2020 Kawasaki KLX230 First Look: New Dual-Sport Motorcycle
All-new from the ground up is the 2020 Kawasaki KLX230 dual sport motorcycle. A lower-cost, more-accessible alternative to the completely different KLX250, the 2020 Kawasaki KLX230 is intended to appeal to newer riders interested in taking to the dirt, while still retaining street-going capability.1. Everything is new on the 2020 Kawasaki KLX230, from the chassis to the motor. The motor is not a downsized KLX250 powerplant. Instead, it’s a much simpler SOHC design with two valves and air cooling. The chassis is considerably smaller than the KLX250, with the KLX230 offering a lower seat height (two inches), less sophisticated suspension (no damping adjustments), lighter weight (13 pounds), and a significant price break ($900).
2. The KLX230 comes in two flavors—with ABS and without. You’ll pay an extra $300 for ABS, and the ABS model weighs an additional two pounds. Kawasaki claims this is a “revolutionary new dual-purpose ABS” by Bosch that works on both the street and in the dirt. Kawasaki says that the ABS comes on a bit later than a street-only ABS setup, allowing some sliding of the tires before activating. It’s worth noting that the ABS version has a 265mm disc, while the standard KLX230’s front disc is just 240mm in diameter. Both models have 220mm disc in the rear.3. A standard 18-/21-inch wheel pairing is used. Rubber is budget IRC Trails GP-21F and GP-22R, which are also found on the Honda CRF250L. They should be fine on the street, though dirt-oriented riders will want sometime better suited to off-roading. The wheels are aluminum to help keep the KLX230’s curb weight below 300 pounds.4. Suspension travel is a tad less than nine inches at each end for a lower seat height. Except for spring-preload on the shock, the KLX 230’s suspension is non-adjustable. The shorter travel helps keep the seat height at an approachable 34.8 inches.5. Power should be balanced on the very slightly oversquare motor. Air-cooled and sporting a cylinder head with a SOHC and two valves, the powerplant is pure simplicity. The power delivery likely won’t be intimidating to a new rider. There’s a six-speed transmission to make sure the right gear is always available.6. Anyone should be able to start the 2020 Kawasaki KLX230. It has electric start, along with a relatively low compression motor.7. Along with the small motor comes a compact steel perimeter-frame chassis. The wheelbase is just 54.3 inches (two inches shorter than the KLX250) for agility. However, to make sure the new bike doesn’t surprise the rider with overly responsive handling, the rake is a relaxed 27.5 degrees. Ground clearance is a workable 10.4 inches.8. Feel free to bring a passenger along. The KLX230 has a two-person seat and passenger footpegs.9. If you’re mechanically minded, you’ll be happy to know that the bike comes with a toolkit. Even better, the toolbox compartment is lockable and uses the same key as the ignition.10. Styling is KX-inspired, with an oversized headlight. Kawasaki wants to make sure you can see, and be seen, at night. The headlight is a 50/60 W halogen item, with a cowling surrounding it. The front fender is abbreviated to make sure there’s an air-flow to the cooling fins on the motor.11. You will find the 2020 Kawasaki dual sport on showroom floors in late summer 2019.
2020 Kawasaki KLX230 (ABS) Specs
Type: Single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore x stroke: 67.0 x 66.0mm
Compression ratio: 9.4:1
Valvetrain: SOHC; 2 valves
Fueling: EFI w/ 32mm throttle body
Final drive: Chain
Front suspension; travel: Non-adjustable 37mm fork; 8.7 inches
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!