Originally Posted by kojack
Yes they were out before that, but were not classified as an adventure style bike. Klr had wind protection and was geared more for the slab than the others. And had more room for the rider. I owned an 88 xl600, and the cockpit was way cramped, same with the Dr and xrl. The klr had more room between the seat and the pegs.
Europe got many Japanese "adventure" bikes, starting really in the late 70's into the 80's. The Dakar thing was on fire there ... very few of these came to the USA. Honda had several versions (Africa Twin, XL), Suzuki too, including the DR BIG, Yamaha had the original Tenere bikes. All were ahead of the KLR.
... ironically, Kawasaki never participated in the Dakar in those years ... far as I know. (maybe some privateers?) So really, the original KLR was just a copy of what all the other big four were selling in Europe. By the 90's those styles were fading in the EU ... but the KLR never changed.
Probably why it never sold well ... and was never understood ... in Europe.