After releasing the Eliminator 125 from its duties, Kawasaki brings it back for 2009 as the entry level market share has lately become more and more demanding as a result of the economic situation affecting every single aspect of life and directing commuters towards cheap and fuel efficient two-wheeled products. The bike had paved road towards conquering this segment as the Eliminator name is big part of Kawi’s history so what we’re witnessing here is an opportunity grabbed without second thoughts.
Initially, Kawasaki designed their smallest Eliminator as an ideal beginner’s ride, a small, light, flick able cruising motorcycle that would stand both as a teacher and a commuter without excluding the fun factor of the equation. Little did Kawasaki anticipated that this would end up a notorious bike not only among riders who are just starting out, but among those searching for a cheap mean of commuting during a gray modern period that no manufacturer saw coming. Further backing this affirmation up is the fact that they discontinued production for 2008 and now the thing is back for more action.
As a 2009 model year, the bike stands out thanks to the same features that consecrated it in the first place; a low seat height (only 26.8 inches from the ground), light weight (319.6 lbs. with all liquids in), long travel suspension, but mostly because of the 124cc, four-stroke, air-cooled, SOHC, single-cylinder engine. This is electrically started and fueled through the same 28mm Mikuni BS28 carburetor. Displacement isn’t the only thing ensuring great mileage. The fact that the engine is tuned to deliver plenty of low and midrange grunt determines riders to shift earlier and make less fuel stops than on any other vehicle out there (only scooters are more economic than this thing and not all of them). Yet, torque isn’t more than a beginner rider can manage and, overall, that’s why the Motorcycle Safety Foundation uses this bike in the beginner riders courser with great results.
Kawasaki worked with Eliminator models ever since the 1980s, but it was only in 1997 when the 125cc model was introduced. The bike featured the very same engine and five-speed gearbox as it does now. The performance figures showed 12 hp at 9,500 rpm and 10 Nm at 8,000 rpm so there was plenty to work with for beginner riders. Color scheme changes followed and in 2005, the Keihin PWK28 carburetor was added together with a new six-speed gearbox. A year later, they turned to the Mikuni BS28 unit and they brought the five-speed gearbox in as the engine wasn’t lively enough to perform just as well in sixth gear.
2009 Honda Rebel
Most likely, the best part about the Kawasaki Eliminator 125 is that it manages to prove a point against motorcycles featuring double the engine’s displacement and implicit offer more performance. Take the 2009 Honda Rebel as an example. It is the smallest cruiser in Honda’s lineup and it is powered by a 234cc, air-cooled, parallel twin-cylinder, SOHC; two valves per cylinder engine. Wet weight is 331 lbs so I guess it’s clearly a superior bike, but, it does start at $3,999 and that’s very well over Eliminator’s pricing range.
The 2009 Suzuki GZ250 is pretty much in the same situation. This starter bike also weighs 331 lbs, has a low seat height and it is being powered by an even bigger 249cc, four-stroke, air-cooled, single-cylinder, OHC motor. It addresses to the same crowd and can deliver more than the Kawi for less money than the Honda (it starts at $3,799) so this is more or less a middle solution.
Mentioning the 2009 V Star 250 is pointless as that features a V-twin motor and rules the quarter-liter cruiser class and we’re referring to the little Kawasaki Eliminator which doesn’t eliminate anyone but itself from this combination.
Kawasaki managed to make the Eliminator 125 look as good as the much more potent competitors of this bike by inspiring on their bigger model, the Vulcan 500 LTD. So, the Eli gets a low and sleek body, multi-spoke wheels (17 inches front and 15 inches rear) and a spacious one-piece seat. The instruments are mounted on the sinuously curved gas tank which, due to the small space required by the engine, is positioned pretty low, improving the benefits a rider gets from the center of gravity.
Although the space around the small single-cylinder engine is pretty small, the bike looks compact overall and very well put together. The chrome doesn’t miss a bit and the fenders would have us call it a classic or a custom depending on where we’re looking, up front or at the back.
The only 2009 color is Metallic Phantom Silver so you go and try to distinguish which is chrome and which is paint.
The Kawasaki Eliminator 125 didn’t lost one of the biggest qualities that made it sell good in the past, affordability. So the bike comes with a $2,799 MSRP and it promises just as good results.
Although Kawasaki could have performed a few magic tricks on this model, they choose to sell it just as it was before production was stopped. Considering the fact that we weren’t expecting to see it among Kawi’s Vulcan’s ever again, the sudden reintroduction sounds just as good as a radical revamp.