KLR 650 Questions


New member
I'm considering doing a multi-state ride through AZ, CO, WY and the probably back down via MT, ID and UT. Throwing in a lot of dirt; mostly forest road but some moderate stuff with some of the CO passes. Could the KLR be an appropriate bike for this?

This ride will have a lot of open highway. Will the KLR loaded with some gear (not a ton - I don't image camping every night, just a mix of hotel with some backcountry camping a few nights) do OK on the highway. Is the sweet-spot about 70MPH like I've heard. Can it handle 4-7 hours of open road well? Also, is the carburetor going to be an issue for a ride like this with changes in elevation?

I like the idea of this bike mostly due to the price point. I would plan to buy it a year early (rather than continuing to save another $4K or so) to get some practice in and test my off-road capability and the price allows a couple of buddies that want to join a more realistic expenditure compared to getting into an 800+. The second thing I like is that the bike, and the size, seems like it might be slightly more manageable off-road.

Last question would be mileage. Is 10,000 or so miles low for this bike? It seems pretty easy to find something 6-10,000 miles and pretty well equipped for $5K or under.

I'd appreciate any words of wisdom. Thanks!


Meandering Idaho
if you have 5 k to spend check out the BMW 650.
mine would cruise the highway at 70-75 all day long loaded. ( it did a 800 mile day no problem)
never had any problems in the passes and took it on plenty of dirt.

What it really comes down to is not is the bike up to the task, but is the rider?
people have gone round the world on freighted 250's the klr 650 is more then up to to the task.
I went with the BMW simply because it was more refined, fit my short legs better, and didnt have that massive fuel tank making for an off road challenge.
grabbed mine with 18k on it for 3grand including hard cases. it was a 99...
the other bike i had my sights on was a 2004 KLR. never once looked back on that purchase.

Scott Brady

The KLR will be perfect. I just did three days throught Death Valley on one. Honest motorcycle, and a good balance between road/dirt/price
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A good bike. I have a friend with one that has 35K miles much of it offroad and no mechanical issues. Spend some time getting the gearing right (trail vs highway) for your ride.


Would suit me too. I once did 12,000 miles on a Honda XL175 on knobbly tires. Slow, steady but dependable. The KLR will be the same but quicker!

Deleted member 48574

I'm still very much a novice, but I devour everything and anything about adventure bikes that I can find. I don't own a KLR but I spend a great deal of time with those who do, and these are my/their observations:

The KLR 650 is according to many the "jack of all trades, master of none". Which, in a mixed trip of gravel, highway, single track, etc. a very good thing I should think. It's not going to tear up single track like a 250 CC KTM, nor will it cruise highways like a Goldwing -- but then, no single bike can do ALL of that. But the KLR WILL do it.

I personally know one fellow who is off to Argentina in August and has plans much the same as you do for a mix of camping and hotels, as well as terrain types. I think the bike will suit you just fine. His KLR right now has something in the order of 60,000 kms I think -- don't quote me on that but he's been riding it a long time, to Alaska and back, etc. so it's up there -- and it still runs great.

You said the price point was attractive, but you also expressed worry about the carbs at altitude. The reason I bring that up is this: The reputation for reliability of a brand doesn't mean a damn thing -- not one thing -- if yours is the bike that is broken on the trail. While the KLR is well regarded in that department, and other bikes (say some of the big BMWs and their final drive problems) maybe not so much -- there are examples of both that have been around the world, and examples of both that went kaput 10 miles from the dealer. The question is -- what is YOUR plan if it breaks? For some folks that'll mean pushing the non-emergency call out button on the SPOT and hunkering down for a friend/relative to come get you with a truck. For others it will mean busting out the tool kit and fixing it.

This is a HUGE strength with the KLR, and to me, it blows the 'budget' price bonus away in terms of usefulness: The KLR is VERY easy to fix, and they are so plentiful that there are TONS of youtube videos, websites, walkthroughs, etc. with instructions on how to do everything you might need to do. Parts are also easy to come across. And if you can get yourself some knowledge and confidence of how the bike works and how to repair it, the carbs -- and a lot else -- won't be a problem because you'll know how to adjust it trail side.

So short version: Can't go wrong with the KLR based on everything I know about it.


I come in Peace
Great post Craigwhitton..

KLR is hard to beat for the budget minded. It is true though that you can pick up some nice deals on the BMW F650GS.


I have a '07 KLR and enjoy riding it and have no regrets...with that out of the way:

For solo riding with a reasonable load of gear I think a 650 single is the way to go. You can do interstate and any paved road and flow with the traffic which in my mind gives you a safety margin for traffic conditions. Get off pavement and you will find that forest type gravel roads are no issue at all. Get on mild single track and the weight and size of a loaded 650 can become a bit of a challenge...but the bike is up to it. Get on crazy track and most of us are in over our head....due to the size & weight of the bike - especially with gear.

I like you was in the market looking for a nice used 650 and considered the BMW, KLR, DR650...when I found a decent used bike at a fair price I grabbed it. I appreciate the relative simplicity of these bikes, the ease of mounting gear, and there always seems to be some for sale at a good price point. There are differences in fuel systems (carb or FI), wind protection, fuel capacity, electric output (for heated gear), and to some degree ease of routine service - I suggest at least reading how to do an oil change and or valve adjustment on any bike you consider.

I ended up with a KLR because that is what I found. I do love the 6 gallon tank, the simple plastics, broad range of "farkles", the reliability and simplicity. Had I bought the BMW or DR...likely could be still saying the same thing about them.

I did consider the BMW GS by the way...having come from having a BMW R100RS in the past I love the BMW twin engine. Any bike you consider for real off road riding you should consider two aspects of real life off road: picking it up by yourself, and crying about any damage to it. With the KLR...it's just a grimace and lift it and ride on...I'm not crying about a scratch/dent.


Expedition Leader
My wife and I have 2 KLRs that we use only for this purpose. Our KLRs have been on the road for years. We leave them in storage somewhere, fly out, ride them somewhere new, store them and fly home.

We are now loaning them out to an Australian father and son for a trip from California to NY. They leave California in a few days.

We have other bikes at home.

These KLRs have been on every type of road and elevation you can think of and take the bearing fine. They always start when we return to them. This latest time they sat for nearly 2 years and fired right up.



New member
This has been great feedback. Thanks to all of you for your input. I finish my motorcycle class tomorrow and should have my license on Monday. Again, thank you and I appreciate the help!


New member
Picked up my 2009 KLR in Albuquerque today to drive back to Phoenix (it had enough aftermarket goodies I feet it was easily worth the trip)

300 miles for my first time on the bike wasn't bad. 185 to go tomorrow. It did great on a mix of Interstate and windy backcountry highways. Fast it's not, but I think it's going to serve the purpose well. I appreciate the input you took the time to leave.

Red Zebra

I have an 04 KLR with 15k miles. Have ridden highway and two-track including some of the passes in CO. Did not need to adjust carb. There was a noticeable drop in power when 10K + feet but otherwise had no issues. I run 15t front sprocket and a 45t rear (I think it had a 43t rear stock). Perfect balance for my style of riding on secondary and backroads.

Like any bike or veh...ride the one that inspires. Then figure out the maintenance and other stuff. :bike_rider:


KLR reminds me of an old dependable tractor

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy my KLR, but it does remind me of some of the old tractors that I have driven or some of the old six cylinder Internationals that I have owned. You can almost hear that single cylinder popping along. It has lots of torque and they are very patient with us new to dual sport, riders. I have a Victory Cross Country Tour and I enjoy it a lot but it really isn't as much "big grin on the face" fun as the KLR. Lots of KLRs in the Phoenix area so you shouldn't have trouble finding folks to ride with and if you ever get up to the Kingman area, give me a holler and we shall go for a ride up here.


I have an 09 KLR650 that I loaded and set out on a 6000 mile round trip. Looked like the Beverly Hillbilly's with everything I brought! Took three weeks and did the Continental Divide Ride. The ride out and back (average of ~500-600 miles/day) was an arse killer because the stock seats are like sitting on a 2 X 6. On the trail you are standing and shifting weight so the seat wasn't an issue. For the ride out and back, I changed the front sprocket from the stock 15 tooth to a 16 tooth to drop the RPM's at freeway speeds. Never skipped a beat at altitude. Like the others have said, learn to ride well and on all types of terrain. A bike loaded will react differently than unloaded.
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