The KLR is a decent bike for what it does, and the fact that it’s barely been updated in 26 years is pretty amazing. But god help you if you point out the fact that a 26 year old design is a little outdated near a KLR owner…
I’ve bagged on KLRs (or more specifically, their owners) before, and really don’t have much interest in re-treading old ground. It just really got my goat when I was reading the comments left on this look at the KLR at RideApart (or the comments left on my post). Jamie Robinson was pretty complimentary about the bike, and merely noted how dated it is. He didn’t slam it, he didn’t call it terrible. Basically he said it would be nice to see Kawasaki give it a proper update and maybe some fuel injection.
The snide commentary, butt hurt sarcasm over the mere mention of a low fuel light, and insane belief that no KLR ever has broken down is just nuts. It’s like KLR owners are cult unto themselves, far more devoted than Apple worshippers, and the claws just come out if you don’t give it an excellent rating. The bike got a 5/10, which is average, and the KLR owners commenting on that were incensed!
I really do stand by my earlier statements that KLR owners are a bit like Hi-Point firearm owners. Cheap reigns supreme in their eyes, they are incapable of accepting an outsider taking note of the object’s shortcomings, and any perceived criticism is denied, attacked, or taken as a personal insult. It’s insane.
That was a personal insult.
Sometimes a thing is just a thing, and should be observed and judged based on the qualities it possesses. For instance, if somebody were to ride my bike and dislike it, odds are I would understand. A sport bike rider would find my bike heavy and slow. A dual sport rider would find it too limited for off-road use. A Harley fan would find it too refined, tasteful and well-built. All of those are subjective judgments based around my motorcycle’s suitability for a desired purpose. None of those are a personal judgment about me.
My bike does have faults and isn’t perfect in every way. They’re things I’ve decided to live with and accept because other qualities of the bike are worth the trade-off. I’m also not a professional motorcycle rider/writer with a ton of experience that gets to ride a bunch of different motorcycles at press releases, etc. But Wes and Jamie are, and it strikes me as more than a little crazy for KLR owners to get so offended (and offensive) because their precious bike didn’t get a better rating in the face of more modern machines. I would be pleased as punch that a 26 year old motorcycle got an average rating and not outright poor in the face of technological advancements. It may seem like damning with faint praise, but the fact that such an old design still warrants a 5/10 is actually pretty cool. It just is what it is.
Part of me would like to get a dirt bike again. And being a child of the ’80s, I wouldn’t mind a “Barbie bike” paint job KLR again just because the colors remind me of my childhood. But I’d flat refuse to farkle it and keep it as a true dual-sport or avoid it entirely out of a desire to avoid association with the stereotypical KLR owner. Frankly, I view it just like a Harley: it’s probably a decent bike that I don’t consider because of idiots in the culture that surround it.