I've decided that my next bike will be a Kawasaki KLR-650.
I've always loved the KLR due to it's design and the fact that not a single person that I've ever talked to that has actually owned one has anything negative to say about the bike. In fact, several people that I have talked to who own NUMEROUS bikes have all said that the KLR is their favorite. One individual even owns SIXTEEN different motorcycles ranging from a 1940s Harley to a 2007 Ducati, and he says that his 2009 KLR is the best bike in his collection. That's saying a lot.
The KLR is a 651cc single cylinder motorcycle that is designed as a dual sport motorcycle. To describe a dual sport is a bit difficult, so the easiest way to do so is to compare it to another four wheeled vehicle. Think of a Jeep...no, not a Grand Cherokee...a Wrangler. Then think of that Jeep doing what it's DESIGNED to be doing. That's right, going down dirt roads, down trails, out in the woods. Then driving home on the highway. That is exactly what the KLR is supposed to do. It's effectively a go anywhere do anything type of motorcycle. It's equally at home on dirt roads as it is on interstates. It's as effective on a trail as it is in a suburb.
The KLR is a motorcyle that, to me, just screams "adventure." It looks like the type of bike that when driving down a 55mph two lane road, when you see a trail crossing the road you can just go down that trail.
The bike is a workhorse, and of course the beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I love the way it looks. It looks useful...if that makes any sense.
Best part about the KLR?? It's one of the most reasonably priced motorcycles out there for a brand new bike. A brand new one more than likely can be taken off the lot for $5500 out the door...which in this day and age of $9k 600cc supersport motorcycles being the norm is a steal. Heck, even a new Ninja 250 costs $4k these days. So at $5500 for what is effectively an SUV motorcycle, that's a steal.
The only thing that makes the idea of trying to get one of these in the next few years difficult is trying to decide which STYLE to get. You see, the KLR stayed the EXACT same other than color differences for the better part of two decades. For nearly 20 years every KLR looked like this:
I like the design a lot. That, to me, is the epitome of a useful looking motorcycle.
In 2008, Kawasaki shocked the world when it actually released a redesigned version of the KLR. It's still not exactly pretty, but it could be viewed as slightly prettier than the older version. It's got better wind protection, which is good for riding on the roads, but it's said to be a bit lower on power, which is not good for riding on the highway. Here's what the new models look like:
As you can see, it's obviously an evolution of the design, and it still shares many similarities to the first generation. But like I said, the hard part for me will be deciding whether to go for the new body style or to try and find a nice clean example of the old body style.