When it comes to motorcycles with a cult following, at the top of the list has to be the Kawasaki KLR650.
This durable dual-sport has won over the hearts and minds of legions of adventuring types, despite its unchanged architecture and questionable aesthetics.
So, you can imagine the backlash that occurred when the venerable KLR650 was rumored to be on the chopping block, especially as the Euro5 homologation loomed.
For these loyal riders, the news was like a family member had died, and that Team Green had abandoned a core constituency to the cold dark night of ADV riding on another model.
Fear not, loyalists. The Kawasaki KLR650 lives to fight for another day, and the iconic machine re-debuts today as a 2022 model year machine, with a number of smart updates to its rugged design.
The most notable change is the move to a fuel injected engine – or more precisely, it is the same engine (with some caveats) that is now using fuel injection rather than carburetion.
As such, Kawasaki boasts that the 652cc single-cylinder engine is now more fuel efficient and more reliable. It is also now easier to start at high elevations and in cold conditions.
Of note are the new intake and exhaust profiles on the camshaft, which add more midrange torque and power. Kawasaki also makes a note that the cam chain guide material and shape have been changed for added reliability.
Other notable changes include a redesigned fuel tank, which is larger, and a new digital dash, which includes a fuel gauge. Other chassis changes abound with a focus on refining the KLR650 and to make it vibrate less.
Several updates have been made to improve shifting feel in the clutch and transmission. Accordingly, the clutch release bearings were changed from ball to thrust-needle bearings, the gear dogs and shift fork have been revised on the third gear, and a new finishing treatment is now used for the fourth and fifth gears.
There is a more robust generator for powering add-on parts, a new rear subframe that increases rigidity, and there is a longer swingarm (+30mm), which has a larger swingarm pivot diameter (+2mm).
A quick visual glance shows that the 2022 Kawasaki KLR650 gets a visual update too, with the headlight now an LED affair.
The brakes have also seen an upgrade, with a larger disc added to the mix. ABS is optional, for an extra $300.
Pricing for the 2022 Kawasaki KLR650 starts at $6,699 MSRP, and of course Kawasaki has a number of aftermarket options for its cult-classic dual-sport.
Source: Kawasaki USA