2020 Kawasaki KLX230 First Look

Dennis Chung
by Dennis Chung

Kawasaki announced a KLX230 model for 2020, a new dual-sport motorcycle slotting in alongside the KLX250 that is also returning for 2020. But is there room for two KLX models separated by just 16cc? Kawasaki seems to think so.

The big difference between the two is the KLX230 is powered by a SOHC 233cc air-cooled Single, whereas the KLX250 uses a liquid-cooled 249cc DOHC Single. The KLX230 is also the first dual sport from Kawasaki to come with an ABS option. For good measure, and Kawasaki also announced an off-road-only version in the KLX230R, which we’ve previously reported has been green sticker-certified by the California Air Resources Board.

According to Kawasaki, the 233cc engine offers ample low-to-mid-range torque plus a strong pull at smaller throttle openings. A digital fuel injection system offers precise throttle response, and plays a big factor in getting the off-road version its green sticker. The KLX230 is equipped with a six-speed transmission and a tapered muffler with oval cross section.

Kawasaki designed a new high-tensile steel perimeter frame alongside the engine, optimizing rigidity and center of gravity. The frame was also crafted to make it easy for riders to grip with their legs for improved control and feedback.

The KLX230 comes with a 37mm telescopic fork offering 8.7 inches of travel. That’s not as high as the KLX250 (with a 43mm fork offering 10 inches of travel) but still plenty for most trail riding duties. The preload-adjustable Uni-Trak linkage rear shock with 8.8 measures up similarly with the 250.

The KLX230 has the same wheel sizes as the KLX250, with a tall 21-inch front wheel and an 18-inch rear wheel.

Kawasaki worked with Bosch to develop the KLX230’s dual-sport ABS. The system is less sensitive than a regular ABS designed for the street, with a later intervention timing to provide a more natural feel riding off-road, with more slide before the ABS kicks in. The ABS version uses a 265 mm petal-type rotor on the front wheel, whereas the non-ABS model uses a smaller 240mm petal-type disc.

Other highlights include digital LCD instrumentation, 55/60W halogen headlight, electric start and a 34.8-inch seat height. Kawasaki claims a curb weight of 293.3 pounds with ABS (291.1 pounds without), which is about 10 pounds lighter than the KLX250. Pricing starts at $4,599, with ABS raising the price to $4,899.

2020 Kawasaki KLX230 Specifications

MSRP$4,899 with ABS, $4,599 without ABS
Engine Type4-Stroke, Air-Cooled, SOHC, 2-Valve Single
Displacement233 cc
Bore & Stroke67.0 x 66.0 mm
Compression Ratio9.4:1
Fuel SystemDFI with 32mm throttle body
IgnitionTCBI with Electronic Advance
Rake/Trail27.5°/4.6 inches
Front Tire2.75-21
Rear Tire4.10-18
Front Suspension37mm Telescopic Fork, 8.7 inches travel
Rear SuspensionNew Uni-Trak with Adjustable Preload, 8.8 inches travel
Wheelbase54.3 inches
Front Brake265mm (ABS version)/240mm (no ABS) Petal Disc
Rear Brake220mm Petal Disc
Fuel Capacity2.0 gal.
Ground Clearance10.4 inches
Seat Height34.8 inches
Curb Weight293.3 pounds (ABS version)/291.1 pounds (no ABS), claimed
Warranty12 months
KawasakiProtection Plus 12, 24, 36 or 48 months
Dennis Chung
Dennis Chung

Dennis has been a part of the Motorcycle.com team since 2008, and through his tenure, has developed a firm grasp of industry trends, and a solid sense of what's to come. A bloodhound when it comes to tracking information on new motorcycles, if there's a new model on the horizon, you'll probably hear about it from him first.

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4 of 7 comments
  • Sayyed Bashir Sayyed Bashir on Jun 19, 2019

    Almost 300 lbs for a 230cc air cooled compared to 240 lbs for my 510cc liquid cooled KTM 500 EXC.

    • See 1 previous
    • KLRJUNE . KLRJUNE . on Jun 20, 2019

      Yes, your very expensive race ready KTM is about 50 pounds lighter than the cheap reliable trail bike.

  • Jon Jon on May 03, 2020

    Seems like a new version of the old Yamaha XT225. And, that's not a bad thing. I had the last year 2007 XT225, and regret selling it to this day. The six speed trans was a great feature for sure. Talk about a gas sipper. Took a meandering back country road Sunday cruise holding the bike to 45 mph tops, and got about 125 mpg. I am kicking myself in the butt for not shippingit from Seattle to Hilo when we moved in 2011! I had overlooked this new Kawasaki. I've a bunch of dual sports over my 56 years of riding, and this little Kawasaki could be my last ride. Lots of crappy dirt and gravel roads here, which would be great on this bike.