Remember the Honda XR and Suzuki DR performance off-road bikes? As four strokes took over the motocross market, the old trail bikes went away, replaced by motocross-based four-stroke off-roaders. That's good news at the top, because bikes in KTM's XC-F line, Yamaha's FX line, and Honda's RX line make awesome four-stroke off-road racing machines.
But not everyone wants to go racing, or needs the most expensive, maintenance intensive, fastest lightest bike around. What about fast enough, fun enough, cheap enough? Kawasaki has an all-new bike that bridges the gap between foo-foo trail bikes and real off-road racers via the KLX300R.
This isn't a KX250 motocrosser with a big-bore kit. It's completely different, using a steel perimeter frame wrapped around a new 292cc liquid-cooled fuel-injected electric start engine and a six-speed gearbox. There's an upside-down 43mm fork, a Uni-Track linkage hooked to the rear shock, and 11.2 inches of travel on both ends. Disc brakes are mounted on both ends, and the perimeter frame allows for a low 36.4 inch seat height even with decent suspension travel and full-sized tires and wheels.
This bike retails for $5,499, which is $2,300 less than a KX250 motocrosser. One concern: Kawasaki lists the weight at 282 pounds. How heavy will it actually feel when riding, though? We'll see.
I hope there's a market for this bike. It's not a backyard play bike, it's not a motocrosser or an off-road racer. It appears like it might just be a good, solid dirt bike. Honda's old XR line was legendary for being fun and reliable, and found plenty of homes for decades. The street bike market has recently proven that less specialized and more generalized machines can be successful. Can that work again in the dirt? We shall see, and of course a lot of that will depend on how this bike performs. But credit to Kawasaki for trying something new, and investing in a new segment of the market.
Kawasaki's full KLX300R press release is below:
The all-new Kawasaki KLX®300R off-road motorcycle bridges the gap between a weekend play bike and a full race bike. As the leader of the KLX® lineup, the KLX300R combines the best of both engine and chassis performance to create the ultimate lightweight, fun off-road machine. Taking cues from the KX line and Kawasaki’s racing heritage, this 2020 off- road motorcycle has been designed to ensure that there is an affordable, capable, and durable motorcycle in the KLX lineup for every rider in the family to get out and attack the trail.
- ALL-NEW292 cc liquid-cooled four-stroke engine with DOHC and fuel-injection
- ALL-NEW perimeter, high tensile steel frame
- ALL-NEW long travel suspension
- ALL-NEW large diameter wheels (21”/18”)
The KLX300R was designed and built to be a lightweight and easily maneuverable motorcycle for riders who aren’t looking for a full-time race machine. Utilizing a powerful, fuel-injected, liquid-cooled engine design along with the tried and true easy handling semi-double cradle frame design helps to keep the KLX300R compact, while the balance between the engine and frame results in optimal trail performance.
A smooth and powerful 292cc fuel-injected, liquid-cooled four-stroke engine and easy handling, semi-double cradle frame were designed with reliability and durability for trail riding. Full-size wheels, long-travel suspension, ample ground clearance and large diameter front and rear disc brakes all contribute to the off-road capability of the KLX300R motorcycle, as well as featuring KX-inspired styling and ergonomics for agile handling in a variety of conditions.
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION
- ALL-NEW292 cc fuel-injected, liquid-cooled four-stroke engine
- ALL-NEW electric start
- ALL-NEW six speed transmission
The new liquid-cooled 4-stroke engine is fuel-injected, delivering a crisp response, quick-revving nature, and strong low-end torque. The engine has a bore and stroke of 78.0 x 61.2 mm, with a displacement of 292 cc. A four-valve DOHC cylinder head design provides maximum valve area for optimum flow. The pentroof combustion chamber yields an 11.1:1 compression ratio, while utilizing a lightweight piston, pin, and connecting rod allow power producing revs. Thanks to the use of an efficient cam design, a low reciprocating weight was achieved while also increasing efficiency at high rpm. Cam profiles and intake port design contribute to the smooth, quick-revving engine character.
The reliable and durable fuel injection system utilizes a 34 mm throttle body and a fine atomizing 10-hole injector, which delivers a precise response for optimal control. With fuel injection, fuel delivery is consistent regardless of outside air temperature or elevation. It also ensures excellent starting characteristics, whether the engine is hot or cold, and contributes to clean emissions. Together with fuel injection, electric start offers hassle-free starting at the push of a button.
Performance and durability were top of mind when designing the engine of the KLX300R motorcycle. Features like a piston skirt were designed to minimize contact with the cylinder wall, hard Nikasil plating on the cylinder bore, and wider connecting rod big-end bearings were utilized for increased reliability. Dual high-capacity radiators, similar to those used on KX motocross bikes, deliver superior cooling efficiency. The radiators are very slim and feature a tightly packed core and fin configuration for excellent heat dispersion. An all-stainless steel exhaust system with a honeycomb catalyzer, located in the silencer, keeps emissions clean. The silencer is fitted with a spark arrestor, which allows access to riding areas where required.
The smooth-shifting six-speed transmission offers a gear for different riding situations, and is particularly effective when riding on long straightaways. A short final gearing ratio of 50/14 complements the engine’s low-mid range focus, enabling riders to continue moving forward when navigating off-road trails.
- ALL-NEW high tensile steel perimeter frame and aluminium swingarm
- ALL-NEW 43 mm inverted telescopic long travel fork
- ALL-NEW Uni-Trak® long travel suspension
The frame of the KLX300R is a lightweight semi-double cradle frame, which has served as the base design for countless Kawasaki off-road machines. The latest evolution of this proven frame delivers the durability to handle hard off-road riding, while rigidity is optimized for trail riding.
The boxed tubular-section high-tensile steel perimeter frame creates a slim, lightweight package with a 26.9º rake and short wheelbase, which contributes to quick handling and optimized frame rigidity. Equipped with 12” of ground clearance, the KLX300R enables riders to more easily navigate the trail. A new, lightweight extruded aluminum swingarm contributes to the desired rigidity balance of the KLX300R, while the D-section arms add to the motorcycle’s good looks.
Long-travel suspension front and rear greatly contribute to the KLX300R’s ability to soak up bumps on the trail. A large, 43 mm inverted telescopic fork handles suspension duties up front, with 11.2” of travel to take on rougher terrain. The fork settings take advantage of the long travel, using a lower spring rate to allow damping to work over a wider stroke range, providing a very stable front end feeling.
At the rear, Uni-Trak® suspension configuration with 11.2” of wheel travel provides great holding ability and bump absorption, with settings that contribute to light, nimble handling. The single rear shock absorber with piggyback reservoir is adjustable for rebound and compression damping, as well as preload, allowing riders to set the bike up to best suit their preference and weight.
WHEELS & BRAKES
- Large diameter wheels
- Large diameter disc brakes
- Large brake master cylinders
- Dunlop MX52 tires
Full-size aluminum wheels, measuring 21” at the front and 18” at the rear, make it easy to navigate the trails, greatly contributing to trail-riding performance. The wheels are equipped with new Dunlop MX52 tires for optimal handling and traction.
A large diameter 270 mm front disc is gripped by a twin-piston caliper, utilizing the same size disc found on the full-size KX models, which offer strong, highly controllable braking. Slowing the rear is a large 240 mm disc, gripped by a single-piston caliper. Both front and rear brake master cylinders are based on tried and true pieces from the other models in the Kawasaki off-road lineup.
- ERGO-FIT® adjustable handle positions
- KX-inspired ergonomics
- Adjustable brake lever position
Similar to the Kawasaki KX™450 and KX™250, the all-new KLX300R features bodywork designed to facilitate easy rider movement. The slim design of the frame and bodywork help the rider grip the bike for increased control, while the KX-inspired seat design offers great freedom of movement for off-road riding. All of this is complemented by the ERGO-FIT® four-way adjustable handlebar components, allowing for a personalized fit during relaxed riding or when pushing hard on the trails. Thanks to the compact design of the KLX300R, a seat height of 36.4” was achieved. The seat uses a slip-resistant top surface to facilitate grip when seated and smooth sides for easy mobility. Brake lever position is also adjustable, offering riders the ability to set the position to suit their hand size and preference.
STYLING & INSTRUMENTATION
- KX™-inspired styling
The KLX300R motorcycle takes its styling cues from Kawasaki’s KX motocross line-up, sharing several key styling elements with the KX250, giving the KLX300R an agile, aggressive image to match its trail-riding prowess. A 2.1 gallon fuel tank allows the good times to keep rolling over the course of a long day.
The motorcycle includes an ON/OFF button, power indicator lamp, low-fuel warning lamp, and FI warning lamp.
Riders can personalize their KLX300R motorcycle to meet their needs, with numerous Kawasaki Genuine Accessories to choose from, such as: hand covers, handlebar pad, and oversize bar.
Color: Lime Green
Availability: Late Summer 2019
All images: Courtesy of Kawasaki