2014 Kawasaki KLR650 New Edition


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Jan 26, 2014
2014 Kawasaki KLR650 New Edition, by Sean Klinger

7 Things You Should Know

For exactly 20 years, the Kawasaki KLR650 was nearly unchanged. Introduced in 1987, the big green dual-sporting machine received its first major overhaul in 2008 and that is how the bike has stayed for the last six years…until now. Well, the KLR650 New Edition isn’t radically different from its predecessors but for riders who lean closer to the off-road segment of dual-sport, it is a welcome improvement.

  1. New Edition: There are only a few changes to the KLR650 New Edition, the main two being the fork and shock. Though the fork is the same, non-adjustable, 41mm unit as before, it now has 40 percent stiffer springs and 27 percent firmer rebound. The shock is also the same 5-way adjustable set-up as before, but now has a 63 percent stiffer spring and 83 percent firmer rebound. The seat is now narrower at the front for better control yet is still wide and soft in the back for long rides. Also, you can choose green, black or pearl.
  2. Suspension: The fork and shock are definitely capable of jeep roads, poll-line trials, and even certain sections of the Baja 500 race course (not at race speeds of course). The front suspenders are planted and handled the KLR’s girth without diving under hard braking and the fork didn’t blow through the stroke on moderate hits. The shock really tracked the ground well and the rear of the bike stayed straight even when the front of the bike wasn’t because the rider was going way too fast in rough terrain. With at least 60 pounds of gear and a 200 lb. plus rider, the shock didn’t bottom except when encountering big whoops at 60 mph.
  3. Handling: Contrary to what it might look like this bike is pretty nimble. The turning radius is really small which helps in tight, tricky terrain, and when you decide to turn around when the trail gets more KX rather than KLR. Overall, the 650 has a light-handling feel and was surprisingly easy to lean the bike into corners, on and off the street. But that lightness also contributes to a busy front-end when at speed; the front tire can wag back and forth in rain grooves and in repeated hits off-road.
  4. A Lot of Bike: While the KLR handles well at moderate speeds, when it is in slow terrain, the bike starts to show all of its 432 lbs. Also, even though the New Edition’s seat has a narrower front section the bike is still much wider than any MX’er or trail bike. But, on long stretches of highway it is really nice to have a wide, soft contact patch for your rear end and even with four hours of continuous riding, we didn’t have sore buns.
  5. Torque Master: Do not be mistaken, the KLR’s 651cc powerplant is all about lugging. The redline on the tachometer is 7,500 rpm, but there is no reason to push the double overhead cam engine that far since there is ample torque throughout the power. It’s not rip-your-arms off fast but the power just builds in a very linear and predictable fashion that would not intimidate even the newest of motorcyclist. While the stock exhaust is ninja quiet, we did try an FMF Powercore4 slip-on muffler to get a little more excitement out of the motor. The aftermarket pipe did just that, yet was annoyingly loud and not street legal in California.
  6. The Long Haul: With an upright seating position, fairings, and a windscreen, this bike is ready to take on the open road (and trail) and lots of it. Also, even though they are mostly for branches and trees, the hand guards do just as well warding of chilly wind and road spray. The KLR650 has a proven history of being bulletproof and the engine’s low rpm keep it from needing a lot of maintenance in the motor and transmission department. To round out its adventure package it has a sturdy, wide rear fender rack and a skid plate to protect its vital organs.
  7. Budget Friendly Legacy: After riding the Kawasaki KLR650 New Edition, we can see why this bike has such a huge following and why the New Edition will bring even more dirt riders into the fold. Other than tight single track, nasty hillclimbs or really deep, soft sand or gravel, this legend of a dual-sporter will take riders farther than almost any other bike on the market. And you just can’t ignore the fact that it can do all this with an MSRP of $6,599!

Seat height: 34.8”

Ground clearance: 8.5”

Fuel capacity: 6.1 gal.

Weight (tank full): 432 lb

MSRP: $6,599 more