I did not think I could say more than has already been said about this venerable model however turns out few people have been asking me questions about it.
Features wise it is a basic bike but the only thing I missing for touring Tasmania was heated grips and these can easily be added. The 22 litre fuel tank gives it a superb range so I never needed to think about fuel while riding simply filling up at end of day.
It is all day comfortable, the seat is wide and well cushioned. The screen was surprisingly effective. Probably the first ADV bike bikini screen that actually works for me. There is some vibrations from the big single but for me they were not intrusive.
That engine is low power but has plenty of torque. I need not rev the engine out for regular riding leaving the bike in higher gear most of the time. I rode a little more spiritly on the section out to Gordon dam and found revving the engine gives a little bit more but not much and power remains modest.
However I like the engine far more than my BMW G310GS engine which has to be spun up constantly and does not like to lug along at lower rpm. For open road neither have much passing power but the KLR engine gives a far more relaxed ride with less gear lever tap dancing.
The KLR rides over imperfections effortlessly with nothing seeming to upset it yet the comfortable suspension then held a nice line when the pace was increased although my pace is quite modest these days so I’m not suggesting you can carve bends however I liked how it cornered more composed than other ADV bikes I have toured on such as the XT660R or CRF250.
It sits up very high, I think this is the highest riding ADV bike I have ridden. I am 182 cm and was not able to flat foot when seated. Need to use the footpeg to step up and climb over the bike although I mount every bike this way regardless to make clearing my leg over luggage easier. The weight is quite substantial and is felt getting the bike off the side stand but not at all once moving.
I only rode a little bit of gravel and little bit of mud but it did fine on worn dual sport tyres however it has tubes which I dislike as a puncture is a huge hassle compared to tubeless. Not having tubeless wheels is actually the number one reason I did not buy a KLR or a XT660R and went for the smaller G310GS. However the baby GS is nowhere near as good on the highway for touring as the KLR (or the 660R).
I can’t say I was looking for more braking power as I was not pushing things however I would have liked less lever effort and more is always nicer. I have come to love bikes with brakes that bite strong with small squeeze. The best I have experienced is the 2018+ model Gold Wing which felt like power boosted brakes. My FJR1300 had ample braking but required too much effort on the lever.
The KLR650 is well priced for Australia (where everything is stupidly expensive). Next year will see the revised Royal Enfield Himalayan and the CF Moto 450 ADV bikes in Australia about $1000 below the KLR but Japanese and proven product to me would be worth the extra.
I’d have a KLR over my G310GS even though I dislike tubes however I will move away from ADV bikes in future and back to a big tourer. Despite everything now days being Adventure biking I rode moto-x when young and can’t get into tippy toeing these big road bikes along dirt roads.