Kawasaki returns to the full-size trail bike market with the new 2017 Kawasaki KLX140G, a compact adult off-road motorcycle for shorter or new riders. Powered by a well-regarded air-cooled 144cc motor, the KLX140G has the features you expect on an off-road bike, with a smaller chassis and motor than the full-sized trail bikes from Honda and Yamaha. The KLX140G joins the the small-wheel KLX140 and KLX140L trail bikes, which are returning unchanged for 2017.
1. The 2017 Kawasaki KLX140G has full-sized wheels. The KLX140G gets 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels, so it can easily roll over rocks and roots on the trail. You will find that the 2.75 (front) and 4.10 (rear) widths are a narrower than standard, and that will restrict your options when it comes time to replace the relatively expensive stock IRC Vulcanduro (VE-35F and VE-33) tires when they wear out. Fortunately, those are high-quality tires.2. The seat height is below 34 inches. Lower than the Honda CRF230F and Yamaha TT-R230, the seat height is about right for the small-motored 2017 Kawasaki KLX140G.3. At a claimed 218 pounds curb weight, it undercuts the 230s. Weight about 30 pounds less than the 230s, the KLX140G should be very manageable for the new rider moving up to an full-sized trail bike. The KLX140G’s weight is just nine pounds more than the KLX140L, which has 16-inch rear and 19-inch front wheels.4. Suspension travel is 7.5 inches in the front, and 7.9 inches in the back. Again, these number are smaller than the 230 equivalent bikes, by about an inch or two. This is what helps keep the seat height low with the same-sized wheels. Also, with the lighter weight, those travel figures look pretty reasonable. The KLX140G’s 33mm Showa forks are not adjustable, but the piggyback-reservoir rear shock has help from a linkage system, plus adjustments for rebound damping and spring-preload.5. The 144cc motor is bulletproof. We’ve been impressed with the motor in the KLX140 and KLX140L, and expect it to do fine in the larger 2017 Kawasaki KLX140G. It’s slightly oversquare and willing to rev, though the KLX140G will be the slowest of the 140s due to its chassis weight and heavier wheels. Maintenance requirements will be modest.6. The KLX140G has a manual clutch and five-speed transmission. By the time a rider is ready for a bike this size, fully manual operation of the clutch makes sense. The 144cc engine’s transmission has been flawless in the past, and we expect to continue to be satisfied with its performance.7. Electric starting makes us happy. A key would be nice, but e-start is where it’s at. A kickstarter as a backup is always a good idea, but the 2017 Kawasaki KLX140G does not have one.8. Disc brakes all around. Unlike the 230s, which use drum rear brakes, the Kawasaki KLX140G has petal discs, front and rear–good job.9. The 2017 Kawasaki KLX140G looks sharp. The plastic is modern, with angular styling, and the square-tube frame has a competitive appearance.10. The price is right at $3699. It’s a few hundred dollars less than the 230s, but they aren’t really direct competitors. The 2017 Kawasaki KLX140G is for adult riders who want full-sized wheels, along with lighter weight and a lower seat height, and they don’t mind sacrificing engine power to get it.
2017 Kawasaki KLX140 Specs
Engine: Air-cooled, SOHC single
Bore x stroke: 58.0 x 54.4mm
Compression ratio: 9.5:1
Carb: Keihin PB20
Ignition: Digital DC-CDI
Transmission: 5-speed with wet multi-disc manual clutch
Final drive: Chain
Front suspension: 33mm Showa forks; 7.5 inches of travel
Rear suspension: Linkage assisted piggyback reservoir shock with spring-preload and rebound-damping adjustment; 7.9 inches of travel
Tires: IRC Vulcanduro
Tire sizes f/r: 2.75×21 / 4.10×18;
Front brakes: 220mm petal disc w/ four-piston caliper
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!