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Kawasaki 2020 KLX 230, KLX230R and KLX300R Review

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KLX230 Reivew

Kawasaki’s New KLX Family Review: Affordable Fun for Lots of Riders!

Kawasaki has entered another contender into the field of entry-level dual-sport bikes with the sporty KLX230. Simplicity and approachability are the name of the game with this bike from almost every angle. As more and more new riders join the sport, the need for bikes like this is increasing. We recently tested this and two other new off-road additions to the KLX family in beautiful southern Oregon. And, we were not disappointed!

Kawasaki KLX230 Trail

• 2020 Kawasaki KLX230 Review

The KLX230 joins Team Green as the intended next step up from the KLX140. The seat height comes in at 34.8″, making it the tallest of the most comparable bikes, with the XT250 at only 31.9″ and the CRF250L at 34.4”. The wheelbase of 54.3″ (1″ longer than the KLX140) keeps it nimble and maneuverable on trails.

The 230 comes with a 21/18″ wheel set up and IRC Trails GP tires, which performed fine on pavement, but a more trail-forward rider would likely want to upgrade to something more dirt friendly.

The large petal disc brakes (front and rear) are surprisingly strong which should inspire confidence in newer riders both on the trails and in the busiest of traffic. The brakes are similar to those on the XT250 and CRF250 but leave the DR200 with its drum brakes in the dust.

On trails, this bike was a blast. With 10.4″ of ground clearance, suspension travel of 8.7″ (front) and 8.8″ Uni-Trak rear suspension, the 230 handles almost everything you throw at it on beginner to intermediate trails. It did bottom out a couple of times over some more aggressive whoops, so a skid plate might be a good add-on at the dealership if you’re planning on riding more than just gravel and fire roads. Other than being able to adjust the rear shock for preload, the suspension is otherwise non-adjustable which will be a detractor for some bigger riders.

Kawasaki KLX230 brakes

Coming in at about 291 pounds curb weight, the bike is not exactly light, but it’s right in the range of similar bikes, almost the same as the XT250 and over 30 pounds lighter than the CRF250L. With the low center of gravity and the slim ergonomics, the 230 has a lightweight feel on both street and dirt. The stock two-gallon tank limits the range but should be sufficient for most rides.

The transition from dirt to street is seamlessly achieved with the six-speed, fuel-injected engine, which has low to mid-range torque, offering smooth power delivery to the rider. The bike handled 65+mph on pavement with ease. The engine is air cooled, unlike its bigger brother the KLX250, which of course calls for less maintenance. Shifting was a breeze, and the bike never balked on hill climbs or in more technical sections of trail.

Kawasaki KLX230 road

 As with the other aspects of this bike, the electronics keep it simple. The easy-to-read, all-digital LCD screen features only what it needs to: speedometer, odometer, fuel gauge, clock and indicator lamps. Though cycloptic in appearance, Kawasaki clearly has safety in mind with the 230’s large headlamp. You will be seen!

Kawasaki KLX230 dash

 The MSRP for the KLX230 is hard to beat, coming in at only $4,599, $600 less than both the CRF250L and the XT250. They also offer an ABS model for $300 more, but unfortunately they didn’t have a demo at the launch to ride. According to Kawasaki, their first dual-purpose ABS (jointly developed with Bosch) is tuned to be effective both on- and off-road, allowing for more slip in the dirt. It sounds intriguing and could be very helpful for newer trail riders and definitely for those using this as a commuter bike.

This bike is ready to ride off the dealer floor, but there are a handful of accessories available for the bike so you can better suit it to your adventure style including a skid plate, hand guards, a rear rack, a tapered handlebar, and a black rim set (which definitely elevates the classiness of the bike’s look).

While there’s no particular wow-factor with this bike, it’s a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. The lack of bells and whistles lends to its low price point and its easy maintenance, so it not only encourages new riders to join the sport without being intimidated, but also appeals to the casual rider or even someone wanting to add one to their fleet as a play bike. We had uncomplicated, sheer fun on this very capable no-stress express. Kawasaki gets top marks for reliability and versatility in this compact package. Being able to comfortably commute to work during the week and then hit the trails on the weekends make it a two-for-one combo which, after all, is exactly what dual-sporting is all about!

Kawasaki KLX230 fun


PROS:

  • Great price point for a modernized low displacement dual sport
  • Engine design with low-mid range torque is very smooth
  • Low maintenance

CONS:

  • Non-adjustable for rider customization 

• KLX 230 Specifications

Engine: 233cc fuel injected, air cooled, 6 speed, electric start

Chassis:

Curb Weight: 291.1lb/293.3lb ABS model

Fuel Capacity: 2.0 gal.

Seat Height 34.8″

Ground Clearance 10.4″

Suspension Travel 8.7″ front, 8.8″ rear (adjustable for preload)

Front Brake 240mm petal disc/265mm petal disc for the ABS model

Rear Brake 220mm petal disc for both models with single piston caliper


• 2020 Kawasaki KLX230R Review

While it’s tempting to try and compare the off-road only KLX230R to the dual-sport model, the only thing they share is the 233cc engine. This lively cousin comes in 40 pounds lighter, a little taller with a seat height of 36.4″, 11.8″ of ground clearance and an extra inch of suspension travel at both ends (again with the Uni-Trak rear suspension).

Kawasaki KLX230R Body

 Light, zippy, and very flickable through the trails, this bike a joy to ride. The suspension was enough for easy to intermediate trails and obstacles for lighter riders and it handled hill climbs with ease. Like the 230 dual-sport, its suspension is non-adjustable although the rear shock is adjustable for preload.

The KLX230R is equipped with an ON/OFF button, power indicator lamp, low-fuel warning lamp and an FI warning lamp. Additionally, the California compliant version has an ignition key cylinder and a locking steel fuel tank.

Kawasaki KLX230R dash

Unfortunately, this bike is off road only, so this would only be an ideal bike for someone who can transport it to trail heads. However, with the MSRP of only $4,399, this is a great option for those who perhaps want a trail bike in their stable as well as their adventure bike, although surely there will be kits to street legalize this on the market before long.


PROS:

  • Perfect beginner bike with low initial cost
  • Light, maneuverable off-road fun
  • Low maintenance

CONS:

  • Off road only

• KLX 230R Specifications

Engine: 233cc fuel injected, air cooled, 6 speed, electric start

Chassis:

Curb Weight: 253.6lb

Fuel Capacity: 1.7 gal.

Seat Height 36.4″

Ground Clearance 11.8″

Suspension Travel 9.8″ front, 9.9″ rear (adjustable for preload)

Front Brake 240mm petal disc with a twin piston caliper

Rear Brake 220mm petal disc with a single piston caliper


• 2020 Kawasaki KLX300R Review

The KLX300R is supposed to bridge the gap between play bike and racer. With the MSRP of $5,499, it’s a very affordable option, maybe not with all the fine tuning of a more expensive race bike, but that’s the void they are trying to fill—a ready-to-go dirt bike for the casual rider that fills a niche with no direct competitors.

Kawasaki KLX300R Body

 It has a 56.5″ wheelbase with 12″ of ground clearance. A large, 43mm diameter inverted telescopic fork allows for 11.2″ of travel, while the rear suspension offers the same. The rear shock is adjustable for rebound and compression dampening as well as preload. This bike has a 21/18″ wheel setup with Dunlop Geomax MX52 tires. It also has a four-position handlebar mounting system for a personalized fit.

Kawasaki KLX300R Tire

 As with the 230R, the 300R is off road only, so those who need it to be more than just for trail will have to put a street legal kit on it. There are fewer Kawasaki accessories available so far, the options being a hand guard set, a tapered handlebar and a handlebar pad.

Kawasaki KLX230R 300R

The shifting was a little awkward, falling into false neutral several times, and required more focus on shifting gears instead of happening a little more naturally. Otherwise it’s a capable, unfussy trail bike and at this price point. A rider could buy it, invest a couple grand into it to improve its performance and still be well below the cost of a Yahama WR250 or similar bike.


PROS:

  • Most inexpensive 300 on the market (by far)
  • Adjustable suspension
  • Fully adjustable rider controls

CONS:

  • Off-road only
  • Awkward shifting

• KLX300R Specifications

Engine: 292cc fuel injected, liquid cooled, 6 speed, electric start

Chassis:

Curb Weight: 282.2 lb

Fuel Capacity: 2.1 gal.

Seat Height 36.4″

Ground Clearance 12″

Suspension Travel 11.2″ front, 11.2″ rear

Front Brake 270mm petal disc twin piston caliper

Rear Brake 240mm petal disc single piston caliper

 

Want more KLX info? Check out out KLX250S Review and Project Bike at the links below!

https://adventuremotorcycle.com/bikes/2006-kawasaki-klx250-review

https://adventuremotorcycle.com/bikes/bikes-project-klx250sf-part-one

 

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