The off-road master from Kawasaki comes with plans of conquering the highly claimed 450cc class. It does it by packing performance, versatility and a fair share of comfort in a very compact and durable package. Sounds good?
For 2009, the KLX450R doesn’t drift too far away from its racing cousin as this last provides the engine and chassis, giving this off-roader a racing attitude despite its clean look. The 449cc four-stroke, DOHC, four-valve single powerplant was tuned to deliver the best of it at all rpm levels, especially at the bottom of the rev range. So we’re dealing with a torquey little monster. This allows the KLX450R to be exploited hard in any environments and never disappoint.
Even more, the comfort of a push-button electric starting (or kick-starter for the nostalgics) makes the easiest thing out of starting the four-stroke engine. Still, engine starts are ensured by starter motor and compact, high-output battery.
Engineering smart choices such as the steel exhaust valves and a reservoir tank equipped radiator will keep you on the KLX for a very long time. But what will first attract you will be the impressive low and mid-range rpm as a result of cam lift and timing and a beefy flywheel.
The transmission is a five-speed unit, the one considered the most appropriate for this engine. No errors where made there as the gearbox has a gear for every situation, rough or smooth.
Having sorted out the engine and tranny, Kawasaki people could now concentrate on, I won’t call it improving comfort, but making the ride less harsh then before. They rely on the Kayaba AOS inverted fork to provide good damping and also to improve steering as their new system which implies the oil and air to be kept in separate chambers, helps taking the thing easily through corners. At the rear end, the UNI-Trak system with shock absorber featuring both high-speed and low-speed compression damping, keep the KLX well under control.
Characteristic to any modern off-road bike is the digital instrument cluster, which in this case features speedometer, dual tripmeter, odometer and clock, and headlight (a 35-watt unit in this case).
Being brand new for 2008, the 2009 model couldn’t bring many improvements, but if you’re thinking that this bike hasn’t experienced the test of time, we must say that its mechanics did. As it is powered by the KX450 engine, and that’s on the scene for more than a while, you can definitely say that this bike has got the public’s running in.
Honda is up for the challenge with the 2008 CRF450X, a Baja champion that never misses a chance to show off its awesome features. Now, it will have to do it against the KLX, something that doesn’t come easy, even though the CRF has been around for a while. Powered by the race-inspired 449cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder Unicam four-stroke engine and being equipped with the Honda Progressive Steering Damper, the Red trails machine establishes a great balance between power and handling finesse, which is not easy at all. Price tag is $7,399.
A step further than the Honda (in this case, at least), Yamaha launches the 2009 off-road lineup with the WR450F in the front line. It goes straight against the Honda and Kawasaki relying on its 449cc liquid-cooled DOHC four-stroke; five-titanium valves engine. A fierce opponent, the WR is refinement itself when it comes to the frame and suspensions, resulting into an impressive enduro motorcycle. MSRP is $7,499.
Kawi knows how to make a bike look good and in this case it made all efforts so that it will. As a result, aggressive lines are all over the place, from headlight to the rear fender and everything in between.
Also inspiring on the KX450 on the design chapter, the KLX is easily distinguishable as it is a bit lower on the suspensions. But still, it features 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels that together with the suspensions soak up bumps easily so that the bike won’t just look good, but do the job properly too.
Also, proof of its racing inspirations are the motocross-like side panels, side number plates and mudguards. The pass from functional to beautiful is smoothly achieved, making the compact engine almost look like part of the bodywork.
Green team stays true to its color of choice and all off-roaders are pained in Lime Green and covered in stylish Kawasaki decals.
In 2009, Japanese 450cc off-road bikes are priced at $7,499. Not exactly a rule, but more of a “let the customer decide” kind of situation, you’ve seen it at the 2009 Yamaha WR450F and now in the case of the Kawasaki KLX450R. Honda hasn’t yet launched the 2009 off-road line-up so we’ll better keep it out of this.
Kawasaki has never before achieved such levels of performance in the case of an off-road bike than in the case of the KLX450R, and this can only stand as a new beginning for them on the trails.
Aggressive and packed with racing features that backs it up, this is without a question, one awesome bang for the buck, not matter the bike you compare it with.
Engine and Transmission
Engine: Four-stroke, DOHC, four-valve single
Bore x stroke: 96.0 x 62.1mm
Compression ratio: 12.0:1
Carburetion: Keihin FCR40
Ignition: Digital AC-CDI
Starting: Electric, with primary kick backup
Transmission: Wide-ratio five-speed
Final drive: Sealed chain
Chassis and Dimensions
Frame: Aluminum, perimeter design
Rake / trail: 27.1 degrees / 4.6 in.
Front suspension / wheel travel: 48mm inverted AOS-type cartridge fork with 22-way compression damping and 20-way rebound damping / 11.2 in.
Rear suspension / wheel travel: UNI-TRAK® single shock system with 22-way low-speed, two-turn variable high-speed compression damping and 22-way rebound damping / 11.0 in.
Front tire: 80/100-21
Rear tire: 110/100-18
Front brake: 250mm petal rotor with hydraulic dual-piston caliper
Rear brake: 240mm petal disc with hydraulic single-piston caliper
Overall length: 85.8 in.
Overall width: 32.3 in.
Overall height: 49.4 in.
Seat height: 37.0 in.
Wheelbase: 58.3 in.
Ground clearance: 12.6 in.
Fuel capacity: 2.1 gal.
Curb weight: 277.7 lbs.