As far as dual-sport motorcycles go, the Kawasaki KLR650 is the stuff of legend. We’re big fans of the KLR650, and when it was dropped from Kawasaki’s lineup we wrote a heartfelt requiem for our old friend. Part of what made the KLR650 so remarkable was how little it changed over its 32-year history. The word “venerable” gets thrown around a lot when referring to motorcycles with long histories, but a photo of a KLR650 belongs next to “venerable” in the dictionary. After a brief retirement, the 2022 Kawasaki KLR650 returns with some major upgrades. And it’s still one of the best bargains on two wheels, starting at just $6,699.
Even though the KLR650 has been one of Kawasaki’s best sellers for years, it departed after the 2018 model year because its carbureted single-cylinder engine didn’t satisfy emissions requirements. The new-for-2022 KLR650 is powered by a fuel-injected 652cc single that promises “increased reliability” (which has never been a problem for the KLR … its picture could also be in the dictionary under “bulletproof”) and better “fuel efficiency” (the KLR was never a gas hog, either, but more range is always a good thing).
Kawasaki says the KLR650’s new 10-hole fine-atomizing injector sprays teeny-tiny 60 µm droplets and works in conjunction with an oxygen sensor to optimize air-fuel mixing, combustion and fuel efficiency. Revised intake and exhaust cam profiles and a narrower exhaust pipe diameter improve midrange power and torque characteristics. And the aforementioned increased reliability comes courtesy of a stronger material and shape for the cam chain guide material. To improve shifting feel and reduce weight, there are updates to the clutch and transmission, battery, starter, ignition coil and evaporator canister.
The chassis and various components have been beefed up to improve handling, accommodate luggage, reduce vibration and provide more charging power from the generator. The rear subframe is now integrated with the main frame for more rigidity, and a 30mm-longer swingarm with a 2mm larger diameter swingarm pivot shaft for better steering response. Suspension is handled by a 41mm fork with firmer fork springs and 7.9 inches of travel, and a Uni-Trak rear shock with firmer damping, preload and rebound adjustability, and 7.3 inches of travel.
A larger 300mm front brake disc, which now round rather than petal-shaped, provides more power, a thicker rear disc dissipates more heat and ABS is now an available option. As before, the KLR650 rolls on 21-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels with tube-type tires, but the rear rim is made of a stronger material and the front and rear axle shafts have been enlarged for better handling.
To improve comfort, Kawasaki made reduce vibration for parts that come in contact with the rider, such as the grips, seat and pegs. The handlebars and footpegs are now rubber-mounted, there are rubber dampers under the seat and the seat shape, cover and foam have all been revised. A new fuel tank design provides a more natural fit between the rider’s knees, and the handlebar and footpeg positions have been moved outwards by 10mm to allow adjustability and put the rider in a more relaxed position.
Fuel tank volume remains the same at 6.1 gallons, but useable volume increased through redesign and a new fuel pump that draws from the very bottom of the tank. Passenger grab bars have been reshaped, and the side stand is 30mm shorter for easier deployment.
New bodywork is more rugged in terms of looks and functionality, an LED headlight is brighter, the taillight and turn signals have been redesigned, and the mirror stalks are longer for better rear visibility. A new all-digital instrument panel features an easy-to-read LCD screen with white backlighting, and functions include a speedometer, odometer, dual trip meters, fuel gauge, clock, and indicator lamps.
Kawasaki Genuine Accessories for the KLR650 include new side cases and a top case (which can be fitted with a one-key system), grip heaters, LED auxiliary lights, engine guards, a 12V power outlet and a USB socket.
2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Specs
Engine Type: Liquid-cooled single, DOHC, 4 valves
Bore x Stroke: 100.0 x 83.0mm
Transmission: 5-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Fuel System: DFI w/ 40mm throttle body
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Wheelbase: 60.6 in.
Rake/Trail: 30 degrees/4.8 in.
Seat Height: 34.3 in.
Claimed Wet Weight: 456 lbs. (non-ABS) / 461 lbs. (ABS) / 472 lbs. (Traveler) / 487 lbs. (Adventure)
Fuel Capacity: 6.1 gals.
The new KLR650 is available in several model variations and colors:
2022 Kawasaki KLR650
- MSRP: $6,699
- Colors: Pearl Sand Khaki and Pearl Lava Orange
2022 Kawasaki KLR650 ABS
- MSRP: $6,999
- Color: Pearl Sand Khaki
2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Traveler
- MSRP: $7,399
- Color: Cypher Camo Gray
- Equipped with factory-installed top case, 12V power outlet and USB socket
2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Adventure
- MSRP: $7,999
- Color: Pearl Lava Orange
- Equipped with factory-installed side cases, LED auxiliary light set, engine guards, tank pad, 12V power outlet and USB socket
For more information, visit kawasaki.com.