the motorcycle: KLR650

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When recently asked what my dream bike is, I had to take a moment to really consider it.  I salivate a little at the thought of a shiny BMW R1200GSA.  I test rode one at Overland Expo ’11 and it was dreamy.  Nicely balanced with a lower center of gravity, smooth riding transitions between dirt and asphalt.  The beast had so many buttons of luxury at my fingertips.  I couldn’t help but feel at home sitting atop a much cushier seat.

Then I look at my KLR.  I have put into it as much as I bought it for, modifying it every which way under the sun to make it a more comfortable ride. And it still has zip ties holding on plastic parts, with paint flaking off the tank in my attempt to cover up the 20 years of oversized dirt bike styling without the grace of a European designer  And for as “ugly” as this Kawi is, I can’t help but smile because it has taken me to all the places I had dreamed of yet…so isn’t that essentially my dream bike?

My KLR has never stranded me.  Any problems I have encountered, I was able to fix.  When I think of traveling far and wide, this matters, a lot.  I have heard too many stories of a BMW down and out for services unkown, and when I think about traveling farther and farther out, I don’t know if I want to trade in my KLR. It’s not sexy, it’s not a classic, but it certainly has taken me everywhere I have wanted to go (and some places I probably shouldn’t have.)  When I bought the KLR in July 2009 with 8,800 miles, I had no idea 34,000 would turn over so soon in September of 2011.  I have enjoyed the many, many miles.

Places my KLR has taken me so far: all over California (home), Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana, Alberta, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Oregon, Washington, British Colombia, Yukon Territory, and Alaska; then home again.

10 thoughts on “the motorcycle: KLR650

  1. I love the orange seahorses. Just tried them out last weekend and working great so far. I’ve just been fine tuning packing and then I’m all set to head out to Alaska!

  2. Hello Alison, just stumbled across your blog. I also ride a KLR (one of my bikes), not because it’s a sexy, brute powered, well suspended machine but because in a word it’s … dependable.

    Keep up the rides and posts, look forward to reading about more of your adventures.

  3. I had a 2096 KLR until last Sept. I bought a 2013 BMW F800GS the end of August.
    It’s an amazing bike but… I miss the simplicity and the unimposing nature of my KLR. It had so much to look at because like yours, mine was heavily modified.
    The Beemer looks, well, perfect. Pretty yet somehow uninspiring. It’s like looking at an athlete that can lift 500lbs but only needs to lift 200. It’ll do it, easy, no surprise, no fuss and almost little character. Theres no grunting, no sweating, no moment of make or break. The F800 is an amazing ride dont get me wrong – i love it but…
    Who knows, maybe I’ll switch back someday. How many people would go from an F800GS back to a KLR?

  4. Hey Alison, many have grappled with this dilemma, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The GSA is without question built for the job and I have only praise for the machines after over 50k covered on two different bikes, but as Jim quite rightly points out, its a heavy beast especially when fully loaded for a trip and on its side! Be careful what you wish for…

  5. Nothing wrong with a KLR! My friend Lodie de Jager did a Cross- Africa, and last year from Berlin to Siberia and back through the Scandinavian countries on the same KLR- now 111000 km on the clock. His blog:
    Unfortunately he is fighting a battle against cancer for his life at the moment…
    Respect to you for this ride!

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