New 2008 Kawasaki KLR650 Refines On-Road Capabilities for Improved Touring Performance
The new KLR650 is well suited to life on the highways, deserts, mountains or even the challenging terrain of today’s urban jungle. For 21 years, the Kawasaki KLR650 has been the smart choice for riders seeking reliable on and off-road performance. Now, the 2008 KLR650 features thorough updates aimed at making it a better tour-ready dual-purpose bike than ever before.
Featuring new suspension and brakes, the KLR650 is a fun, functional commuter during the week and an adept dirt road blaster on weekends. The new 41mm front forks now have less static sag for a taut, smooth ride on pavement. Front suspension travel is reduced from 9.1 in. to 7.9 in. A redesigned UNI-TRAK linkage reduces sag and compliments the new front suspension by reducing rear wheel travel from 8.1 in. to 7.3 in. 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 calliper. These new suspension and brake upgrades boost the KLR650’s on-road performance, without diminishing its versatile off-road capabilities.
Several new refinements help make the KLR650 an even more worthy touring companion. There’s a larger rear luggage rack that’s 3.5 in. longer and 5.1 in. wider than the old rack, and a new, narrower tail section which makes it easier to mount saddlebags. Wind protection is also improved with all-new bodywork featuring a taller windscreen and large shrouds. A large 6.1-gallon fuel tank and miserly fuel economy mean the new KLR650 retains its legendary range between fill-ups.
Riders will be able to take full advantage of the KLR’s range, thanks to a revised seat design and new urethane foam for greater long-distance comfort. A high-capacity 36W alternator powers a new higher-output headlight and offers extra capacity to power the add-on electronic gadgets touring riders can’t live without.
The KLR650 motor, already renowned for being rugged, reliable and powerful, is now even better. There’s improved throttle response from revised ignition mapping, and revised cam timing contributes to improved 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.
More on-road competence doesn’t mean less off-road fun. The KLR650 has a U.S. Forest Service-approved spark arrestor for access to any road open to licensed vehicles, and a tough engine guard protects the engine from loose rocks and gravel. With an optional Kawasaki tank bag and soft luggage on the larger standard rear rack, KLR650 owners can tote enough gear for an extended trip to any remote location.
All these improvements mean that more than ever, the new KLR650 is the ideal go-farther, multi-surface motorcycle for riders craving on and off-road adventure.
651cc Four-stroke Single
Revised cam timing contributes to improved high-rpm performance
New intake porting offers greater low-end torque
New piston rings are thinner and have more tension, for improved oil consumption
New one-piece exhaust pipe features smoother bends for improved exhaust efficiency at all rpm
Special tuning to improve low- and mid-range power
Light, silent cam chain reduces engine noise
Oil-level window permits easy and accurate inspection
New Denso radiator is thin and lightweight. Fitted with a lightweight and thin cooling fan, the new radiator has a greater cooling area and offers a 20% increase in cooling efficiency
Maintains consistent engine temperatures for long engine life and sustained power during hard use
Allows tighter engine clearances for quieter running
Automatic fan keeps things cool in all conditions
Includes a temperature gauge
Four-valve Cylinder Head
Better breathing for more power at all rpm
Compact combustion chamber allows increased compression ratio with less detonation
The use of a secondary air (ASV) system helps reduce harmful exhaust emissions
Provides maximum valve area for optimum flow
Boosts low-end torque
Double Engine Balancer
Engine runs smoothly from idle to redline for rider comfort and less fatigue on long rides
Fully Transistorised Ignition
Fully transistorised ignition unit replaces the earlier analog CDI for better ignition performance
More precisely controls timing no matter how fast the rpm changes
Fewer moving parts for long, trouble-free life
Designed to handle the engine’s unique power characteristics
The engine’s broad torque curve only requires five speeds for off-road and relaxed highway cruising
O-ring drive chain reduces maintenance and increases chain service life
Convenient location makes starting and warm-up easier
Revised Front Suspension
New, beefier 41mm front fork is offers increased rigidity. (Previous unit was 38mm)
Re-calibrated suspension offers less static sag and now offers greater on-road riding performance.
Front suspension stroke was reduced from 9.1 in. to 7.9 in.
High-mounted front fender for any adventure-touring situation
Revised UNI-TRAK Rear Suspension
Rear suspension travel was reduced from 8.1 in. to 7.3 in. but usable travel is unaffected due to a reduction in static sag
New D-section swingarm contributes to the bike’s excellent traction
Redesigned UNI-TRAK linkage compliments front suspension changes
Progressive rate provides a smoother, more controlled ride
Features a five-way preload shock absorber with four-way rebound damping
New 4mm spokes (up from 3.5mm) provide increased wheel stiffness, enhanced handling performance and improved steering response.
Semi-double Cradle Frame
Made of high-tech, round-section, high-tensile steel
Protects engine from rocks and trail debris when the going gets tough
Detachable Rear Subframe
Simplifies maintenance by providing better access to the rear shock, airbox and carburetor
Large rear cargo rack included
Front and Rear Disc Brakes
New lightweight front and rear petal discs offer excellent braking.
Front brake disc diameter increased from 260mm to 280mm.
New rear calliper offers improved feel and power
Easy and convenient starting
Lighting and USFS-Approved Spark Arrestor
New dual-bulb headlamp offers greater night visibility
New high-mounted turn signals improve the KLR650’s visibility at night or under poor visibility conditions
Rear taillight parking light
U.S. Forest Service-approved spark arrestor
Large 6.1-gallon Fuel Tank
Significant capacity permits adventure touring
Additional Comfort and Touring Features
All-new bodywork features a larger fairing, which contributes to increased wind protection
Alternator output has been increased from 14.5A to 17A. Total capacity is 36W to provide ample power for the new headlight as well as add-on grip heaters and other accessories
New, easy-to-read instrument panel is mounted to the frame, contributing to lighter steering
Full instrumentation includes a large-face speedometer, tachometer, odometer, trip meter and water temperature gauge
Firmer urethane seat foam offers greater comfort for long-distance riding
Seat height is lower, but reduced suspension sag means the rider’s ability to reach the ground is about the same
Optional extended warranty
Engine: Liquid-cooled, four-stroke, DOHC, four-valve single
Bore x stroke: 100mm x 83mm
Compression ratio: 9.8:1
Carburetion: Keihin CVK40
Final drive: O-ring chain
Frame: Semi-double cradle, high-tensile steel
Rake: 28 degrees
Front suspension: 41mm telescopic fork, 7.9 inches of travel
Rear suspension: UNI-TRAK single-shock system with five-way preload and stepless rebound damping, 7.3 inches of travel
Front tire: 90/90-21
Rear tire: 130/80-17
Front brake: 280mm petal disc with hydraulic dual-piston caliper
Rear brake: 240mm petal disc with hydraulic dual-piston caliper
Overall length: 90.3 inches
Overall width: 37.8 inches
Overall height: 53.1 inches
Seat height: 35 inches
Wheelbase: 58.3 inches
Ground clearance: 8.3 inches
Fuel capacity: 6.1 gallons
Dry weight: 386 pounds
The Kawasaki KLR650 has been a long-standing model in Kawasaki’s lineup, having been introduced in 1987 and remaining almost unchanged through the 2007 model. Kawasaki has announced that the 2008 model will be the first significant redesign of the KLR650.
For 2008 the Kawasaki KLR650 has received many updates aimed at continuing its tradition as being the most reliable and touring ready dual sport on the road. It includes new front and rear suspension that both reduce the wheel travel. It also features a new petal style front rotor for increased heat dissipation, and resistance to warping. The KLR650 motorcycle is heavier than specialized off-road dirt bikes, but it can handle most conditions when ridden carefully by a skilled rider. To improve upon its touring abilities Kawasaki lengthened the luggage rack 3.5 inches, added all new body work with a taller windscreen. It now features high output headlights, and the time tested engine has been updated with a throttle position sensor, revised ignition mapping and cam timing, as well as a revised cylinder head.
This motorcycle is considered by many to be one of the best all-round motorcycles made, with legions of fans and websites for support & add-ons.
KLRs have been ridden to the Arctic, across North and South America, and throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia, as well as on full global circumnavigation rides. Nicknames include "The Mule" and "The Tractor."