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motoman250f 12-02-2008 08:18 AM

800GS vs KLR
I suppose nobody has had the guts to ask this question but somebody has to?
With the fork brace on a KLR and some suspension mods the bike feels a lot lighter than it is. I can hit trails hard and still feel in control. (mine is a pre 08) Can the gs 800 do the same things and feel as light being only 20 lbs heavier?
My 950 was a great suspended bike but it was very top heavy and in the tighter and more slippery conditions it was like a bull on ice. Will the 800 gs be more like the KTM or the KLR?

Thanks, and feel free to flame the KLR, its fun!


spoof 12-02-2008 08:26 AM

I'd feel pretty comfortable doing anything I ever on my old 96 KLR with completely reworked suspension on the F800GS. No experience with the KTM. The 800 obviously kicks ass all over my trade-in, a Buell Ullysses, when the pavement ends.

There are plenty of places I'd be more comfortable on my DRZ.

Bucko 12-02-2008 09:01 AM

I sold my KLR for the GS8 and haven't looked back. It's not a trail bike by any means and I'm not keen to drop it repeatedly given the cost of replacing parts, but I bought the GS to ride long, fast miles on the highway in comfort without taxing the motorcycle or myself, then turn off onto rough roads and go exploring and camping. I don't have near the experience on the GS as I do on the KLR, but so far it's been very easy to ride on rough, rocky roads, much more stable than my KLR with suspension its upgrades. I'm confident I'll be able to take it on the same Utah back roads I rode on my KLR. When I want to ride gnarlier stuff, I'll take my DR-Z, same as I would if I still had the KLR. Where I miss the KLR is on my short commute and bopping around town. It seems a shame to ride the BMW on short hops, but I've got knobs on the Suzuki so don't have much choice.

If you're thinking the new KLR is an option, I've ridden the '08 and it's better on the highway than the older ones for comfort and high(ish) speed traveling, but all that new plastic needs protection if you take it off the pavement. It will still do what the old ones did in the dirt, it just carries a bit more weight in a duded up package. The '09s are fugly, but maybe they fixed the oil consumption problem.

bxr140 12-02-2008 11:46 AM


Originally Posted by Bucko
I sold my KLR for the GS8 and haven't looked back.


Stock vs. stock, the GS is better than my 97 KLR in every way except for two things: range and price. In my case, I get about 200 miles on the GS, versus 250-275 on the KLR, running the tank to a similar level. That was a sacrafice I was willing to live with. Price is self explainatory. Basically 3 times as much for the GS...and, for better or worse, I ride it as such.

The GS still needs comfort and suspension work (at least, IMHO), but so did the KLR. Note that the aftermarket goodies--including crash protection--don't seem to be THAT much different in price. Also, while the average ADVer can probably modify the KLR to be about as competent as the GS off road (for places the average ADVer is going to take either bike, at least), the KLR will *never* match the high speed characteristics of the GS.

mrleadfoot67 12-02-2008 04:36 PM

The word motorcycle is composed of two root words, motor and cycle.

The reason that an 800 GS is over twice the cost of the KLR is that they forgot to put the motor in the KLR.

It really is as simple as that.

Maybe when I'm an old man and don't care about whacking the throttle and a rush of acceleration a KLR would be an option for me...

tmex 12-02-2008 04:46 PM

The big difference is in your head really. If cost (the cost of replacing or repairing the bike) were no object, then you could get the F8 anywhere you could get a KLR. You just have to get over the fear of dumping the bike - easier said than done.

On the pavement where you will always sepnd a considerable amount of time on your adventures the F8 is a whole different animal than the KLR.

bxr140 12-02-2008 06:15 PM


Originally Posted by mrleadfoot67
Maybe when I'm an old man and don't care about whacking the throttle and a rush of acceleration a KLR would be an option for me...

Not to go too OT, but I never found acceleration from the KLR a problem unless it was at freeway speeds. Not that this is saying much, but it had more poop than my F4i around town at 'normal' rpms.

The big thing, as noted, is price. The KLR, for all the crap it gets, its tough as nails. Its hard to break, easy to fix, and--when you have $3000 total into it--riding balls out all day is 0% worry, 100% entertainment.

The GS OTOH...well...lets just say I ride that bike neatly tucked into my tightie whities.

zaner32 12-02-2008 06:39 PM

Pros and Cons of both

85 HP Twin
6 gears
cruise at 120 KPH (75MPH) effortlessly
better overall quality (fit and finish, components etc...)
lower center of gravity (you really notice it while pushing it around the garage floor)
good brakes

More Expensive to buy
More Expensive to fix
Hard to find aggressive knobby in 150 width for 17 inch rim
Less range (I only got 205 miles hiway cruising) but not broken in yet
harsh initial travel in front suspension (but not broken in yet)

KLR650 (experience with 06 model)

Easy to fix
great range (250 miles)
after market support
cheap parts
history of bulletproofness

weak power at hiway speeds
5 gears
terrible brakes
terrible front and rear suspension in rough off road
weak stock wheel bearings (had to change them at 3500 miles)
high center of gravity on full tank of gas

Both of them put a great big smile on my face but in different ways....

-Tractoring through a mud hole or hill climbing with the throttle just barely open was very much fun.
-Drop it.... pick it up, hit the starter button, and keep going... didn't bother me where the scratches were, didn't care.

The GS
-Twisting the throttle.
-Comfortable highway cruising.
-exhaust growl... yes I like it!

Trail Boss 12-02-2008 07:42 PM

I think it's possible to make a 2008 KLR 650 a better all-arounder (at a reasonable cost), resulting in a bike whose performance is more similar to the 800 GS.

Highway: A 705cc kit + a Stage II head kit increases horsepower of the KLR to about 50. That and bumping up a tooth to a 16 tooth countersprocket should result in much, much improved highway capability (the area where the 800GS seems to outperform the KLR).

Non-Paved roads: Some suspension work on the KLR (springs + cartridge emulators up front and a new rear shock) should make it even better on class 3 non-paved roads.

My stock '08 is good for everything between class 3 and backroad travel. For me, it is underpowered for interstate/main highway travel and suspension limits its abilities on class 3 non-paved roads. I suspect that the above changes would transform my KLR into a serious adventure bike with improved capabilities on both ends of the spectrum - easily handling interstate travel plus improved class 3 capabilities.

a1fa 12-02-2008 07:50 PM

KLR really needs another cylinder.

Desert Dave 12-03-2008 04:07 AM


Originally Posted by motoman250f
I suppose nobody has had the guts to ask this question but somebody has to?

I'm actually suprised we don't see more comparisons to the KLR as the balance of street/dirt is much more similair than all the comparisons to the bigger adventure (street) bikes.

Simply put the 800 is what I always wanted my KLR to be, but it just couldn't. My KLR had the bigger motor, totally redone suspension and many other upgrades and was a totally different bike than a stocker for certain, and I enjoyed it very much (and still would), but I don't miss it. It was VERY capable for what I wanted to do, but I always wanted more power, even in the dirt.

The GS800 doesn't force me to decide if I want to explore off road or have a street ride with some balls. I can do both. On the street the GS outhandles, outpowers and out brakes the KLR no contest. Off road I was suprsied at how well the balance of the GS allows you to ride it so easy. Comparing STOCK suspensions they will both limit you about the same as far as how aggressive you can ride into ruts or catching small air. So far about the only time I wish I was on the KLR is when I'm not moving , or anything slow enough to require feet down paddling , first gear rock crawling step ups and such, then you feel the weight of the 800. It's not night an day, but it is noticeable. The lower powerband of the KLR is better for these situations as well, and the lack of power can actually be an advantage. Still, it's worth the tradeoff to me, and for my riding style.

Tmex makes a good point as well about the fear of dumping the bike, and I'll admit I'm more cautious with the 800 in that regard than my KLR. I'm sure the KLR could handle a hard hit better, but I am also still in the honeymoon stage with this bike. I laugh now, but when my KLR was brand new an shiny I really didn't want to drop her, by the end of our relationship, I'd casually step off the bike an take an easy fall if the hill got to tough an let the bike take all the abuse instead of my body. We'll see in time if I can get to that point with the 800.

Kyler 12-03-2008 04:07 AM

Gotta agree

Originally Posted by a1fa
KLR really needs another cylinder.

Agree - I have a 685 kit in mine and it did okay on a 3600 mile trip up to James Bay - a twin would be ideal.

sjc56 12-03-2008 06:54 AM

Did you do just the 685 kit or did you have the heads done also? I'm tempted to put in the 685 kit in my 01 KLR, the price isn't bad and from what I have read its a good bang for the buck.

Bucko 12-03-2008 07:07 AM


Originally Posted by a1fa
KLR really needs another cylinder.

+1, though I think the KLR is fine as it is (was) and there should be an additional twin version.

Kawasaki has missed the boat by not building a KLR/X around the 650 twin they put in the Versys. I would have been as happy with a K on my tank as a roundel. But for some reason, Japan has ignored this market in the US.

tmex 12-03-2008 07:14 AM


Originally Posted by sjc56
Did you do just the 685 kit or did you have the heads done also? I'm tempted to put in the 685 kit in my 01 KLR, the price isn't bad and from what I have read its a good bang for the buck.

Your KLR will still be unsuited for the slab after you install this kit. It will still be fugly, however. You should really grab a ride on the F8 to see how big the gulf between it and the KLR really is.

Every one of my adventure riding bros who has a KLR or a KTM single ends up trailering their bikes to the starting point, and subsequently renting a van to return to the trailer. Sure you can pound a KLR down the slab for 400 miles, but who wants to do that?

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