First look: Kawasaki update legendary KLR650
Kawasaki breathe life back into their dual-sport legend KLR650 with an all-new, 2022 “adventure hungry” model featuring a fuel-injection engine, a new range of travel accessories and special editions including a camo grey colour edition.
Kawasaki are clearly aiming far and wide with the reincarnation of the KLR650. Their new model for 2022 throws a net across adventure bike market naturally enough but also aims at commuters as much as the old following of riders taking the KLR to the trails.
The common thread across all those potential customers is a relatively cheap to own and run, single cylinder which is expected to live up to that indestructible and go-anywhere family history.
The 2022 KLRs boast plenty including a new fuel-injected 652cc single-cylinder engine which they say is more reliable and fuel-efficient plus there are a heap of new parts and features that frankly make it seem like twice the bike it always has been.
2022 KLR650 highlights:
- Fuel-injected 652cc, single-cylinder engine
- Multi-Functional Digital Instrumentation with fuel gauge
- LED Headlight
- All-new bodywork and fuel tank
- Larger front brake disc and optional ABS
- Increased carrying capacity an accessory range
Focus on the new engine
The KLR650 is powered by one of the most well-known, reliable, and trusted engines in the motorcycle industry say Kawasaki and, in the dual-sport market at least, it is hard to argue with that fact.
The liquid-cooled, four-stroke, 652cc single-cylinder engine features a DOHC cylinder head and produces a flat power curve that is typical of the breed. The 2022 model is equipped with fuel injection which combines with the 6.1 US Gal (23 litre) fuel tank, for an increased riding range between fuel stops they say – although the capacity does not actually increase, the fuel pump sits lower and therefore suck gas for longer.
Featuring fuel injection for the first time, the new KLR650 remains an easy bike to get on and ride with an electric start which, especially at high altitude or in cold conditions, makes it a reliable work horse. Kawasaki say the 10-hole, fine-atomizing fuel injector sprays 60 µm droplets, which increase air-fuel combustion efficiency. Revised intake and exhaust cam profiles improve mid-range power and torque characteristics. A stronger cam chain guide material and shape add to the increased reliability.
They also say the exhaust pipe diameter has been reduced by 7.7mm to improve mid-range torque characteristics to better suit everyday riding. An oxygen sensor provides feedback to the fuel injection system, contributing to cleaner exhaust emissions and increased fuel efficiency.
Several updates have been made to improve gear-shifting feel and reduce weight also including the clutch release bearings which have been changed from ball to thrust-needle bearings, the gear dogs in the transmission and shift fork have also been revised on third gear, and a new finishing treatment is now used for fourth and fifth gears.
A new sealed battery adds to the convenience and is significantly lighter than the previous battery Kawasaki say. The starter, ignition coil, and evaporator canister have all been revised and are now lighter than on previous models.
2022 KLR engine highlights:
- New fuel injection
- Revised cam profiles
- New exhaust pipe diameter
- Updated clutch
- Increased ACG Output
- Low maintenance battery
- Lighter starter, ignition coil and evaporator canister
- New honeycomb catalyser
2022 Chassis upgrades
Kawasaki have stuck fast with the KLR650’s proven semi-double-cradle frame but say it receives updates on the new model including a new rear frame integrated with the main frame to increase torsional rigidity. A 30mm longer swingarm with a 2mm larger diameter swingarm pivot shaft also contributes to better handling.
New chassis highlights:
- New rear subframe
- New swingarm
- Larger swingarm pivot shaft
- Front and rear suspension settings
- Larger front brake disc
- Thicker rear brake disc
- Optional ABS models
- Stronger rear wheel rim
- Larger-diameter axle
Uni-Trak system still going strong
Both front and rear suspension settings have been improved toe suit the new bike weight and “complement the new frame to help provide a more planted feel” Kawasaki say. As you’d expect and hope with a dual-sport bike the set-up is designed for both on and off-road riding. 41mm front forks with 200mm of suspension travel and firmer fork springs to improve “bump compliance and bottoming resistance” while also reducing front-end dive under heavy braking they say.
The very much tried and tested adjustable Uni-Trak system at the back has 185mm of travel which complements the front fork settings with a progressive rear suspension action while contributing to a low center of gravity, Kawasaki say. Again, it is firmer than previous models to help resist bottoming and accommodate any heavier loads not least from the additional luggage carrying capacity.
Rear spring preload and rebound damping are adjustable to allow riders to fine-tune suspension settings to suit the riding conditions and preference.
Larger, 300mm front brake disc
More power weight = bigger brakes as the new KLR gets a larger 300mm front brake disc for greater braking power. The disc shape has been changed from a petal-type disc to a round disc or rotor also. The rear brake disc is slightly thicker to improve heat dissipation when under heavy braking and is also now round.
Kawasaki are offering models with and without ABS which will be a bonus as clearly not everyone wants or needs the anti-locking system off-road, but many prefer the security on road.
The KLR650 comes equipped with a 21” front wheel and 17” rear wheel which also has a stronger rim. The front and rear tyres are tube types by the way, making it possible for roadside repairs. Both front and rear wheel axles are of a larger diameter also.
- New handlebar and footpeg positions, both with rubber mounts
- New fuel tank design with more “usable” volume
- Taller windshield
- New seat design improved comfort
- New pillion grab bars
- 30mm shorter side stand
- New bodywork
- LED headlight, plus new taillight and indicators
- All-new digital instrument panel
- Longer mirror arms
Refreshing the old comforts
The KLR650 and its old-school, trail bike ilk are known for their upright riding position but Kawasaki say they have adjusted it for 2022 “to deliver a stress-free position for a longer adventure”.
One difference is the anti-vibration rubber mounts on the handlebars and inserts in the footpegs which have also been moved 10mm outwards to provide adjustability and put the rider in a slightly more relaxed position.
A new fuel tank design on the new chassis brings a more “natural fit with the rider’s knees for comfort and increased controllability” Kawasaki says. While the volume of the new fuel tank remains the same, the useable volume has been increased through redesign and a new fuel pump that draws from the very bottom of the tank, contributing to a longer riding range.
A new windshield is 50mm taller than the previous model and features two-position adjustability giving you a further 30mm. The seat shape has been revised and the new urethane cover is both thicker and firmer to improve rider comfort – rubber dampers have also been added under the seat to aid comfort.
Passenger grab bars have been reshaped, improving passenger comfort. The side stand has been shortened 30mm, making it easier to deploy when on the bike.
The KLR650’s robust legend as a go-anywhere bike, one of the original adventure bike sof old if you like, has been built upon further for this new model. New colours and textured graphics are the new face “to emphasize its ruggedness”. New styling includes a protector-equipped shroud design, a new side cover design and tail cowl to create a “robust styling package”. The taller windshield adds to that new adventure bike look the Kawasaki engineers say they set out to achieve on the KLR650.
A new bright LED headlight will shine brighter if you’re riding past those sunsets while the new taillight and turn signal design add to the new look. Longer mirror arms help the rearwards view also.
An all-digital instrument panel offers information at-a-glance through a large display and easy-to-read LCD screen with white backlighting. The instrument panel features a speedometer, odometer, dual trip meters, fuel gauge, clock, and indicator lamps. The narrowed-down display however prioritizes visibility of the speedometer and fuel gauge.
Going big on the accessories
Kawasaki Genuine Accessories (KGA) give riders chance to personalize the looks of their KLR650 and improve the potential for travel with side and top cases. The side cases feature a top-opening design that makes it easy to add and remove items when they are mounted on the bike. They also easily clip onto their mounting brackets for a secure fit, Kawasaki says.
The top case is large enough to accommodate an off-road style helmet and both side and and the top cases can be fitted with a one-key system. There’s also a larger aluminum rear carrier, a grip heater set, LED auxiliary light set, engine guards, DC power outlet, and USB socket options.
Also new on the 2022 KLR 650 are two model variations that arrive ready fitted with the factory-equipped accessories and both come standard with ABS. The KLR 650 ADVENTURE model comes equipped with factory-installed side cases, LED auxiliary light set, engine guards, tank pad, and both DC power outlet and USB socket and is available in the Cypher Camo Gray colourway.
This model is designed for the adventurer who is looking for increased carry capacity and convenience. The KLR 650 TRAVELER model features a factory-installed top case and both DC power outlet and USB socket and comes in Pearl Lava Orange colourway.
Bright, new colours
The range colours for the 2022 KLR650 are: Pearl Sand Khaki and Pearl Lava Orange for standard models. The KLR650 ABS is available in Pearl Sand Khaki. The KLR650 ADVENTURE model is available in Cypher Camo Gray and the KLR650 TRAVELER model is available in Pearl Lava Orange.
KLR650 - $6,699
KLR650 ABS - $6,999
KLR650 TRAVELER - $7,399
KLR650 ADVENTURE - $7,999
(US price. Prices in other countries are not yet released. In fact availabilty in other countries, except in Australia, is not yet clear.)
More information: www.kawasaki.com