The Kawasaki KLX140 is here to demonstrate that a bike doesn’t necessarily need to be big in order to deliver potent power, especially when we’re talking about playbikes destined to every single one of us.
For Kawasaki the birth of a new playbike (definitely in the race for the best) involves the extensive work of people who had the best results in this domain. Young test riders, pro racers and Kawasaki motocross engineers all gave their best and contributed at delivering a playbike which would properly accommodate its rider, charm him with a high-revving engine, and then prove its best with the help of the suspension.
But the Kawasaki KLX140 has born in a rough world with stiff competition coming from everywhere. Honda is famous for its user-friendly CRF machines and the 150F model is a very good representative of the line. Featuring smooth power delivery and plush suspension, the CRF150F only needed to steer sharply and it was ready to go. For 2008, the Honda has a narrower seat height, electric starting, and it is individualized with the help of its 149cc four-stroke engine and a five-speed gearbox. We do have to give credit to this red little beast.
Even though a bit smaller, the Suzuki RM125 still manages to keep its wheels rolling against the Kawasaki and Honda. It doesn’t feature disc brakes, but except that it completes with all the requirements for such a battle: it is lightweight, handles great, dispose of quick-revving engine which is electrically started and a smooth-operating tranny. For 2008, the RM is a stylistic replica of RM-Z bikes that really stand out on the motocross tracks.
Fighting more with the Suzuki that with the Kawasaki or with the Honda, the Yamaha TT-R125E features a low seat height, electric starting and relies on its 124cc air-cooled SOHC 4-stroke; 2 valves engine to take it high on the success scale. As all of the previously mentioned bikes, the Yamy features a five-speed gearbox that properly values the power coming from the little thumper.
It may not be a motocross bike but it sure looks like one! With a pretty high front fender, KX-like shrouds and an aggressive-looking number plate, the KLX140 is easy to be recognized, but what goes on next really defines the bike. The entire bodywork is built to speak about the bike’s character and to remind us about those KX motocross bikes. The side decals are a nice finishing touch and complete what all that plastic started. Between the plastics we’ll find the two-tone seat height talking more and more about the beloved KX models.
The bike ends with a sharp-looking rear fender only that in this case it is complemented by the way the exhaust system ends. Stylish! Also looking good are the petal disc brakes which were created that way for efficient cooling, cleaning, and less unsprung weight.
Riders will surely appreciate the way this bike looks and the younger ones will start talking about love at first sight and twist of throttle (more on that later).
Lime Green paintjob gives personality to Kawasaki motocross and off-road bikes so this one had to make no exception, and it didn’t. You’ll have a hard time trying to distinguish it from the KX100 let’s say.
On the race track or on the trails, the Kawasaki KLX140 is truly enjoyable and easy to ride no matter if you’ve just started to ride or you’ve done more than a few years of riding. You will definitely feel at home on this new KLX, but be careful not to confuse it with a KX as it inspires the footpegs and grips from it.
You will have to complete with the starting “ritual” before you get going because this motorcycle is not fitted with a kick starter. Starting the bike requires hitting the on switch, pulling the choke, and than hit the electric start button and get on with the fun. However, the orange LED gets your attention if you’ve stopped the engine but forgot to hit the electrical power off.
Once you’ve got the thumper going the fun begins and it is very likely you won’t feel like getting off of it. I first tested the bike in the environment where it will be most often used, the trails. This is where I noticed that the 144cc, four-stroke, SOHC, two-valve single enjoys being revved and this makes it perfect for when extra power and torque are needed. The power delivery is smooth and predictable so beginners won’t feel surprised on any given moment.
Riding the Kawasaki KLX140 wouldn’t have been the same without the five-speed gearbox attached to it. I enjoyed changing the gears and discovering how the small thumper pulls in each one of them. First and second gears are fairly short and I had the best time while I was riding in third and forth. Of course, when you’re chasing your palls the fifth gear will surely come in handy and at around 10,000 rpm you will hit around 75 mph.
Out on the trails, the suspensions fully adjustable prove efficient, but the riding isn’t that intensive. You will appreciate the plush feel and never require more than they have to offer concerning rebound damping. I certainly didn’t but keep in mind the fact that I was still on the trails.
This bike will be no stranger to motocross circuits either so I took it on such a circuit for more than a spin or two. It performs awesome and the soft suspension tuned for the trails are still efficient and well performing.
The small torquer is also perfect for the track but what I most appreciated was the way this bike maneuvers thanks to its low center of gravity. Kawasaki engineers have definitely done their job on this one, and the bike takes corners brilliantly. There is a healthy throttle response when exiting a second or third gear corner and you will be ready for a big jump in no time.
Nobody will feel disappointed with the KLX140, starting with 10 year olds or fully grown adults so I strongly recommend you to take this one in consideration as it will complete with more than one purpose.
Big bucks are not needed in order to get your bottom on one of these bikes as they come with a suggested retail price of $2,699. Considering the way the bike looks, feels and performs it won’t be a mistake to call it a bargain, but I prefer naming it this way for those 144cc that it displaces and for the fact that it can easily be bored out and obtain extra horses.
Once the fresh owner of a KLX140 will first swing its leg off of it will surely find the “Let the good times roll!” words as being the most appropriate to mark the beginning of a beautiful friendship. It will dedicate those words to the blast it just experienced and the single thought in his mind will be to do it again and again and again…
Engine and Transmission
Type: Four-stroke, SOHC, two-valve single
Bore x stroke: 58.0 x 54.4mm
Compression ratio: 9.5:1
Carburetion: Keihin PB20
Transmission: Five-speed with wet multi-disc manual clutch
Final drive: Chain
Chassis and Dimensions
Frame: High-Tensile steel, box-section perimeter
Rake / trail: 27 degrees / 3.3 in.
Front suspension / wheel travel: 33mm telescopic fork / 7.1 in.
Rear suspension / wheel travel: Swingarm with single hydraulic shock / 4.2 in. (KLX140) UNI-TRAK® linkage system and single shock with 5-way preload adjustability / 7.1 in.
Front tire: 70/100-17
Rear tire: 90/100-14
Front brake: Single 220mm petal disc with a dual-piston caliper
Rear brake: Single 186mm petal disc with single-piston caliper
Overall length: 71.7 in.
Overall width: 31.1 in.
Overall height: 41.3 in.
Ground clearance: 9.3 in.
Seat height: 30.7 in.
Dry weight: 194
Wheelbase: 49.6 in.
Fuel capacity: 1.5 gal.
Color: Lime Green
Warranty: 6 months base warranty
Reliable & easy to use engine:
New 144 cc air-cooled single-cylinder engine offers a lightweight power plant that is both simple to operate and to maintain
Bore and stroke of 58.0 x 54.4mm
Engine revs easily and allows riders to use the full range of the engine up to the rev limiter at 10,500 rpm
Exhaust pipe is curved to achieve optimum length for good power character yet remain unobtrusive
Quiet-running muffler comes equipped with a USFS approved spark arrester, meaning the KLX140/140L can access designated public off-road riding areas
Oil-moistened air-filter is washable, reusable, highly effective in dusty situations and easily serviced
Starting is via a (keyless) electric starter button just in front of the upper triple clamp
Starter button features an orange LED light activated when the button is depressed, indicating that the power is “ON”
Digital CDI ignition helps ensure quick, reliable starting
Based on the oval piston-valve Keihin PB20, the carburetor features several Kawasaki-original modifications to provide stable fuel delivery under rough off-road conditions
Partitions in the float chamber keep the fuel from sloshing excessively and an umbrella around the main jet traps fuel when jumping
Dual air vents help provide a stable fuel supply and eliminate hesitation, even when the bike is at extreme lean angles
Needle valve is suspended on a spring which acts like a shock absorber
Float is rubber instead of plastic
Close gear ratios help the acceleration performance of the KLX
Like the KX models, the shift lever features a ball bearing to ease shifting and has a folding tip for less damage in a crash
Progressive manual clutch:
Manual clutch offers young riders the chance to master clutch engagement and gear shifting
A spring damper in the clutch gives it a 2-stage engagement that permits half-clutch use when riding at extremely low rpm or idling speeds and helps provide direct clutch feel and better durability
Box-section perimeter frame:
Ready for the off-road abuse, the highly rigid, KX-inspired high-tensile steel perimeter frame also uses the same upper tubes as the KLX250S
Aluminum swingarm offers both light weight and strength and a hairline finish like on the KX machines
KX-style chain adjusters allow precise adjustment of the chain
33mm telescopic front fork has spring rates and damping settings specific to each model
KLX140 rear shock features 5-way preload adjustability
Intended for a higher average speed, the KLX140L features a rear shock with piggyback reservoir with fully adjustable preload, 4-way compression damping and 22-way rebound damping
Higher-grade KLX140L rear shock body and reservoir are aluminum and can also be mounted on a standard KLX140
Strong, high-grade die-cast hubs that offer the same durability as those found on the KX
Durable, lightweight RK EXCEL aluminum rims.
KLX140 and KLX140L offer two sizes to choose from, 17/14-inches front/rear and 19/16-inches front/rear, respectively
Petal disc brakes front & rear:
Front 220mm petal disc and large-bore 27mm twin-piston caliper (same size as those on the KX450F/250F) for strong and easy-to-control braking.
Front brake master cylinder is same model as used on the KLX250S
Rear wheel is slowed by a 186mm petal disc gripped by a 27mm single-piston caliper.
Rear brake master cylinder features a large-volume, unitized reservoir that contributes to stable braking and helps ensure sufficient fluid pressure is maintained - even when the brake pad wears down
In addition to helping reduce unsprung weight, the wave shapes of the petal discs help clean the brake pads for more efficient braking performance
Footpeg/frame relationship is modeled after the KX for maximum leg grip
Combination of the flat surface of the frame’s box-section, long footpegs mounted close to the bikes’ centerline and no kick-start lever add up to good grip and a high level of machine control available to the rider
Handlebar is rubber-mounted for reduced vibration transferred to the rider’s hands
It is easy to install an aftermarket handlebar thanks to the two-piece upper triple clamp and handle clamp
Raised pattern on half of the surface of the grips just like the top-class MX racers
Two-tone seat cover with a slip-resistant top surface for good grip when seated and smooth sides for excellent rider mobility
Sharp, aggressive styling:
Box-section perimeter frames, high-grade suspension and KX-style wheels, the KLX140 and KLX140L have the performance to back up their sharp, aggressive design and new advanced styling similar to that found on the KX racers
Two-piece shrouds with ventilation holes inspired by the top-of-the-line KX race machines
Fuel tank cover presents a flush transition from tank to shroud, and contributes to the high level fit and finish
Eye-catching box muffler design protrudes as little as possible from behind the side cover, and features a plastic muffler end-cap that offers a surface cooler to the touch than steel
This is the basic model, the one that features standard wheels of 17 in. front and 14 in. rear. It is also the cheapest so I choose to base my review on this version of the KLX. Suitable for both beginning and experienced riders, the 140 is pretty much the bike to have in your garage for when you or your son are willing to ride.
By simply reading the “L” attached to the same designation, you understand that this in one special model destined to larger riders. The distinctive note is given by the wheels (19 in. front and 16 in rear) while the bike features the same 140cc four-stroke, SOHC, two-valve single cylinder engine.
The bigger version also features 33mm fork, but the L’s aluminum shock is fitted with a piggyback reservoir, complete with fully adjustable preload. This allows bigger riders to operate it without worries in virtually any kinds of conditions and the thrill will be the same.
Of course, bigger can only mean better, but this has an effect on the price also. The MSRP is in this case $2,999 and the bike is still worth every penny.
The choice for you remaining is obvious, but if you are not planning to do extensive riding, you can easily go for the standard version. Anyway…both are awesome!