Finally, a brand that listens to its vertically challenged riders.
I fall most often when I’ve stopped” is a saying I’ve come to use more often than not when I’m riding off-road. On most bikes, I can’t touch the ground — I haven’t been able to since I was about ten years old. I’ve adapted, but I often think about how difficult it must be for a short-statured person to get into dual-sport and adventure riding, having to gain fundamental skills while on a bike they can’t comfortably touch the ground on.
Instead of manufacturers addressing this issue head-on, it’s left to aftermarket companies to design and build lowering kits for motorcycles; many riders see value in adding a lowering kit as soon as they purchase their new steed from the shop. Often, the lowering kits change the dynamics of suspension response and the feel of the ride; usually, not for the better.
However, Kawasaki took a critical look at its market offerings and has come out with stock-lowered models such as the KLX230 S, which I was lucky enough to ride this winter. I first reviewed the KLX230 back in 2021. I loved the nimble versatility it offered and the wide range of riders it could fit; however, I still found that I was tippy-toed on the bike. As good as it was for beginners, it lacked a low seat that could allow a new rider to build comfort and confidence The KLX230 was first released in 2019 and immediately gained a following due to its lightweight and easy-to-handle platform that was being offered at a reasonable cost. For 2023, there has been a few updates, such as an updated ECU offering better throttle response for off-road riding, easier cold starts and better power distribution in higher elevations. Kawasaki has also updated the headlight to a bright LED headlight in a slimmer and more compact fairing. All these features are offered on the 2023 KLX230 and KLX230 S.
Riding on Mountain Time
We rode the new S model in the mountains near Los Alamos, Calif. an area that offers a plethora of off-road networks that allowed us to test out the versatility of the updated bike. It was an odd experience touching the ground with both feet for the first time on a stock dual-sport motorcycle: I immediately felt confident and noticed how comfortable the overall ergonomics were on the machine.
As we travelled the winding roads, the pavement turned into gravel sections with broken tarmac and the suspension offered a smooth ride over these bumpy stretches. The road soon turned into washboard gravel and narrowed as we gained elevation. The bike steered intuitively over uneven ground and offered more responsive throttle control when I’d decide to twist my wrist.
Lowered Seat Height
Kawasaki achieved a lower seat height of 830 mm on the KLX230 S compared to the 885 mm seat height on the KLX230 by modifying the suspension in…