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Kawasaki Launches Lowered 2023 KLR650S for Shorter Riders   

2023 Kawasaki KLR650S(Photo/Kawasaki)
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With the 2023 KLR650S, Kawasaki just added a new, lowered version to its popular dual-sport to accommodate inseam-challenged riders.

After a 2-year hiatus in production, Kawasaki created quite a stir in the market last year with the introduction of the third generation of its legendary KLR650.

One of Kawasaki’s longest-running models, the KLR650 was introduced in 1987 and remained largely unchanged until 2008. To the disappointment of its many loyal fans, Kawasaki discontinued the second-generation KLR650 in 2018, only to bring it back in 2021 with the redesigned third generation.

Last year’s reintroduction saw the KLR650 return with a major facelift and numerous upgrades, including EFI and ABS. Kawasaki offered three trim variations (with optional ABS) of its bestselling dual-sport: Standard, Traveler, and Adventure.

2023 Kawasaki KLR650S
(Photo/Kawasaki)

For 2023, Kawasaki expands the KLR650 range with a lowered S model, a welcome addition for riders with a short inseam. Given the importance of the fast-growing adventure/dual-sport market segment, surprisingly few brands cater to the vertically challenged demographic. No doubt the S model will be popular with shorter riders who grapple with ADV/dual-sport bikes’ tall seat height.

How Low Can You Go?

Using the same engine, drivetrain, and chassis platform across the KLR650 lineup, lowering the S model’s seat height required modifying its suspension and ergonomics. Shortening the suspension travel and reshaping the seat were the most significant changes to achieve the desired reduction in seat height.

Shortening the 41mm front forks’ suspension travel from the standard model’s 7.9 to 6.7 inches yielded a substantial reduction.

To maintain a quality ride over all terrains, the 1.2-inch reduction required modifying the spring rate and damping characteristics. Stiffening the spring and adjusting the valve specifications were necessary to optimize bottoming resistance, bump compliance, and front-end dive under heavy braking.

2023 Kawasaki KLR650S
(Photo/Kawasaki)

The rear shock saw its travel reduced by 0.3 inches, to 7.0 inches. The Uni-Trak tie-rod length was increased by 4mm to optimize the swingarm’s down angle.

The rear shock spring rate and damping force were modified in accordance with the new front fork suspension settings. Riders can set the rear spring preload and adjust the rebound damping to their preference with regard to riding conditions and load carried.

2023 KLR650S: Ergonomics for Lowering

2023 Kawasaki KLR650S
(Photo/Kawasaki)

Cutting the seat thickness by 1.4 inches further reduced the seat-to-ground distance. To offset the effect of trimming the seat, an optimized urethane foam enhances comfort.

Compared to the standard KLR650, the S model’s thinner seat, combined with the shorter suspension, yields an overall seat height reduction of 2.3 inches. The S model’s seat height is just 32.1 inches.

2023 Kawasaki KLR650S
(Photo/Kawasaki)

Optimizing the ergonomics for the lower seat height required repositioning the foot peg in relation to the shifter. The 0.6-inch increase of the distance between the foot peg and the shifter offers a greater degree of freedom for a wider range of foot sizes.

Lowering the suspension also required shortening the side stand by 1.2 inches.

2023 Kawasaki KLR650S
(Photo/Kawasaki)

2023 Kawasaki KLR650S: Pricing & Availability

The 2023 Kawasaki KLR650S is arriving at North American dealers now. Pricing starts at $6,899 for the KLR650S without ABS. Tack on $300 for the ABS-equipped model.

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