everything going for it. Comfort, seat height is great (im 5'10"), big gas tank, tach, rack on the back, and much more.... I only had the bike for 2 weeks, and I love riding it. I have not gone over the 4000 RPM recomendation ( dont have 500 miles yet), but so far the power is pretty good. It's not a "torque" monster from the factory (you know, carb set lean, for emissions), but you can definitly tell the bike has some snap to it when you tap the throttle. This bike was the right decision, and money well spent !
- dannyg, Chicago, Illinois

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2003-09-26 2004 Kawasaki KLR650 Motorcycles View Listings

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I picked the bike up two days ago and have about 350 miles on it so far. I've gone up and down Angeles Crest Highway, road several Santa Monica Mountain Canyons, a few dirt trails and, I love this bike. It's a hoot! Easy to ride, handles the twisties like a sportbike and is a comfortable bike for the long rides. Great wind protection! I haven't tacked the thing above 5 grand yet (after 500 miles), so I can't talk about the power yet, but I'm sure it's sufficient.
- Bill Fabian, Thousand Oaks, California

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