Written by Tim Kessel, Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com
The Kawasaki KLR 650 has been a favorite do-it-all motorcycle for decades. It is a simple, tough-as-nails bike. The simple fact is that the KLR does nothing exceptionally well, but it can do almost anything adequately. It is the ultimate compromise motorcycle. You can run it at 75 mph for hundreds of miles on a tour, or you can blast down a fire road (as long as you don’t push its suspension too far). I know the ins and outs of the big 650 – I’ve owned three of them over the years. As much as I liked all of my KLRs, it’s the one that I will probably never own that interests me the most.
I began reading about he military diesel KLR back in the late 90s. The Marine spec bike is reported to get near 100 mpg while delivering stump pulling torque. You may ask, “Why would the military want a diesel KLR?” Well, the answer is twofold. First, the military needs a vehicle that can get through the tight spots that a Jeep or Hummer can’t. The versatile KLR is a likely candidate. Okay, so why diesel? That answer is simple. That’s what all the other military vehicles run on. It would not be practical to have two separate fuel sources in combat situations.
So could the general motorcycling public ever own one of these military mountain goats? For over a decade, there have been rumors and supposed plans to produce civilian diesel KLRs. Those plans have never materialized. However, Hayes Diversified Technologies, Inc., the military supplier of light diesel engines (including the one used in the KLR) is starting to test the civilian market. In an open letter in February on the Sport-Touring.net website, HDT wrote:
“Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding the availability of HDT diesel and gasoline powered motorcycles for consumers. As you are probably aware, HDT has made announcements in the past about releasing a diesel powered motorcycle to the consumer public. Despite previous efforts to produce this motorcycle, plans were never actuated due to resource constraints and an effort to keep with our core focus of developing vehicle products for the US Military. Beginning in July 2009, HDT has undergone a major expansion which has put us in a position to properly consider a commercial motorcycle product offering…We are currently gathering market data to determine the true level of interest in these products…”
Reports are that such a motorcycle would be priced above the $15,000 threshold. That’s too rich for my blood. However, wouldn’t it be an interesting ride?