New KLX230 vs Honda CRF250L

Discussion in 'Thumpers' started by dcfield, Sep 10, 2019.

  1. dcfield

    dcfield Adventurer

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    I know this is a bit early, as the new Kawasaki model is just getting to US dealers. I still haven't seen any road tests or owner reviews (at least not in English, the bike has been out overseas for a little while).

    But how will it compare to the Honda CRF250L? Both have EFI and optional ABS brakes. The Honda has a slightly larger engine, but it weighs about 40lbs more.

    Could any new KLX230 owners please post their experiences? Anyone have any links to actual reviews? (please don't post "reviews" that just parrot back the Kawasaki press release).

    Meanwhile, any thoughts on how these two bikes might compare? I'll go first - it appears that the factory cargo rack on the KLX230 bolts directly to the main frame, so maybe carrying heavier loads won't result in the cracked subframe issues that CRF250Ls seem prone to.


    BTW - Will the new KLX push Honda into making a CRF300L? Pretty much all Honda would have to do is swap out the crankshaft from a Rebel 300 (they could continue making the 250 for countries with licensing/insurance limits that favor 250's).
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  2. Hamamelis

    Hamamelis Inmate

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    The little KLX looks more aimed at the Yamaha XT250 or DR200 to my eye - the 250L seems to be more at odds with Kawi's own 250, in terms of capability and especially roadworthiness (but that might be my own bias as I use a 250L as a touring bike)
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  3. Rogue_Ryder

    Rogue_Ryder

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    Kawi is currently where Honda was a decade ago with the air cooled 230cc dualsport.
    https://www.topspeed.com/motorcycles/motorcycle-reviews/honda/2009-honda-crf230l-ar68215.html
    you can see some specs on the KLX here:
    https://ultimatemotorcycling.com/2019/06/21/2020-kawasaki-klx230-first-look-11-fast-facts/

    Sure the Kawi 230 has EFI and that may or may not be a benefit depending on your preference. Considering that the 2020 KLX is the same price as the 2009 CRF230L was in 2009 makes it a real bargain!

    RE: The KLX300
    Honda definitely won't be pushed into doing anything due to Kawasaki re-introducing the KLX300 (The 2020 bike is more of a refreshed 1990s era bike than an all new bike); the CRF250X and CRF250RX are already "better" bikes, but they cost far more. For the casual trail rider I honestly think the KLX300 is where the smart money is, Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and KTM don't offer anything that is comparable at that price point. If Consumer Reports rated Dirt Bike it'd be a "Best Buy"; but even as good as it is for the money you won't see them flying out of the dealerships. Most guys want the race bred bikes and will either buy a used KTM for $5500 or finance the $11,000 new race oriented bike and then bitch about spending $1,000 to have the suspension revalved because the racing oriented valving is too harsh.
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  4. afordableperformance

    afordableperformance Been here awhile

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    Rouge has good points and I like EFI so I am glad to see the 230 come out because it also is a 6 speed. The budget suspension may be the deal breaker and I am aware of that, but I am keeping a close eye on the KLX300 as well although I rather it be street legal from the factory. If it were it would most likely be my next bike. For now I will wait and see what they're actually like in person, but the KLX230 is much closer to the CRF230L than the CRF250L for sure which is a KLX250 competitor.

    I don't think Kawasaki believes they're in the same class either. I can see the need for an air cooled EFI like the XT250, the KLX230 is almost a modern Super Sherpa if it had better suspension. Yamaha makes the WR and XT and both sell alright, I know I've had both. The 230 may be better than the XT if its done right. Some people want the simplicity of air cooled engines, so it will do alright since its fairly priced and price sells in a lot of cases. That's why I think the 300 will do well too, not great, just well for the price.
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  5. dcfield

    dcfield Adventurer

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    You may be right. But I'm looking at the fact that Kawasaki didn't just add ABS brakes (required for sales in Europe), but invested in a new ABS system. And they have a decent sized optional cargo rack. This sounds like the makings of a good commuter or weekend camping bike. Of course, they also have only a 2 gal fuel tank, so they weren't aiming at the touring/Adventure bike crowd. Maybe trying for a more dirt capable, lower cost companion to the Versys 300?
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  6. dcfield

    dcfield Adventurer

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    Looks like the top speed is about 110~115 kph. I'd guess the more realistic top cruising speed is closer to 100 kph. So, in American terms, it's going to cruise at 60 mph and top out at 70. Now, maybe the engine wasn't broken in yet, maybe you could gain a little bit by changing a sprocket? But basically it looks 10 mph slower than a CRF250L.

    https://www.bing.com/videos/search?...8C646045E1EE1274551B8C646045E1EE&&FORM=VRDGAR
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  7. dcfield

    dcfield Adventurer

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    Here's a Review I found on YouTube:




    Text version:

    https://www.advpulse.com/adv-bikes/2020-kawasaki-klx230-review/

    It sounds like the KLX230 may only be a bit slower than a CRF250L, with a top speed of 77 mph. Still not sure of it's realistic highway cruising speed or if it would keep up with a CRF either on the street or off-road. Since it weighs less, that might offset having a smaller engine.

    I sat on one at my local dealer. It's noticably smaller than the CRF250L, although it felt just as tall to sit on. It looks like it would be easier to work on, although I haven't seen any details of how to reach the oil filter or if it has shimed or screw and locknut valve adjustment. It certainly seems easier to reach the engine without as many plastic panels in the way. I didn't check the owner's manual for recommended service intervals.
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  8. Wallachian Spikes

    Wallachian Spikes Long timer

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    The rear rack looks like it would be pretty stout but, Kawasaki's web page says the rack is only rated at 6.5LBS. so cracked subframe better not be an issue.
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  9. dcfield

    dcfield Adventurer

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    If it's really limited to 6.5 lbs of cargo, that ends my interest in it. One of my requirements for a bike is that it can be a functional second vehicle. And that means running errands and occasionally going grocery shopping.

    I've never understood why the rear seat is rated to carry a 120 lb passenger, but carrying a gallon of milk and a 5 lb bag of sugar on the factory luggage rack will break the frame on the same bike? I mean, in third world countries, small motorcycles and scooters are used to carry a family of four. They are literally used to carry furniture and livestock.

    cargoscooter.jpg

    Now, obviously, some bikes have a rear sub-frame that was only ever intended to support the rear fender (and tail lights and license plate). And Americans generally use cars and pickup trucks to carry stuff whereas, in many countries, a small motorcycle or scooter may be the only motor vehicle that a family or small business owns.

    But most modern motorcycles are designed to be sold worldwide. And even motorcycles sold in the US would be vastly more practical if they could carry a reasonable amount of cargo. Yeah, yeah, I know. A luggage rack would spoil the looks of your custom cruiser. But dual sport motorcycles, for example, would compete more with ATV's if they could carry a reasonable amount of cargo.
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  10. enewmen

    enewmen Adventurer

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    I also hope to get a clear answer on the cargo capacity (the reasoning) and using the KLX230 as a functional second vehicle.
    I once had a Ninga 250 with a professionally modified to fit luggage rack. Then I loaded it with lots of weight (less than a person's weight) sometimes. Never had a problem.
    6.5lbs seems way to small. I've personally seen people carry a refrigerator on 125cc scooters (while getting 100+mpg).
    If the rack is bolted on the frame and the rack is made of sturdy metal, then I'll just occasionally over-load and go slow over small bumps.
    My guess is the 6.5lb limit is about maximum weight during the most aggressive off-road riding.
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  11. dcfield

    dcfield Adventurer

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    Any owner or actual test ride thoughts on the ABS system? It's supposed to be more "off-road" friendly. But I wouldn't pay extra for ABS to use off road. The reason I want ABS is for paved roads. If you use the bike as a commuter, then you will occasionally get caught in the rain. Especially for a lightweight bike with dual purpose tires, I'll take all the advantages I can get during a panic stop in traffic. Does the "off-road" friendly ABS work just as well on paved roads?

    By the way, how effective are the brakes? It seems like many dual purpose bikes have wimpy front brakes (presumably to help prevent front wheel lockups in the dirt). But with modern ABS systems it seems like you could get a stronger, more street-worthy, front brake and let the ABS prevent front wheel lockups in the dirt?
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  12. David_DR

    David_DR Adventurer

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    Fresh Owner of new KLX 230 here :clapI had no chance to do some test ride yet, because there is still too cold outside in Slovakia. So far I made only few km but I can say now that seat might look too high, but when I sit on it, it goes down for about 50 mm (I am 75 kg). Unfotunately bike is now 600 Km away from me at home, but in 2-3 weeks hopefuly I bring bike here to Pilsen and do some ride on it and try that ABS.

    Attached Files:

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  13. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    Looks like fun!
    Why do they HAVE to put radiator guards on air cooled bikes?
    Big wind drag for nothing.
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  14. dcfield

    dcfield Adventurer

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    Thanks, I look forward to hearing your test ride results.

    btw - The CRF250L that I sat on at the dealer also seemed really tall when I climbed onto it, but it also settled a few inches lower and I had no problem flat footing it. I'm 5'11' (180 cm) and 205 lbs (93 kg). I've never owned a dual purpose bike, but both the CRF and the KLX felt great to sit on left me thinking I'd have much better control over those bikes compared to a street bike.
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  15. Hamamelis

    Hamamelis Inmate

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    I'm 5'10.5" with a 31" inseam and yeah, even on the slightly taller Rally suspension it's pretty manageable - the only time it's ever caught me off guard is on roads with a really exaggerated camber
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  16. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    Do they limit the top speed of the 230 to 77 mph or is it the rev limiter that does it?
    What drives the speedo, the front wheel or the transmission?
    I think I want the 230!

    I have a TW200 which I love for the sand, but the top speed of 60 or so is limiting....
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  17. dcfield

    dcfield Adventurer

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    I'm also interested in the practical top cruising speed. It seems like the CRF250L, for instance, has a theoretical top speed of 80 mph, but a more realistic top highway speed of 70 mph. The KLX230 has a top speed of 77 mph, but I've read magazine reviews that suggest a top cruising speed of 60, 65 mph?

    On the other hand, this is a Kawasaki. The Ninja 250 seemed like one of the few 250's to hold it's own on American freeways. But the KLX230 motor is supposed to be a high torque dirt bike engine, not a high revving sport bike engine. So who knows how it will hold up to extended highway speeds? Someone with more knowledge of engines that I have will need to answer that...
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  18. dankatz

    dankatz Been here awhile

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    I have a CRF250L and a CRF230L. The 250 is set up as supermoto with 17" wheels, fmf pipe and header as well as EJK. The KLX230L I sat on at the motorcycle show felt closer in height to the CRF250l than the CRF230l which is consistent with the published spec. It is smaller than the 250 physically and 25 lbs lighter. I think it's closest competitor is really the xt250, both in power and size. The way my 250L is setup makes 50% more power than the 230l. But, my 230L is 267lb wet weight vs close to 320 (likely less with FMF). I can cruise at 75 on the 250 with the same comfort as 65 on the 230l. In all honesty, I suspect the Kawasaki 230l would likely cruise at 65 mph without too many issues. It is limited to 77 mph from what I read. I also read that the engine is smooth. Having owned a super sherpa in the past, I can say that engine was very smooth - much more than the crf230L. For comparison, I am a lightweight at close to 145 lbs and 5'7". My crf230L is set up for offroad with 90% offroad DOT tires. I find it small, light and fun. The KLX230L should be similar.
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  19. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    If a bike will run 70 mph without blowing up, its good around here.
    My dirt riding is very local so my current TW200 is great, but if I want to jump on a 55 mph road to get to another good dirt spot, everyone does 60 at least.
    The TW is about maxed out at 60 and spinning the motor really fast, but I would not want to gear it up any taller then I have in the dirt.
    The XT250 I had was fine, it would do 70 or more without issue but the suspension was really bad.
    I would really love a 6 speed trans. And better suspension.
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  20. dcfield

    dcfield Adventurer

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    I live in East Texas. There are 55 mph stretches of road in town (that many people drive 60 on). Every major road out of town has a 65 to 70 mph speed limit. While I'd be perfectly happy sightseeing at 50 mph myself, I don't want to be constantly tailgated and/or passed by impatient drivers. It's safer to at least be able to keep up with the flow of traffic. Having a little extra beyond that to maneuver out of a bad situation would be nice.

    The KLX230 seems perfect for exploring quiet back roads. I just don't want to get run over trying to get to the quiet back roads.
    #20