A Phoenix Rises! After a Two Year Hiatus, Kawasaki Unveils the 2022 KLR 650

Road Schooled by Joe Trey: AKA Adventure Hermit

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Photo by Joe Trey: Fallen KLR in Moab

If you are not into motorcycles, this article may hold little appeal to you. Then again, if you like Adventure, a bit of heartache, and an over-exuberant 40' something working his overweight backside into a sea of aspen trees, then perhaps this announcement will hold some interest to you.

Before I get into all that, a quick note to the motorcycle crowd. The rumors are true. Kawasaki has, in fact, unveiled a new KLR. Many of us knew this day would come when it was announced that our beloved KLR would no longer be produced.

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Photo by Joe Trey: A rare upright moment on the TransAmerica Trail

For some, the Kawasaki KLR 650 is considered to be the ultimate adventure motorcycle. Other factions find the motorcycle's inability to mow their lawn via massive 40 HP output a bit off a drawback. For the non-motorcycle riding crowd, 40 HP is pretty low for a 400+ pound bike, plus rider. I fall somewhere in the middle. 

The original KLR is a brick. I say that as a compliment, much like Rick James referred to a lady that quite interested him in the song, Brick House. The KLR was mighty, mighty. It had its flaws but so did many of its riders, myself included. It made us a perfect pairing.

My 2007 KLR, is, in truth, my second. My first having been traded in to acquire other toys. But when my dad passed away in a motorcycle accident (different bike), I inherited his KLR. His KLR and I traversed the United States off-road over two months. Beginning in Connecticut before eventually arriving in Port Orford, Oregon.

I always wished the bike had more power, fuel injection, a sixth gear, and ABS brakes. The new model has some of that. Then again, not being highly mechanical, I enjoyed the simplicity of my KLR. Getting certain parts at a Home Depot or Lowe's has more than once proven quite handy.

But while I swore I would never add another motorcycle to my garage, I have to admit I am tempted, even without the extra gear that I wished for. The fuel injection would help the altitude here in the Rockies. ABS would be excellent as well, considering my rear brakes failed coming down OPHIR pass several years back. 

The only minor updates may turn some off, but I feel they are key upgrades worth looking into. Keeping a modern styling with a nod to the classic model is appreciated. The sentimental value of my dad's KLR will keep me from ever replacing it. However, the return of the KLR in its new form is enough for me to be contemplating what I can remove from my already crowded garage.

FEATURE Highlights

  1. There will be four different models. The standard has fuel injection but no ABS. The next model up aptly called ABS, has ABS but little else. The Traveler is here some extras start coming into play. It adds a single top case and power outlets. Whereas the Adventure, which has my attention, includes side cases, auxiliary lights, engine guard, and a tank pad. It also comes in a pretty cool Cypher Camo Gray color. (Some of this may change as information is still trickling out.)
  2. There is a rumor of more midrange power, which could be a significant selling point. 
  3. This will not please everyone, and it does add to the complexity. But, fuel injection is something I welcome, especially in the wide varying altitudes of the west.
  4. It is rumored to be more stable with a 30mm longer swingarm and a 2mm larger swingarm pivot shaft. 
  5. There is an option to get a model without ABS. One concern is the rumor that the ABS cannot be disabled. This is crucial for off-road riding. I will be curious to see how this plays out. If they have come up with off-road mode or not.
  6. There is a new digital display.
  7. More power for accessories
  8. Pricing is still sub-$10k, which is unheard of in the Adventure Market.

Compared to other sub-$10k models on the market, such as the Honda XR650L and Suzuki DR650S, the KLR is still heavier by about 100 pounds. This isn't great offroad but does make paved riding between the dirt pleasant.

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Photo by Joe Trey: Unexpected detour in Colorado

I love my 2007 KLR. It has treated me incredibly well. Even saving my butt when I decided to do some unscheduled sightseeing through some unsuspecting Aspen Trees. Breaking my foot in several places. The bike still carried me for several thousand more miles before I finally made my way home.

Whether I add one to my stable or not is yet to be determined. Regardless, I am delighted to see the KLR back in production. Ready for previous owners ready to upgrade or new owners looking to get into the sport at an affordable price!

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Photo via Kawasaki.com : KLR 650 2022 Adventure Model

The technical specifications for this article have been acquired through multiple pre-release announcements and Kawasaki's Main Page. As with all pre-release info, it is subject to change.

Find Full Specs On Kawasaki's Website

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Joe Trey is the Adventure Hermit! A moniker fitting of his ambivert nature. Visions of rock stardom drove him to get a BFA in music from the University of Connecticut. Not long after, he abandoned his dreams of NYC and relocated to the Rocky Mountains! He has drunk the occasional "toe." When in Dawson, one might say. Don't ask. Or do! His work and love of travel have brought him nearly around the world. Writing, Hiking, Camping, Music, Motorcycles get him up and out each day. Hugging his wife and teenage daughters at night, bring him home! Not a tortoise, not a hare (but a bit hairy in all the wrong places), Joe only competes with himself. Through his writing and adventures, he encourages others to do the same!

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