Car Review: A look at the 2022 Kawasaki KLR650
For 30 years, the Kawasaki KLR650 offered an affordable alternative for thrifty thrill seekers before its bemoaned demise in 2018.
Now, for the 2022 model year, the KLR650 adventure motorcycle has been resurrected, still boasting minimalistic style and bargain basement pricing but revised with freshened form and function. Updates include fuel injection, a new 23-litre fuel tank design, strengthened structural parts, new LED lighting, available ABS braking and more.
Along with the new fuel injection system the 652 cc DOHC single-cylinder engine’s internal changes include revised intake and exhaust cam profiles to boost mid-range torque levels. A new exhaust system helps in that department as well. Power levels are rated in the neighbourhood of 40 hp and 39 lb-ft of torque.
The five-speed gearbox carries over (sorry, no six-speed) but with a new clutch and with cog refinements to smooth out gear shifts.
The KLR650 wheelbase has been stretched slightly to 1,540 mm, the swingarm is 30 mm longer and the rear frame has been integrated into a single unit main frame for increased torsional strength and rigidity. Larger diameter axles and strengthened rims should improve wheel durability while the combined efforts of a larger 300 mm front disc and thicker rear disc boosts braking power.
Styling is a little more angular and a little less rounded than on the previous design and ergonomics have improved with longer mirror arms, a shorter side stand, and with a 10 mm outboard stretch of the now rubber-mounted hand grips and pegs. The angular multi-function LCD digital with fuel gauge, clock and attendant idiot lights features a simple but functional layout.
Canadian customers get two model choices – the standard KLR650 with or without ABS, and a new KLR650 Adventure model that comes standard with the ABS and adds panniers, fog lamps, frame sliders and DC/USB sockets.
In summary, the 2022 KLR650 base model ($7,499) comes in Pearl Sand Khaki while the KLR650 ABS model ($7,799) comes in Pearl Sand Khaki or Pearl Lava Orange and includes:•New improved ergonomics and ride comfort
• New digital Instrument panel
• New Bodywork including fuel tank
• New taller, two-position adjustable windshield
• New larger aluminum rear carrier
• New lighter, low maintenance battery
• New increased generator capacity
• New LED headlight
For reference, Kawasaki is reminding us that the last generation 2018 KLR650 retailed for a base MSRP of $7,199, so a price bump up of a few hundred bucks is not too hard to take considering the major revisions and content additions.
The top-of-the-line KLR650 Adventure model ($9,999) comes is Cypher Camo Gray and along with the improvements listed above also adds:
• Side Cases (Optional One-Key System)
• Fog lamps
• Frame sliders
• Tank pad
• DC and USB outlets
• Standard Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)
• Special Cypher Camo Gray colour and graphics
Keep in mind that going all-in with the global adventurer vibe will mean the addition of a top box (about $600) but, even so, Kawasaki’s prices are impressively affordable compared to the starting prices of competitors like Yamaha Tenere 700 ($12,399), Suzuki V-Strom 650XA ($10,999) and BMW F750GS ($11,310), all of those models already pricier before even adding optional touring equipment.
The 2022 Kawasaki KLR650 lineup should be arriving at dealers later this spring.