Kawasaki’s alternative to beginner’s motocross bikes is the KX65, a racing machine which would mark your initiation into both the wonderful world of track racing and those fun muddy weekends with your friends.
A journey of a million miles starts with the first step, in this case the first wheel spin. Young riders who aspire at gaining experience and fully conquer the motocross mountain are offered a great starters bike, the Kawasaki KX65.
Two-stroke performance is the key when it comes to this bike’s engine and a racing chassis is never a bad thing so Kawasaki engineers only needed to add long-travel suspension and disc brakes in order to deliver an awesome performing motocross bike.
Kawasaki had long planed the perfect moment to introduce their smallest motocross bike and the model year 2000 seemed to be the ideal choice. The Japanese manufacturer had produced KX models for very long time but the KX65 was definitely a debut.
Handling great, producing awesome, linear power and by simply being the smallest version of the models that proved successful through the years, the Kawasaki KX65 was the perfect bike for the anxious young biker.
Parents were usually attracted by the reliability of this product and the fact that it was very cheap and easy to maintain.
Having succeeded to satisfy both parts, the Kawasaki KX65 began initiating those motocross junkies through all these years, not even changing the color as everybody recognizes a Kawasaki by the famous Lime Green. The stickers were gradually brought up to date as the bigger models evolved.
Kawasaki offers a smaller engine for this class as it intends to create a smoother learning curve, and progressively build confidence as experience is gained.
Against the Kawasaki is the Honda CR85R, a motorcycle determined to win with the help of its 85cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder two-stroke engine. Honda engineers took their time and paid all the necessary attention to detail so that the CR85R would be a guaranteed winner for years in a row.
Suzuki is also up for the challenge as they offer the fun RM85, a motocrosser implementing the technology used for creating bigger displacement bikes. The small yellow bike can be seen all over the racing tracks around the country and this is a proof of the bike’s success. That success consists in offering great mid-range power and easy handling.
The same recipe is used by Yamaha in order to deliver the competitive YZ85, an ultra-reliable motorcycle with a lot of power available. Well tuned and easy to ride, the Yamaha is as successful as any other manufacturer’s bike on the track.
Motocross bikes seem to always represent their manufacturers best. You can choose the green Kawasaki, red Honda, yellow Suzuki, or blue Yamaha as all are bulletproof built and awesome performing.
In matters of design, the Kawasaki KX65 is a smaller version of those championship-winning machines that the same manufacturer has to offer.
The bike features a high-positioned front fender which is ready to fight the mud a front number plate for those motocross races. Surrounding the fuel tank there are the side panels with the Kawasaki name on them and some attractive decals. The seat is a long pass from the fuel tank to that arrow-looking rear fender and on each side the KX65 has number plates with their own decals, further giving it an aggressive, sharp look.
High positioned, as a result of the long-travel wheel suspension, the Kawasaki KX65 looks able to deal with those jumps in style.
Of course, we can have the Kawasaki painted any color as long as it is green…Lime Green in this case.
In order to get that all important feedback concerning the way this bike performs and feels, I headed towards the race tracks where I found a group of Kawasaki KX65 enthusiasts who raced the rubber out of those tires.
Young riders feel very at home on the 2008 Kawasaki KX65 as the riding position is way up front so that they can operate it better and feel completely safe in those tight corners. But all the fun begins when they go out of the corners and start accelerating strongly. At that time, you wouldn’t want to be near them as the bike delivers awesome mid-range power and a whole lot of dirt behind it.
Children racing the KX65 declared themselves more than satisfied with the power delivery and the smooth shifting six-speed transmission which effectively uses the awesome power available a twist of the throttle away.
Another important positive aspect in this case is handling. The bike’s steering geometry proves effective and very reassuring. The small fellows have no problems taking those corners and they even make it look easier than it actually is.
They also took the time to take some little jumps and had only brag words for the long-travel suspension which ensures a smooth landing after the small engine provided great power for the take off. “Awesome bike” they kept said.
Even though enthusiastic about revving the engine and changing gears, my test riders were also determined to test the brakes on this thing. Ever since it was introduced, the Kawasaki KX65 was fitted with front and rear disc brakes which offer good stopping power and confidence before a corner.
The commands are easy to use and the KX65 is no abrupt steep for a determined rider (you won’t find another kind). They are happy because the weight was kept down and because the bike is compact.
I had a little talk with the parents two and they are happy with the bike as well. “As long as he’s happy and doesn’t hurt himself, I’m very proud to watch him spread some dirt”. That would be the answer that goes for pretty much all the cheering crowd.
Leaving the mechanics apart, affordability is one of this bike’s best features as it is the cheapest in its class. Having a suggested retail price of only $2,799, the Kawasaki KX65 comes easy on the parent’s pocket and heavy on the fun side.
With the KX65, Kawasaki provides an extraordinarily capable motocrosser which invites you to enter the motorcycling world and never get out.
If you are determined to go on the long road to success it is strongly recommend to start it with the fabulous Kawasaki KX65 as the bike is built to be both user-friendly for the uninitiated rider and a real blast for the more experienced fellows. I witnessed more than a few riders changing opinions and I have to say that the “disadvantage” word never reached my ears.
Engine and Transmission
Type: Two-stroke single
Bore x stroke: 44.5 x 41.6mm
Carburetion: Mikuni VM24SS
Induction: Four-petal reed valve
Compression ratio: 8.4:1
Ignition: Digital CDI
Final drive: Chain
Chassis and Dimensions
Frame: Semi-double-cradle, high-tensile steel
Rake / trail: 27 degrees / 2.4 in.
Front suspension / wheel travel: 33mm leading axle conventional fork with four-way rebound damping / 8.3 in.
Rear suspension / wheel travel: UNI-TRAK® single shock system with four-way rebound damping and fully adjustable spring preload / 9.4
Front tire: 60/100x14
Rear tire: 80/100x12
Front brake: Hydraulic disc
Rear Brake: Disc
Overall length: 62.6 in.
Overall width: 29.9 in.
Overall height: 37.6 in.
Ground clearance: 12.0
Seat height: 29.9 in.
Dry weight: 125.6 lbs.
Fuel capacity: 1.0 gal.
Wheelbase: 44.1 in.
Color: Lime Green
Digital ignition offers ideal timing for better throttle response throughout the rev range
Magneto with lower inertial moment improves low-rpm response
Rotor equipped with rare-earth magnets making it smaller, lighter and more durable
High capacity ignition coil delivers a higher secondary voltage for a hotter spark; the punchier response gives an improved acceleration feeling
Connecting rod big-end bearing has a cage for durability
Primary gear is secured using a lock-nut to help reduce mechanical noise
The oil seal of the left crankcase has a stopper for increased engine reliability
Metafoam gaskets are used for the generator cover, water pump cover and water pump elbow for improved sealing
Advanced exhaust and transfer ports for increased power and performance at higher rpm
Bridge between exhaust ports is machined for increased reliability and resistance to wear and seizure
Lightweight cylinder liner transfers heat efficiently
Large radiator provides more even-running temperatures, keeping the power output consistently strong
Provides greater reliability and less wear on the engine
24mm Mikuni Carburetor:
Feeds a four-petal reed valve for excellent throttle response
Allows the engine to produce more power and torque at all rpm
Positive action and rugged durability
Hard chrome-finished shift-fork ends resist wear
Manual clutch mechanism mirrors larger KX models
Clutch cover gasket made of metal-carbon composite material
High-tensile Steel Frame:
Exceptional torsional rigidity for excellent handling
Reinforced down tube for increased strength and durability
Engine and chassis bolts have rust-resistant coating
UNI-TRAK® Rear Suspension:
Features rising-rate action: as the suspension compresses, the spring and damping strength increase progressively for a more controlled ride
Four-way adjustable rebound damping offers a variety of settings for various track conditions
Rebuildable aluminum body
External reservoir helps maintain consistent damping
Four clicks of rebound-damping adjustment accommodate different riding styles and terrain
Rocker arm made from forged aluminum to reduce weight and improve durability
Front and Rear Disc Brakes:
Light and powerful
Revised front brake lever shape offers better feel
Require less lever pressure
Reduce unsprung weight for improved suspension action
Detachable Aluminum Silencer:
Silencer is removable from the exhaust pipe and the packing is replaceable
Oval shape mimics the styling of larger-displacement KX models