2012 Kawasaki KLR 650 | Preview

Tom Wera
IS THE KLR THE BEST RTW DS BIKE?  My Colleague Ken owns one, he has been making modifications and we have talked about this topic.  Perhaps this is the best bike to take around the world…simple to maintain, inexpensive, reliable, light and can handle all the luggage too.
Seat is high but who cares eh if the bike makes the trip.  No computer uploads/downloads, not a bad idea, not complex…again a plus…so, questions for the readers out there….what do you think?  RTW, just an ADV bike, commuter or all of the above?
2012-kawasaki-klr-650-preview 1.jpg
2012-kawasaki-klr-650-preview 2.jpg
2012-kawasaki-klr-650-preview 3.jpg
2012-kawasaki-klr-650-preview 4.jpg
2012-kawasaki-klr-650-preview 5.jpg

2012 Kawasaki Motorcycle

Since its introduction in 1987, the Kawasaki KLR has been the leading player in the dual-sport market. The KLR, the top-selling dual sport for the past seven years, is simplicity at its best, and this concept continues in 2012.

Powering this dual-sport icon is a 651cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine with liquid cooling and the a basic carburetor with great throttle response. The bike is tuned for low-end grunt for those rugged trails, and designed with long suspension travel up front (7.9 inches) and out back (7.3 inches).

Stopping the 2012 KLR are a dual-piston caliper gripping a 280mm petal-style disc in the front, and a 240mm petal-style disc squeezed by a single-piston caliper in the rear.

Dual-sport amenities are address with effective wind protection, an expansive, saddlebag-friendly, rear luggage rack that can be fitted with a tail bag and a 5.8-gallon gas tank.

Kawasaki says: “Rider comfort is enhanced further by the seat design and plush urethane foam. A high-capacity 36-watt alternator pumps out enough juice for a high-output headlight and has the extra capacity to power the add-on electronic gadgets that no touring rider can live without.”

From sand and rocky trails to the morning commute, the 2012 Kawasaki KLR 650 was designed to take it on. And with up to 60 mpg and a price tag under $6,300, the KLR 650 is perfect to combat tough economical times.

Following are the highlights, specs, color options and MSRP for the 2012 Kawaskai KLR 650 Dual Sport.

2012 Kawasaki KLR 650 Dual Sport Highlights:


  • Cam timing and tuning combination aid in producing a broad, user-friendly powerband
  • Smooth bends on the one-piece exhaust pipe permit exhaust efficiency at all rpm
  • Light, silent cam chain contributes to a quieter engine
  • Double engine balancer helps engine run smoothly from idle to redline for less fatigue on long rides
  • Advanced piston ring design helps minimize oil consumption
  • Oil-level window permits easy and accurate inspection
  • Compact combustion chamber allows increased compression ratio with less detonation yet provides maximum valve area for optimum flow
  • Boosts low-end torque with sufficient power at all rpm
  • Secondary air (ASV) system helps reduce harmful exhaust emissions

Liquid Cooling

  • Thin and lightweight Denso radiator fitted with a lightweight and thin cooling fan for maximum cooling efficiency, even at low speeds
  • Maintains consistent engine temperatures for long engine life and sustained power during hard use
  • Allows tighter engine clearances for quieter running
  • Includes a temperature gauge


  • Fully transistorized ignition unit more precisely controls timing no matter how fast the rpm changes
  • Long, trouble-free lifespan


  • The engine’s broad torque curve means only five speeds are needed for off-road sprinting and relaxed highway cruising
  • O-ring drive chain for reduced maintenance and long chain service life


  • Beefy, 41mm front fork with 7.9 inches of travel is rigid and plush enough to tackle on and off-road terrain and provide all-day comfort to the rider
  • High-mounted front fender for any adventure-touring situation
  • Rear Uni-Trak suspension features a five-way preload shock absorber with four-way rebound damping and 7.3 inches of rear wheel travel
  • Progressive rate provides a smooth, controlled ride
  • D-section swingarm contributes to the bike’s excellent traction
  • 4mm spokes provide wheel stiffness, further enhancing handling performance and improving steering response


  • Semi-double cradle frame made of high-tech, round-section, high-tensile steel
  • Detachable rear subframe provides access to the rear shock, airbox and carburetor for easy maintenance
  • Large rear cargo rack included

Engine Guard

  • Protects engine from rocks and trail debris when the going gets tough


  • Lightweight 280mm front and 240mm rear petal-style discs offer excellent braking


  • Dual-bulb headlamp offers great night illumination
  • Tail light, parking light and the high-mounted turn signals improve the KLR650’s visibility at night or in poor visibility conditions

5.8-gallon fuel tank

  • Generous capacity permits serious adventure touring

Additional Highlights

  • Bodywork includes a large fairing for great wind protection
  • Alternator output is 17 amps, with a total capacity of 36 watts to provide ample power for the headlight as well as add-on grip heaters and other accessories
  • Easy-to-read instrument panel is mounted to the frame and includes a large-face speedometer, tachometer, odometer, trip meter and water temperature gauge
  • Urethane seat foam offers all-day comfort for long-distance riding
  • Optional extended warranty

2012 Kawasaki KLR 650 Dual Sport Specs:

  • Engine: Four-stroke, DOHC, four-valve single
  • Displacement: 651cc
  • Bore x Stroke: 100.0 x 83.0mm
  • Compression ratio: 9.8:1
  • Cooling System : Liquid
  • Carburetion: Keihin CVK40
  • Ignition: Electric CDI
  • Transmission: Five-speed
  • Final drive: Chain
  • Frame Type: Semi-double cradle, high-tensile steel
  • Rake/Trail: 28 degrees / 4.4 in.
  • Front suspension / wheel travel: 41mm telescopic fork / 7.9 in.
  • Rear suspension / wheel travel: Uni-Trak single-shock system with 5-way preload and stepless rebound damping / 7.3 in.
  • Front Tire Size: 90/90×21
  • Rear Tire Size: 130/80×17
  • Front brakes / rear brakes: Single 280mm petal-type disc, two-piston caliper / Single 240mm disc, single-piston caliper
  • Overall length: 90.4 in.
  • Overall width: 37.8 in.
  • Overall height: 53.1 in.
  • Ground clearance: 8.3 in.
  • Seat height: 35.0 in.
  • Curb weight: 432 lbs.
  • Fuel capacity: 6.1 gal.
  • Wheelbase: 58.3 in.
  • Good Times Protection Plan: 12, 24, 36 or 48 months
  • Warranty: 12 Months

2012 Kawasaki KLR 650 Dual Sport Color Options/MSRP:

  • Candy Persimmon Red/Galaxy Silver / $6,299
  • Metallic Flat Raw Graystone/Ebony / $6,299
  • Metallic Imperial Blue/Pearl Stardust White / $6,299

Author: advgrrl

Avid ADV rider! This Blog is all about the adventure in adventure riding. Researching new bikes, routes, accessories, learning about other riders and hopefully a great place for others to comment and explore with me. PLUS, up and down's, wildlife, my dogs, my life!

4 thoughts on “2012 KAWASAKI KLR650 – RTW BIKE?”

  1. My 2005 model has taken me from Newfoundland to the end of the road past the Panama Canal with no trouble. The odometer rolled over 70,000km this year and the only thing I’ve done is a valve adjustment. I’ve gone through consumables of course; chain/sprockets, bearings and batteries etc. but I’ve never had to take it to a shop for repairs. I was able to find headset bearings and a battery in El Salvador at an industrial supply outlet – no motorcycle dealer needed.

    It ain’t fast, the fit and finish of the hardware is rough, the suspension and brakes are atavistic – but it just WORKS and keeps working.The bike is a mule, not a thoroughbred

    That said, I think the new model beats even the old one in the repugnant looks department!

    I feel the old generation KLR had a slight advantage over the more modern looking RTW motorcycles. From a distance It’s dim, square headlight and high plastic fender blend right in with the small displacement motorcycles the locals ride in the far reaches of the planet. Very low profile.

    If you’re shining 200 watts of asymmetrical halogen down the patchy tarmac, that bored cop on the side of the Honduran highway is going to have plenty of time to think about how many lempiras he can squeeze out of you.

  2. Since 2012 when I started to travel on motorbike around continents I had 2 KLRs new generation model and 1 old generation. When I rode the American continent I bought the new model in Cali, Colombia that took me right down to Ushusia. Later I rented an old generation KLR that I drove right up to Deadhorse Alaska. Within the Asian continent I rode my faithful 2008 KLR.
    In Europe I still ride that 2008 model and plan to cover the Russian continent this Summer.
    Not a superb motorcycle but I loved the rugged built and simplicity machine. I travelled mostly solo unsupported. I can grade the KLR as 9.9 marks. That 0.1 is for being abit under power.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: