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2008 Kawasaki KLR650 DS Photo Gallery

We took our reigning 650cc dual-sport champion, the Kawasaki KLR650 and pitted it against a challenger from the opposite end of the DS spectrum, Suzuki's DR650SE. Check out how the 2008 Kawasaki KLR650 DS held up in our 2008 650 Dual-Sport Challenge.

Slideshow
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Some riders complain about the tires for off-road use, but it isn't the rubber that's holding the KLR back. The Dunlops are actually a good match for what the rest of the bike can handle in the dirt.
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With so much going for it, why can't Kawasaki put a better instrument panel on the KLR?
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It's clear that the Kawi is built to go longer distances and you can't do that if you're just poking along, so the KLR is also built to be comfortable at speed.
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We'll take the Suzuki into off-road situations where elevating the front wheel is needed, but aren't so bold with the Kawi.
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Even go-anywhere machines like these get held up sometimes.
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We didn't let the ghosts along Bear Camp Road or this painfully obvious sign deter us. It was just the right type of country for these bikes.
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Both fork sets offer no adjustment but the shocks will give riders a bit to play with. The Kawi has five different preload and four rebound settings.
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Kawasaki's pavement prowess with the KLR is so authorative it's hard to get past. It is surprisingly nimble for such an awkward looking package.
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The seating position is a little more cramped on the Suzuki. The Kawasaki has a very comfortable layout for sit-down riding.
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Kawi admittedly is pushing the bike it a more touring-friendly direction, but there is now so much road-going capability, and it has just enough off-road capacity, that this bike is really more of a mini adventure touring machine.