Thursday, April 15, 2010

Great Price on a Bug Out Machine

I drove to the coast yesterday to pick up some stuff I needed for my boatbuilding project at one of the marine supplies down there, since I'm building the boat in a small town two hours inland where things like 1-inch O.D. stainless steel tubing is unheard of.  I also looked at something else: 

While killing some time driving along the beach and other areas in some old neighborhoods I used to spend a lot of time in, I stopped by one of my favorite motorcycle shops just to look around a minute and sure enough, back in the far corner, away from the shiny street cruisers and four-wheeler hunting ATVs, there was something that caught my interest.  It was a brand new, black 2009 Kawasaki KLR 650 - a dual sport bike I have long coveted for it's reputation as a versatile traveling machine - able to take you long distances on the pavement to wherever you want to explore, and then off road onto dirt forest service roads and jeep trails and the like.  With a large fuel tank, super efficient single cylinder engine and little to go wrong, the KLR 650 is a dependable machine with a long range.  Lots of aftermarket accessories are available to turn into a real touring or bug out vehicle.

This new bike in the dealership was sitting there neglected under a coating of light dust.  Though the KLR 650 is really popular with a select group of enthusiasts, it doesn't appeal to everyone, especially the cruiser type looking for shiny chrome and all that other bling to impress others on the boulevard.  No, the KLR is in another class all together, including price.  I was surprised to see the tag hanging from the handlebar was marked at just over $5K.  I was even more surprised when the owner of the store came by and said that he had several new '09 models in the back, still in boxes, and that he would sell one for $4750.  Now that's a deal on a brand new KLR.  I mean what else you can buy brand new for that kind of money and hop on it and ride to Alaska? I have to say I was tempted.   What better way to clear my head after a long session of working on my next book than to go blow down some winding Mississippi backroads looking for dirt roads?  I didn't ride out of there on one, but it's hard not to think about it. 

Here's video with more about these bikes if you're not familiar with them.  This is a 2008 model, which is the year several changes were introduced.  The 2009 model is the same.


  1. The KLR-650 has had a good reputation as a BOV for quite a while - not the 1st time I've seen it mentioned, many of them by bike owners who own quite a few machines and know what they are talking about. One of those would make a good GOOD (Get Out Of Dodge) vehicles if in a city - make your own road!

  2. Yes, I have several friends who own or have owned them. They are particularly popular for adventurous long-distance touring in Third World countries and remote places like Alaska. I've had a lot of bikes myself in the past, but this dual-sport on road/off road type is the only kind that interests me these days.

  3. If you're going to get a KLR then get an older model. Before '08 they were sold for almost 20 years with few changes. It takes a trained eye to notice the differences between a 90s model to an '07. I've seen three of the new model KLRs sold used at local shops for every 1 of the older model KLRs over the last few years. That tells me something about the new models. I'll stick to the old, tried and true model with lots of cheap parts and aftermarket available all over the world. More importantly, it's easy to find low mileage bikes in good condition for next to nothing.

    I think that Kawasaki made a huge mistake with their major overhaul. It will take years before the new model catches on. As you said, there's a certain type of person that the KLR-650 appeals to. Those people don't want a new model.

  4. Yeah, I've done some research on the differences. It seems they both have favorable reviews, it just depends on intended use, with the older model having the edge off-road and the newer model being perhaps more road touring oriented.

    Right now there are at least three older models in my area for sale at good prices: an '03, and '06 and an '07. Also a like new '09 with just 250 miles on it for more than a grand off the MSRP.

    I'm not buying just now, but I've had my eye on these for awhile and will eventually get around to picking one up.

  5. I've never ridden the KLR but have ridden the DR650. I found it fun on the both pavement and dirt twisties, But bulky on major sandy, hilly canyon trails offroad. On the highway I was basically flogging it trying to stay with traffic but damned if I did not think it would be excellent BOV to get through SHTF traffic.

    My little CRF150R would never suffice, KX100 is too loud and not much for a pack animal, and my roadrace bike? Not so much. I don't have the money for a dual sport right now but I just keep eyeing them. My truck is a gas hog, it's big, it's great, but it's not going anywhere if the traffic gets backed up. I like that I can haul bikes and gear and ditch it for the bikes in the back but...what bike?

    Have you compared it to a DR? I'm only 5''6" and about 125lb. Dropping a bigger bike loaded with gear, on a trail, would be hell. I wasn't loaded up on the DR and that added weight is a game changer for sure.

    While the convenience of my truck would be ideal, the gas, size and inability to really get over and through obstacles is a reality I do not like.

    P.s. Had always considered packing up my horses and taking off but honestly, having tried that on a simple picnic on the trails a few times? What a reality check that was. My gelding was trying to bust down small trees He was tied to and my mare kept head butting me to commandeer my sandwich. They are lucky I didn't pull a Ton Ton on them.


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