Kawasaki is making a big move to make off-road and dual-sport motorcycles more approachable to shorter-inseamed riders. Last year they offered a version of the KLX230R off-road bike with shortened-travel suspension and a resulting lower seat. That feature has been extended to the dual-sport world with the 2022 Kawasaki KLX230 S—a full-size dual-sport motorcycle with a seat height of just 32.7 inches. There’s a bit more to the story, so time to dig in.
The lowering drops the seat height of the KLX230 by 2.4 inches. The S’s 32.7-inch seat height is the same as the KTM 390 Duke street bike. The ground clearance is now a relatively tight 8.3 inches.
Suspension travel at both ends is shortened. Kawasaki reduced the wheel travel by 2.4 inches at both ends. The result is 6.2 inches of travel for the fork, and 6.6 inches of rear-wheel travel.
Kawasaki did more than simply cut the travel. The standard KLX230 has very soft suspension, and shortening the travel would likely result in too much bottoming. Kawasaki put stiffer dual-stage springs in the fork and a firmer spring for the linkage-assisted shock. Although we’ll have to wait to ride the KLX230 S to know, this sounds like a sensible solution and one that might improve the bike’s handling on the dirt and street.
The rake and trail of the KLX230 S are the same as the taller version, though the wheelbase is shorter. The rake remains at 27.5 degrees and the trail at 4.6 inches—those numbers work well on the standard KLX230. The shortened fork travel drops the wheelbase by 0.8 inches. With the lower chassis and shorter wheelbase, the 2022 Kawasaki KLX230 S should be an agile machine. Oddly, the S version weighs a few pounds more than the standard KLX230, making the ABS edition just a couple pounds shy of 300 pounds with the two-gallon fuel tank topped off.
The ABS version of the KLX230 S gets a larger front disc. The KLX230 S has a 240mm front disc, while the ABS gets a 265mm disc. The ABS system is designed for dual-sport riding, so it should be dirt-friendly.
The motor remains unchanged. The fuel-injected air-cooled SOHC two-valve motor is a simple one that works. We also like the six-speed transmission.
The 2022 Kawasaki KLX230 S has an MSRP of $4799. Add $300 if you want ABS. If you like the Urban Olive Green/Ebony colorway, you will have to get the ABS model. The Lime Green color is available for both versions.
Hello everyone and welcome once again to Ultimate Motorcycling’s weekly Podcast—Motos and Friends.
My name is Arthur Coldwells.
This week’s Podcast is brought to you by Yamaha motorcycles. Discover how the YZF-R7 provides the perfect balance of rider comfort and true supersport performance by checking it out at YamahaMotorsports.com, or see it for yourself at your local dealer.
This week’s episode features Senior Editor Nic de Sena’s impressions of the beautiful new Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST that is loosely based around the original FXRT Sport Glide from the 1980s. Hailing from The Golden State, these cult-status performance machines became known as West Coast style, with sportier suspension, increased horsepower, and niceties including creature comforts such as a tidy fairing and sporty luggage.
In past episodes you might have heard us mention my best friend, Daniel Schoenewald, and in the second segment I chat with him about some of the really special machines in his 170 or so—and growing—motorcycle collection. He’s always said to me that he doesn’t consider himself the owner, merely the curator of the motorcycles for the next generation.
Yet Daniel is not just a collector, but I can attest a really skilled rider. His bikes are not trailer queens, they’re ridden, and they’re ridden pretty hard. Actually, we have had many, many memorable rides on pretty much all of the machines in the collection at one time or another.
From all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!