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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello all, I felt like writing a bit of a review about my shopping experience since I found it so difficult when I was initially researching the bikes.

I've grown up riding suzuki and yamaha bikes so I suppose I was most comfortable riding them but Im hardly one to stick to brand loyalty if theres a quality bike out there, so this is why I decided on my KLR over the other 650 bikes out there (based on my research).

The overall impressions I've gotten of the above bikes were that in the order of HondaXR, SuzukiDR, and KLR they are more dirt oriented vs street oriented. I hear the Honda is a beauty offroad, so much so to the exclusion (and poor riding) on the street. The Dr was kinda middle ground, say 50/50 or 60/40 street, and the Klr was a little more like 70/30 street.

Things that impressed me about the KLR:

Tachometer and temperature gauge- I havent seen these on the Suzuki or the Honda, and I didnt think much about it until I rode with it. A temp gauge is great for obvious reasons (good to spot your engine temp rising before it seizes up and damages itself). The Tachometer was great simply because the manual details optimal RPM's for riding the bike. I can clearly see if Im going over 5000 rpms (which is not advised) and can either upshift or back off so as not to tax the engine so much and hope for much longer longevity.

Very bright headlight thats not attached to the steering column.
I believe the DR and the XR both have their lights attached to the steering column. This is a matter of preference, but I like my headlights to not move with every twist and turn of the steering column. It creates a flickering effect and for me is simply something I didnt prefer.

Illuminated instrument panel- Im not sure if the others have this, but I know that the KLR does, which is helpfull at night.

Larger gas tank- almost twice that of the DR and the XR. Again this can be preference- a larger gas tank for a bike more likely to make longer trips on the road. This adds to the weight though (about 66 lbs heavier than the other two)

Liquid cooled engine. The DR and XR had air/oil cooled engines. Some people have argued a liquid cooled engine had more moving parts and therefore more potential problems, but really its just a radiator and water pump- hardly a complex system. The KLRs are supposed to run cool, and a cooler engine seems to last much longer. This is not to say that the DR and XR have inefficient cooling systems, but appeared to me to (again) be more dirt worthy. Air cooled works just fine on a dirt bike because you're always on the go. Stuck in alot of traffic though? The liquid cooled does what the air cooled cannot.

Seating- The KLR was a very comfortable bike to sit on- the Suzuki felt like I was sitting on a rock (apparently the rep suzuki has for bike seats). I suppose this can be of less importance should you decide to simply buy a new seat.

Larger fairing and windshield. I overlooked this until I saw the KLR. For commuting in colder weather, the larger fairing and windshield (which the other two lacked) helps keep alot of the cold air off of you.

More KLR's available. This was true, at least at the time of my purchase. For every 10 dual sports I saw for sale, at least half were klrs- the rest divided among honda, yamaha, and suzuki. I was hoping to get a used one, and shopping wise this was the easiest to acquire.


So this is really what I found out doing my research on the above 650s. Im far from a motorcycle mechanic, so I had to research everything. I didnt get a chance to even see a Honda (most likely because I wrote them off immediately and had no interest in them) so I cant comment on how well they ride. I wanted a dual sport because I grew up on dirt bikes and they are the ones Im most comfortable on (dont like harleys or cruisers, and not a big fan of sportbikes). I wanted a bike to commute back and forth to work and for joyrides (all on pavement).

So deciding between the 3? To be honost, each company makes an exceptional bike- I couldnt find a review of anyone saying to avoid one bike or another. If you're shopping for a dual sport and looking at these 3, I dont believe you're going to end up making a "bad" choice as they're all (apparently) very capable and very well made bikes. I think at the end of the day its just about choosing the one thats right for you. Im doing mostly pavement riding, so I felt the KLR the best in that manner. If I were doing all offroad, I probably would have gone with the Honda. I will say this too- beware when buying dual sports used because it largely depends on how the previous owner treated it. I came across alot of posting with people detailing all the replacements and fixes they've made to it- because they beat the hell out of it off road. I was able to find one from a family that simply had too many bikes and used it primarily as a commuter, so I feel I got a great deal on it.

I found mine in red, but Im going to get the plastics painted at Maaco. Quoted at $250 if I take it up there. Hope this helps someone who's trying to figure out which to buy!
 

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Great article. You bring up some good points about all the "Big Three" dualsports. I've owned the Honda and my brother once had the Suzuki and I rode it a few times.

I agree wholeheartedly with you that it all boils down to what you want it for and what kind of riding you do. I chose the KLR for many of the same reasons you did and you bring up some very good points about "pluses" and "minuses" of all these models based on your riding style and preferences.

One point I would note about the Honda is its exceptionally tall seat height. If you think a KLR sits high, try sitting on the Honda. I believe its seat height is almost two inches higher than a KLR. I have a 34" inseam and I still always felt like I was perched on the thing rather than sitting on it.

Thanks for sharing your research and some of the info/comparisons you made about these three 650's. You obviously gave this a lot of thought and I'm sure others will appreciate your comparisons/differences that I haven't seen covered a lot in the few articles out there regarding these three similar, very capable and good. machines. Good work and thanks for posting this!
 
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