Duck into the trails on Sunday, commute in the city on Monday – we test out the newest bike in the Kawasaki range
Story and photography Matt Bernard
The Kawasaki KLX150L is the newest bike in the Kawasaki range. Designed for soft trails with a low seat height and an easy-to-use engine, the KLX150L hits that CRF230L or TT-R125 market but with a twist: it’s registrable.
The KLX is sitting on full-size dirt wheels — 21-inch front, 18-inch rear — and a 144cc easy-to-use and reliable engine. The bike features disc brakes and electric start.
Who needs one?
Obviously this bike isn’t a hard-core dirt bike and Kawasaki has made no claims of that with its inner-city commuter-style vibe and marketing. This bike is designed as a cheap-to-buy, cheap-to-run runabout commuter, with the option to hit some dirt on the weekends. The 144cc engine isn’t going to cut it on the wide open road as it taps out at around 95km/h, and that’s with the thing tapped. I’m a big guy; you’d squeeze it to around 100km/h on the tar with a light rider.
I see this bike as an excellent introduction to trailriding. Its low seat height will appeal to the girlfriend, who then has the option to take it for a ride to the shops or to the local cafe. I can imagine seeing plenty of these parked around cafes in the city.
The KLX150L is cheap. Really cheap. The introductory offer of $4899 ride away will certainly appeal to those looking for a cheap commuter motorcycle. It looks a lot cooler than a scooter too. The KLX150L features a seven-litre tank and is a super-efficient bike at around 2.9l per 100km. If you’re paying $1.60 a litre for fuel, you’d be looking at round $11 to travel over 200km. That’s a lot of trips to and from uni.
In the Dirt
It’s not designed to dart through single-trail and launch logs, but the option is there for some fun off-road. It’s a good option for a short bloke looking to start out, or the misses who is keen for some fun on the trails but has limited experience. Up front, you’ll find 33mm telescopic forks with 17hmm of travel. The Uni-Trak shock is five-way adjustable for pre-load to allow some room for adjustability depending on the rider’s size. Disc brakes front and rear is another welcome addition, as is the five-speed gear box for when those speeds are a little higher.
Twisting the throttle isn’t going to produce a hunk of horsepower, but initially you are treated to a fairly prompt acceleration curve. By the time you’re at around 80-90km the KLX is starting to tap out, but this is not something that’s going to hold back potential buyers. The riding position is quite comfortable and even for someone of my height (175cm) it’s not ridiculously cramped. The bike has been designed to accommodate a range of sizes, but the vertically challenged among us will be most comfortable in the cockpit.
For what this bike is designed to do, it does it well. It’s a great run-about bike and the option is there to hit the dirt when the chance arises. For $4899 brand-new ride away, there’s not much wrong with this bike.
Engine type Air-cooled, 4-stroke Single
Displacement 144 cm³
Bore and Stroke 58.0 x 54.4 mm
Compression ratio 9.5:1
Valve system SOHC, 2 valves
Carburettor Keihin NCV24
Ignition digital DC-CDI
Lubrication Forced lubrication, wet sump
Transmission 5-speed, return
Weight: 115kg (all fluids and fuel)
Front suspension 33mm telescopic fork
Rear suspension Uni-Trak single gas shock with 5-way spring preload adjustment
Front brake 240mm disc brake
Rear brake 190mm disc brake
RRP $4899 – Ride away introductory offer