Skip to content


Isaac rearranges the flight deck

Long Term Test Bike | Kawasaki KLR650 Adventure

This month we have some goodies for the for the KLR650. Our mates at Serco and  Barkbusters sent us a ProTaper Evo Adventure handlebar, Clamp On Pillow Top handgrips and Barkbuster VPS handguards with tapered-bar mounts and bar weights. The Pillow Top ’grips are comfortable and plenty grippy.

I feel no inclination to ever return to waffle grips for adventure riding. The EVO Adventure ’bar is, surprisingly, designed for adventure bikes (duh, genius) and features a higher rise, flatter profile and larger control area for doodads compared to ProTapers other bars.

I’ve got PT Henry/Reed bars on my DR650 and think that the Adventure bars, while not as aggressive, are definitely better suited to the looser style and feel of adventure riding. They also come in a higher version (51mm higher to be precise), which may suit some riders better.

When picking a handlebar, the best advice I can give is to measure everything out and think deeply beforehand. Making a cardboard cut-out bar is a great idea to get a feel for a new bend, just make sure you don’t get it mixed up with your stock bar later …

In previous issues I stated that a new handlebar for the KLR650 was a “want” rather than “need” item. I maintain that they aren’t essential, but here are two good reasons to consider them. The first is that they simply look and feel the business, especially for larger riders and bikes with constricted bar set-ups. A new handlebar can make an instant improvement to rider feel, feedback and confidence (or it may not, the trick is to figure that out before you put your hard-earned coin down!). The second reason is that an aftermarket ’bar will always be magnitudes stronger than most stock ones and will probably pay for itself in the long run.

This isn’t much praise I can give to Barkbusters that we have not already given them time and time again. Good handguards are an essential hand, wrist and controls-saving mod for all enduro and ADV bikes, and I am yet to see a reason to go past Aussie-made Barkies. The weights made a noticeable difference in handlebar vibration, and I also noticed that they’ve updated their mounting system for tapered bars; it now installs more easily and channels cables more cleanly. Sometimes it’s the little things.

Best Ride

My best ride of the month was a day out past the Zig Zag Railway in Clarence (Blue Mountains, NSW). Taking Bells Line of Road to Clarence is, in my opinion, the best ride to the dirt within a day’s ride  of Sydney. Frequented by riders of all persuasions, the winding road is interesting and features plenty of good places to stop.

Accompanied by a mate on a worked 2011 KLR, we made our way to the fantastically named Gooch’s Crater, a nearby trig point and finally the Lost City. This ride was on the second sunny day after the crazy rains and getting to the crater involved powering through some long and deep puddles you can see above.

Getting up to and down from the trig point was even more challenging, with some relatively steep hills made even more complicated by wet clay. I also attempted some singletrack from the trig point before seeing some seriously rocky drops that would challenge me on a two-stroke. I decided that it was time to sacrifice my pride and keep my body intact. Finally, getting to the Lost City involved navigating some rutted tracks and hills which was good fun, and is a must for every Sydney off-roader for the view alone.


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


MODS THIS MONTH: ProTaper handlebar, ProTaper Pillow Top ’grips, Barkbuster VPS handguards

< previous review  |  next review >