ADV Pulse

Get ADV Pulse delivered by email
Sign up for ADV Pulse Weekly


Get ADV Pulse delivered by email
Sign up for ADV Pulse Weekly

Connect With Us

Follow On Facebook:

8 Great Used Adventure Motorcycles Under $5,000

Spending a lot of money isn't a requirement to have an amazing adventure.

Published on 04.10.2015

5. Kawasaki KLR650

Used Adventure Motorcycle - Kawasaki KLR650
Kawasaki’s workhorse has been around in essentially the same form for almost 30 years.

Powerplant: 651cc Carbureted Single-Cylinder, 5-Speed trans.
Horsepower: 37 bhp @ 6,200 rpm
Torque: 33.4 lb.-ft. @ 4,950 rpm
Fuel Capacity: 6.1 gallons (23 l)
Front Suspension Travel: 7.9 inches (201 mm)*
Rear Suspension Travel: 7.3 inches (185 mm)*
Seat Height: 35.0 inches (889 mm)
Dry Weight: 386 lbs (175 kg)*
Price Range: $2,950 to $3,015 (2004-2013 models)

Kawasaki has been building the KLR650 since 1987, and other than an update in 2008 they really haven’t changed much. The KLR650 is still the same no-frills, low-tech, all-purpose machine it has always been. If you want to get from Point A to Point B via points C through Z, and you’re on a budget, it’s still a top pick.

Your $5,000 will almost buy you a 2014 model (Kelley Blue Book retail value is $5,150 for 2014 models), which means you’ll be getting a low-mileage bike that hasn’t been thrashed. The KLR is reliable. It’s powered by a carbureted, liquid-cooled, counterbalanced single that chugs along. You won’t win drag races, but you can take a KLR650 to the hinterlands and be reasonably assured of making it home.


It’s also easy to fix when something does go wrong. There’s no CANBUS electrics, no computer-controlled traction control systems and no electronic fuel pump to worry about. Even the ergonomics are simple: upright seating position, wide bars, flat seat. It’s got a big gas tank, good weather protection, and a stout steel subframe for carrying loads. Nothing fancy, it just works.

Issues To Be Aware Of: Pre-2014.5 KLRs have long been knocked for their soft, non-adjustable suspensions that can become overwhelmed during serious off-road riding. This can be improved with aftermarket suspension components. Some prefer the pre-2008 models because they are lighter, have more suspension travel and less breakable bodywork. Pre-2008 KLRs are also infamous for the “doohickey” problem. The piece in question is the chain-tension mechanism for the counter balancer that can break and spread metal parts throughout the engine. The fix is a simple aftermarket piece and a few hours of labor. KLR650s are also known for subframe bolts that loosen and break, and faulty piston rings on the 2008’s cause them to burn more oil.

* Specs for 2008 and newer models

Author: Bob Whitby

Related Stories

Related Stories

 21

Leave a Reply

21 thoughts on “8 Great Used Adventure Motorcycles Under $5,000

  1. Let me address the last sentence of this fine write-up. The neutral sending unit itself isn’t the trouble, it’s the fasteners that hold the nsu in place. They can become loose over time, and, in very rare cases, fall out and do damage. The fix is pretty straightforward, but it does require pulling the clutch cover to access the two screws and either chemically or physically retaining the fasteners.
    The countershaft seal failure is far easier to prevent by using the retainer found on the DL650. Suzuki sells this part for about $15, and its a five minute job to install. New DR650’s already have the retainer in place, I believe.
    Some have expressed concerns about the third gear failures that have been documented. It is a very, very rare occurrence, but those few times it’s happened, it’s often totally destroyed the engine. A new, and much more robust gearset is available from the aftermarket, but it’s almost prohibitively expensive and labor intensive for most DR owners to attempt the upgrade to prevent a problem that statistically probably won’t ever happen.

  2. Being an owner of a 02 Triumph Tiger 955i I must make a couple comments.. First off they are indeed fantastic adventure bikes and are a bit road biast due to the weight. They handle fantastic and the power delivery is sublime. Shifting is very notchy, and if you come from a Jap bike you might even think its broken, but you get used to it and eventually start to like it as part of its character.
    Its a great bike for fire trails and can do fantastic power slides, but I wouldnt take it on serious trails.

    Best part is the price, the factory equipment (removable bags if you have them are amazing) heated grips, center stand, but the gas milage is way way up there. I get about 45mpg average on fast paced twisty road driving and combine that with 6.3 gallon tank it can go high 200’s without even trying.

    Great bike, Mixes the luxury of the new adventure bikes with some of the classic sound and characteristics of a triumph.

  3. Just wondering. Why does most of the bikes have their engine hp written here , and KLR650 has the real wheel dyno hp? DR650 and NX650 both also do only 37 hp on rear wheel 😉 and the KTM 640 goes up to 46 at most times

    • There are no official crankshaft hp numbers from Kawasaki for the KLR. If you see that number somewhere I would take it with a grain of salt 😉

  4. Why does KLR 650 have a rear wheel power here while other singles have their engine power? stock NX and DR also show around 37 on dyno. KTM 640 goes as far as 45 usually.

  5. I second K.Olsen’s response about the DR650’s NSU issue. It’s just loose screws that are easily remedied. I Lock-Tite’d mine at 8600 miles. The bike has 33k on it now and hasn’t had an issue ever. I replaced my countershaft seal at 30k (first time it leaked) and it’s been fine too.

    The DR650 is THE BEST inexpensive adventure/dual sport bike you can buy, period. Yes, I’m biased. It’s a blank slate for customization. Customize it to your heart’s content. If you don’t want to do that, then it’s not the bike for you; go buy an excessively heavy KLR650.

    As for the V-Strom, I have one. It’s way better off-road than you’d think. Just don’t pound those whoops. Put a good skid plate and crash bars on it and go have fun. I’ve ridden some fairly technical trails on it just fine. I also added an ABS cut-off switch for a few bux.

  6. Why no love for the Funduro? It’s engineered superbly and rock solid, and I’ve done some loooong trips and covered difficult terrain on mine, without encountering a single problem. How did the F650GS (a great bike itself) vastly improve on the Classic?

    • The Funduro is a fine bike and a great adventure mount. The only reason I chose the F650GS instead was because it is a more modern design and has more aftermarket support. The Funduro would cost less than an F650GS, which might make it a better choice for some riders.

  7. The BMW F650GS Dakar with a retuned fully adjustable USD fork, axle adapters, retuned fully adjustable rear shock and some body protection is an unstoppable little machine. This and the 660 Tenere with same mods are in my opinion the best and most capable ADV bike under 800CC for capability and reliability.

  8. How about an option to “view all” on one page? — I’m sure these are good articles. But clicking through one image after another after another after another gets old fast. It’d be cool to have the option to see them all on one page and just scroll through them. I’d be a LOT more likely to go through the whole article rather than just the first 2 or 3 images.

  9. Pingback: Transalp 700???? I just don't get it! - Page 4

  10. I’ve owned 3 of the bikes listed (2006 955i Tiger, 2009 DR650, 2012 KLR 650) and babysat another (year? Transalp). I concur with the descriptions in the article. The Tiger was so top heavy and it wiggled a bit in high speed sweepers but was otherwise a very useful and fun bike. I let it get away from me once unloading it from my toy-hauler and it toppled over and scratched the tank. Once it started to tip, I couldn’t stop it. I have to say though, I never fell in love with it. I did a bunch of mods to my DR (FMF pipe, jet kit, K&N, air box mod, smaller countershaft sprocket) and absolutely loved it. I have regretted selling it from the minute it was gone. My only complaint really was the small gas tank. I currently own a KLR (EM torsion spring doohickey, K&N, Jet Kit, Lexx slip on and waiting on skid plate and crash bars) and love it. I think it’s really under appreciated. I use it 50/50 on road and Arkansas forest service access roads. I have a 2016 FZ09 for my street bike. I’m old now and ride a lot slower so the KLR works fine for me. I had a friend of a friends Transalp in my barn for about a year and rode it a few times. It was really plush and a little gutless but I liked it a lot. I didn’t like all the easy to damage and hard to replace bodywork (I know I have a 2nd gen KLR, but replacement plastics aren’t rare) . I wouldn’t buy a TA for myself.

  11. You can get good used KTM 950 Adventures now for under $5K. I bought one last year for $4500. I’ve owned and even raced a few of the bikes on the list. None comes close to the 950 as an adventure bike.
    fun fun

  12. Pingback: Suzuki V Strom 650 - V-Strom 650 For Sale - Suzuki Motorcycles - Cycle Trader

  13. Pingback: Ktm 640 Adventure For Sale – Wallpaper Site


Pol Tarres and His Tenere 700 Take On 1000cc UTV In New Short Film

Trials legend and elite Hard Enduro rider Pol Tarres and his thrill-seeking c...

Black Dog’s Custom-Built KTM 790 Adventure R That’s Ready To Rip

The adventure bike class is evolving quickly, leaving riders with some toug...

Next-Gen Giant Loop Diablo Tank Bag: Compact & Feature Packed

I'll admit, I used to be one of those "I hate riding with tank bags" guys. But ...