2022 KLX230R S
A Proven Displacement Without The Carb
- Smooth power delivery
- Planted, stable feeling
- Bottom end pull gives a tractor-like feel
- Suspension bottoms easily
- Very sit-down friendly ergonomics set up
- Can feel wide when standing
- Based off the KLX230R, but with a shorter seat height.
- Fully capable trail bike.
For years, the formula for an inexpensive full size trail bike was to build around a reliable, air- cooled 230cc engine. The bikes in this category tended to come with conventional forks, a low seat height, and a carburetor to keep costs down. The KLX230R S follows many of these old trends, coming with an even shorter seat height than the regular 230R. However, the KLX traded in the carburetor for some 21st century fuel injection. So how does getting rid of the carburetor change this trail bike?
No changes from the 2021 KLX230R S.
- Torquey bottom end that flattens out as RPMs build.
- Easy, unintimidating power.
The fuel injected, air cooled 233cc engine comes with the power typical of air cooled 230’s. Most of its meat and potatoes is in the low end of the powerband with a mellow mid pull and flattens out as the RPMs build. It is an easy package to ride that won’t intimidate you as you twist the throttle. The power in the bottom end is easy to use and won’t startle newer riders while giving more experienced riders something to use. Sudden twists of the throttle result in the RPMs increasing, but the bike won’t pull forward unexpectedly.
The 6 speed transmission is spaced well, with first not giving the bike too much bite while allowing it to crawl up most obstacles and 2nd through 5th were spaced nicely. 6th gear is very tall and allowed the rider to get to speeds that quite frankly the bike had a harder time handling due to the suspension bottoming out. We found ourselves riding this bike in 5th gear most of the time for this reason. Making shifts on the KLX is easy and smooth, something our beginner test riders were grateful for, which adds to the easy to ride characteristic of this motorcycle.
Overall, the KLX230R S has a very friendly engine and transmission, we feel this package would appeal to a variety of riders looking for an easy ride or a step-up machine from their smaller bike. We know from experience that it is also a great power delivery for new riders because we taught beginners on the KLX and they appreciated its mellow feeling.
- Very, very soft.
- Setup for smaller riders (hence the short seat height).
By far our biggest complaint with this bike is its suspension. Both the forks and the shock seem to be set up for someone much lighter than an adult or older teenager. All of our test riders experienced the forks and shock bottom out quickly and unexpectedly. Even when we were riding this bike slowly and not aggressively, we would still accidentally bottom out the forks and the shock. Even our lightest test rider at 150 lbs was also running into this bottoming situation. It reminded some test riders of the suspension you’d get from a 110 or 125F.
Knowing who this bike is for, we decided to adjust our line selections and ride the bike even slower to get a feel for the suspension. When it’s not bottoming out, the forks are quite plush and make for a comfortable ride, it absorbs smaller bumps without leading to an unstable feeling. The shock compliments the forks well and has a very similar feeling. They are just above being springy, the damping and spring rates are minimal. Those who are heavier may want stiffer springs even when taking this bike out on the trail. And kids prone to jumping things may need to look at another bike.
Chassis - Handling
- Comfortable ergonomics when sitting.
- Stable and predictable.
Kawasaki’s tend to have comfortable ergonomics, especially when it comes to the rider triangle. The KLX230R S is no different as long as you are sitting down, the rider triangle on this bike rewards sitting down. From the bend of the seat to the rake of the triple clamps, this bike is borderline uncomfortable to stand up on in stock trim due to a wide feeling from the shrouds and gas tank. When you are sitting down, the KLX230R S just seems to work better as it feels more comfortable, stable, and planted in any situation. We also found that the suspension wouldn’t bottom out nearly as much since we were forced to ride slower as a consequence of not standing up. You’ll be happier and the bike will be happier when you sit down and take a nice, easy ride down the trail. It’s worth noting that since this bike does boast a shorter seat height, smaller beginner/novice level riders tend to spend more time sitting than standing, and when they do stand, they aren’t always getting a lot of height out of it making this a non-issue for some.
As previously mentioned, the tank and the shrouds give the KLX a wide feeling that you really feel when you are standing up. When standing up, I found myself needing to adjust my feet to be wider on the footpegs. There are those who will say the wide feeling is a bad thing, but it does come with some benefits. The KLX230R S is a very stable and predictable bike to ride. Be it in a straight line or in a turn, not once did this bike step out of line or slide unexpectedly. It is confidence inspiring for newer riders to trust that your bike will handle exactly like you want in any situation.
Kawasaki did a good job with the setup of the KLX230R S for street riders looking for a dirt bike. Typically they will enjoy the set up and the shorter seat height that this S model features. However, it is worth mentioning that the curve of the lower seat made it awkward for some with short legs and aren’t the most flexible to get on and off. Other aspects of this bike follow the theme of being easy to ride. Both the front and rear brakes are strong without being touchy for newer riders and the clutch pull was smooth, consistent, and didn’t require adjusting when going on longer rides.
- Good option for those looking for a smaller trail bike.
- Very beginner/novice friendly.
At the end of the day, the KLX230R S serves as a good option for riders looking for a trail bike with a short seat height. Riders coming from the street will appreciate the rider triangle that favors sitting down, and newer riders will enjoy the easy to ride power. Young riders who aren’t racing or getting crazy air can appreciate this as a step up machine when they outgrow their 110 or four stroke 125s. The suspension and rider triangle may hold the KLX230R S back from being a good play bike option for more aggressive riders wanting a bike to practice on, but for those new to dirt or new to motorcycles entirely, you can’t go wrong with the KLX230R S.
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