2022 Kawasaki KLR650 | Top 10 critics | Rider’s magazine


Drive the new Kawasaki KLR650 Adventure in New Mexico. (Photos by Drew Ruiz)

I have just spent the last five days driving over 1000 miles on Kawasakilegendary dual-sport icon, the KLR650, newly updated for 2022. Our on and off road journey started at RFD-TV Ranch, located about 100 miles east of Albuquerque, and spent two days traversing the beautiful forests and mountains of New Mexico, including rocky passes, sandy ravines, and a grueling silt trail. nerves.

No evaluation of the KLR would be complete without loading it with camping gear, as many of its potential owners will, and heading out into the wild. On the morning of the third day, I set my sights west toward Los Angeles, experiencing a massive thunderstorm on the Arizona border and temperatures of 120 degrees in the vast Mojave Desert, details of which will follow. in our next test drive review. To whet your appetite, I’ll share the top ten highlights of the KLR650 2022 with you.

First released in 1987, the KLR was at the forefront of the era. Its single cylinder engine had four valves. It was equipped with a 5-speed transmission and a front disc brake. The KLR received its only major update in 2008, followed by minor update in 2014, and was anything but state of the art, which is true of the later model. However, it has received significant improvements without altering the core attributes that have earned the KLR a reputation for reliable, durable and cost-effective travel.


1. Electronic fuel injection

While some of the Loyal KLR fans will mourn the passing of the Keihin carburetor, even they will appreciate the reliable thudding sound after each press of the start button. We tested the new KLR at 8,000 feet in the mountains of New Mexico and just 400 feet in the scorching heat of the Mojave Desert Bowl, and the single came to life with ease every time. A state-of-the-art fuel atomizer also ensures you get the best value for your money, and Kawasaki claims increased low-end torque.

The single cylinder engine is now equipped with EFI.

2. Improved brakes including ABS

The 2022 KLR650 now includes ABS as a factory-installed option, and at $ 300, many will choose to include it. We tested the KLR with and without ABS to compare on-road and off-road braking. The setup works great, and although it was difficult to detect its intervention on the model equipped with ABS, I noticed its absence in the dirt on the model without ABS. Fortunately, I was still able to lock the rear wheel on the ground when I wanted. The front disc is now 300mm, 20mm longer than the previous model, and offers a much needed improvement in stopping power. The rear disc is now thicker and less prone to fading.

2022 Kawasaki KLR650
The front disc is 20mm larger.
2022 Kawasaki KLR650
The rear disc is thicker and less prone to fading.

3. Increased load capacity

By making the subframe an integrated part of the main chassis, Kawasaki has increased the torsional stiffness and load capacity of the KLR, which is also handled by a slightly longer swingarm. These updates improve stability and allow for more predictable handling on soft surfaces, especially when the bike is loaded with gear.

2022 Kawasaki KLR650
The subframe is now integrated with the mainframe for increased stability and load capacity. (Photo by the author)

4. Adjustable rear suspension

The rear suspension now includes five clicks of adjustable preload and progressive rebound damping, which is adjusted via a screw. On a mid-weight adventure bike like the KLR, this is a welcome addition, as many owners will want to take it on serious tours, which require loading a considerable amount of kit. For the two nights I spent camping, I had loaded about 70 pounds on the KLR, keeping the heaviest gear in the side bags. After adding a click of preload and a full turn of rebound, the resulting handling was incredibly similar to that of the unloaded KLR.


2022 Kawasaki KLR650
Adjustable rear suspension damping and preload are a welcome addition.

5. Adjustable windshield

The new windshield is 2 inches longer than the old model and is now adjustable. The standard low position provides good wind deflection, even for higher riders. For long journeys, to reduce fatigue or combat the cold, the windshield can be adjusted by removing the four retaining screws and raising it an inch higher. Still, it’s still a sport-sized windshield, and it offered little respite from a severe thunderstorm I encountered in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest.

2022 Kawasaki KLR 650 |  Top 10 Review2022 Kawasaki KLR 650 |  Top 10 reviews
The new windshield is higher and can also be adjusted (here on the Adventure model, which is also equipped with auxiliary lights).

6. Battery and generator

The new KLR has an upgraded battery that is fully sealed, requires little maintenance, and is smaller and lighter than the old one. To supplement the battery and power a new range of accessories and charging ports, the KLR has also been fitted with a new 28 amp generator.

2022 Kawasaki KLR 650
The Adventure model we tested comes with factory installed auxiliary lights.

7. Accessory bar and electrical ports

It might seem like a minor item to include in the top ten list, but we think the nifty accessory bar that Kawasaki has included on the new KLR is a great addition and should be standard on adventure bikes. Rather than charging your handlebars with phone, GPS and camera mounts, along with all associated wiring, these can be easily mounted on the accessory bar and powered via the standard USB or DC power outlet. 12 volts.

2022 Kawasaki KLR 650 |  Top 10 reviews
An accessory bar adds practicality.
2022 Kawasaki KLR 650 |  Top 10 reviews
A 12V DC socket is now standard.
2022 Kawasaki KLR 650 |  Top 10 reviews
A USB socket has also been installed.

8. Stronger promising points

The key points supporting the suspended weight of the KLR have all been reinforced. Front and rear wheel axle diameters have been increased, now 2mm and 3mm thicker respectively. The rear swingarm pivot has also received a 2mm upgrade and adds to the KLR’s long-term reliability and ability to handle increased load capacity and overall weight.

2022 Kawasaki KLR 650 |  Top 10 reviews
The base model, shown here in Pearl Khaki.

9. Bodywork and styling

An all-new hood and more aggressive styling subtly improves the overall appearance of the new KLR. The 2022 model retains the old shape, but is a bit more angular and looks a bit taller. The base model is complemented by a Traveler and Adventure model, and the latter is fitted with engine guards and hood guards, adding to its rugged, all-terrain credentials. The base and the Traveler model are available in Pearl Lava Orange or Pearl Sand Khaki, and the Adventure is available in Cypher Camo Gray.

2022 Kawasaki KLR650
The Traveler model in Pearl Lava Orange.

10. Digital display

The 2022 KLR features a new fully digital LCD display. Now larger and backlit, the new instrument is easier to read and performs well in all lighting conditions. Information is still limited to the essentials, but that is the essence of the KLR. A digital speedometer, an odometer, two tripometers, a clock and finally an appropriate fuel gauge.

2022 Kawasaki KLR650
The new LCD instrument panel is larger and includes an appropriate fuel gauge.


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