2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Adventure vs Yamaha Tenere 700
It doesn’t matter if you want to call it an adventure bike, dual-sport, or an enduro, they do one thing exceptionally well. They can go over any type of terrain like nothing else. This week, we have one of the two most popular middleweight adventure bikes of 2022 to see which one fits better for your lifestyle.
The main reason why middleweight adventure motorcycles are extremely popular all around the world is not just their affordable price tag. They are easy to ride anywhere, great on gas, easy to work on, very capable on and off-road, and cheaper to replace parts, so it hurts less if you drop them.
On one side, we have the 2022 Kawasaki KLR650 Adventure, one of the most well-known dual sport bikes which has been around since 1984. On the other side, we have a new kid on the block, 2022 Yamaha Tenere 700 is here since 2020 for North American riders to fill the gap between the Super Tenere and XT250.
If you look at the big picture, you’ll easily see both entries are meant for adventure-seeking riders. They have pretty similar geometry and both entries come with a 21″ front wheel for optimal off-road performance. However, the more you ride them back-to-back, the more you realize how different they are when you get into the details. Let’s start with the obvious differences.
A few years ago, Kawasaki discontinued the KLR and deeply saddened all enthusiasts. Many riders including myself did not expect a comeback, but it is finally back with important changes. For instance, the KLR’s well-known single-cylinder 650cc engine comes with an electronic fuel injection system to improve efficiency and meet the latest regulations.
With the updated engine, the 2022 KLR650 pumps out around 40 horsepower and 39 ft-lb of torque. The single-cylinder engine is quite punchy at lower RPM, which makes it a great off-roader as you can just go over any type of obstacle and don’t have to worry about downshifting.
Tenere 700 comes with an engine that we’re quite familiar with. Yamaha used their well-known 689cc parallel-twin engine that puts out 74 horsepower and 50 lb-ft of torque. The reason why this engine is so special is it offers the compactness of a parallel twin engine with a V-twin character, thanks to the cross-plane crankshaft.
Although Yamaha used the same platform in many other models, there are important changes in the drivetrain. The first thing that you realize is the gearing ratio is shorter for off-road. It also means it is quite peppy at every RPM, not overwhelmingly fast while still very fun to ride. It pulls hard in every gear and accelerates effortlessly.
For the KLR, the second major update is the optional ABS. Our tester did not have the ABS, and if you are serious about off-roading, you may never need it. If you choose to have the ABS, you would not be able to disable it, but according to Kawasaki, the rear brake is optimized for off-roading.
Yamaha comes with fancy Brembo brakes, though they are not huge calipers, still give you good initial bite and overall feedback. You can disable the ABS by just clicking the button, but you have to fully stop to be able to do that.
Aside from the technical differences, both bikes cannot win any beauty contests. The front fascia of KLR looks pretty similar to the previous gen, but if you look carefully, it’s also the same LED headlight and windscreen that they used in other Z models. Adventure trim comes with fog lights which are placed quite high, but it is good for extra visibility.
Tenere 700 has more modern and aggressive looks with the huge LED headlight that covers pretty much the whole front fascia. Yamaha must have overstocked the orange turn signals for so long, as they have been using the same blinkers since the 1980s. It should have been LED for this price range.
What I really like about the KLR is the touring features that it offers. The seat is very comfortable for long rides even with a passenger. It has better wind and weather protection than the Tenere 700. It also comes with a much bigger gas tank and a gas cap with a hinge, unlike the Tenere. KLR’s Adventure trim comes standard with the side bags, and our tester had the optional top case to carry bigger items.
Tenere 700 also has some comfort features, but just not as good as the KLR. The biggest difference is the seat. It looks much more like a traditional dirt bike seat. It’s quite tall, feels firmer, and it allows you to change riding position easily. The windscreen is not adjustable and quite small for long trips.
Both bikes are bare-bones when it comes to tech, and that’s how you save weight and money. The most technological feature you’ll find is the digital dash. Tenere’s dash looks quite bigger and is much easier to read when you stand up. It’s purpose-built, but it should have been a color TFT screen as it is significantly more expensive, whereas the KLR’s screen is the right choice for the price.
However, Yamaha Tenere 700 starts to shine when you hit the technical trails, it feels very nimble and capable, and it gives a lot of confidence in any type of terrain. You can disable the ABS simply by just clicking a button, but you have to fully stop to be able to do that. As soon as you start riding the T7, it makes you forget annoying cost-cutting measures, like the dash, blinkers, and gas cap.
KLR is also great on trails. It will go over any obstacles with no problem, just in a slower fashion. The front forks are quite soft, easier to bottom out, and bouncier than the Tenere over the big bumps, which slows you down quite a bit. You cannot carry the speed if the trail is too technical, therefore you have to be patient. If you just want to ride at a slower pace, KLR will get you anywhere you want.
T7’s throttle mapping is extremely smooth and easy to live with. Standing position feels more comfortable, and the bike is very well balanced at low speeds. Both bikes come with off-road-oriented tires, but the KLR feels more planted on very loose surfaces such as sand or mud, thanks to its knobby tires.
It’s not just off-road riding, but Tenere 700 can also be quite fun as a daily rider. It’s just as fun as the MT-07 or R7 with more upright geometry. In fact, Tenere 700’s exhaust sounds better and cheaper to upgrade as it has a two-piece exhaust design, unlike both “sportier” entries where you have to replace the whole exhaust system to get a better sound.
What makes the T7 unique is that it’s also fun in twisties. It comes with fully adjustable inverted forks and a rear shock, you can just stiffen it up based on your riding style. KLR does not offer any type of adjustability in the front, but you can adjust the rear shock preload and rebound, which is quite surprising to see for the price range.
Regardless of your choice, you need to remember the fact that those are two different types of bikes that can get the same job done. You’ll only feel the differences when you get into the details, and the winner of this comparison depends on your lifestyle.
If you want the best off-road capability, get the Tenere 700. If you aim to rip down the trails as fast as you can go, there is no better machine to do that for the price range. You can just ditch your old rusty dirt bike, as Tenere 700 is capable of doing pretty much everything your dirt bike can do in a modern and civilized fashion. If you are lucky enough to find one in a dealer lot, it’s priced at $12,799.
If you aim to do adventure touring and general exploring, cross-country riding, or even just for commuting – KLR is the clear winner in this comparison. It’s not the ideal choice for riders who make their decision based on the spec sheet, and that’s what makes the KLR and its owners unique.
It’s also the right choice for budget-oriented riders, as it starts at a much lower base price – $7,499 without ABS. If you want touring features and more cargo accommodation, Adventure trim is the right choice which is priced at $9,699. If you want ABS, it sets you back $300 for both trims.
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