KLR as a true adventure bike?


My experience in the early 2000's was on XR650L & KLR's and mostly for commuting. Now I'm researching getting back into the game for adventure touring or BDR type exploring.My research is finding tons of reference to the KLR as a capable world traveler. Especially for the initial investment and I suspect produced in large numbers.

The problem in my mind and this is just my opinion, is that much more R&D money and time spent by the big companies Touratech, AltRider, etc. is on the much more expensive bikes (BMW, TKM, AFRICA TWIN). It seems to me that the numbers of KLR's around the world would make it more profitable to developed products to make the bike more capable. The KLR has its faults but most adventure bikes are a compromise of something. There are plenty of companies out there that have developed products to compinsate for the shortcomings of the big name bikes.

The KLR still has a great aftermarket selection. I may be wrong but it seams the future is leaning more in the direction of the more expensive bikes. Would value hearing your opinion.


There are few short comings with the KLR in my opinion, for the price that is. Its reliable, has decent range and has good wheel size combo.

Eagle Mike
Happy trails

With these three companies you can pretty much sort out the needed known things, outfit the bike, and upgrade suspension performance.
Once you have that done there is not much left to do other than ride. I live on one of the most famous routes here in South America and I see a lot of KLRs but I also see a lot of other brands as well. From DR800 Bigs, KTM 990s, BMW GSA, To the Tenere 660. For a budget trip and budget travel the KLR sure is tough to beat.

The reason the R&D is spent on other more expensive brands is because those clients have money to spend on accessories. The average KLR guy can buy a brand new KLR do a few things to it and take off with no issues for far less that the cost of a new GSA. So why target those KLR clients if they don't need or want or can afford all the fancy stuff?

If you are only looking at TouraTech then I can see how you may feel the KLR is neglected but there are plenty of companies who specialize in just KLR products.

Or you can simply buy a brand new KLR put some bags on it and go ride and accept it for what it is. Nothing fancy but a very reliable tool.

If you look at what many companies are developing right now its smaller lighter cheaper bikes. Not bigger and more expensive. BMW KTM Kawasaki Honda all have been releasing smaller lighter bikes...


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Zolo, you make a very good argument, and probably make my point better than I did. The KLR is very capable and needs only a few add ons to make it even better. One thing I have noticed is fewer companies like HT devoting so much energy to the KLR. For instance what I would consider a fairly newcomer to the game "AltRider", I could be wrong, but they list mostly universal type accessories for the KLR.
Will a bike as prolific as the KLR that had so much much influence on what we classify as adventure touring continue to have the aftermarket following it enjoys today?
By the way great pics of a well equipped white klr in the wild!!


nomadic man
The prior version of the KLR has had an enormous aftermarket for many years.
The things needed to make one a better adventure bike are out there.
Still, you almost need to rebuild the bike to make it reliable enough for heavy duty work.
The hardware (nuts and bolts) are really bad, upgrades available. But I always wonder why Kawasaki didn't make them a little
better to begin with, or at least upgrade them during the forever run the bike has been around.

I have a Kawasaki Super Sherpa. The bike has much better hardware and is extremely reliable as is. Kawasaki could have done that with the KLR but chose not to.

Christophe Noel

Expedition Leader
The KLR is likely one of the most traveled platforms ever built with two wheels. I would argue far more KLRs have lapped the globe than fancy 1200cc bikes. Even more impressive, many KLR riders to ride to the ends of the earth are not generally "motorcycle people" and not fully aware of how to maintain their bikes. While the KLR is not perfect, far from it, I wouldn't hesitate to buy a used KLR and ride it anywhere in the world at a moment's notice.

I've never "wanted" a KLR. I've never lusted after it as I do other bikes. But I've logged scads of miles on them including romps into the Andes and it's a fantastic tool for adventure. Anyone who says they're not world tour worthy is full of crap as they've been used to ride around the world more than any other bike I know of.

And again, it's at the lower end of bikes I want to own, but at the top of the list of bikes I would own if mega adventures were on my bucket list.

Lastly - I can't wait to join Zolo in Chile in a few months to ride a KLR. In fact, I would not be nearly as excited if it were a brand new 1200GSA. :)
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Kapitis Indagatoris
Yes........KLR's are true adventure bikes. I still have my 2003 that has carried me and my gear all over the west. Just rebuilt the front forks, tune up and new tires and ready for more memories.


Thanks all, my faith in "simple is better" has been restored. I too lust after the 1200GS livery and the Africa Twin makes me drool. But then I come back down to earth and ask my self how much bike do I really need.


nomadic man
The KLR is less simple because it is water cooled.
My Super Sherpa is air cooled, much less to go wrong when out in the bush.
I think if you are not a big person a 250 is plenty of motorcycle to have great explorations with.


In no particular order. KTM, GS, KLR. All bikes I have ridden far and wide. I show these photos to people and the number one thing I get asked.....

Where is that?

The bikes a tool. Some are rowdy and wild, some are heavy and grunt, and some are simple and tractor like. But they all can take you to some cool places....

I am now to the point where a small light bike with big gas tank is what I'm after. Motorcycles are just fun. So many options and so little time... :roost::roost:


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Ryan Rogers

Here is the thing about a KLR:

It is simple and highly capable (for travel) right out of the box. Just throw some soft bags on the back and go...nothing else required. And it isn't going to leave you stranded 50 miles from the nearest town, in the desert, with no cell reception because the anti-theft immobilizer has gone haywire.

Not that I'm bitter or anything..............


nomadic man
The problem for me liking the KLR is that I've ridden with guys using them and seen the things that go wrong with them while out in the boondocks.
Subframe bolts sheared leaving him stranded until we got it sorted out.
The dreaded Doohickey, I've seen them go and it is not pretty.

To me, there are much better bikes that cost about the same, the DR650 comes to mind.
And if you load a KLR up, which you would do on a RTW tour, then it becomes really evident that it needs a lot of attention.


JKAM makes another great point. Fortunately the subframe and doohickey are known issues that my research shows there are quality aftermarket fixes. However the question has to come into play as to how far does one go until they could have purchased a more expensive bike without the "knowns" for the same $$.

But I still subscribe to simple is better theory.


Middle Income Semi-Redneck
I miss my KLR now. I think mcb2ms hits the point. Not perfect but it hasn't changed in so long that there is nothing that is not known about it and how to fix it. It's not sexy, it's kind of ugly, rough and I loved it. I think the reason all the fancy farkle doesn't exist for them is the owners are too cheap and prefer DIY solutions.

I ran ammo can panniers for example that probably cost less than the locks on good luggage and a Twinheadlight Ernie rear deck. But I also never got the chance to drive around the world on mine so maybe they wouldn't have worked. They did the trick for overnights for me. Enough space inside for stuff that needed protection and a couple of dry bags strapped to the deck. Done and done.


JKAM makes another great point. Fortunately the subframe and doohickey are known issues that my research shows there are quality aftermarket fixes. However the question has to come into play as to how far does one go until they could have purchased a more expensive bike without the "knowns" for the same $$.

But I still subscribe to simple is better theory.

The thing is ALL bikes have known and unknown issues. BMW have final drive issues and fuel pump issues (and now fork stancion issue)
KTM 950s had water pump issues and early 990s had issues with throttle dead spots. Buying a more expensive bike does not take away "issues" Far from it.

The KLR is not represented by Kawasaki as anything more than it is. It became famous all on its own. With near zero marketing from Kawasaki.

When was the last time you went to a Kawasaki ADV rally?

My 990 had a bad dead spot. Im an ASE cert mechanic and did all diag and repaired it myself which involved a lot of work. The 990 is not all that simple, with twin tanks and a very high performance motor. Cost me time to repair it, but could you imagine a non mechanic paying to to have that work done? Cost a small fortune.

However a KLR. My sisters kids could fix that bike.

Christophe Noel

Expedition Leader
A few years ago I had $6,000 burning a hole in my pocket and I couldn't decide if I wanted to buy a KLR, or a BMW 650 Dakar with the "uber reliable" Rotax engine. I got the latter with fewer than 8,000 miles. Within the next 3,000 miles the engine crapped out. Go figure.

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