2-wheeled off-roading fans certainly had reason to mourn when Kawasaki discontinued the KLR650 in 2018. Although the dual-sport was a bit of a dinosaur, its simplicity was part of its appeal; hence its 32-year production run. Still, while used models are plentiful and affordable, the cancellation left Kawasaki without an entry for the currently-booming large-capacity off-pavement motorcycle segment. But the rumors we’ve been hearing are true: the Kawasaki KLR650 is back.
The legend continues: Kawasaki brings the KLR650 into 2022
When we say ‘back,’ we really mean it. The 2022 Kawasaki KLR650 is “pretty much a carbon copy” of the 2018 bike, RideApart reports. However, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been updated.
One of the biggest issues with the out-going Kawasaki KLR650 was its carbureted 651cc single-cylinder engine. Again, it was part of the dual-sport’s charm; and carburetors are easier to repair on an off-road trail than a fuel-injection system. However, they’re less efficient and have higher emissions. And it was because of the latter that the KLR650 was canceled in 2018, Rider explains.
So, for the bike’s 2022-model-year reintroduction, Kawasaki swapped the carburetor for fuel injection, Cycle World reports. The KLR650 still has a liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine and a 5-speed transmission.
However, the engine now displaces 652cc and features upgraded components. Among them is a strengthened cam chain guide, ADVPulse reports, semi-affectionately referred to as ‘the Doohickey,’ RevZilla reports. Plus, the transmission’s cogs and clutch have been tweaked for smoother operation.
What else is new on the 2022 Kawasaki KLR650?
Speaking of tweaks, Kawasaki sprinkled several more throughout the rest of the KLR650.
For example, the frame, wheels, and suspension are stiffer, though front and rear travel—7.9” and 7.3”, respectively—are unchanged. The rear swingarm is slightly longer for improved stability, Cycle World reports. Plus, the footpegs and handlebar are slightly wider and have new rubber components to cut down on vibrations. The seat has similar rubber dampers, RideApart reports.
To improve the KLR650’s long-distance capabilities, Kawasaki fitted a larger fuel tank. The dual-sport also has revised bodywork and a new 2-position windscreen for better wind protection, RevZilla reports. And the disc brake rotors are slightly larger and thicker for shorter braking and better heat resistance.
The 2022 Kawasaki KLR650 also has a few new pieces of technology. The dual-sport comes in three trims: base, Adventure, and Traveler. All three come with an LED headlight and an LCD screen with a fuel gauge but no tachometer. But for the first time, the KLR650 has ABS: it’s optional on the base model, and standard on the Adventure and Traveler.
The latter two trims come standard with several other accessories that are optional on the base model. With the Traveler, you get a Shard hard-plastic top case as well as a USB and a 12V outlet. The Adventure model adds LED auxiliary lights and crash bars to that and swaps the single top case with two Shard hard-plastic side cases.
Pricing and availability
As of this writing, Kawasaki hasn’t released an official launch date for the 2022 KLR650. Though based on the model year, it’s likely either late 2021 or early 2022.
However, the company has released pricing details. The base 2022 KLR650 starts at $6699; ABS is a $300 option. The Traveler trim starts at $7399, while the Adventure starts at $7999. That puts the dual-sport neatly in-between the 411cc single-cylinder Royal Enfield Himalayan and the 698cc parallel-twin Yamaha Ténéré 700.
Admittedly, those two are adventure bikes, not dual-sports. But both kinds of bikes are commonly used by off-roaders. And while we’ll have to wait to see how the 2022 KLR650 rides, it’s good to see the legend make a comeback.
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