Middleweight dual-sport motorcycles might just be the most fun a person can have on two wheels. They are light, nimble, easy to ride, adventurous, cheap, and reliable. One of the kings of the dual-sport world is the Kawasaki KLR 650, and in 2018 after nearly 30 years, Kawasaki discontinued its legendary dual-sport.
As the folks at ADV Pulse pointed out, the best clue we have is the shots of a vast desert in the promo video. They could certainly be teasing a different adventure bike, but the market trends show that it might be less likely.
The new lineup
Kawasaki recently released a teaser of their new lineup. There will six new models. It seems to be that three will be for the track and at least one for the trails. One of the six new models had some knobby tires, a tall stance, and wire wheels. This one seems a little beefier than a regular dirt bike. Could it be? Is the KLR 650 or at least something like it coming?
The time for Dual sport is now.
The adventure-bike market has been booming ever since Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman wrestled their monster BMWs around the globe in “Long Way Round.” Everyone wanted the beefy beamers, but lately, adventure bikers have come to their senses and gone for the cheaper, lighter, and frankly, better middling and small-sized dual-sports.
There is no question that Kawasaki is paying attention to this trend. This is why we believe the KLR 650 (or something like it) could be coming back.
The future of Kawasaki dual-sport bikes
When the KLR 650 got axed from the Kawasaki line up in 2018, ADV Pulse spoke with a rep from Kawasaki, who, when asked about the death of the KLR 650, said, “It’s gone for now, but could come back.” It’s hard to know if this was a cryptic *wink wink* or simply someone stating the simple fact of maybe it will, maybe it won’t. Either way, the teaser seems to tease its return pretty heavily.
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If the KLR 650 does come back, what will it look like?
That’s the big question. ADV Pulse speaks what is likely on any KLR 650 fan’s mind, “Many dream of a modern rendition of the KLR: something more hard-edged, with the performance and athleticism to take on bikes like the KTM 790 Adventure and Yamaha Tenere 700.” The KLR is a great platform to build a totally new adventure bike. I would love to see Kawasaki throw us a curveball and deliver an all-new dual-sport.
Again, we can’t be sure that this is KLR 650 at all. We could be seeing a new entry into dual-sport world. There have been rumors swirling around about a possible KLR return, but with the 700cc parallel-twin engine with a six-speed gearbox. Oooooh I’m getting excited just thinking about it!
Riddles in the dark
It can be hard to guess the future of a possible KLR 650. The amount of time and money it takes to make a new bike is extensive, and no maker wants to do it unless they see a real shot at a profit. ADV Pulse points out that making the same bike since the 80s, like the KLR is a great way to turn a profit. Kawasaki has a long reputation for keeping bikes the same year after year.
The 2018 KLRs can exchange certain parts with bikes from the 80s, which is part of the beauty of what makes these bikes so special. That being said, the KLR is a great platform to build a totally new adventure bike. I would love to see Kawasaki throw us a curveball and deliver an all-new dual-sport.
It’s really anybody’s guess, but the adventure bike community is jazzed to see what Kawasaki is up to. ADV Pulse expects for Kawasaki to reveal the new lineup around Nov 23rd. Fingers crossed, and keep a keen eye out.