2008 Kawasaki KLR650
Home |2008 Kawasaki KLR650| All Rides
2008 Kawasaki KLR650

2008 Kawasaki KLR650

Thanks to
Metro Motorsports
@ 6161 W Bell, Glendale, AZ
(Ridenow Powersports)
for providing the Motorcycle

Published in (click here)
Thunder Roads Magazine

2008 Kawasaki KLR650
2008 Kawasaki Concours 14
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Motorcycle Test
2008 Kawasaki KLR650

MSRP:  $5,349
Metro Motorsports
@ 6161 W Bell, Glendale, AZ
(Ridenow Powersports)
provided the Motorcycle

by Kirk Johnson
Sept 2007

2008 Kawasaki KLR650
Bike Model Kawasaki KLR650
Engine type Liquid-cooled, four-stroke, DOHC, four-valve single
Displacement 651cc
Transmission Five-speed
Fuel System Carburetion:  Keihin CVK40
Final Drive O-ring chain
Front brake: 280mm petal disc with hydraulic dual-piston caliper
Rear brake:  240mm petal disc with hydraulic dual-piston caliper
Fuel Capacity
6.1 gallons
Tire Size
Front tire:  90/90-21
Rear tire:  130/80-17
Dry Weight
386 pounds
Seat Height 35 inches

About the Bike

The good ole KLR650 has been around for 21 years now and there is a reason for that.  It has been a very dependable and reasonably priced dual purpose motorcycle with the features riders want.  In 2008, those reasons just got better.  If you are a dual purpose rider, then a good hard look at this machine is a must. 

The 651cc four-stroke single cylinder engine is powerful enough to get you down the road to any off road playground.  Not sure where that playground is. Not to worry – you can tour the backroads with this bike looking for just that escape.  Couple that with the 6.1 gallon fuel tank and you can spend the day exploring without refueling worries.

Some other improvements include new suspension and brakes.  Front suspension travel is reduced from 9.1” to 7.9”. A redesigned UNI-TRAK linkage reduces sag and complements the new front suspension by reducing rear wheel travel from 8.1” to 7.3”. The 2008 KLR650 features enhanced stopping power, thanks to a new 280mm petal-style front brake rotor that’s similar to ones used on Kawasaki’s Ninja sportbikes. Rear braking performance is also improved, thanks to a new rear brake caliper.

There is now a larger rear luggage rack and narrower tail section which makes it easier to mount saddlebags for those overnight runs.  The new mini windscreen is taller and the shrouds larger.  They have also revised the seat design with new urethane foam for greater long-distance comfort and increased the alternator output for extra capacity to power add-on electronic gadgets like the GPS.

For engine improvements, they improved throttle response with revised ignition mapping, and revised cam timing contributes to improve high-rpm performance.  A redesigned cylinder head boasts new intake porting for greater low-end torque and quicker throttle response in city traffic, as well as improved top-end power for high-speed cruising on the open road.

They’ve revamped a lot of other features to make this a much better dual purpose motorcycle for on and off road use.  Please ask the support group at Metro Motorsports for all the details.

Test Ride

This is really a neat bike, but have to admit upfront that I didn’t get very much time on this bike because it’s new, off the showroom floor.  Anytime you build a dual purpose unit, that being a street/off-road bike or a tour/sport bike or any dual purpose vehicle, you lose some of the advantages of a unit that is purebred.  That being said, if you can’t afford five or six different motorcycles in your garage, then a multipurpose or dual purpose unit is just what is called for.  This is especially the case for road and dirt.  I live in Arizona and the possibilities are endless for finding great out of the way places to ride.  If you like to explore, the thought of pulling a trailer and unloading and loading a bike at different locations is out of the question.  And the thought of running down the highway on a 250cc scooter is out of the question.

I didn’t get much off road time with this motorcycle, but having spent a good part of my life in the dirt over the years, I can tell you that this is a lot of bike.  It’s too big for what I like in the dirt bike, but it’s nice having that 650 cc engine to get you up that mountain or river bank.  You just don’t want to try and conquer tough terrain that requires you to put your feet down for support.  The 35” seat height is a long stretch for my 31” inseam. 

This is the perfect bike for touring fire break roads or abandoned logging trails for days at a time.  The best part about the KLR650 is the ability to get there.  Not that this is an ideal road machine, but it is a great vehicle to get you to and from many of these places.  You can smoke down the road at any posted speed for hours at a time.  On my trip back to the barn, I was on the 101 headed south running about 80mph just to keep up with the traffic and that was a breeze. 

Believe it or not, that little windshield makes a big different.  I must admit though, this little 650 does vibrate.  It vibrates about the same as the Sportster with a frame mounted engine that I used to ride.  Your hands will tingle after a long haul when you remove them from the wide handlebars.  But its ability to get you any place you want to go with style has its advantages.


What a great dual purpose motorcycle.  You can spend all week on the bike commuting around town, running errands, going to and from work, or just spending quality time with a two wheel friend.  Then when the time permits, disappear from city life and explore the surrounding world at will.  Seat height seems a little high for me, but at the same time, with the clearance that the 650 has you can climb over a curb like rolling over a pebble.  One of the neatest things about the Kawasaki is the $5,349 price tag. WOW, is that a great deal or what!

Ride safe,


© 2005 phoenixbikers.com; This material may not be published, reproduced or linked to in part or whole
without the permission of Kirk at phoenixbikers.com.