Kawasaki of Japan has been making competition off-road motorcycles for decades now, with many a world championship winning rider achieving glory on the famously green machines. Known for years as Team Green, a Kawasaki off-road bike will always be one of the very best around; light, fast and nimble. Here are three favourites.
The Kawasaki KX85 is a schoolboy scrambler that’s ready for the top flight of competition. It’s small enough for a teenager to ride, but features many of the racing features found on the bigger, adult Kawasaki racing bikes.
At the heart of the Kawasaki KX85 is an 85cc, 2-stroke single cylinder engine, that’ll make plenty of power for this bike’s lightweight frame, and being a 2-stroke, that power will be instant and raw.
Coupled to the engine is a 6-speed gearbox and a high performance exhaust system, all of it wrapped up in a high tensile steel frame, with an aluminium swingarm, and disc brakes front and rear. As fast and nimble, small Kawasaki motorcycles for UK riders goes, this is one of the best.
The Kawasaki KX250F is a serious step up in competition capability from the little KX85; the 250F is big boy stuff, with serious power and performance. It’s a race-ready 250cc, single cylinder, 4-stroke bike that’s been designed to win races at a high level, if not quite full professional level. With a bit of tuning, however, this bike is ready to run in the professional race classes.
The KX250F gets a gorgeous all-aluminium perimeter frame, with long-travel race-ready suspension at each end, as well as powerful disc brakes and a high performance exhaust system. There are extra, even higher performance parts available for the KX250F from the aftermarket, like stronger handlebars and lightweight engine components. Even so, a standard Kawasaki KX250F only weighs a touch over 100kgs. That’s light!
A very neat trick that the Kawasaki KX250F is capable of is trackside tuning, whereby the engine’s power delivery can be adjusted quickly and easily, to better suit the type of track the race is to run on. Hard mud, wet mud or indeed sand, will all have different traction characteristics, so a switch in the engine map may help the rider gain better grip than his competitors. And having the edge, no matter how small it is, is what it takes to beat the competition, especially in Motocross where the margins of win or lose are so tight.
The Kawasaki KLX450R is a full-size, real-deal enduro racer with a full power 450cc, single cylinder, 4-stroke motor, and seriously rugged suspension and brakes. Designed and built to attack the wilderness, the KLX450R would be almost unstoppable in the right hands. Novice riders would find it somewhat of a handful, however.
Suspension-wise, the KLX450R gets the best that Kawasaki can come up with. Super-wide (48mm) front forks feature a massive 305mm of suspension travel, while the rear Uni-Trak suspension system goes even further with some 315mm of travel. That’s enough bounce to soak up some serious lumps and bumps!
All of that suspension travel means a very tall seat height – 935mm – with some riders no doubt finding the KLX450R too tall for them, while shorter, but more experienced riders, will use their balancing skills to deal with the R’s towering height. A true beast of a Kawasaki motorcycle this one.