2023 Kawasaki KLX230 S Evaluate – First Journey


Entry degree dual-sport has for a really very long time existed within the void between classes, significantly when you think about of us who’re shorter within the inseam. All of us want to begin someplace, however for many who didn’t develop up driving, or possibly began solely on avenue bikes, the fact is that the entry-level engine measurement is usually mixed with the lack to comfortably contact the bottom at a cease. That’s sufficient to discourage all however probably the most cussed of vertically challenged riders. Kawasaki is hoping to vary this with the 2023 Kawasaki KLX230 S.

Usually, entry-level dual-sport bikes with decrease seats are compelled into compromises to attain the specified lowness, akin to utilizing smaller wheels, underpowered engines, and really fundamental suspension. Whereas that is useful initially, riders usually develop out of the bike’s capabilities in a short time, and the bike begins holding them again from the abilities they may have been studying on one thing extra suited to a greater variety of terrain or the flexibility to attain larger speeds. 

DANG, what a cool bike.

Enter the Kawasaki KLX230 S. By equipping it with full measurement wheels (21 within the entrance 18 within the rear), the identical KLX230 motor as the usual top model, and a full 2-inch decrease seat top made doable by changes to the suspension top and chassis, Kawasaki is definitely making a play to fill that void. Whereas the bottom clearance is a bit lower than the usual mannequin – about eight inches vs 10 inches – one might argue that you just don’t see enduro fashion obstacles on simply accessible trails. Newbie and even some intermediate riders don’t usually make the most of the bike in such a solution to require the additional suspension journey anyhow. 

The KLX 230 S moved seamlessly from asphalt backroads to grime twin monitor and again to freeway once more.

Whereas the usual KLX230 comes with out ABS, it’s a $300 possibility on the KLX230 S that permits the rear ABS to be simply disabled with the maintain of a button on the left facet management housing.There’s a non-ABS 230 S mannequin provided, although restricted solely to the flagship Kawasaki inexperienced and white livery. Though the ABS does reset when the bike is cycled off, its simply accessible brilliant purple button makes for a fast reminder to regulate: merely cease the bike and maintain the button for just a few seconds.

The rear ABS button can’t be missed on the left facet controls.

Is that this the reply to the intro-dual-sport query? For a lot of new riders, completely. We had been capable of take a look at this bike on quite a lot of terrain, from disintegrated asphalt on a twisty canyon street to a typical rocky ridgeline path, contemporary slick mud, and even free gravel. I opted to not change off the ABS for any of the driving portion, desirous to see how the bike would reply to my still-slightly-learning response occasions. The one time I felt the ABS interact on the rear was after I was deliberately slamming the rear brake on roadside gravel. On the path, I didn’t discover it hindering me in any approach, and after studying that Kawasaki had deliberately calibrated the ABS sensors for dual-sport use, it was clear that for the beginner-to-average rider, it might be useful in most typical driving conditions. 

Whereas I (fortunately) didn’t get an opportunity to select this bike up off the bottom, I used to be fairly impressed with how balanced it felt. Maneuvering it to show round on a decent path was simple as a result of the bike didn’t really feel too high heavy or cumbersome. The low 32.7-inch seat top meant that stopping or dismounting on uneven terrain wasn’t as perilous because it might have been. As an alternative, it instilled confidence in my skill to pause as one other rider cleared a rocky part and made it simple to hop off the bike to take a look at line choices. For my 28-inch inseam and brief arm size, I felt proper at residence on this bike. I’ve spent appreciable time on an analogous dual-sport at residence – my 2021 Yamaha TW200. The distinction between these was evident in just a few methods, particularly the engine energy and the dealing with. Whereas I’m accustomed to the TW’s fats tires absorbing a lot of the terrain on trails, the suspension on the KLX made fast work of any line I took, whether or not intentional or not. 

The suspension on the 230 S is exclusive to this mannequin particularly: as a way to scale back the seat top with out compromising the geometry and dealing with of the bike, Kawasaki developed a progressive spring for the rear, “made particularly [with] lighter and smaller riders in thoughts.” Whereas the suspension itself is shortened, in each the entrance and rear, the capabilities of the spring itself are refined. For individuals who are new to off-road (like myself), dialogue about tweaking compression or rebound usually appears like one other language. To place it into phrases which are a bit extra digestible for suspension-illiterate riders like myself:  the rear spring is a two half spring with nearly all of the spring reacting to the everyday weight and velocity wanted for common off-road driving, the second extra tightly coiled a part of the spring comes into play if you ask a bit extra of the suspension. At a taller impediment or drop off or possibly hitting a rocky part at the next velocity, the tighter coil offers extra resistance and prevents the suspension from utterly bottoming out. 

Intro-level riders gained’t be intimidated by the even throttle response and easy braking.

The 233cc four-stroke engine delivers regular energy from the get-go. First gear lends sufficient low finish oomph to tiptoe over rocks and thru ruts with out dropping momentum, and a hesitant rider gained’t be startled by clicking up into larger gears when the path smooths out. Hopping on the freeway for brief sprints isn’t too painful both. Crusing alongside at a gentle 65-70, the bike felt planted and secure with room within the throttle to maneuver in a pinch. The 2-gallon tank offers loads of vary, averaging a claimed 85-90 miles with a mixture of on and off-road use. 

The Battle Gray colorway is a horny selection, standing out within the sea of candy-colored choices. Notable upgrades for the 2023 KLX 230 S line are the streamlined LED headlight meeting and housing and lockable toolbox situated within the left facet cowl. For individuals who prefer to preserve instruments useful and your backpack free for snacks, this can be a compartment that ought to come commonplace on all dual-sports. 

Does this bike do the correct issues for newer riders? Completely. When a bike is designed with a specific rider in thoughts, it actually does stand out in its class. An important factor to a more moderen rider is how snug they really feel with the fundamentals. Generally, we neglect that learners spend extra time beginning and stopping, with pausing to evaluate the path being a part of the educational expertise. The decrease seat top on the KLX 230 S instills rapid confidence and is bound to make a world of distinction for many who have spent extra path time panicking about discovering a fair spot or useful rock to steadiness on. 

For this 5’4” rider, the lowered seat top lends simply sufficient room to the touch floor on each side.

Whereas some could argue that scuffling with bike top is a part of the educational curve of grime driving, I’d love to chop it out utterly. My very own off-road studying expertise was briefly halted as a result of I couldn’t discover a bike I felt snug driving by myself, and it was solely via chasing down a smaller bike that I used to be capable of construct some confidence and slowly work my solution to some actual expertise. The 2023 Kawasaki KLX230 S dual-sport was function constructed with smaller riders in thoughts, with out chopping out the necessary elements of its KLX lineage for a MSRP of $4,999 ($5,299 ABS).


We’re dedicated to discovering, researching, and recommending the very best merchandise. We earn commissions from purchases you make utilizing the retail hyperlinks in our product evaluations. Study extra about how this works.

Turn out to be a Motorbike.com insider. Get the newest motorbike information first by subscribing to our e-newsletter right here.