KLR650 Photos and Review

Here are a few photos of the KLR650, and some observations for prospective buyers. I only owned my KLR for a couple of months. The KLR is a great bike, but it didn't really suit me, and I never fell in love with it. It would be a fine beginner bike, but only for tall riders, or with the lowering kit.

Just to give you and idea of my background, I'm 5'8" tall. The KLR650 was my third bike, and I've been riding about 3 years. I typically put about 4000 miles per year on my bikes, mostly on a short daily commute.

In the first photo you can see the KLR with the top case on, and side cases off. The side case mounting rails are visible. This bike has the tall windscreen, and an engine guard/highway footpegs. The tires are DOT approved street tires, but are knobby.

I had two issues with the KLR. It was a little too tall for me. This wasn't a big issue, but I could only put my toes down. Given the seat height and my inseam, it was better to toe down only on one side. If I kept my right foot on the footpeg, I could slide left a little and get my left foot flat on the ground.

The seat was the second problem. For just riding it was ok. However, there was a male-specific problem. Skip to the next paragraph if you don't like reading about anatomy. The KLR seat slopes forward. I'm a boxer-shorts kind of guy, so maybe guys who wear briefs would be spared my problem. Every time I pulled up to a stop and slid sideways, my testicles got flattened by the seat. No amount of jiggling would get them back to a comfortable position. This was uncomfortable, but not really painful.

This anatomical issue was only a problem in stop-and-go traffic. On the road, things were fine. Perhaps a better shaped seat would have helped. Almost certainly the lowering kit would have made things better. Another factor may be that the seat is soft, but there are times when sinking into a soft seat is not good.

The handlebar position is good. The long seat allows lots of different seating positions. My legs never felt cramped.

The KLR650 has great power, and loads of torque. The engine doesn't vibrate much until about 3500 rpm, so around town it is pretty smooth.

I got about 43 mpg in short trips around down. The fuel tank is enormous. I think I finally hit the reserve at 250 miles, and that's all in-town driving.

People often complain about the turn signal switch. It isn't a problem. The switch does not push to cancel, but instead it is a rocker. You can feel if the ends of the rocker are flush. If they are, then the signals are off. The switch is big enough that this rocker idea works well with Summer weight gloves. It might be a little tricky with heavy Winter gloves.

The mirrors vibrate at almost all speeds. 35 mph and below they are ok. At 45 mph and above, it is all just a blur. There is an anti-vibration mirror mount, and that would probably help.

From the back you can see that the bars are wide, but with only the topcase, the bike is narrow. Notice handlebar height, and footpeg height.

This was my only bike with a top case. I loved the topcase! It doesn't make the bike wider, it holds a full-face helmet easily, and the locking mechanism is good. This is a Givi top case, and might have been on some kind of generic mounting plate.

The only issue with the Givi topcase was that the hinges are not very strong. The plastic was getting those white marks that plastic gets when it has been over-stressed. I added a strap to keep the lid from resting on the hinge stops.

The aluminium side cases were huge. They attach easily, close securely, seem to be totally waterproof, and have a big capacity.

I don't have any close up photos of the windshield. It was fine. Inexpensive looking, but effective. It tended to kind of depress at highway speeds.

The only real issue I found with the windscreen was that when the handlebars were full left, the throttle cables were bent against the right edge of the windscreen. Not bad, but not ideal.

The bike is wider witht the cases, but I still think the cases are not as wide as the handlebars.
I like the arm extension, but my legs are just a little too short to commute on the KLR650. Notice the windshield height. The windshield was effective, and didn't cause me much buffeting.

The footpeg height is good. The bike is comfortable once I was on it.

The ground clearance is great, and the bike comes with a skid plate under the engine. I really wish I'd had a chance to get the bike off-road. I bought the bike expecting to go off road occasionally, but it never happened.

I did drop the KLR one time. The choke cable wasn't releasing, and since it took two hands to turn the choke off, I turned if off before the engine was fully warm. Coming out of my parking space is a tight turn, slightly sloped. I gunned the engine and banked out of my space as usual, but the cold engine died. The bike when down instantly.

Without the side cases the KLR650 lays almost flat on the ground. My right foot was pretty bruised, and the bike was laying sort of down hill. I gave one good heave with my back to the seat as recommended for picking up a bike. I couldn't get it all the way up. I wasn't thrilled with the prospect of dragging the bike 180 degrees so it was facing uphill. Two kind bystanders offered to help me pick up the bike. The three of us got it upright easily (although I forgot to put the side stand down so I had to balance it while I walked around the bike). The brake lever snapped. The replacement was only $12. KLR parts are affordable.

That night I lubricated the choke cable. It was kind of tricky to get oil on the lower part of the cable casing, but that cured the choke release problem.

I wouldn't call the KLR cold-blooded, but it does need a little choke for a minute or two after starting.

Just another view of the ergonomics. The exhaust is all on the right, and there is quite a bit of heat on your right leg.

Notice the engine guard/highway pegs.

The front disk is adequate. The rear brake is almost as powerful, and once I locked up the rear before the front had really begun to bite. Hard braking results in a huge amount of fork dive. The KRL does a great job of soaking up bumps, but when braking, the front end really dives.

Cornering was fine. The rear end tends to tuck under, and this is exagerated by the knobby tires. The tires seem to have weak sidewalls compared to a typical sport/touring tire. It is no surprise that in hard cornering, the rear end wallows around a bit. Still the handling was predictable. I never had any bad surprises. Of course, I never pushed the limits either.

Keep in mind that suspension traits of the KLR are balanced between street and trail, so my comments about handling on the street are not a criticism. The bike does great at being all things to all people. (Well, less so for those of us who aren't tall.)