I got my KLR back in March but due to Michigan being Michigan I was not able to ride it more than around the block safely until April. But since then I have racked up my first 1000 miles on the bike. How do I like it? Read on and find out!
So to make this a simple review, I’m going to reduce this to more of a first impression type review but I will answer questions in the comments. First things first - do I like it? YES! I LOVE IT! It is the perfect bike for the type of riding I want to do and why I want to ride motorcycles. The KLR will never be the fastest bike in it’s category. But it can be viable in many categories and will pretty much be the sole survivor should any worst case scenarios pop up. Coming off of an old honda CB, it is such a joy to just hop on the bike and have it WORK. No fuss, no muss. The CB always worked, but there was so much uncertainty and lots of preemptive work to keep it working. Which is to be expected for a 30 year old bike.
Now let’s tackle something that a lot of newbies might be wondering - what type of bike do I want to get? And of course, the follow up is “What do you want to do with that bike?”. Want to devour highway miles? SOmething with a comfortable seating position, a good amount of fairing, and fuel range would be nice. Go off road? You’ll need some suspension and tires and a frame to match. Commute every day? A good seating position and reliability combined with fuel economy will serve you well here. COnquer corners? THe bike needs to be willing to lean in and be responsive to your inputs while also having a good tire and suspension setup. Outside of corner carving, the KLR does it all at an acceptable level - and don’t take this as a negative! This is a very rare combination but it means you can ride pretty much anywhere and discover what YOU want to do. You dictate the ride, not your bike. The KLR is never limiting you outside of doing a track day at a circuit. As someone who has realized he is ready to commit to motorcycling as a fun and enjoyable hobby, the KLR frees me to do what I need to do - rack up miles and learn my preferences as a rider while also providing me a bike to practice my skills on.
To wrap this up, let’s ask Peter Black’s favorite question - Is this a good beginner bike? It certainly is low powered at just 30ish horsepower. It isn’t too heavy at 450ish lbs with some fuel and oil. It has good range and fuel economy.......But I will say that this is an amazing second bike for one major reason - it is TALL. AS. FUCK. This thing is a bear to get on and off if you don’t use the footpeg to boost your other leg over the bike. And riding it is odd at first because it has such a high center of gravity and really skinny off-road oriented tires. But it’s also kinda light and doesn’t have the low-down heft of the BMW boxer equipped ADVs. In general this bike has oddball ergonomics that don’t feel like they conform to the rest of the bike world. You’ll learn a lot but without a more normalized reference point, you might find it hard to swing a leg over another bike without some knowledge to fall back on. I had my old CB. I imagine someone who rode an old ninja 250 or rebel would do well to get this as their second bike for long range trips and off road explorations. It’s not very pretty, or very fast, but damn does it open doors.
I’ll post another review after my first summer on this beast.