KLR or Honda XR650L

Discussion in 'Bay Area Bikers' started by BWICKED, Nov 25, 2007.


    BWICKED Guest

    I've never had a enduro bike before, and now suddenly I've sold my
    sport bike and want to buy one. I really want to ride on the highway,
    the street, and some touring. I would like to be able to do some off
    roading if it were needed or if I one day want to. Everyone I talk to
    hates KLR's. They say they are very problematic, built with poor
    suspension and have a really "clunky" feel. They say their ugly, and
    are all around crappy to ride.

    Today a friend of mine suggested I consider a Honda XR650L. He said he
    thought I would like it better because it would be more street
    oriented, ride smoother, and be more reliable. ?


    My questions to you all are:

    1) If you have ever owned or do own a KLR, what year is it, and how do
    you like it? Would you buy one again.
    2) If you " " Honda,
    3) What do you think a reasonable price would be for either of these
    bikes, and lastly
    4) What things should I look out for when looking at used models of
    either of these.

    Thanks much all. I appreciate the positive and mature replies.
    BWICKED, Nov 25, 2007
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    muddy cat Guest

    That leaves me out then, but I'd look at a Wee-Strom.
    muddy cat, Nov 25, 2007
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  3. Well, I won't argue the "ugly" part; the KLRs have often had, um,
    interesting and unique color and graphic choices. I've owned a
    KLR650, so my comments below apply to that bike.

    I have to disagree with the other comments, though. Basically,
    neither the KLR nor the XL are sport bikes, and if you expect them to
    act and feel like sport bikes, you'll be disappointed.

    The transmission can be a little stiff compared to a modern sportbike,
    but mostly I found it had a bit of a longer lever throw than a
    sportbike. (You don't want to accidentally shift in rough terrain if
    you tap the lever with your boot tip). Vibration is there in the bars
    and frame (it *is* a big single, after all), and the suspension is
    generally quite soft compared to a sportbike. But it's *supposed* to
    be; it's a dual-sport and thus has long travel and a relatively soft
    spring rate. Likewise, the KLR's front brake is notoriously weak;
    but you don't want an overly aggressive front brake on a dirt bike.
    So, um, pull the lever harder...? Seriously, there are upgrade kits
    if you want to do that, and I think (but am not sure) Kawasaki
    improved that on the new models.

    Once you learn how to ride them, they make wonderful canyon-carvers if
    you like tight, technical roads, and their suspensions are great for
    dealing with less-than-perfect roads. (One reason they're great as
    urban commuters.) They naturally have cornering clearance from here
    to Wisconsin; with a good set of tires you can *really* lean these
    bikes over. The bars are nice and wide, so you get lots of leverage.
    When it's time to park you can just bump right up and over the
    curb. :)

    For riding on the highway and street, they're okay. The small fly
    screen is surprisingly effective, and the huge gas tank means you can
    go a long ways. The seating position is pretty much straight upright,
    and I found it very comfortable for long rides. It is a bit buzzy at
    highway speeds (big single), but it's not so bad, and you can do
    things like get bar weights or put on a slightly smaller rear sprocket
    to reduce the RPMs if it really bothers you. There are outfits that
    make hard luggage for the KLR - I didn't go that route with mine, but
    the ones I've seen looked good.

    I had Sargent recover my original KLR seat with a "grippy" cover and -
    most importantly - put in high-density foam. That made a world of
    difference, and was the biggest single thing I'd recommend to make it
    ready for long-distance rides.

    The KLR is a tall bike; I have a 30 - 32" inseam, and although I
    didn't find myself on tip-toes when on the bike, my heels were often
    "light on the ground."
    Can't say about modern ones, but certainly the KLR I rode was much
    more of a street machine than its XL contemporaries.
    I owned a 1993-model KLR 650, owned & ridden from about 1998 through
    just recently.

    They haven't changed very much up through this last model year, when
    Kawasaki did a significant updating, except for the colors and

    I'm recently back in the area, and the only reason I didn't buy a new
    one is, I'm sick of messing with chains. Otherwise the KLR would have
    been my first choice, period.
    I never owned one of these, but did spend some time on a friend's
    mid-90's 650 Honda.
    Not sure, in this area.
    The main thing on the Kawasaki is the doohickey. In essence it's a
    chain tensioner inside the cases that has a reputation for weakness;
    there are various aftermarket fixes for it, since bad things can
    happen when metal pieces go "sproing" inside a working engine.

    That never happened to mine, and overall I found it to be a fun,
    economical (~50mpg), reliable ride.

    Finally, my impression is that while both the KLR and XL are dual-
    sports, the KLR is more of a streetbike that you can take on the dirt,
    while the XL is a street-legal dirtbike.

    My advice would be - if you can - to ride both of them on a good long
    loop, and see which one you like better. I'd go for the KLR again,
    but then I like that nice big fuel tank.

    Good roads,

    - John L.
    John Lewellen, Nov 28, 2007

    ~ Guest

    KLR's suck off road IMNSHO. They make a good urban commando machine,
    and they are the Poor Man's Adventure Tourer because they are so

    The first KLR was a 550cc version called the KLR600. It didn't have
    electric start in 1984.

    I have owned an early model 1985 KLR600 with electric starter for the
    last 22 years and have only ridden it 3000 miles. I got it for an
    incredibly low price when it was only a month old. I thought it would
    make a good dirt bike, but it totally sucks in soft sand no matter
    what kind of knobbies I've tried.

    In 1986 or 1987 the engine size was increased to 650cc's and the KLR
    got a huge 6-gallon gas tank.

    Riders used to go on dualsport rides when KLR's were first made
    available. They quickly learned to ask if there was going to be deep
    sand on the route so they wouldn't have to struggle through it.
    $1500 for a used one is reasonable.
    Here's an article on how to replace the "doohickey" lever that holds
    the automatic crankshaft counterbalancer system in one position.



    The original equipment lever is p/n 13168.

    The clamping bolt is hidden under a rubber cover under the alternator
    cover and riders apparently break the doohickey when they loosen the
    bolt and re-tighten it.

    I suppose my doohickey has never broken because I only adjusted it one
    time in 22
    years. I didn't know how it worked, so I left it alone.

    It wouldn't scare me to do the mechanical repair work necessary to
    replace a doohickey, but I hate to think of what else might go wrong
    if the automatic crankshaft counterbalancer system is free to do
    whatever it does when the doohickey quits holding it in one position.

    Every once in a while, the KLR transmission will jump into gear while
    idling in neutral, but the engine will stall and I can keep the bike
    from falling over.

    Another problem is the sidestand safety interlock switch. It will
    cause the engine to cut out when riding on rough roads. Then the
    engine restarts and if the rider has
    rolled on more throttle it lurches.

    I crashed on a fire road when that happened. So I made a jumper wire
    to bypass the sidestand switch.
    ~, Nov 28, 2007
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