This is the most fun you can have for under $6k

Kawasaki adds to its dual-surface capabilities with the net-new-for-2021 KLX300SM “Super Moto” model that comes set up to tackle both on- and off-road work. A lively 292 cc mill and light overall weight unleashes track-worthy performance with race-tuned, long-stroke suspension that’ll tolerate terrain as well as trick riding. Aggressive Super Moto looks and oodles of hooligan capability seal the deal to make this new model a capable competitor right off the showroom floor.

  • 2021 Kawasaki KLX300SM
  • Year:
    2021
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    single cylinder
  • Displacement:
    292 cc
  • Price:
    5999
  • Price:

2021 Kawasaki KLX300SM Design

  • Upright riding position
  • Rubber dampened pegs
  • Aggressive supermoto-inspired bodywork
  • LCD display
2021 Kawasaki KLX300SM
- image 986789
2021 Kawasaki KLX300SM
- image 986791
The SM's design is purely function-driven with weight savings as a front-burner goal, followed by attention to the ergonomics as a close second.

Kawi’s design team stuck to the classic design style for its new KLX300SM, so yeah, of course it looks like a dirt bike with street rims and rubber. Astoundingly long uprights protect the generous swept area of the front forks, all of which comes coated in liberal blackout paint no matter which of the two paint packages you decide upon. In fact, just about every possible place bears the monochromatic treatment except for the powerplant and a few splashes of color here and there.

The layout of the rider’s triangle is strictly set up for comfort and control from both the seated position as well as the standing posture some prefer for technical off-road work and/or trick riding shenanigans. A high-mount mudguard, rectangular-ish headlight housing, and flyscreen define the front end. Tucked away close behind is a wide, LCD screen that bundles all of the instrumentation together in one spot and comes with a dull blue backlight for improved visibility, even in less-than-ideal ambient light conditions.

Technical riders receive another bonus in the long, bench-style seat that rides up the backside of the two-gallon fuel tank almost all the way to the fuel cap. Since there is no offset to speak of, the pilot has use of the full length of the seat for extreme weight shifts fore and aft in another boon to its technical riding chops. Plus the narrow design leaves you with plenty of thigh room to help you reach the ground with them Lamborfeeties.

Seat height is as you’d expect; the bench rides at 33.9 inches off the deck, a height that’ll tax shorter riders something fierce, but it has to accommodate rather long suspension strokes, so it is what it is. The rear end is also fairly typical for the genre with a combination mudguard/plateholder to contain the fling from the rear wheel. Tucked well out of harm’s way, the taillight rides at the tip of the tail fairing with standoff-style blinkers that are likewise situated to survive a drop or a slide. Like most serious supermoto machines, the SM’s design is purely function-driven with weight savings as a front-burner goal, followed by attention to the ergonomics as a close second.

2021 Kawasaki KLX300SM Chassis

  • Slim, lightweight frame
  • Ample brakes
  • Agile performance
  • Supermoto-tuned long-travel suspension
2021 Kawasaki KLX300SM
- image 986797
2021 Kawasaki KLX300SM
- image 986792
2021 Kawasaki KLX300SM
- image 986793
The SM clearly favors drifting as a mode of cornering and stunt riding.

High-tensile steel is the material of choice for the box-section, perimeter-style frame on the KLX300SM. Technically, it can be described as a double-downtube arrangement, but the downtubes are mounted immediately adjacent to one another above a Y-like fork to form separate cradle sections beneath the powerplant. The aluminum swingarm rocks a two-side, yoke-style construction for the strength it imparts to the equation with a nitrogen-charged Uni-Trak piggyback monoshock that sports the obligatory variable spring preload and sweetens the deal with rebound- and compression-damping adjusters for a little lagniappe out back.

Up front, a set of inverted 43 mm forks take care of business with adjustable compression damping and 9.1 inches of travel ahead of 8.1 inches of travel out back. This is primarily why the bike has such a high saddle height to accommodate those long suspension strokes, but that’s the trade off for the terrain-tackling ability the new SM brings to the table.

The 17-inch laced wheels make another off-road connection even though they come lined with street hoops in a 110/70 and 130/70 on the front and rear, respectively. Curb weight comes in at 304.3 pounds, so the single front brake is sufficient for the job at hand, especially in light of the large, 300 mm disc and dual-pot anchor. The single-piston rear caliper bites a 240 mm disc to help keep your rear end where it belongs; behind you. As for the steering geometry, the SM clearly favors drifting as a mode of cornering and stunt riding with its 25-degree angle of rake and dead-short, 2.8 inches of trail.

Frame: High-tensile steel, box-section perimeter
Front Suspension / Travel: 43 mm inverted cartridge fork with 16-way compression damping adjustment/9.1 in
Rear Suspension / Travel: Uni-Trak® gas charged shock with piggyback reservoir with adjustable rebound damping and spring preload/8.1 in
Rake/Trail: 25.0°/2.8 in
Front Tire: 110/70-17
Rear Tire: 130/70-17
Front Brakes: Single 300 mm petal disc with a dual-piston caliper
Rear Brakes: Single 240 mm petal disc with single-piston caliper

2021 Kawasaki KLX300SM Drivetrain

  • Liquid-cooled, single-cylinder 292 cc engine
  • Smooth power delivery
  • Ample low-end and mid-range power
  • Crisp throttle response
2021 Kawasaki KLX300SM
- image 986800
2021 Kawasaki KLX300SM
- image 986787
2021 Kawasaki KLX300SM
- image 986794
Power delivery is smooth with abundant low-end and mid-range power on demand.

The new KLX300SM relies on a liquid-cooled thumper for its get-up-and-go. Bore and stroke mic out at 78 mm and 61.2 mm respectively to give the mill a total displacement of 292 cc, and the lone cylinder rocks a super-hard coating that extends service life and transmits heat efficiently. An 11.1-to-1 compression ratio falls in the mid range right along with the engine’s octane requirements, so it won’t cost and arm and a leg to operate it.

Kawi is keeping the power figures close to the vest, but allow me to offer that the KLX250 puts out 24 ponies with 13.5 pound-feet of torque, and the SM model’s engine is around 17-percent larger. We can assume an increase in output, and if the curve remains constant you can expect something around 28 horsepower or so.

Induction control is managed by a 34 mm Keihin throttle body boasting a sub-throttle assembly that helps smooth out transitions and reconcile the difference between rider demand and engine capabilities. Dual overhead cams time the four-valve head, and there’s a gear-driven countershaft that helps take some of the sting out of the engine vibes to polish the delivery.

Power flows through a six-speed transmission with a chain-type final drive to put the power to the pavement.

Engine: 4-stroke single, DOHC, liquid-cooled
Displacement: 292 cc
Bore x Stroke: 78.0 mm x 61.2 mm
Compression Ratio: 11.1:1
Fuel System: DFI® with 34 mm Keihin throttle body
Ignition: Digital DC-CDI
Transmission: 6-speed, return shift with wet multi-disc manual clutch
Final Drive: Chain

2021 Kawasaki KLX300SM Price

2021 Kawasaki KLX300SM
- image 986788
2021 Kawasaki KLX300SM
- image 986790
MSRP is $6k for the roll-out of the new KLX300SM.

The new KLX300SM will fetch a $5,999 MSRP here in its inaugural year. Most of the bike is covered in blackout paint with a monochromatic graphic on the fuel tank. Color appears only at the front mudguard, flyscreen, and tailpiece, and you can choose between the traditional Lime Green over Ebony or the Oriental Blue over Ebony paint packages for the same price.

Warranty: 12 Months, optional Kawasaki Protection Plus™ 12, 24, or 36 months
Color: Lime Green/Ebony, Oriental Blue/Ebony
Price: $5,999

2021 Kawasaki KLX300SM Competitors

2021 Kawasaki KLX300SM
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2016 - 2020 Suzuki DR-Z400S / DR-Z400SM
- image 790493

Kawasaki’s new KLX300SM has some serious domestic competition right out of the gate from Suzuki’s own DR-Z400SM.

Suzuki DR-Z400SM

2016 - 2020 Suzuki DR-Z400S / DR-Z400SM
- image 790488
I expect the price offset between the two to buy Kawasaki some business that might have gone elsewhere.

Not that looks should matter much in such a function-driven genre, I guess they still matter some, and like brothers from another mother, the Suzuki’s design meets the Kawasaki’s point by point, all the way down to the bodywork, seat design and racing numberplate-style sidecovers. Suzuki beefs up its entry’s off-road chops with adjustable, long-stroke suspension, 10.2 inches of ground clearance versus 9.3 inches of clearance from the Kawi.

Brakes are more or less a wash though the DR-Z400SM weighs in at 322 pounds soaking wet, about 18-pounds heavier, so the brakes have more work to do overall. Suzuki gains an edge in brute power with its 39 horsepower, 398 cc beating heart over Kawi’s 292 cc lump and my scientific wild-assed guess of 28 ponies. Your paint choices are mostly white with blue trim or all black with red and white trim, so neither is very exciting in the paint department though I prefer the Kawi’s palette.

That slim edge in displacement/performance comes at a price. Suzuki asks $7,499 for its 2021 DR-Z400SM against the KLX300SM’s more budget-friendly $6k sticker, and I expect that price offset to buy Kawasaki some business that might have gone elsewhere.

Read our full review of the Suzuki DR-Z400SM.

He Said

“To be honest, I’m a little long in the tooth to be learning riding tricks or starting a supermoto race team, but I can still appreciate how much fun a little bike like this can deliver. Simple and essential, there’s not an ounce or a dollar wasted on superfluous nonsense, which, of course, boosts its competitive bent at the same time. This appears to be the smallest mid-size supermoto machine between the larger competition and 125 cc bracket.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “This is going to be the most fun you can have for under $6k. What a blast to ride. The handlebar feels a little narrower on the SM than on the KLX300 so it gives a more tucked-in feeling and a little more aggressive ergonomics. Braking is more than ample. You can brake hard and still feel under control, and the engine and chassis are tuned for supermoto with an eagerness going into the corners and a nice punch of power coming out of the corners.”

2021 Kawasaki KLX300SM Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 4-stroke single, DOHC, liquid-cooled
Displacement: 292 cc
Bore x Stroke: 78.0 mm x 61.2 mm
Compression Ratio: 11.1:1
Fuel System: DFI® with 34 mm Keihin throttle body
Ignition: Digital DC-CDI
Transmission: 6-speed, return shift with wet multi-disc manual clutch
Final Drive: Chain
Chassis:
Frame: High-tensile steel, box-section perimeter
Front Suspension / Travel: 43 mm inverted cartridge fork with 16-way compression damping adjustment/9.1 in
Rear Suspension / Travel: Uni-Trak® gas charged shock with piggyback reservoir with adjustable rebound damping and spring preload/8.1 in
Rake/Trail: 25.0°/2.8 in
Front Tire: 110/70-17
Rear Tire: 130/70-17
Front Brakes: Single 300 mm petal disc with a dual-piston caliper
Rear Brakes: Single 240 mm petal disc with single-piston caliper
Dimensions & Capacities:
Overall Length: 86.4 in
Overall Width: 31.1 in
Overall Height: 45.1 in
Ground Clearance: 9.3 in
Seat Height: 33.9 in
Curb Weight: 304.3 lb
Fuel Capacity: 2.0 gal
Wheelbase: 56.5 in
Details:
Warranty: 12 Months, optional Kawasaki Protection Plus™ 12, 24, or 36 months
Color: Lime Green/Ebony, Oriental Blue/Ebony
Price: $5,999

Further Reading

Kawasaki

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TJ Hinton
TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read full bio
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All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: kawasaki.com, suzukicycles.com

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