Go Back   Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB > Technical, Bike forums > Which Bike?

Which Bike? Comments and Questions on what is the best bike for YOU, for YOUR trip. Note that we believe that ANY bike will do, so please remember that it's all down to PERSONAL OPINION. Technical Questions for all brands go in their own forum.
Contact Overland Solutions for all your custom modifications and setup for overland travel.


LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 19 Dec 2004
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: B.C. Canada
Posts: 214
BMW f650 vs KLR 650 ??

Ok, here we go. I like the Bmw f650, Gs and Dakar, and am thinking it would be a better alternative to my R80g/s for a South America trip. However, I have seen LOTS of KLR's used for touring and have been wondering about them...
I think the Bmw gets better fuel economy with fuel injection, but it could be a weak point with bad fuel. The KLR is much less costly to buy, but what has to be done to make it an acceptable long distance tourer?
Will they both run to 60,000kms without a rebuild??? Opinions anyone
Reply With Quote
Old 19 Dec 2004
davidmc's Avatar
Contributing Member
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: San Francisco, CA USA
Posts: 377
I have ridden and researched both bikes extensively. Even though these are both 650 single cylinder engine bikes, they ride completely different. The BMW feels more like a twin on the highway and the KLR feels like a heavy dirt bike (which it is). The BMW is a much more stable and enjoyable bike to ride on the highway than the KLR. It also vibrates a lot less than the KLR. I noticed on the highway the front end of the KLR was not very stable, it was just like my 250cc dirt bike.

The KLR is a heck of a lot less money than the BMW, so that's a big point in its favor. Also, its 100 lbs lighter than the BMW so its probably better off road. Plus its got a bigger gas tank. I think even with the higher fuel mileage of the BMW, you are going to get more range from the KLR.

The BMW will handle two-up riding better than the KLR. Its got a nice stiff frame so its probably going to be better with luggage also.

Mechanically, both bikes have proven themselves to be very reliable for world travel. Sure the BMW is fuel-injected and the KLR carburetted and both have their pros & cons, but I don't think that one bike wins over the other on this point alone. This is a trivial issue, in my opinion.

I think if you can afford it, the BMW is going to be a more enjoyable bike to ride over the long haul. But if you are on a budget, you can get a used KLR pretty cheap. On the other hand, used BMW 650gs's are getting pretty cheap now also. Both bikes have lots of aftermarket parts available. Don't forget also, that the BMW has 10+ years newer technology than the KLR. This will be evident when you ride the bikes.

Either way, both of the bikes would be excellent choices, but I think the BMW is a better "all around" choice...if you can afford it.


[This message has been edited by davidmc (edited 19 December 2004).]

[This message has been edited by davidmc (edited 19 December 2004).]
Reply With Quote
Old 16 Feb 2005
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: honolulu hawaii usa
Posts: 1
i actually own an f650 (classic/funduro) AND the klr 650
now i dont plan on riding round the world, but i ride both and will add my 2 cents.

The klr is basicly a klr600 and has not been updated one little bit.. not one part since 1980ish. SO parts are kind of plentiful and its tried. It rides excelently and only has a few faults (notably to rtw folk lack of good luggage and a center stand) the engine has one part that (according to popular opinion) WILL go bad period. Chain tensoner, also known as doohickey WILL break, and take out your engine. been breaking for 20 years without kawasaki caring, but can be upgraded with some medium hastle in the garage for near no money. The klr isnt good off road or on road as a rule, but for bad roads and fire roads (by us standards) its great. I get between 50 and 60 mpg as do my klr buddies. Which means 250 miles per tank without hitting reserve.
The f650 classic shares many parts with the new f650 gs BUT its not fuel injected, has plenty of vaccum lines but no computer stuff or ABS or anything to fail. Mine (probably out of tune) gets about 45-50 mpg. The tank is MINISCULE, I dont know what the capacity is exactly but when i hit 100 miles i look for gas. There is an aftermarket available from acerbis but i havent seen it. The F650 is MUCH more comfortable for longer distances. The klr650 is, first, not possible for someone less than 6' tall to even mount much less ride off road. My saddle with some good use put on the springs runs about 35 inches and only drops to 33 ish with me on it. I'm 6'4" and still... if i stop on the side of a hill i have to bail.
And second... not built for sitting. As much as it tries to be a road bike.. its got a lot of dirt bike in it. (good thing?)

The f650 funduro doesnt do off road as well stock, but it is basicly the same bike as the klr at heart, luggage from bmw is roomy (same luggage as all the other bikes) but not super durable. the bike itself has plastic doodads that dont like bashing.

There's a guy that started out traveling the perimiter of all the contenents on an r100gs pd i think it was .. if not an r80 ... ended up with a pair of f650 funduro. Aprilla dealers as well as bmw could probably set you up with parts.

If my life depended on it (ie rtw trip) i would take the klr... germans make snazzy stuff with experimental ideas that seem like a good idea, but they move on to the next idea before they hammer out the kinks of the last.

The klr is proven to be more or less reliable. Its not perfect, but compared to any german equipment, its flawless.
(all said, i am selling both to get r1150gsa. buying a motorcycle isnt a logical choice unless you are going to siberia i guess.)

Reply With Quote
Old 16 Feb 2005
Gold Member
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Taupo, New Zealand
Posts: 194
Originally posted by brrowla:
i actually own an f650 (classic/funduro) AND the klr 650
Me, too.
<font face="" size="2">The klr is basicly a klr600 and has not been updated one little bit.. not one part since 1980ish.</font>
Not strictly true - it's quite a bit different to the 600, and there have been a few minor engine changes.
<font face="" size="2">a few faults (notably to rtw folk lack of good luggage and a center stand)</font>
Easy to get from Arrowhead.
<font face="" size="2">doohickey WILL break, and take out your engine.</font>
My doohickey fell out of the engine in pieces during an oil change...
<font face="" size="2">The klr650 is, first, not possible for someone less than 6' tall to even mount.</font>
Hmmm, I'm 5'8" and it isn't an issue for me. There are lowering links, or one can wait for the suspension to collapse
<font face="" size="2">not built for sitting.</font>
I find it very comfortable - no problems on an 800 mile day, but everyone has a different bum.

The KLR is flawed, no doubt about it, and desperately in need of a parts-bin upgrade. But IMHO it easily beats the Dakar in a head-to-head for travellers. Someone summed up KLR ownership brilliantly in the link below:


Have fun choosing,
James Courtier
Reply With Quote
Old 19 Feb 2005
Registered Users
HUBB regular
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Norman Oklahoma,USA
Posts: 34
Anyone that owns a KLR 650 and doesn't know the differences between it and the ole 600, I'm havin a hard time spendin the time to elaborate!
I've spent alot of time comparing the two.
Talkin about the KLR and Dakar.
What I gather is the fuel injection is a pain on the Dakar.
You can't stand up comfortably.
Way too pretty to crash too!
A respected ridin buddy has spent lots of time in the saddle with me on the Mighty KLR.
He is Badass on the Dakar.
Even if I had the extra $4,000, I'd take the KLR.
What's $60 for the upgraded idler lever?
Some KLRs have done close to 100,000 miles!
I may even have seen if the Dakar could beat my 14.9 at the Dragstrip last summer, cept it was in the shop.
Rod,,,,26,000 miles in less than 2 years and $70 in repairs, HHMMM!
Reply With Quote
Old 25 Feb 2005
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Derbyshire UK
Posts: 10

Having used a KLR650 and owning two KLR600's,
And doing 42,000 miles on a GS650 I would still go for the KLR as well. Spend some money on the KLR to make it what you want.

In the 42,000 miles on the BMW I had many problems, rear wheel bearings, fuel pump, rear brake, rear shock, and some other electrical problems. The KLR just does'nt like to be wheelied.
Reply With Quote
Old 25 Feb 2005
richardb's Avatar
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: guildford, surrey, UK
Posts: 139
I'd recommend the BMW, and if you want off road capacity, go for a Dakar. Its a good all rounder and for a trip to South America perfectly capable. Of course its more expensive, so if you really plan to do some hard core off roading, you might want to consider the cost of almost inevitable repairs.

To do South America though, you don't HAVE to do any real hard core stuff. I found that the bike could easily handle anything I was prepared or needed to get through going solo. I'd just adviseon some slightly nobblier tyres than stock by the time you get there.

Reply With Quote
Old 28 Feb 2005
Registered Users
HUBB regular
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Norman Oklahoma,USA
Posts: 34
The KLR just does'nt like to be wheelied.[/B][/QUOTE]

I can only claw the sky in the first 3 gears so far!
Rod,,,lookin for 4th soon though!

Reply With Quote
Old 6 Mar 2005
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Belgium
Posts: 473
We have a BMW since a year and are dissapointed in its reliability.
Broken brake-line, leaking radiator,... And no explanation or abuse that could have caused it.

Wouldn't buy one again.
Reply With Quote
Old 18 Aug 2006
Dex Dex is offline
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Posts: 13
Thumbs up

Im on my 2 nd Dakar, crashed the 1st. They are absolutely great, have given both of mine a grinding and have been totally impressed with how tough they are!!! Love the ride to, so smooth and comfortable, feels like a sports bike when you climb on the tar. Great bike!!!!!!
Reply With Quote
Old 28 Aug 2006
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Sandy,Ut,USA
Posts: 11
This might help

I recently rode 8000 miles on a KLR 650.The trip started in
San Diego,went the length of Baja around the tip at Cabo
then in to Lapaz.From La Paz I took the ferry to Mazatlan
and continued to the Gautemalan border. I then went to a few
places in the Yucatan and returned up the East coast to
Brownsville Tx. and back to San Diego. A total distance of
8000 miles!

I am writing today to talk about the KLR and after market
items I put on the bike. The good , The bad , and the

Let us begin with the KLR itself.On a positive note I have
to say upfront that the bike performed flawlessly from a
mechanical point of view.The only time it faltered was when
I got some bad gas, Certainly not the bikes fault.

Stock Items that performed poorly are the front and rear
shocks,the rear shock especially.Constantly bottomed out.The
front shock bottomed but not as much and is weak and mushy.

Brakes:My God how Kawasaki a manufacture of fine motorcycles
allows this bike to leave the factory with such poor
brakes is beyond me.The rear brake on this bike is virtually useless.The
front somewhat better as the trip progressed I found that I
relied more and more on the front brake and planned well
ahead for foreseen stops.During one panic stop the rear
brake was useless and was very much a factor in a contact
collision with a Taxi.It was during the collision that some
of my after market items came in to play and saved the bike.
Most significant was a a crash bar foot rest, this absorbed
80 percent of the the bike being dropped on the right side.
Bar ends! I was amazed at how much force the right bar end
absorbed,no damage to the handle bars. Finally an after
market top luggage rack took a bit of the impact as well as the passenger
foot pegs.There was a little little cosmetic damage and after lifting the bike and dusting myself of I was up and riding.

The Ride

The stock seat suited me well, however I shaved of an inch to
help lower my at rest ability to touch the tarmac!
I also
lowered the front forks a half inch and ran the rear shock
at the #2 setting.This really improved handling.

After market items I installed from top to bottom.

Mirror dampeners------GOOD

Bar end dampeners-----very good

Crash bar/foot pegs--very good

Fork brace-----------good

hardened sub frame bolts-very good-

How Kawasaki gets away without improving these is again beyond my comprehension.I ran into a KLR rider in lower Baja.We were chatting I mentioned the sub frame bolts,we checked his and sure enough the upper right had sheared of!!!

skid plate----------useless use the stock one!

after market knockoff exhaust--Poor quality,lots of
problems.Not sure if it increased HP or not.I have gone back to the stock exhaust.

(however the stock one is very heavy)Perhaps
a genuine super trap would be the way to go.I got what I
paid for,Beware the knock of super trap on Ebay it is a
piece of crap!!!

Side panel Luggage rack-good

Top luggage rack---very good

Wolf man luggage bag-The bag is good but puts the center of gravity to high on a bike with an already high center, saddle bags would
be better,they have a lower center of gravity.

This brings up an inherent problem with the KLR.The bike is
super heavy,has a high center of gravity and runs very hot,even being water cooled.I
also found that after 250 to 300 miles I was toast,because
of the vibration.If I ever make another trip thru mexico it
will be on a light multi cylinder bike,with modern brakes
and suspension.As I did very little dirt road riding the
heavy dual purpose single cylinder bike was not the way to
go for me( I never used any toll roads)

My recommendation is if you want to tour on a dual purpose
bike go with the lightest model you can ride.The guy that
rode with me was on a Suzuki DR350.He had no issues got 30%
better gas milage and had a really simple machine compared
to the water cooled KLR.His overall ride wasn’t much better
but his brakes and suspension were better and a simple light bike made for
an easier time in the towns and villiages.No problems with
power in the mountains(he had a real super trap and carb

As a result of this trip the KLR is up for sale.

I hope that this helps many of you in your decision making
process, I am happy to answer any questions I also realize I will
be bombarded with abuse from die hard KLR owners.All I can
say is each to his own the bike is not for me!Feel free to respond and ask questions.

Reply With Quote
Old 28 Aug 2006
Registered Users
New on the HUBB
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Australia
Posts: 17
Get the KLR, and spend the difference in $$$ on your trip
Reply With Quote
Old 28 Aug 2006
cozcan's Avatar
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Izmir, Turkey
Posts: 101
Noticing that the thread has begun almost two years ago, the choice is probably made and the money is already spent on whatever the bike is.

But I couldn't hold myself remembering the trouble I shared with my gs650 owner friend where we filled our tanks at the same station with the same fuel (I have an XT600). Within miles he ended up with a misfiring injection, puzzled air intake sensor, and had to cancel the trip we had planned. I never experience such things with my mule.

Can Ozcan
Reply With Quote
Old 15 Sep 2006
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Posts: 305
KLR or F650?

I also owned both KLR (KL650A and C) and various F650 Funduro, GS and Dakar.
Got rid of the Beemers:
Negative was crap quality of steering bearings on all versions. On the more recent GS and Dakar the problem is worse due to thee bike lacking rubber seals to protect the bearings. Absolutely no problem on KLR
The rear shock is also very cheap and usually awol after 35000 to 40000 km whilst KL650C rear shocks have exceeded 100000km and are still fine (no high mileage KL650A yet)
The doohickey does not break your engine immediately: If the doohickey breaks the balancer chain gets slack and causes a very easily recognizable noise. The doohickeys have been reinforced a few years ago by Kawasaki and I did not have one of the new ones failing until today (although I had a snapped spring - new reinforced version - some weeks ago).
If you ignore the noise from the balancer chain for a long time your chain will jump and this might cause the front balancer to make contact with the cranc - bang!

The KLR is a very good, simple and reliable bike.
If you buy a KL650A (model currently sold) get the front brake master and caliper and the forks of the KL650C, replace the doohickey with the aftermarket one and replace the rear subframe mounting bolts with high tensile steel ones (12.9)
I find the suspensions of both F 650 GS and Dakar way too stiff and overdampened for dirt roads. Helps with high speed stability but feedback from tires on dirt is poor and the bikes don't keep a clean line if ridden hard on bad tarmac.
Reply With Quote
Old 15 Sep 2006
mollydog's Avatar
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: california
Posts: 2,175
How much do you weigh Vinny?
Vinny, sounds like the DL1000 will suit your perfectly.

Last edited by mollydog; 21 Mar 2009 at 23:50.
Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 2 (0 Registered Users and/or Members and 2 guests)
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On


HU DVD Summer Special!

Now that summer is here, get On the Road! Take 30% off the Achievable Dream - On the Road! 2-DVD set until August 31 only. Get On the Road! Learn the tips to staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure!

Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.

"A fantastic, informative and inspirational DVD."

"It's brilliant - thank you very much!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'ONTHEROAD' on your order when you checkout.

Renedian Adventures

Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 17:08.