2022 Kawasaki KLR650 | First Look Review

2022 Kawasaki KLR650
2022 Kawasaki KLR650 in Pearl Lava Orange. After a three-year hiatus, the popular dual-sport returns heavily updated from the ground up.

As far as dual-sport motorcycles go, the Kawasaki KLR650 is the stuff of legend. We’re big fans of the KLR650, and when it was dropped from Kawasaki’s lineup we wrote a heartfelt requiem for our old friend. Part of what made the KLR650 so remarkable was how little it changed over its 32-year history. The word “venerable” gets thrown around a lot when referring to motorcycles with long histories, but a photo of a KLR650 belongs next to “venerable” in the dictionary. After a brief retirement, the 2022 Kawasaki KLR650 returns with some major upgrades. And it’s still one of the best bargains on two wheels, starting at just $6,699.

2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Adventure
2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Adventure in Cypher Camo Gray. Standard equipment includes factory-installed side cases, LED auxiliary light set, engine guards, tank pad, 12V power outlet and USB socket.

Even though the KLR650 has been one of Kawasaki’s best sellers for years, it departed after the 2018 model year because its carbureted single-cylinder engine didn’t satisfy emissions requirements. The new-for-2022 KLR650 is powered by a fuel-injected 652cc single that promises “increased reliability” (which has never been a problem for the KLR … its picture could also be in the dictionary under “bulletproof”) and better “fuel efficiency” (the KLR was never a gas hog, either, but more range is always a good thing).

2022 Kawasaki KLR650
2022 Kawasaki KLR650 in Pearl Sand Khaki, which is available with or without ABS.

Kawasaki says the KLR650’s new 10-hole fine-atomizing injector sprays teeny-tiny 60 µm droplets and works in conjunction with an oxygen sensor to optimize air-fuel mixing,  combustion and fuel efficiency. Revised intake and exhaust cam profiles and a narrower exhaust pipe diameter improve midrange power and torque characteristics. And the aforementioned increased reliability comes courtesy of a stronger material and shape for the cam chain guide material. To improve shifting feel and reduce weight, there are updates to the clutch and transmission, battery, starter, ignition coil and evaporator canister.

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2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Adventure
2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Adventure in Cypher Camo Gray. More wind protection, more comfort, more range, new instrumentation…the list of updates goes on and on.

The chassis and various components have been beefed up to improve handling, accommodate luggage, reduce vibration and provide more charging power from the generator. The rear subframe is now integrated with the main frame for more rigidity, and a 30mm-longer swingarm with a 2mm larger diameter swingarm pivot shaft for better steering response. Suspension is handled by a 41mm fork with firmer fork springs and 7.9 inches of travel, and a Uni-Trak rear shock with firmer damping, preload and rebound adjustability, and 7.3 inches of travel.

2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Adventure
2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Adventure in Cypher Camo Gray. New bodywork is more aggressive, but still looks like a KLR. Adventure model comes with LED auxiliary lights.

A larger 300mm front brake disc, which now round rather than petal-shaped, provides more power, a thicker rear disc dissipates more heat and ABS is now an available option. As before, the KLR650 rolls on 21-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels with tube-type tires, but the rear rim is made of a stronger material and the front and rear axle shafts have been enlarged for better handling.

2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Traveler
2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Traveler in Pearl Lava Orange. Standard equipment includes factory-installed top case, 12V power outlet and USB socket.

To improve comfort, Kawasaki made reduce vibration for parts that come in contact with the rider, such as the grips, seat and pegs. The handlebars and footpegs are now rubber-mounted, there are rubber dampers under the seat and the seat shape, cover and foam have all been revised. A new fuel tank design provides a more natural fit between the rider’s knees, and the handlebar and footpeg positions have been moved outwards by 10mm to allow adjustability and put the rider in a more relaxed position.

2022 Kawasaki KLR650
The 2022 Kawasaki KLR650 has received more upgrades than all previous model years combined.

Fuel tank volume remains the same at 6.1 gallons, but useable volume increased through redesign and a new fuel pump that draws from the very bottom of the tank. Passenger grab bars have been reshaped, and the side stand is 30mm shorter for easier deployment. 

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New bodywork is more rugged in terms of looks and functionality, an LED headlight is brighter, the taillight and turn signals have been redesigned, and the mirror stalks are longer for better rear visibility. A new all-digital instrument panel features an easy-to-read LCD screen with white backlighting, and functions include a speedometer, odometer, dual trip meters, fuel gauge, clock, and indicator lamps.

2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Adventure
2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Adventure in Cypher Camo Gray

Kawasaki Genuine Accessories for the KLR650 include new side cases and a top case (which can be fitted with a one-key system), grip heaters, LED auxiliary lights, engine guards, a 12V power outlet and a USB socket.

2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Specs

Engine Type: Liquid-cooled single, DOHC, 4 valves
Displacement: 652cc
Bore x Stroke: 100.0 x 83.0mm
Transmission: 5-speed, cable-actuated wet clutch
Fuel System: DFI w/ 40mm throttle body
Final Drive: O-ring chain
Wheelbase: 60.6 in.
Rake/Trail: 30 degrees/4.8 in.
Seat Height: 34.3 in.
Claimed Wet Weight: 456 lbs. (non-ABS) / 461 lbs. (ABS) / 472 lbs. (Traveler) / 487 lbs. (Adventure)
Fuel Capacity: 6.1 gals.

The new KLR650 is available in several model variations and colors:

2022 Kawasaki KLR650

  • MSRP: $6,699
  • Colors: Pearl Sand Khaki and Pearl Lava Orange

2022 Kawasaki KLR650 ABS

  • MSRP: $6,999
  • Color: Pearl Sand Khaki

2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Traveler

  • MSRP: $7,399
  • Color: Pearl Lava Orange
  • Equipped with factory-installed top case, 12V power outlet and USB socket

2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Adventure

  • Non-ABS MSRP: $7,699
  • ABS MSRP: $7,999
  • Color: Cypher Camo Gray
  • Equipped with factory-installed side cases, LED auxiliary light set, engine guards, tank pad, 12V power outlet and USB socket

For more information, visit kawasaki.com.

2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Photo Gallery:

81 COMMENTS

  1. they had a chance… what a bummer. I thoroughly read through all the upgrades, and these are upgrades that should have been done in 2005… this is what a 2005 KLR650 should have been… Get a CSC RX4 lighter, more powerful, and a modern design, and thousands cheaper… 5spd Kawasaki?… come on jeez. The die-hards will hang with you, but not sure if there’s enough of them anymore, they’ve moved on.

    • Sorry. No can do. Until a manufacturer like Zongshen can back up their promises with decades of reliable service from their machines, it won’t matter if the machine is priced lower.
      And believe me, the faithful still exist and we haven’t “moved on” just because new models haven’t been available. I own several bikes, and the two I ride most often are an ’02 XR650L and an ’07 KLR. Many thousands of miles and several long treks on both, and neither has ever broken down. Not once. If Zongshen/CSC ever gets close to that kind of reliability, I might think……
      Nah.

      • My friend and I rented KLR’s in Anchorage, Alaska, and rode them to Prudhoe Bay and back, taking the eastern loop on the return trip to Anchorage. One can imagine the conditions these bikes are put through. When we returned the turn-signals were held on with electrical tape, the side case brackets were broken and cracked. (There were obvious welds from previous repairs to the brackets). But the KLR’s ram flawless! And exce[t for the most expensive to rent BMW’s, the KLR offered the fuel capacity/range required to ride the Dalton Hwy. The KLR650 has earned the reputation of “bullet-proof”.

      • Here, here!!! My last KLR650 was the screamin’ lime green/black/white/silver 2007 1st Gen, and I’ve missed it ever since I had to sell it during my divorce. Now that I’m 60 and looking for a great commuter and short-range tourer, Super K has revived my old friend with a facelift and an upgraded ticker (to a degree). I can’t disagree with anything Kawasaki has done, except maybe tossed a few more accessory items our way. But, I’ll give them time. Very soon, the “good times” will be rolling again! Mazeltov!

      • spot on. KLR’s are really a crappy hotel motorcycles which really is what a lot of folks are looking for actually. If I was a real, diehard single track rider I would just get a 125 or 250 pure off road and haul it in my pickup to the nearest single track location and call it a day. This pseudo adventure hotel camping thing cracks me up and i see it a lot here on the Oregon Coast. I also see a lot of adventure bikes running tires more suited for my k1200 rs sport touring bike. I am shocked at at folks absurdity.

    • I HAVE same thoughts.
      What a waste of dedication.
      Buyers will be prpbably just krl owners.
      390ktm offers alot more.. Ugly and not capable but it has 2021 technology, this krl looks so old.

    • Yeah…of course they could have done x, y, and z to make it better, and maybe this is more lipstick on the same old pig. And yes, there are “better” bikes out there in its class. But does this CSC whatddyacallit have a decades long legacy of bulletproof reliability?

  2. I wonder if Kawasaki addressed the “do hicky” spelling??? The might have done so since the cam chain guide is said to be beefed up..

    • I’ve read elsewhere that the “do-hickey” issues of the past have been addressed with newer upgraded components.
      So sad. No more group “do-hickey” parties.

    • Kawasaki improved the lower and side cam chain guide material, the major cause of limp doohickeys, the material wasn’t the best. Only one guide has to fail to make it look like the tensioner spring has stretched or is to long. For example, if a guide lets go only at one end the motor still runs and the guide is still there but the chain pushes it out of the way and takes a shortcut and the spring cannot take up the extra slack. The aftermarket doohickey springs take up more slack than the stock spring does but the worn or broken guides are still there. Replacing the guides will give the original spring the correct tension again. Kawasaki now claims the guides are made of more durable material. That is their doohickey fix.

    • I also live in Calgary Alberta and bought a 2022 KLR. From the Kawasaki.ca email and Blackfoot Motorsports salesman, looks like maybe next week? let’s cross our fingers.

  3. Hmmmm….a bit heavy for an off reader…I guess I’m a little biased as I have Zuki DR650 SE….366 lbs. or 166 kgs. Soaking wet. This KLR 650 is in the same weight category with the large adventure bikes, read, Africa Twin…my Twin DCT model is approx 525 lbs. or 236 kgs.
    This article did not give the torque/H.P. specs.
    SHUMBA

  4. It looks interesting, but the 34.5 inch seat height kills it for me. May be fine for you tall guys, but I don’t like leaning a bike at every stop. On a bike like this, I’d be willing to lose a little suspension for a lower seat.

    • You get used to it. Flat footing is way over-rated
      – At 5’8″ the KLR was my first bike… Fast forward to today, I scoot around on a WR250R with a 36″ seat height

  5. Brilliant Marketing move by Kawi! Sure, everyone was hoping for a Twin and a more sophisticated bike, but that would have pushed it north of $9k or $10k…. and that bike would not compete with the plethora of $10k-$12k mid sized adventurers already out there…. namely the Tenere 700. The upgrades are a game changer (fuel injection, etc) and they kept the MSRP under $6,700k. Brilliant! These will sell like hot cakes!

    If anyone wants more motorcycle, don’t criticize this one….. just go drop your Cleveland’s on a Tenere 700 or a KTM 790. In a smart business move, Kawasaki just kept their niche in the world of Adventure Motorcycles.

    ………..

    • You are 100% correct. Some are crying that they want a twin, 50lbs less etc etc, but they fail to understand that will push the price way up and there is already plenty of choice in that price range. For what this bike can do and it’s reliability the value is amazing.

      • I agree with Alan; there needs to be a “value” market option. Somehow, I feel that it is cheating to buy a monster KTM for a camping bike. That said, fuel injection has been missing (who wants to adjust the carburetor for high elevation?). This new KLR is perfect for road-adventure riding. Still, I am holding-out for the DR or XR to get upgraded.

  6. KLR need a true low gear. My GL1800 first gear is lower than my KLR first gear. When riding in rough terrain you constantly have to feather the clutch. It would be nice to be able to drop into first gear and just idle through.

    • Yes, I do agree with the need for a lower 1st. Like a lot of KLR owners, I tweaked the final drive ratio to enhance off-road performance. Of course you pay the price with more revs at highway speed and crappy fuel mileage.
      I wouldn’t want to see the transition to a 6-speed box. To keep the same case width, you’d have to make each gearset narrower and less reliable, and of course that would bump up costs.
      I would be happy to keep 5, and just spread the ratios out a bit. I have no problem using 2nd to pull away from stoplights. My 1st is really only used offroad. I’d even be happier with a taller 5th to loaf along on the road.
      But all things considered, if this is our biggest gripe, it’s hard to ignore that voice in your head that says, “If it ain’t broke….”

      • Totally agree!
        A wide-ratio 5 spd would have made me sell my Gen 2 for this new model and they would not have had to change the castings.
        Even more frustrating is the understanding through some factory sources that they had a wide ratio KLR “police gear set” used in Japan a decade or so ago. 🥴

    • Change the counter shaft sprocket by one tooth and be done with it. I’ve put close to 175K on my KLR, change the counter shaft sprocket to suit the riding conditions. A KLR with the right sprocket combo can have the same pulling power at an idle as a John Deere tractor.

  7. Welcome back, my reliable friend. I missed you a whole bunch…and you look so good! Hopefully, I will see you soon. Regards,
    Rob

  8. I like the new styling. Do I sell my 2016 Vstrom 650 for one of these, tempting but will need to ride one first to make a decision, any comments gladly accepted.

    • Depends on what you want of course, but looks to me like you’d be getting more clearance and marginally better suspension and losing a lot of comfort and power. I have a 650 Vstrom, buddy had a KLR, he sold it because he had a hard time keeping up on the road. If you’re riding with buddies and need to pass a slow vehicle, that’s kind of a big deal.

      I’m not slagging the KLR, lots of people love them and if it resonates with you, that’s what matters.

  9. I had a 2007. I have a few other bikes but the old KLR was a blast. It is what it is. I changed the the counter sprocket to add one more tooth for a little better road RPM’s I never did too much trail riding with it, but it was great on fire roads.

  10. I own a ktm 2020 690r & a 2020 790r, 2 totally different bikes & so is the Kawi.
    I’m buying the klr with all it’s gear for the long haul daze.

    You don’t race when you’re loaded for distance.
    Kawasaki R&D knows this….

  11. I have two old KLRs and have been to a number of “no roads past this point” countries with them. I agree that the new thumper is way over-weight– I guess it could be lighter and more expensive, right? For what these bikes get used for, why oh why did Kawa not give it a stump-puller 1st gear, a highway 5th gear, and normally spaced ratios in between? It’s got the torque to handle it. A tractor doesn’t need a sporty transmission.

  12. Thoroughly updated? Updated sure but that seems an overstatement. I had read Kaw discontinued the KLR mainly due to poor sales yet they come back with essentially the same bike? 450 – 500 lbs. with a 40 hp single is not my idea of a dual sport. I like big thumpers but my lightened/modded DR650 at 345 lbs. wet and 45 hp is my idea of one. Exciting performance this KLR will not deliver but then again, plodding along reliably on one of these is the mission for some and they could care less how quick or nimble it is. Yamaha is grateful to still have the market cornered among the big 4 with the T7. Who knows, perhaps Kaw will still use the 650 twin in a T7 competitor some day.

  13. For the inseam challenged I’m sure there will be an aftermarket lowering kit like before, along with a center standard to help with maintenance at home or afield. Nice to see it back at a pricing point to enable one to have a second (or third) bike in the garage.

  14. Love my old 2008. Installed a lowering link for the rear shock and installed stiffer fork springs. Perfect. Rides like the best of the dressers. Personalizing your klr is a fun way to make your bike yours! Long live the klr, another 30 or more years.

  15. I was hopeful. My son and I have good memories of our KLR days. At almost 100 lbs heavier and significantly more money… FAIL! 😢

    I guess I’ll have to go get an old used one. Glad I got the Versys-X 300! Well, Kawasaki, some you win, some you lose.

  16. oh, the folly of leaving it as a 5 speed.
    40kW is fine, the other changes are fine …… but an extra gear would mean easier cruising around 100kph and allow us the option of lowering the gearing for slower or sandy work.
    How hard would that have been?

  17. I have a 2017 KLR with 33,800 miles on it,(4th KLR) I also have a new 2018 KLR 0 miles covered and ready next in line. I’ll be riding “old” KLRs for a long time,I hope (I’m 68).

    • Dennis,
      I am thinking about replacing my stolen KLR with a new one. 68 next month. I like that the carb is gone. The Doohickey is also a thing of the past. I keep looking on Craigslist for a good deal though. I had to laugh that you had extra KLR’s in stock for future use.
      Keep Riding.

    • You’d better be riding that ‘zero miles’ 2018 at least a little to keep the internals lubricated. An engine and tranny can corrode inside without oil circulation.

  18. Everyone complains about the WET weight. 6 gallons of gas is like 50 pounds, right? So around 400 dry weight. Take off the muffler and lose 10 pounds….

  19. The only brand new bike I ever bought was a 2008 KLR650. I absolutely loved that bike and wished I had not sold it. When I did it had 67K miles on it and I rode it everywhere, I even took trips on it. It was on that bike my wife took her first motorcycle trip and we have great stories to tell. I’ve rode high end Dual Sport Bikes, and overly heavy BMW’s and KTM adventure bikes and, while you can say what you want, Kawasaki got it right in 1985 and got it right again in 2008. Now for 2022, I’ll bet they have a great bike again and will have a strong following. As for adventure bike, the KLR has the right DNA. I’ll be looking at purchasing a new one.

  20. I had two, a 2006 and a ’08 and put 65K combined miles on them. I ride a 2017 Africa Twin now but if I had a chance to ride to Ushuaia I would use a KLR because it’s comfortable, it actually handles pretty good, it’s fast enough (it will go an honest 90+mph) and gets a gold star for reliability. I also know it well enough that I could cope with just about any problem but the AT would be a more complicated test of my patience. I would pick the base model gen3, it’s a real bargain but not the traveler or adventure which are overpriced for what you get. The aftermarket offers a better selection of accessories at better prices.

  21. No Electronic Cruise Control, Really??? Have always loved the KLR but cmon, time to step into the 20th century now that it’s the 21st.

  22. Little story here , me and my friend ,riding on a country road having a good time.
    Him with is KLR and me with a DR , i was following him and he got hit by a dear, coming like a bullet and it him at the fork from the side, i saw it all happening in front of me , he dove at about 60kph and rolled like a sausage, in front of me seeing his eyes getting bigger at every turn he made on himself , i had to slow down fast to not hit him. The thing is that we could rely on the KLR after this crash to jump back on it and make it home for the hospital with a broken heel and big bruise and scratch. At the hospital they ask how come he did not show up in an ambulance we said we relied on the KLR

  23. I have never owned a KLR 650, but have admired its “running mule” personality for decades. I always told myself if ever they inject it, maybe I’ll give it a shot. Seems like every time Kawi updates it, the nay-sayers come out of the walls to beat it down. Yet it still sells to the folks who love it’s range, reliability, and good seat. That says a lot to me. It’s time, now, for me to join the faithful. The 2022 Adventure, with ABS, aux light bar, bigger fairing/windscreen and grip warmers appeals to me. I’ll keep the small factory side cases, if they’re durable (for local use mostly), change out the engine guard for an aftermarket set w/skid plate, add a thumb-operated throttle lock, and lower it a bit. For back support I’ll throw on a dry bag. Oh yeah, and maybe paint it “green”. Look out for a too old, too fat, loaded down to the max GVWR, bearded geezer. I’ll be whizzing west over the Rockies at 73mph, in my “conspicuity yellow” Aerostich onesie. Not concerned about your limp opinion, pilgrim. Ride with me, follow me, pass me, or stay in your lane and I’ll pass you. GERONIMO!!!!

  24. Count me in . Kawasaki did everything absolutely perfect. I’m definitely purchasing a new KLR650 the price is right . The improvements are spot on. Absolutely no complaints. Thank you Kawasaki for making this again.

  25. It cracks me up the pretentious people on here this bike has been an affordable bulldozer for years and the same people that look down on people for having an everyday job look down on people that that didn’t spend 15 to 20 grand on a bmw or African twin that broke down a lot more then the 6 grand work horse we all ride for the same reason so stop being so judgmental we ride what we can I’m lucky enough to be able to ride what I want and I ride a klr so stop the bs

  26. I just want someone, anyone, to tell me when I can buy one. If there is anything that makes me angry, it’s when the Pilot comes on the intercom to say, “Hello Folks, we will be landing in about 20 mins”, only to land in 40 mins. That’s the vibe I get from Kawasaki. Does anyone in their PR department know what the hell they are doing? When are these machine available for sale? If they can’t figure that calendar date out within a week at this stage in the game, they are useless. People are buying their bikes for the summer right now.

  27. i live in Portugal i own a new cb500xa really nice bike plenty powerful for around our mountains but i would loved a klr650 but they are not euro 4/5 for here so come on kwackers get your finger out get it euro 4 and get loads more customers

  28. Road my KLR650 all over Rampart Range in Denver Colorado with my wife on the back we even attempted widow-maker Hill with our two fat ass has she made it to the top

  29. It’s funny how Non-KLR peeps are bagging on a bike & “riding category” they obviously DON’T know. It’s not for tech-geeks that need the latest and coolest stuff. It’s for people that wanna log some serious miles & actually GO OFF-ROAD…ya know…an “Adventure Bike”? For me, the KLR is one of the few bikes that fit my needs and it’s one of the very few under $10K or even $15K that can actually “Adventure”, ya know?
    As for the KTM 390? It’s too small and works too hard on real highways and freeways & the CSC Chi-Com Special that others have suggested? Uh, no.
    Again, I’m a dirt-bike guy. The KLR suits me. I’ve got everything from an RM125 to CRF450L out in the garage. I ride “off-road”. Just rode my 8th Rip to Cabo in May. I’ve done 300-400 mile days in real off-road terrain. So, now that I’m finally getting around to purchasing my own Adventure Scooter? It’s gonna be the venerable KLR…with injection, thank you!
    Last week I got confirmation on July delivery of my KLR650 Adventure Non-ABS. Like I said, I’m a dirt-bike guy. ABS annoys me…even in a Ford Raptor (Love it in a Porsche, tho!) See you all out on the trials.
    Manny

  30. My 2018 KLR suits me well. My only complaint is tha the kickstand is too long. Most of my wrecks were from trying to put it on the kickstand! I am oldschool and prefer a carb. After the JD jet kit and FMF muffler and thermo bob, it runs like I expected out of the box. I have 2100 miles so far. But . . . .I also put lowered footpegs. Offroad footpegs, rock gaurd, crash bars , tusk soft Panniers . Tusk off road knobbies flood lights rox risers pro taper handlebars and grips lower dash usb n 12 volt socket/ switches that i upgraded and probably a few things I forgot. It was supposedly the last 2018 klr650 in oregon that was new in 2020. This is the last bile I will ever buy. It is a little tall for me at 5’9″ but I may carve the foam soon or spring for an aftermarket seat. I ride alot of mountainous gravel roads and I can roll on the throttle and fishtail the rear with or without camping gear. Meh, NO HOTELS FOR THIS KID. BTW, I’m 54 yo.

    • While carbs are fun… There is something to be said about fuel injection…
      – It doesn’t matter if it’s cold/hot outside, starts on first try.
      – Going from sea level to the mountain? No problem either

  31. Just bought mine last week. Khaki color base model. It’s amazing. I’m 48, and have wanted one of these since the 80’s. It’s my first bike since I was a kid and rode an XR-80 and couldn’t be happier. Best bike for out here in the Colorado Rockies where I live, in my opinion. Don’t need to be breaking down alone 50 miles from cell phone range, and I know I can depend on this bike.

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