Retrospectve: Kawasaki KLX650: 1993-1996 Rider Magazine

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Kawasaki Tengai

Retrospectve: Kawasaki KLX650:

Photo Credit: Clement

If you were in the market for a dual-purpose, sort of ride back in Kawasaki certainly had the market It offered three different with the same basic

Two were street-legal, the third, an enduro, had lights and no turn a cop would have to be pretty to ticket a rider for trying to get to his pickup truck on a mile or two of road.

1994 Kawasaki

On the conservative end was the venerable KLR650, began life as a 600 in 1984 and a very modern approach to as it had the first liquid-cooled engine, a kickstarter and a smallish gas tank just three gallons. For the engine-starting procedure got an electric and sales showed that liked this innovation, the in the single-cylinder dual-sport world. 600 grew into a 650 in ’87, and the gas grew to 6.1 gallons.

This was followed by the brief appearance of the Tengai version in essentially a restyling of the standard KLR a Paris-Dakar look and a bigger These bikes were at riders of modest accomplishments who to ride 50 miles to a national and then potter along roads for half a day.

some feisty off-roaders had the KLR, taken it out into the spaces, and thrashed the heck out of it. And it lacking in the frame and suspension. was not surprising, as the dry weight was a hefty 360 This “abuse” was not quite the that Kawasaki had in mind it developed the KLR, but if customers pay for a tougher version, the marketing at KMC USA said, “Let’s build

For the ’93 model year, Kawasaki two more models with a engine that used a different chassis. The KLX650 was a powerful, better-handling dual-sport, and the was intended for the boys and girls who to load their bikes in a and go race around the wide-open or ride 100-mile enduros. fancy paint jobs, saddle covers and very lettering on the tank.

Would flash sell? that was slicing the pieces of pie than a bit thin, but it could be

1994 Kawasaki KLX650

liquid-cooled, wet-sump engine in the KLR was a good one. It had an oversquare 100 x barrel for a total of 651cc, valves in the head operated by two camshafts, and fuel was fed via a 40mm carb. The KLX engine looked the KLR and had those same rough but was quite different inside.

The change was in the balancing system. To down the vibes, the KLX had a single balancer, as opposed to the KLR’s balancers and its infamous “Doohickey,” a of the balancer chain adjusting Valves were larger and the was new, though the compression was 9.5:1 on both engines.

Jetting in the carb was different. The dyno reported 39 rear-wheel at 6,300 rpm, a better 10 percent improvement on the KLR, 38 lb-ft of torque at just 3,000 rpm.

The full-cradle design on the KLR was OK for moderate use, but the two KLX got a new steel perimeter frame, both tubular and rectangular It was very nice, but the way the frame up to the steering head meant the size of the gas tank. On the KLX650R, it was to 2.1 gallons and a hard-charging rider was on fumes at 50 miles.

Best to shorter enduro courses.

Kawasaki KLX650

Suspension was by a highly reputable Japanese that has been in the business 1919. The cartridge-type upside-down “up-side down” notably on the fork covers—was 43mm in appreciably larger than the type on the KLR. These adjustable for compression damping, but not

Rake was 28.5 degrees, a long 4.8 inches, which by the of the day were more play-bike than a serious competitor’s, as sharp turns was in the slow with front-end geometry this. The Uni-Trak single had three-way adjustability—preload, compression and was criticized as not being of the same as on the KX racers. Wheels were front, 18-inch rear, and the swingarm brought the wheelbase to inches.

Kawasaki Tengai

1994 Kawasaki

Weight was an important factor. The the avoirdupois, the easier to wrestle sand and mud and up steep hills. The R in at just 298 pounds having no button to push, but with its compression release, kicking big single into life was not a

The question was, would the mind kickstarting this powered machine, or would he opt for the race-worthy KX500?

Now to the KLX650: Biggest change was the now 358 pounds dry with the starter, battery and larger DOT-approved adding 60 pounds. So it was only 10 lighter than a standard The gas tank was enlarged to 3.2 gallons, but a throttle hand could that up in under a hundred

A few changes were made to the chassis to make the KLX650 roadworthy. The swingarm, this one of steel, was lengthened slightly to an axle-to-axle measurement of 59.3 which was good for the highway, not so in the dirt. The rear wheel was to 17 inches.

The KYB suspension was downgraded from the KLX650R, with a fork and a less-expensive shock Which rather defeated the purpose of building a better version of the KLR. As one magazine put it, the KLX650 was “a decent shock of being an exceptional trail

1994 Kawasaki KLX650

differences among the three included their prices. In ’93 the went for $3,899, while the cost 20 percent more, no mean differential. The KLX650R had a tag of

Three rather inflationary later in 1996, the KLR was at $4,749, the KLX the KLX/R $5,499.

Sales of the KLR far those of the KLX; time to a long, hard look at models should be cut for the next Only leftover KLXs available in ’97, with the considerably reduced.

(This article was published in the October issue of Rider magazine.)

Kawasaki Tengai
Kawasaki Tengai


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