The internet abounds with plenty of people criticising Kawasaki’s revamp 2022 KLR650.
Sure, it’s far from a cutting edge motorcycle like the KTM 890 and Triumph Tiger, and on the face of it is even more basic than the Yamaha Tenere 700. But that’s why the KLR650 makes sense. It’s a budget bike like it has always been and overseas pricing hints it won’t cost too much more than the last time the KLR650 was sold new.
In fact, if you’re going to compare the KLR to bikes currently in the marketplace it more directly competes with the likes of the Benelli TRK502 and Royal Enfield Himalayan than a T7.
So for 2022 the KLR650 has returned to the global market with a host of changes and even more similarities to the second generation KLR.
The frame remains the same, but Kawasaki has replaced the problematic subframe which had a tendency to break where it bolted to the frame with heavy loads. The subframe is now grafted to the frame so this should improve reliability.
The engine has received a slew of updates as well, including EFI which should make the dinosaur of an engine last out against emissions regulations for another decade at least.
While other countries will get the option of a KLR without ABS, NZ models will only come in ABS guise. While we haven’t had word directly from Kawasaki NZ on the exact type of ABS system other outlets report it is the same system that debuted on the KLX230 last year. That means that while it is not a switch able system, it has been developed with off road riding in mind.
Another big leap in technology for the KLR is the move to a digital dash display which offers all the usual info, except a tachometer. It does, however, offer a fuel gauge for the massive 23-litre fuel tank for the first time.
Styling is the other major update to the KLR, with more angular body panels, new LED headlight that much like the second generation before it mimics the headlights of Kawasaki’s street machines, plus a higher spec adventure model which features panniers, crash bars and auxiliary lights as standard.
So the third generation KLR does offer more than ever before and is a step forward for Kawasaki, so why all the hate?
Personally, I think it’s due to the general riding public expecting yet another high performance off roader, but I think Kawasaki have played it smart by simply updating the tried and tested design for the 2020s.
Adding another bike into the already crowded high-spec adventure class seems like a dumb move. The category is already teaming with bikes with good suspension, twin-cylinder engines and switchable ABS and traction control for riders who want to test the limits.
The KLR has never been that kind of bike. It’s always been an honest working travel bike that is tough as nails and un-intimidating. Sure it won’t get you there as fast as other bikes, but it’ll still get you there, and it’ll hurt your wallet a lot less to do so.
That, is why the 2022 Kawasaki KLR650 makes sense. It’s the bike that will take you touring the countryside along all sorts of roads, but it is priced in order to be the gateway drug of many an aspiring adventure riding.
Kudos to Kawasaki for keeping it real.