A Marine from Battlion Landing Team 1st Bn., 6th Marines, 
the ground combat element of the 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), speeds over an Albanian trail on his KLR-250 
D8 motorcyle during the MEU's recent amphibious landing exercise in Albania. The KLR-250 is used for reconnaissance and message delivery.
Photo by: Gunnery Sgt. Keith A. Milks 3/9/2004 ex-USMC KLR

Kawasaki KLR250

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The KLR250 in the Military

The KLR 250 was in production for 20 years with almost no signifacant changes. In this day and age this is almost unheard of for any product, but perhaps some of this production longevity can be attributed to its use by the United States Military. Uncle Sam wouldn't be happy making a quantity purchase of a motorcycle if half of the parts are going to be different in three years time (as they often are on motocross bikes). They may well have made a large enough purchase that they could dictate Military KLR rider tackles a training course. From 04/06/1998 USMC News, by Cpl. Brannen Parrish that there be little or no changes to a product they deemed suitable for the assignment. This may also be the case for the KLR650 as well, which although popular, is also getting a bit long in the tooth. It now seems as though the 650 will replace the 250 in military service as there has actually been a diesel conversion designed for the KLR650 (reducing dispacement to about 600cc), so that it shares fuel commonality with the vast majority of combat vehicles. It is also a remote possibility that the KLR's military service also explains the colour schemes for the last few years, which would have required far less preparation for battle field use than some of the paint schemes of the past, such as the Purple and Teal "Ken and Barbie Special" of the mid '90s.
The venerable little 250 has been used by a variety of personnel for duties as mundane as domestic base courier services, all the way to in-theatre communications, scouting, special forces use, and even airborn troops.

Photographs showing both the early type "stepped" clutch cover, and the latter type "three bump" covers indicate that there have been at least two rounds of orders of KLR250s from Kawasaki, likely even more. Possible model years in U.S. Military use include 1986, replacing the two-stroke KL250 (Some European forces still use two-stoke KTMs), also 1991, and 1996. The KLR250 has been used by the Marines, Army Rangers, and the Air Force.
The KLR250 has been in use by the Canadian military, though they are also phasing them out of service.

Send me your photos, or links to photos of KLR250s in military garb/action, personal recollections, defense contract production numbers, etc.


Desert Storm KLR

An early KLR250, possibly a KL-D2, heads off for duty in the Persian Gulf


























Desert Storm KLR watercolor by DJ Neary



















This picture of a watercolor by DJ Neary came in from Dennis (upon whom the painting is based), who was the NCOIC (Non Commissioned Officer in Charge) of the 1st Marine Division Motorcycle Couriers in Desert Storm, with Cpl. Dowdle. Dennis's KLR eventually went on display at the Command Museum at the Marine Corps Recuit Depot in San Diego.







Notice the features of these military KLRs.

The bikes in the first two photos feature the "Water Buffalo Horn" handguards, military headlight box thingie, tubular engine case guard, rear rack, and what seems to be a larger capacity gas tank.

Military KLR



Military KLR



This next photos shows a much earlier model bike (possibly an '86) with only the military headlight and rear rack.

early military KLR




Photo by, and courtesy of SideStrider Sidecars


Marines test a KLR250 equipped with a sidecar. Camp Pendleton, CA




















LINKS

Marine KLR in Bosnia

Marine KLR250 fact sheet, note the outdated photo of the bike the KLR250 REPLACED.

Three small photos, including one from Desert Storm.

Military vehicle info.Look in the motorcycle catagory on the Military Vehicle ID page.

Info on the military KLR650.

Special Ops vehicles The motorcycle section is at the very bottom of this links page.

MMOC Military Motorcycle Operators Course article.

Military Sidecar for the KLR250; I need one of these.



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