THE DEATH OF THE KAWASAKI KLR650
My text message to Brad Puetz at Kawasaki: “Brad, is the KLR650 officially discontinued?”
Brad: “Yes, it has been.”
Me: “Can I tease a replacement for next year?”
Brad: “Nothing to tease, Ron.”
I don’t know if the KLR is really gone for good, but I’m sure it won’t return in the exact same form. It’s a large-displacement dual-sport bike with a carburetor. It’s hard to understand how it lasted this long in the face of fleet averages and tightening emission standards. I’m no authority, but I understand that all manufacturers have to walk a thin line with the EPA. If they have too many high emission bikes, they have to have clean bikes to make up for it. The KLR wasn’t clean, and it eventually had to go. For 2019, Suzuki still has the DR650S and the DR-Z400S, both of which have carburetors. Honda still has the XR650L. But don’t get too cocky. They probably won’t last much longer, either.
Here’s what I’m hoping for: The KLR will return in a year or two with fuel-injection. It’s been done before. In 2014 the Kawasaki KLX250S vanished along with its carburetor. In 2018, the KLX250S returned. The carb was gone, and in its place was a modern EFI system. The price went up, but not much.
Clearly, the KLR’s biggest attraction is its price. It was $6699 in 2018. That’s a lot of motorcycle when you consider a KTM 250EXC is almost $10,000. If the KLR is truly gone forever, it’s still not that big a deal. It was in production from 1987 until now, with a major revision in 2008. There were probably a quarter million of them sold. If you want one, you can find it. On Craigslist in my area, there are 17 of them for sale right now. They keep their value well. A typical five-year old one sells for $4500.
The official first year for the electric-start KLR was 1987, but before that, there was the KLR600, with a kickstarter. There was also a KLX650R, a KLX650S and various other models that sounded similar but weren’t. I confess, that I wasn’t a big fan of those early bikes. I thought they were bad street bikes with high fenders. Back then, they weren’t even cheap. It wasn’t until the redesign in 2008 that I really appreciated the KLR for what it is: an entry-level adventure bike. In 2008 it got the frame mount fairing, much better styling and a bunch of upgrades. It still had a 6.2 gallon tanks and a luggage rack that was sturdy enough to carry a KTM.
As the adventure bike segment became a real thing, the KLR took its place as a founding member. There’s nothing that offered the same kind of value. The Suzuki DR650S got its own cult following, but it didn’t have the fuel capacity, the fairing or the rack. The Suzuki did, however, have better suspension and power. For an older (but still relevant) comparison of the Japanese 650 dual-sports, click here. Here are some big dual-sport bikes you can still get new.
SOMEONE NEW WILL WIN …
The AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country will take to the woods at Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana on Sunday afternoon and the two riders who have dominated this season won’t be there. Rockstar Energy/Factory Husqvarna Racing’s Thad Duvall just announced that he suffered a wrist injury two weeks ago after his crash in the first turn at Powerline Park. Duvall holds onto the second place position in the National Championship standings and looks to hold onto that spot even without taking part in this weekend’s season finale race.
After clinching his sixth GNCC National Championship two weeks ago at Powerline Park, FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Kailub Russell announced that he would not be racing the final GNCC round at Ironman or participate in the ISDE due to shoulder surgery. This comes after K. Russell earned seven overall wins during the season, and consistently finished inside the top-5 at every round.
Trail Jesters/KTM Racing’s Ben Kelley finished third overall for the second-straight time. Kelley currently holds the points lead in the XC2 250 Pro class, and sits fifth overall in the National Championship standings. As the series heads into the last race, Kelley is looking to take home his seventh win of the season, possibly his first overall win as well as a National Championship in XC2 250 Pro.
Finishing fourth overall, and third in XC1 Open Pro, at the last round was Tely Energy Racing/KTM’s Grant Baylor. Throughout the year, G. Baylor has had some up-and-down results but he’s looking to land on the podium once more before the season is completed. Teammate and brother, Steward Baylor was running in first at Powerline Park before misfortune struck. S. Baylor found himself in sixth overall and fourth in XC1 Open Pro. This weekend the Baylor brothers are aiming for the win.
XC2 250 Pro and FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Josh Toth earned fifth overall and second in class. Toth currently sits 23 points behind Kelley, and thus far in the season he as earned five class wins. When the green flag waves this weekend, Toth is aiming for another class win and to defend his XC2 250 Pro class championship.
Sitting sixth in the National Championship standings is Rockstar Energy/Factory Husqvarna Racing’s Josh Strang. This season Strang has finished inside the top-10 in XC1 at every round, including two podium finishes. Heading into the season finale Strang is hopeful he can pull off another podium finish and contest for the overall win. JCR/Honda’s Trevor Bollinger is ready to end his season on a high-note, after finishing second in New York and a third earlier in the season at his hometown race. Bollinger is eager to find his way back onto the podium, and even get that first win. However, Bollinger holds onto the third place position in the National Championship standings.
An exciting lineup of live musical entertainment presented by Monster Energy will take place on Friday, October 26 and Saturday, October 27. The Davisson Brothers Band will kick off the weekend on Friday at 8:30 p.m., followed by country music artist and ACA Award Winner, Easton Corbin at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday.
On Friday, October 26, the third Fantic eMTB race will take place at 5 p.m. and feature seven classes with no pre-qualifying: Pro, Schoolboy (12-18), Junior (19-29), Vet (30-39), Senior (40-49), Masters (50+) and Women. The entry fee is $30 Transponder scoring will be used; transponders can be rented or purchased at the events.
This event weekend is co-sanctioned with IXCR, a series that produces local racing events Indiana, and will ultimately bring out a full slate of local racers. Local riders are invited and encouraged to compete in the event, as GNCC Racing offers classes for riders of all skill and experience levels. The amateur race entry fee is $50 if racers pre-enter, or if they sign up at the track. Spectator passes run $20 for adults and $10 for children (6-11), and kids five and under are free for the full weekend (Saturday through Sunday) with concert admission, pro pit access and pro autographs at no additional charge.
The 1 p.m. pro races will be broadcasted LIVE on the internet via Racer TV on www.racertv.com both days. A highlight show featuring the event will air on NBC Sports Network on Sunday, November 11 at 3:00 p.m. EST.
ENDUROCROSS GOES DOWN TO THE WIRE
With just two races remaining in the 2018 AMA EnduroCross championship, the pressure is on both Colton Haaker and Cody Webb. Each rider has two wins and Haaker holds a narrow four-point advantage heading into round five in Everett, Washington this weekend.
Rockstar Husqvarna backed Haaker and FMF KTM’s Cody Webb went into the Denver event tied on points and both earned a bonus point for winning their heat races. Haaker then made an aggressive pass on Webb to win the Bracket race to earn an additional bonus point and then passed Webb in the main event to add another three points to the gap. Webb has already proven to be good at rebounding so this weekend’s action in Everett should be exciting.
Ty Tremaine has been the best of the rest so far in 2018 and has two consecutive podium finishes on two completely different motorcycles. Tremaine started the season riding for the upstart Alta brand and earned the first-ever professional AMA podium finish for an electric powered motorcycle at round three in Reno, Nevada. Just three weeks later, Alta ceased operations and Tremaine switched over to the Beta factory team in Denver and rode a 300 two-stroke to a third-place finish. SRT-Husqvarna backed Kyle Redmond has had a steady season so far to hold fourth position in the championship heading into Everett. He can challenge for the fastest laps with creative lines and will be a podium threat. Geoff Aaron has had a strong season so far on his GasGas 300 two-stroke and excels in the difficult conditions. Everett is known for wet dirt and logs that could prove to be perfect for Aaron to challenge for a top finish.
2018 AMA EnduroCross Championship Schedule
August 25, 2018 – Prescott Valley, AZ – Prescott Valley Event Center
September 15, 2018 – Costa Mesa, CA – Racetrack at OC Fairgrounds
September 22, 2018 – Reno, NV – Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center
October 20, 2018 – Denver, CO – National Western Events Center
October 27, 2018 – Everett, WA – Angel of The Winds Arena
November 3, 3018 – Nampa, ID – Ford Idaho Center
*Subject to Change
HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING SIGN PAULS JONASS
Husqvarna Motorcycles are pleased to welcome Pauls Jonass to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing MXGP team, where the 21-year-old Latvian will compete on Husqvarna’s FC 450 machine throughout the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Crowned MX2 World Champion in 2017, Pauls Jonass has been one of the most successful 250cc class riders in recent history. With the 2017 season being the highlight of his career to date, that season Pauls reached the podium in 15 out of the 19 rounds. Involved in a thrilling battle to defend his title throughout 2018, Pauls ended his campaign as the 2018 FIM MX2 World Championship runner-up.
Despite his young age, Pauls already has more than a decade of motocross racing experience under his belt. Gradually advancing through the ranks of the junior categories, Pauls was crowned the 2011 85cc Junior World Champion, winning the 125cc Junior Motocross World Championship two years later.
At just 21 years of age, Jonass is one of the most promising young riders of his era. Known for his strong work ethic and determination to succeed, the rider from Aizpute, Latvia is a perfect fit for the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team.
With Pauls Jonass joining the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing MXGP squad with immediate effect, further details on the team’s complete line-up will be announced in the coming weeks.
Pauls Jonass – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing: “I’m really excited to be part of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team. The switch to the MXGP category is a big move for me but I can’t wait to get started. Joining such an acclaimed team gives me a huge amount of motivation to continue working hard in order to achieve my goals. I’m looking ahead to a great future with the team. I’ve known Antti [Pyrhönen] and the rest of the team members for some years already and it feels good to start working with them. Following my knee surgery last month, my goal right now is to start riding my Husqvarna at the earliest possible time. I want to maximize my time on the bike, so I can be fully-fit and ready to enter this exciting new season in the MXGP category.”
That’s all for now!