For several weeks now, there’s been a rumour that Kawasaki’s KLR650 has been canceled, but still, there’s no official confirmation.
The rumour started when an alleged official internal memo was leaked, saying the KLR650 was going to be discontinued, with 2018 being the last model year. The memo, which was said to be intended for US dealers, supposedly called for discounts on remaining stock, starting October 1.
Well, we haven’t seen those discounts in the US. At least not yet. And Kawasaki hasn’t said the bike is canceled. However, it’s worth noting there is no 2019 KLR650 model on either the American or Canadian Kawasaki websites yet, and considering North America is probably the largest market for these machines at this point, that’s significant. And, there was no 2019 KLR650 on display at the AIME motorcycle show in Las Vegas this past week.
Why would Kawasaki cancel the KLR650, one of its most popular models in North America? Simple. Although Canadian and American dual sport riders love the KLR, it’s never been as popular in the rest of the world. It’s hard to sell a big bore thumper in a world of tightening emissions standards. And, in a world of ever-shrinking profit margins, it’s likely Kawasaki would find it easier to build a new adventure bike around one of its existing parallel twin engines, instead of building an all-new thumper with fuel injection and everything else that dual sport/adventure riders have come to expect. We talked about all that in this article from 2016, and in the years since, nothing has changed.