The KLR650 is one wimpy ride above posted limits. That being said its a commuter liability if traffic runs 80+, I sold mine for that reason. I loved the bike and still miss it but dont miss the lack of power. If your commuting intown there isnt much finer ride, good visibility from the high seat, plenty of pothole absorbtion and that 6+ gallon tank.
If your going to get a KLR and plan to do freeway order an oversized front brake rotor kit for about $500 and then you would need to change out the fork springs to compensate from the added brake force. So your looking at around $800 just to make it stop safely.
The standard engine mods are around another $1200 so figure around $2k going in to make it relitively street worthy. By then your up over the price of a new WeeStrom which would be an infinitely better commuter.
If your riding back roads and fire trails mainly the KLR is fabulous (Buy the $99 tail bag from kawasaki), mostly freeways and its not such a good choice. Who knows if and when the NEW Improved KLR will ever see our shores and how much of an improvement will their be?
Probably something along the lines of a 650 V Strom Suzuki would work for you. It has enough motor for anything under 100 and good upright seating position, wide bars and handling for in town around traffic.
That's what I'd get, there's a review of it in the MO archives. Came out pretty well as I recall
Don't listen to any of these reply's.....listen to me because I know everything!
The absolute best bang for the buck in motorcycling is the KLR 650. It is cheaper than most top of the line Mt. Bikes and yes, it will be faster than your Z28 to 60MPH.
I own a '05 which I ride in town and which I use to terrorize sport bike squids (and real riders) on the twisty's roads of my area. Mine is slightly modified with a pipe and I still get 48mpg riding flat out. I can cruise all day at 80mph which is over the legal speed limit. I went on a cross country trip on it loaded, flat out, never got a ticket, never got tired and was able to cross the continental divide on dirt roads on it. It has 17k miles on it . All it needs is a new chain!
I also have a highly modified Triumph Daytona 955I which I use as a track bike only. Speed is fun, but anything that is more than the KLR on the streets is either gonna cost you 3k more or get you into trouble.
zero to 60 the KLR 650 is fairly quick by most car standards. You won't blow away a Z28 but probably will win. It loses oomph rapidly beyond 85 indicated as others have noted, but you seem more concerned with quickness off the line. If you want something light, reasonably quick off the line and definitely quick handling, the KLR650s a good choice. Oh, and indestructible too. I can attest to that.
I have put about 7500 miles on my 2001 KLR (80% dirt roads, 20% street riding). It is reliable all right. The only problems I got so far: kick stand cable got jammed with sand so the bike could not start (I tossed the cable), and the fender liner had to be trimmed to the tag light as it evaporated bit by bit over time - the tag had to be relocated as a result. It lost a few nuts and bolts also.
Maintenance: 2 front sprockets, 1 rear tire, 2 batteries, 1 set of rear brake pads, 1 foot rest, and oil changes.
I replaced the doohickey but the OE one was fine. At 4,500 miles 3 out of 4 valves were slightly out of spec (clearance was too tight). That is it.
Top speed: 95-98 miles /hr (I am 6'2). Top speed sitting: 85-90 mi/hr.
It runs a bit lean. I switched to premium gas - works better.
My only complaint: the engine is a little "buzzy".
Conclusion: it is reliable, requires little maintenance, and does not cost much to purchase and insure.
I also have a 04 Buell Firebolt and 00 XT 350, but the bike I ride the most is the KLR.
Got an 06, taller screen , geared it higher runs 5000 rpm at 75, redline 7500 , could use more power, cheap to insure, very comfortable to travel on, it is a nice platform to start with if you like fixing it up to your style of riding, get rid of the seat, fells like your on the seat base after about an hour
I've ridden exactly one KLR and for about one hour. But it was only about a month ago. So as always, take what I say with several large grains of salt. Neighbor up at my "Fortress of Solitude" has one and graciously offered to let me take a spin.
If I were going to commute, the FIRST thing I'd change would not be the seat but those squirrel droppings that pass for tires.
Ditto pretty much all the above positive comments. And ditto waiting on the upgraded version due later next year IF your focus is really to be commuting. I found the seat height a bit much. If you weigh more that 180 or so, you might find yourself wanting to fiddle with the springs, etc., too.
Aftermarket for these contraptions is miles deep.
If you really want it for street duty/commuting and want to keep your outlay down - get a lightly used Wee Strom and have some fun. And you can attach larger luggage and top box without having to be concerned with upgrading rear sub-frame fastners. (See MCN stuff below for more info)
Either way YOU WIN!!!
Oops, almost forgot. MCN ran a 6 part KLR farkle series a yr or three ago. Dr. Greg Frazier now does some of this 'round the world riding on KLR's now that type 247 Airheads have ceased production. Lots of neat, sano and other useful bits in those articles. Contact MCN for back articles OR order up all KLR articles from Ian Smith.