A Fond Farewell to the Legendary Kawasaki KLR 650

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By Jennifer Angelina

The KLR650-A was unveiled in 1987, replacing the smaller KLR600 and becoming the monster of the Japanese dual sports. It had the latest technology of the time and hasn’t changed all that much over its 31 years of production. It is amazing to think that it’s production life spanned such a long time considering there hasn’t been anything else on the market that hasn’t evolved in its technology, looks, and parts.

The KLR650 has gone through a few evolutions, albeit minor ones with the biggest being an update in 2008 to the Plastics, Chassis, Engine, and Rotors. Mostly it was the same bike with updated looks.

Original Kawasaki KLR650-B Tengai Brochure



  • More dirt-bike than adventure tourer; perfect if you are looking to go off the beaten path
  • Less technology and more practical design (easier to work on or work with if you are stuck out in the bush).
  • Cost/purchase price is light on the wallet, and so is the maintenance costs when comparing equivalent models of different manufacturers.
  • Lots of aftermarket accessories, as well as stock OEM parts
  • Steel double tube engine frame that allows a little bit of give for softening the bumps – and the way that the forks are designed to give more stability at higher speeds than dirtbikes and lots of room for some give on jumps.
  • No ABS – offroad, you don’t want ABS to suddenly lock your rear tire on gravel – it’s better as it allows the rider to control which brake does what (as ABS isn’t ideal off-road).
  • Carbureted (again, makes it easier to work on in the bushes).
  • More torque in the bottom end, let’s face it – again something that’s needed when dealing with tricky off-road situations as well as getting away from surprised wildlife.
  • CDI discharge system – as sometimes simpler is better to work with.


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