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Kawasaki KLV 1000, What Gives?

Blog Date - 09 September 2011

Kawasaki KLV 1000, What Gives?

Of course I've been talking to a mate of mine, BigD, about my endless search for the perfect mid-size sports-tourer-commuter-economical-do-everything bike.  He's looking too, after losing his bike due to the unwanted assistance of a car driver and a hedge.  One model got mentioned in passing the other day, Kawasaki's KLV 1000, which he stated is a rebadged Suzuki DL1000 Vstrom.  I didn't believe him.  I've only seen one of these rare beasts in pictures and I can see the immediate similarity but no, surely not, Kawasaki wouldn't do such a thing, that's like sleeping with the enemy.

kawasaki klv 1000 in green with a red box to highlight the vin plate on the side of the frame
The Kawasaki KLV 1000, the VIN plate can clearly be seen from the side of the bike.

As is the way of the world I finally saw one in the flesh so to speak this very day.  The mirror on the 125 fell off so I found myself in a bike breakers in Lowton getting a replacement.  There, lo-and behold, before my very eyes stood a pristine KLV 1000, in god-awful green.  AHA!  My chance to inspect this machine to see if it is indeed anything like the VStrom, not that I know the 1000 cc VStrom very well either.  Whilst looking and thinking it's certainly a 90 degree V-Twin, it certainly looks quite similar and it's big, huge indeed, just like the VStrom, I noticed the VIN plate on the frame.  

The VIN plate has "SUZUKI" on it.  Not Kawasaki like the badges on the massive fairings, Suzuki.  Wow!  I figure he must be quite right.  

The suzuki vin plate clearly visible in the frame of the kawasaki
Nope, your eyes do not deceive you, it does say "Suzuki"

Why the hell would Suzuki allow Kawasaki to re-badge their machines then sell them in competition?  Why the devil would Kawasaki take a Suzuki and put their own logos on it?  It's not even like they've tried to hide the fact, the VIN plate is clearly seen on the offside of the frame in plain view, not even hidden behind a panel or a fairing.  It's just there, in your face, as bold as brass and as obvious as a big hairy wart on the nose of an otherwise beautiful woman.  

Since my return I've take a brief look around for answers.  None are forthcoming.  A few sites suggest the Kawasaki is different from the Suzuki in as much as the clocks and possibly the fairing are altered, but other than that it seems they are the same both inside and out.  I can only guess this was done for 2 possible reasons.  Firstly perhaps Suzuki were limited as to the number of bikes they could import to a certain country so agreed with Kawasaki to "bring some in" on their behalf.  Or perhaps Kawasaki felt they needed a big trailie tourer in their range but as Kwak have no big meaty liquid cooled V-Twins in their range they thought it'd quicker and easier to buy and slightly alter a Suzuki.

God only knows, and I doubt I'll find out.  Would I buy one?  Nah, not for me, too big, too heavy and too expensive to run.  Still, looks comfy though. 

Reader's Comments

Anonymous said :-
Late to the party, yes. But better late than a no-show. FWIW, this isn't uncommon. As far as I know, this was done with the DR-Z400S sold as a Kawasaki KLX400S, as well as the LTZ-400 being identical with the Kawasaki KFX400. Those two/four models being sold in the states, I am not sure your manufacturer limit per country theory is the reason. With regard to the big twin though, you may be right. They are not marketed here as anything other than the V-Strom.

Kawasaki's own DR-Z, or, a green suzuki?! It's both!
9/8/2016 12:52:47 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
I guess the only way we'd actually find out the thinking behind this process would be to ask someone at Kawasaki-Suzuki in the know. I'm glad you've pointed out the other models, this goes to suggest that Kawasaki-Suzuki must have their reasons and this 1000 is not a one off.
10/8/2016 10:48:21 AM UTC

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