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2007 Kawasaki KLR650 Road Test


by Martin Grandé ,

A reasonable compromise!

The KLR650 is one of the most primitive motorcycles I know. Virtually unchanged since 1986, it nevertheless offers a design and components that its owners love. This year, the bike retains its traditional green attire or, for the most romantic riders, its red undergarments. Compared to rivals, the KLR650 probably takes the gold medal for on-road/off-road versatility while never giving the impression of being a motocross.

Reliable and loyal

In my opinion, the main quality of this motorcycle is reliability. Imagine, a 650-cc, 4-valve, DOHC single-cylinder engine that's liquid-cooled... We're talking about dimensions that compare to those of a 2.5L 4-cylinder car engine. This remarkable construction provides unfathomable low-end torque as well as a 4.8 L/100 km fuel economy. It's not a coincidence that American soldiers use these bikes to travel across Iraq.

The fuel economy, wind protection and large, soft seat make the KLR650 a true warrior. With a 23-litre fuel tank, a preload and rebound adjustable suspension (6-9 lb/in2 front air pressure), skid plates that protect the engine and, on top of it all, a rear carry rack designed to hold hard suitcases, this Kawasaki offers infinite possibilities to any motorcycle enthusiast. In fact, you can customize it based on your specific needs.

Where do you want to go? No problem; the KLR650 will take you there!

On the road
For highway touring, the transmission gear ratios are too closely spaced. Although engineers incorporated double engine balancer shafts, owners will most likely want to add one more sprocket to the front gear wheel in order to reduce vibrations, to enjoy a more comfortable ride and to benefit from improved fuel economy. Having tried this recipe myself, I can say that the engine reacts quite well during takeoffs, even when you're carrying a passenger. The upright position proves to be superb and comfortable for the passenger, even though this is a dual-purpose bike. Furthermore, the driver's field of vision is improved compared with a cruiser because of the bike's tall ride height.

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