Despite the undocumented risk that CPSC sees that motorcycles are toys (they most certainly are not) and that children will try to eat them (they aren’t that tasty, even with green sauce), the 2009 Kawasaki KLX110 is an outstanding mount for the up-and-coming young motorcyclist.
To make things easy for the new rider, the KLX110 has an automatic clutch for its manual-shift 3-speed transmission. A parent-adjustable throttle limiter allows specific limitations on the performance of the docile 111cc air-cooled, 2-valve little thumper. Low-end torque is plentiful, and the centrifugal clutch makes stalls rare, but they do happen. Unfortunately, kicking is required to get the motor firing again. These days, we prefer electric starting, regardless of the size of the playbike. Certainly, pushing a button and riding is more fun that learning the fading art of kickstarting.
Thanks to small wheels (14” front, 12” rear), limited travel (just over 4” at each end) and a horizontal cylinder, the center-of-gravity is low. This aids handling, which is more than adequate for the young rider. Ground clearance is decent, so the determined rider can take the 110 out on fairly rugged trails.
The suspension will handle the small air beginning kids are likely to find, as demonstrated by test rider Shaun Merritt. When the suspension and handling limits of the 150-pound (dry, claimed) bike are exceeded, it will probably be time for a larger bike or a KX65 (which shares the fuel tank, seat, shrouds and number plates) or KX85 motocrosser.
One little secret about the KLX110 that Kawasaki doesn’t publicize is that there’s a fourth gear lurking in the transmission, just waiting to be unleashed for a bit more top speed (all that is required is an aftermarket shift drum). Not only that, but there are also manual clutch kits (some companies even offer a hydraulic clutch), making the bike considerably more versatile for the improving young rider. But, before making any of these mods, be sure that your child is ready for upgraded, more complex, performance. We, of course, added the One Industries’ high-performance Monster Energy graphics.
Maintenance is extremely simple, which is important for parents. Just change the oil once in a while, keep the air filter clean and adjust the chain when needed. Other than that, enthusiastic kids will take care of the fun part: riding!
Photography by Don Williams