Easy to drive, but boring

Kawasaki KLE 500 is a bike for the short trips, or as a companion on gravel roads. But it feels a little out of date.

Text: Frode Johansen

Photo: Ruth Helen Kjśrran / rallyruth.com

For those who drive on gravel roads, or do not crave horsepower or breathtaking brakes and those on a tight budget, this might be a bike worth doing a test run on. This model is currently not offered on the American marked.


First glance

For some reason this bike reminds me of Batman at first glance. The color combination is good, and I have always liked the duel purpose bikes. But the design on this one is not to my taste, it sort of looks very old fashion. Which can have someting to do with the price, special details and the latest upgrades costs money.



There is not a lot of power in this bike, but for the shoter trips or a gravel road this bike will work just fine. But the engine has no caracter, no mater what the rpm is, there is no guts in it. To keep the little power alert you have to keep it over 4.000 rpm. When I go on and off the accelorator there is no jerk's as many bikes have. The gear box has long travell between the gears, so two or more quick shifts are a little difficult.


On road

The bike feels quite light when i drive it, and the suspesion is very soft. On a good road it feel comfortable and the driving position is very good, and the wind screen gives the driver a nice and more or less wind free journey. But the screen do give the driver some turbulent noise. The wind screens for the hands really makes the different when the air temperature is as low as it was on this day. Even in thin summer gloves my hands was nice and warm. When I increase the speed and start pushing around bends, I really feel that the suspension is way too soft for this kind of driving.

Stopping the bike quickly is no easy task, and even if you squeeze the break hard, the breaks never get's very good.

In the round mirrors you get a good veiw of what is behind you. Overtaking cars is a lot slower than what I am used to, but if you go down a couple of gears it is fairly quick.



The price plays an importan role for this bike, the competition is more expensive, but also better in most cases. But if you are on a budget some comprimaces has to be made. For me this bike falls a little short, mostly because of the bad breaks, soft suspension and a little week engine. My dream was if they upgraded the suspension, brought the breaks up to speed and shoehorned in their own ER-6n/Ninja 650R engine. But then again, this would not be a low budget bike anymore.



The facts:

Engine: 30 cubic inches / 498 ccm

Engine type: Parallel twin, water cooled

Horsepower: 45 hp at 8.300 rpm

Torque: Ib.ft not listed / 41 nm at 7.500 rpm

Fuel tank: 4 gallons / 15 Liters

Front tyre: 90/90-21 tommer

Rear tyre: 130/80-17 tommer

Dry weight: Approx 400 Ibs

MSRP: Model not listed in the USA