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There's a surprising amount in the package.

Long Term Test Bike | Kawasaki KLR650 Adventure

It’s not often you get to ride a motorcycle fresh out of the box; unscratched and unmolested just as nature intended. Unfortunately, the KLR650 in my garage did not stay that way for long. Its destiny was always to be a life of hard labour, and no run-in maintenance schedule could get in the way of us putting it through its paces at the first opportunity.

The bone-stock KLR650 Adventure has now been thoroughly tested and this month’s long termer update will be an assessment of its viability before a single further cent is spent.

Surprisingly for an entry-level adventure steed, the KLR650 Adventure really is a complete package with plenty of perks and only a few shortcomings, typically in areas that you would expect to require attention regardless (suspension, I’m looking at you).

Seat? Comfortable. Fuel? Twenty-three litres. Protection? Bashplate (albeit plastic), engine crash bars in the front and the luggage racks at the back provide good protection. Fairing and ergonomics? Comfortable for a big guy sitting relatively upright at freeway speeds. Extras? USB port, 12V socket, fog lights and ABS for the commuters and long tar stretches (unfortunately not switchable).

The engine is torquey and has enough grunt to make the overall feel of the bike fun and capable. In our opinion, the MY22 cosmetic adjustments also look sleek and are a huge step up from previous years.

Wear and Tear

Whilst having a stock bashplate is great, I expect to eventually crack this one. The same can be said for the fog lights. Their exposed position and lightweight construction are likely to result in their death someday soon. However, a more skilled rider might not have the same issue if they can keep themselves from ending up horizontal as often as I do.

I can also all-but guarantee that the plastic panniers won’t survive their first lie down. Finally, while the black rims look fantastic, I have concerns that they might buckle with extended use.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, the rubber footpegs are a death trap after the first puddle. Aftermarket pegs are a non-negotiable addition. Riding with enthusiasm will easily result in bottoming out, and so suspension upgrades are the next must-do on the list. Forget compression or rebound damping adjusters, the front is held up by a 41mm conventional fork that will likely need heavier springs and Plex valves for hard adventure use.

The rear deserves a touch more respect as I have not yet adjusted the rebound or spring preload, but it will still need a heavier spring at a minimum. Finally, the handguards are cheap, light and plastic and aren’t going to do anything when I end up punching a tree. To even describe them as handguards feels dishonest.

As always, a new exhaust is the first ‘want’ item on the list. Whilst the engine is sufficient, any power gains would be felt immediately as the motor is increasingly underwhelming as it rises through the rev range. The next is a stronger handlebar for longevity and better ergos, and adventure ’grips so my hands realise that they aren’t riding a Ninja 300. Whilst it’s not a ‘need’, my bulging discs would also enjoy a cushy seat for the ride home when I’m sore and spent.


RRP: $10,129
WARRANTY: 24 months all parts and labour
DISTRIBUTOR: Kawasaki Australia


MODS NEXT MONTH: Footpegs, suspension

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