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Sup peeps,

I have been in the market for an adventure bike for about two years now and have a lot of riding experience. Dirt bikes and mopeds in the 70's as a kid Supersports in my 30's Kawasaki and Suzuki mostly. Then I got my 1st Harley 3 years ago and I love the bike but time is ticking its expensive and my goals for riding have changed. I would love to get my hands on a T7 but where I live in West Texas I've never seen one but we have some KLr for sale here and I was given an offer I can't refuse on my trade in. My question is average highway speeds here are 75 to 85mph can the klr sustain that for hours? How are the after-market upgrades? Where I live on the highway it's 80mph this is my main concern. Any advice would help.
 

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Personally I think you are looking at the wrong bike if you want to ride at those speeds for sustained periods. You would be pretty well riding at full throttle. It‘s a lot to ask from a single cylinder.
I’d be looking at a Suzuki V-Storm, Triumph Tiger 800 / 900, KTM 890, Harley Pan American.

What are your riding goals? What kind of budget?
 
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Agree with klr4evr's post above.

In my experience, a KLR is capable of maintaining even Texas Interstate speeds (my Sugar Land (Houston suburb) riding partner has proven this, heading westward on his 100 k plus 2008 model). Yet, these bikes take a while to reach the speed limits, and . . . there's not much acceleration and margin beyond those velocities (a KLR rider should take these characteristics into consideration when overtaking an 18-wheeler running behind schedule).

I think the answer to the question remains a subjective one, william.weekly: Can YOU tolerate the KLRs limitations within your riding environment and riding style? Your response stands as the only significant answer.

To klr4evr's list of alternate candidates, I'd add: KTM 690. About the same displacement as a KLR 650, over twice the horsepower, and weighing only a bit over 300 pounds dry, with longer maintenance intervals than the KLR and a superb suspension out of the box. That said, I'm still riding my KLRs, first one purchased in 2005!

Finally, don't think you can possibly make a BAD decision among the choices available to you today, including acquisition of a new KLR!
 

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I also think that trying to maintain those speeds for hours on a KLR will NOT be pleasant!
Good point. I have a 2012 KLR. As state it will do those higher speeds but the reason I added a 2020 Africa Twin to my stable is for those longer adventures. After an hour or so of wringing out the KLR on the slab the appeal diminishes.
Op said ‘sustained’ high speed. That’s not a KLR IMHO.
 

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Best advice I would offer - play to the bike's strengths.

We're used to warp speed on the supersport, sport tour, and monster cruiser, where bikes routinely produce over 80 HP. For those machines, whatever speed you want is just one gear shift and throttle whack away. Many riders have discovered that the same bike that delivers 40 mpg at 65-75 MPH is down below 18 mpg at 120+ (or so I hear).

But the KLR has 40 HP or less, weighs in over 400 lbs, and due to those physical characteristics has some serious limitations.
It's not a rock crawler (MX bike, trials bike), it's not a supersport (Ninja, Busa), and it's not a Escalade (96 ci Cruiser/Bagger or Goldwing).

KLR is more like an old Jeep, a stick shift, no AC, no power windows, no power locks - Jeep. It's rugged like a Jeep, stands up to punishment and the occasional abuse, and is relatively simple to maintain. Will happily take you anywhere the pavement or two-track or decent single track leads. Most of us have limped home with some broken parts, lost footpeg, broken shifter, broken levers, missing plastics. So that I would also count as a strength. And like a Jeep -the KLR is still perfectly functional, despite a few battle scars.

Most freeway speeds are within reach, but a good rule of thumb is to keep your cruising RPM at 5,000 or less. That rule is understood to reflect piston velocity within the bore, and excess velocity leads to increased wear and increased oil consumption (things which diminish the longevity of the motor). So a 16 or 17 tooth front sprocket can help manage the ratio of RPM to top speed. Personally, if traffic is running at a true 85-90 MPH, I look for a different route. Bike can do those, but its not within the strength zone, and frame flex and braking limitations come into play for emergency maneuvers.

Finally, there is another plus side in it's favor; the KLR has enjoyed very long production runs. Kawasaki has been very pragmatic about re-design and changes (critics would say cheap). There are a great deal of interchangeable parts between the first year of production (1987) and all Gen-1 and Gen-2 KLRs (2018). Time will tell if the Gen-3 has the same advantage. But the relatively low price, good availability of replacement and aftermarket parts, means you won't sh!t your pants if you drop the bike and shredd the plastics or break something. This is important if you're a cheap bahstage.

If you play to the bikes strengths (for whichever bike you choose) you'll be pretty satisfied.
 

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Nice post Foo; reminds me of my "why I ride a KLR" post:

....just thinking further to this discussion; I don't consider the KLR a "low end beater". I'm lucky enough to be able to ride whatever I want; I recently had 9 bikes in the garage and sold all of them except the KLR. Yes the KLR has limited performance in stock form but I saw it as a blank canvass with good bones that had some very strong advantages; namely legendary longevity, great reliability and ease of service and repair.....plus they are everywhere making sourcing parts very easy. When you are 200 miles from nowhere, reliability and ease of repair are an order of magnitude more important than an extra 10hp or the latest electronic goodies. I expanded on the KLR's strengths by upgrading or eliminating all known weaknesses and improving key systems like the suspension and brakes. I find the results to be excellent for what I do and where I ride. It certainly can't compare to my KTM300 offroad, nor my Harley Electraglide on the highway but it can go almost anywhere and I have a high confidence level in its reliability. We KLR owners are lucky in that the shortcuts and budget components are ones that are easily upgraded or replaced like shocks, springs, bars, footpegs, skid plates, etc.....the potential is there if you want to dig it out....and a shock upgrade is the very biggest functional change you can make.I could do without my fancy silencer or LED headlight but my Cogent shock is the last thing I'd give up.

Dave
 

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Foo and DPelletier pretty much nailed it. For many of us, two (or more!) bikes are the right solution. I have a HD Electraglide in addition to two KLRs. If I’m going distance at speed, hands down, I take the Hawg. For most of the rest, I take a KLR.

I live about 60 miles from the southern section of the WABDR, and I got the KLR so I could go ride it. I can ride reasonably comfortably at 70-75MPH to get there, then dial it back to 25MPH on the Forest Service and logging roads (or slower in the rougher sections), for 100+ miles, then take the highway to get back home for dinner. Plus, having that big gas tank is really comforting when you’re out in the middle of nowhere and at least 50 miles from the nearest gas station.

But if you’re limited to just one bike, the flexibility of a KLR is hard to beat.
 

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Nice post Foo; reminds me of my "why I ride a KLR" post:

....just thinking further to this discussion; I don't consider the KLR a "low end beater". I'm lucky enough to be able to ride whatever I want; I recently had 9 bikes in the garage and sold all of them except the KLR. Yes the KLR has limited performance in stock form but I saw it as a blank canvass with good bones that had some very strong advantages; namely legendary longevity, great reliability and ease of service and repair.....plus they are everywhere making sourcing parts very easy. When you are 200 miles from nowhere, reliability and ease of repair are an order of magnitude more important than an extra 10hp or the latest electronic goodies. I expanded on the KLR's strengths by upgrading or eliminating all known weaknesses and improving key systems like the suspension and brakes. I find the results to be excellent for what I do and where I ride. It certainly can't compare to my KTM300 offroad, nor my Harley Electraglide on the highway but it can go almost anywhere and I have a high confidence level in its reliability. We KLR owners are lucky in that the shortcuts and budget components are ones that are easily upgraded or replaced like shocks, springs, bars, footpegs, skid plates, etc.....the potential is there if you want to dig it out....and a shock upgrade is the very biggest functional change you can make.I could do without my fancy silencer or LED headlight but my Cogent shock is the last thing I'd give up.

Dave
Well stated. If I wasn’t at an age where the next sniffle could be the sign of something fatal I would just upgrade my suspension like yours and call it good because it’s everything you said. But, I wanted ‘one last’ new bike with all the bells and whistles…so I bought the AT but I can’t part with the KLR.
 

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Think you will be disappointed with the KLR. Just got my 2022 so it's not completely broken in yet with 500 miles. She will cruise along great at 60-62 mph. Once you start getting closer to 65 mph it starts to vibrate and you can tell it's climbing out of the sweet spot. Ran it up to 70mph a couple times and wouldn't plan on running that fast for extended periods. Sure it will get there quick and run faster but cruising comfortably all day, NO.

Of course you could change gearing or tire size and get there easily. Then you will be down on power a little. Give and take.

I to had my heart set on a T7 and a Africa Twin, but the price just killed it. Had the chance to buy a few but with the dealers playing pricing games I passed. Being a cheap bastard spending much more then 5k on a bike isn't in the cards. However that brand new KLR for $6500 with military discount just couldn't be passed up.
 
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