My Trusty Kawasaki KLR600

The kawasaki klr 650 adventure bike is well known and covered in many reviews. This is about the bike that was the original model that gave the birth of that Iconic dual sport and adventure range of bikes.

Kawasaki KLR 600
Kawasaki KLR 600

I had been looking for a Kawasaki KLR 650 for several years, but good ones aren’t so common in the UK. Although the new 2022 kawasaki klr650 was on the horizon, my DR600 had seen better days, and I dreamed of the joys of an electric start. I was offered a this motorcycle as part payment for another bike. Although not running, it looked in fairly good condition and so I took the plunge.

Getting To Work On The Kawasaki KLR

A strip down of the KLR600 single cylinder water cooled engine revealed scoring on the bores and it became obvious it had overheated. But after a top end rebuild with forged pistons and my usual nose to tail servicing, it was my dual sport ride of choice for over 2 years.

A Major Overhaul

A Solid But Sorry Looking KLR 600
A Solid But Sorry Looking KLR 600

The list of jobs to do was endless in the end because it was to be built for me to ride. The fuel tank was the first thing to be cleaned but luckily it was solid. Top end rebuild with rebore and honingwas done with wossner forged piston. I stripped the front forks before polishing and rebuilding them with new seals and oil.

The Carb was stripped and refurbished with new needle valve and emulsion tube with all new jets and gasket and new fuel hoses. I kept the original OEM exhaust so the farmers dont complain so jetting was standard. I rebuilt the front brake calliper with new seals and pistons. Valve clearances were done at rebuild and the headstock bearings cleaned checked and repacked.

New plugs and leads were fitted and the plug caps were checked on a high voltage tester for insulation breakdown. A new battery and twin earthing straps were fitted to the starter. With an uprated supply cable for faster cranking of the big single cylinder engine I got the consistent reliable starting I wanted with minimal wear on the sprag clutch.

I just serviced the rear shock. It was in great condition so I just just serviced it to keep it working as it should. Obviously it had new air and oil filters and high spec semi synth oil and new coolant. I fitted a new chain and sprocket set, and the rear footrest hangers were polished too.

A Few Final Touches

Some final touches were a high output Fiam snail horn, Renthal braced bars and new brush guards. I wired up the direction indicators with a warning sounder so I didn’t leave them on while riding too. Last of all I kept the original red colour coded fork gaiters, they just looked right.

Carbon And Aluminium Brush Guards
Carbon And Aluminium Brush Guards

The Best Kawasaki KLR?

People everywhere love the kawasaki klr 650. It has done more adventure miles than possibly any other bike. When it was dropped from the Kawasaki range, It’s die hard fans kicked up so much fuss that a new model was introduced again and the 2022 kawasaki klr 650 shows there is still development happening. It is a strong, capeable bike with few foibles other than the fabled doohickey. The smaller 250cc model was another fantastic bike too. It was a lightweight dual sport bike with a bulletproof engine renowned for reliability.

Possibly The Best Of All The Kawasaki KLR Range
Possibly The Best Of All The Kawasaki KLR Range

The KLR600 often seems to get forgotten though. Although technically it was made for 6 years, for 3 of those it was replaced in the showrooms by the newer 650cc model. I would say it is arguably a better bike though. Possibly the best post apocolypse motorcycle you could want.

Better Power To Weight Ratio

This bike is 30 KG lighter than the first KLR 650 that replaced it. With a smaller bore and stroke it was slightly down on power compared to the 650. However the liquid cooled single cylinder engine revs better and overal power to weight ratio is better. It just spins up faster, and the lighter weight means acceleration is better, which can help in tricky situations. The KLR600 loves to be thrown around back roads in a way most dirt bikes wont handle. It really is the real deal when it comes to dual sport motorcycles and makes a great adventure bike.

Whatever The Terrain The KLR 600 Makes It Easy
Whatever The Terrain The KLR 600 Makes It Easy

Even though the front brake disc is slightly smaller the front brake seems more effective than on the non abs 650, probably due to the lower weight. It will keep up with many much more powerful bikes. You can push the bike into corners and the engine pulls out of them like a train. Top gear roll on was much better than most big single cylinder bikes.

Motorway miles are not so much fun. It happily sits above 70 mph for long periods, but it is a big single and even with a balancer shaft you do feel the vibration. The seat is remarkably comfortable compared to most dirt bikes and the riding position is great.

The Kawasaki KLR600 Comes Alive In The Dirt

Where this motorcycle really comes alive is in the dirt. First gear is low and ground clearance is great. The suspension performs better than some much newer units too. The whole rear section is lifted directly from the racing KX500 motorcross bike. The extruded box section aluminium rear subframe is strong and light. Mounted on 4 allen bolts for easy removal it makes suspension cleaning and adjustment easy.

The TIG welded aluminium swingarm is a piece of engineering art. The swingarm pivot shaft runs on needle bearings and the eccentric chain adjusters avoid the chain getting mis-aligned.

The Kawasaki KX 500 inspired Swingarm
The Kawasaki KX 500 inspired Swingarm

The Best Of Both Worlds

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a motorcross bike. However it will tackle everything except the most extreme off road riding and the fuel tank holds more than 50 miles worth of fuel. The closest modern alternative would probably be the CCM GP450. You can happily ride it for 50-100 miles to get to some good trails, play off road all day and then ride home, which is what most adventure bike riders want. Fuel capacity isnt as big as the 650 but it is enough for most situations.

This Bike Will Do It All
This Bike Will Do It All

Load it up with gear and accept its speed limitations and you have a great adventure bike. Carrying a passenger needs some suspension adjustment and from a pillion perspective it isnt the most comfortable bike, but it still rides really well. Carrying a pillion off road is never the easiest thing but this bike handles it better than most.

A Beautifully Balanced Bike

All in all over the 2 years I rode mine I had more fun below the speed limit than I have had on most bikes. It is more Off Road focused than it’s big brother, the 650. A beautifully balanced bike on or off road, and although I do tend to avoid motorways with it, it will happily sit at 70mph+ without a problem. This makes longer journeys to find some dirt much more practical. Whether you want a monster trail bike or a lightweight adventure bike the Kawasaki KLR 600 is a hard act to beat

The Kawasaki KLR 600 Is A Hard Act To Beat
The KLR 600 Is A Hard Act To Beat

Join Us

Why not join us at the BAREBONESMC forum on Facebook. It gives you FREE access to a helpful group of riders and mechanics from across the world. The group began in the UK but has now become a worldwide phenomenon. So whether you are buying, selling, or simply want advice, there really is no better place to go for anything motorcycle.

Take a look around the Kawasaki Store You will find the best collection of Kawasaki products and designs available anywhere. 5 Fantastic designs on T-Shirts Face Masks and Neck Gaiters. Including some amazing KLR designs there is something for every KLR rider to celebrate this iconic bike that we love so much.

Kawasaki KLR 31 Years Of Adventure Graphic T-Shirt

Why not take a look around the Adventure Bikes Store too. You will find the best collection of Adventure Motorcycles products and designs available anywhere. 22 Fantastic designs on T-Shirts Face Masks and Neck Gaiters. From Minimal Logo’s to Original line drawings there is something for every Adventure Rider to celebrate their spirit of adventure.

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Any questions just email me at [email protected]

3 thoughts on “My Trusty Kawasaki KLR600”

  1. Very good article! I have always liked the look of the KLR600 more than the KLR650. I am wondering if a KLR650 engine would fit in the frame of a KLR600?

    1. Hi mate, being honest, i always thought the 600 was a better engine so never tried, it may be the earliest ones do easier than the later ones but you need to chat to someone who has tried to figure out the real issues, cheers for the support

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