Drag site icon to your taskbar to pin site. Learn More

2012 650 Adventure Touring Shootout Conclusion

Monday, July 2, 2012

For My Money

There’s perhaps no better gauge of the test bikes than asking riders which they would choose to purchase. Our scorecards are designed to extract as much information as possible, but we’ve learned time and time again that shootout winners aren’t always the rider's favorite. It’s a testament to our riders’ objectivity and points out mechanical and engineering might. However, real riders have to spend real money on these motorcycles, so here’s what our test crew had to say when considering their own riding style and bank accounts.

The Suzuki uses its potent drivetrain to claim the shootout victory, but the KLR650 is unanimous as our riders' favorite. From our dirt rookie to our veteran touring expert, the Kawi is the best all-around package, it just lacks the muscle to win on the scoresheet.
Dave Riant – Age 56 – 5’11” – 160 lbs. – 41 years riding – Kawasaki KLR650 
I really want to love the V-Strom. It’s such a great street bike and I would be happy with its off-road performance for the majority of remote routes encountered . But reality sets in. The seated position is too cramped for long days in the saddle. The oil filter and low pipe are also a concern as are the cast rims, all of which are vulnerable in rocky terrain. Plus the $2000 saved by selecting the KLR would buy accessories, new riding gear and still leave some extra cash for a trip.

Bart Madson – Age 35 – 6’0” – 200 lbs. – 6 years riding – Kawasaki KLR650
I ain’t a pauper, but I sure think like one. So the $2000 pricing discrepancy buys the Kawasaki a lot of leeway in my book. I have to admit that its cheap price does carry over in fit and finish and build quality, given some of our issues with the test unit, which is a long-term project bike too. That said it’s a hell of a lot of bike for $6300.

JC Hilderbrand – Age 29 – 5’11” – 190 lbs. – 16 years riding – Kawasaki KLR650
The Kawasaki is clearly the best bike for me. Once you consider the pricetag there’s no question this is the bike I would buy. It’s not perfect by any means, particularly with regards to the engine performance and mechanical build. I think this bike will hold up to the rigors of off-road riding better than the others, but it takes a tedious wrench to stay on top of loosening bolts and general maintenance. It frustrates me because Kawasaki could make it easier to work on, but it’s definitely easier to find my way around this bike in the garage because it’s very dirt bike-ish. I’m going to be very hard on my AT bike, regardless of if it’s a 650 or a 1200. The KLR is a bike that I won’t feel bad about hammering and I can afford to keep doing it.

2012 BMW G650GS Sertao Photo Gallery
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Slideshow
2012 Kawasaki KLR650 Photo Gallery
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Slideshow
2012 Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS Photos
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Gallery
View Slideshow
2012 650 Adventure Touring Dyno Horsepower

Login or sign up to comment.

MCUSA Bart   July 17, 2012 04:27 PM
Thanks for commenting on the 650 AT Shootout. For those interested in how the DR650 stacks up, against the KLR650 at least, make sure to read our head to head comparison from 2008: http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/11/1437/Motorcycle-Article/2008-650-Dual-Sport-Challenge.aspx

As for more on the Wee-Strom, we're investigating another test later this year against its more street-biased Twin rivals... So we'll see if that pans out this season.

dutch97501   July 16, 2012 12:03 PM
The DR650 was left out of the 08 test as well as the 12 test. In 08 they gave the KLR the win for its better seat and wind protection. That said I bought the 08 DR and put a cheap windshield on it along with a seat concepts seat cover and foam and have a bike I can ride anywhere and if it falls over who cares.The bike is $5000 new and can be bought a couple of years old for $3000. And it hasn't changed since 1996. I would like to see a test with all the 650 dualsports in it
acesandeights   July 6, 2012 04:44 PM
Why not use the DL650/Strom "Adventure" in the test? Me know understandy. I would have liked to have seen the DR650 in the test too, but expect it wouldn't have scored well on road due to the lack of fairing/windshield.
royalman   July 5, 2012 07:43 PM
Thanks for the info Ponch. I have researched every bike til I'M blue in the face, and I just haven't found anything as affordable that does as much. The NC700x may be a challenger for price, but is strictly street. Have fun on your KLR! Better question, what does one that already own a KLR pine for?
Poncho167   July 5, 2012 04:20 PM
The dual sport vs adventure touring is correct. The DR is definently more dual sport than the KLR.
Poncho167   July 5, 2012 04:18 PM
Having owned Honda enduro's (oops, now called dual-sport) I can tell you that both the Honda and Suzuki are better off-road bikes than the Kawi KLR, mostly because of the weight factor and the KLR fairing. The previous generation KLR was more dirt worthy like the DR and XRL.
The late model KLR is a better road bike than the Honda or Suzuki though.
neo1piv014   July 5, 2012 11:04 AM
beaverspork: They probably left the DR650, XR650L, etc out because those are much more true "Dual Sports" than "Adventure Touring" machines. My DR650 is much more off road oriented than the bikes they reviewed. The Suzuki especially is a street bike that retains the right to do some dirt roads. The KLR and BMW might do better offroad than the Suzuki, but they're still not going to be as good in the dirt as a true Dual Sport.
Poncho167   July 5, 2012 11:03 AM
I meant to say that 60 mpg came around 15,000 miles of break in.
Poncho167   July 5, 2012 08:07 AM
I have the new generation 2008 KLR. Regarding the mileage and horse power figures. First off the only time I got below 50 mpg was on a day long toll-way trip averaging 65-70 mph where mileage was in the low 40's or so. During regular riding otherwise the bike got 50 mpg. With miles on the engine it so mpg around 15,000 miles. I switched tires to a more street based DS tire and now consistently get in the 60's with a high of a little over 64 mpg.

The horse power figures are off as well. Other tests/magazines show slightly shy of 34 torque and 38 hp. Zero to 60 is about 6.4-6.5 seconds with a quarter mile slightly over 14 seconds stock. It has more than enough power for most any kind of road riding with or without passenger. It is definently no speed demon but it gets the job done.

Kawasaki marketed this a street bike with a little dirt built into it. I would say stock it is 80% street, 20% dirt. It is really too heavy to take off road on anything more than a smooth trial or fire road. Because of its tall gearing first gear chugging requires a lot of stabs at the clutch in tight technical stuff which its not made for. The previous KLR was more off-road friendly.
beaverspork   July 3, 2012 10:23 AM
What about the DR 650? I like mine a lot more than those ugly KLR's.
royalman   July 3, 2012 05:13 AM
KLR---It's amazing this bike is still bringing it--I don't think there is a more capable, versatile bike for the money ANYWHERE. Did you guys do 1/4 mile testing on these bikes? I'm curious for the time on the KLR. I owned a DRZ-400s and have seen that instrumented test, but in my considerations for a KLR I want to know if it is quicker than the DRZ was.
MCUSA Bart   July 2, 2012 11:40 AM
Anthony, we don't say we'd rather ride the KLR, we say we'd rather buy it. Which is the reason why we stick these For My Money pics. I think all of the test riders agree the Suzuki V-Strom is a better performing bike, but the KLR delivers a lot for not a ton of $$$.
WilCon   July 2, 2012 11:23 AM
That is exactly what I was thinking. Odd winner when every tester would buy the Kawasaki. I guess this is why they keep making and selling them.
AnthonyD   July 2, 2012 10:54 AM
Lol. If you all would rather ride the KLX......