2022 Kawasaki KLR 650 Video Review First Ride
The Kawasaki KLR has been kicking around since its first 600cc iteration in 1984. Despite being a strong seller for Team Green and developing a cult following over the decades, Kawasaki announced in 2018 that the old workhorse was being put out to pasture. Likely due to tightening emissions standards and other modern regulations, the KLR was put to rest briefly, only to be resurrected for the 2022 model year. With more than a handful of updates and welcome changes, the KLR 650 is back like it never left and will still occupy the simple, affordable adventure niche it had dug out for itself over the years.
The big story with the new KLR 650 is fuel injection. The 100mm by 83mm bore and stroke as well as the low 9.8:1 compression ratio remain unchanged, but where there was once a Keihin carburetor, a Keihin throttle body now sits with a 10-hole injector linked up to an O2 sensor to keep the KLR running and starting smoothly regardless of elevation or temperature.
The 2022 model also receives a larger front rotor, longer swingarm, beefier axles, redesigned fuel tank (with the same 6.1-gallon capacity), increased carrying capacity from its one-piece frame, and a new LCD display that unfortunately offers less information than the last dash set up. Some transmission parts have been upgraded for durability, though the cam chain tensioner or Doohickey, as the KLR connoisseur calls it, remains unchanged from the previous model (meaning you may want a tighter spring in there). That all adds up to about 24 pounds more heft from the 2018 model as well.
For those who wanted the KLR 650 to remain the same affordable, easy-to-ride adventure machine that it always has been, rest easy in knowing the 2022 model is largely the same machine with the base model starting at $6,699. Folks who had hoped the new KLR would be on par with the performance of a machine like the Yamaha Ténéré 700, we’re sorry. But, don’t write Kawi off just yet. Maybe we’ll see a Versys-X 700 come onto the scene to fight that battle.
Whatever the future may hold, just know that the KLR 650 is back. And yes, better than ever, just not too much better. When asked what motojournos thought at the introduction, “It’s a KLR,” was muttered more than a few times. “Damning with faint praise” comes to mind, but I suspect there will be plenty of people who are happy with just that.
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