This past summer I decided to get back to my roots and jump back into dual sport riding. While riding my Triumph Tiger 900 has been great I was looking for something that was smaller and lighter that I could take into some more technical terrain here in the South Carolina Low Country. Now, some of you are thinking why I ended up with a small Kawasaki KLX 230 and nothing bigger in the 300-400cc range and why not something that’s orange? Well, the main reason why I chose the KLX 230 was I wanted something that was cheap, light weight, and beginner friendly.
The Kawasaki KLX 230 isn’t a fire breathing monster not by a long shot, but it is a dual sport motorcycle that a newer rider as well as an experienced rider could have some fun on. With a whopping 20 horsepower the single cylinder 4 stroke is quite peppy on and off pavement and it has a fairly gentle torque curve and with a six-speed transmission that’s nice and smooth. In terms of suspension, it has 37mm forks up front with a shock with adjustable preload in the back. Out of the box the KLX 230’s suspension isn’t too bad and while it is soft, I didn’t notice any under sprung issues with the rear shock like the newer Honda CRF 300L. As for the pivotal seat height question that is often asked with dual sports, the KLX 230’s was 32.9 inches which is one of the shortest ones on the market right now which makes the Kawasaki very attractive to shorter riders.
My experience riding the Kawasaki KLX 230 it was fairly positive. I had the KLX 230 for about two months and put it through several different forms of riding. I rode it around Charleston as a commuter and it did quite well in this role. The KLX 230 had plenty of power and agility to get through congested streets and ally’s downtown and it was kind of fun on the cobblestone and brick roads. I was able to top it out at 70 miles an hour and while it could do it the KLX felt more at home in the 55-60 mile an hour range. The KLX’s two-gallon fuel tank gave me roughly 130 miles on a tank of gas for an average of 65 miles per gallon which wasn’t too bad for commuting or a day riding off road. As for off road riding, I took the KLX 230 into Francis Marion National Forest where it performed greatly on dirt and gravel forest roads. I did take the KLX 230 on some two track and single-track trails and weighing in at roughly 300 pounds the little KLX took on everything I could throw at it…even some deep rutted puddles that could swallow a Jeep. For a small basic dual sport, the KLX 230 showed that you don’t need lots of power or an expensive suspension to have fun.
While my time with the Kawasaki KLX 230 was brief I enjoyed it. For the MSRP of $4,800 dollars for a non-ABS model it’s a good little dual sport that you can have a lot of fun on. It’s also incredibly tame where a new rider wouldn’t feel intimidated, and an experienced rider would feel right at home. Is it the ultimate dual sport motorcycle? Not by a long shot but for something that’s light weight, cheap, and easy to ride it’s hard to not consider Kawasaki’s newest dual sport offering.