As things usually go, manufacturers like to wait until the summer to show off their latest off-road toys. At Kawasaki’s, the lineup has gained two new players for the 2020 model-year. Team Green introduced a brand-new 230 engine found at the core of the equally new road-friendly KLX230 and trail-specific KLX230R. Here’s everything we know about Kawasaki’s new off-roaders.

The new KLX230 is the road-ready version of the trail-only KLX230R. The two are differentiated only by the addition of a head and taillight, a license plate holder, sideview mirrors, and blinkers on the KLX230 which makes it road legal, contrarily to the R. Both models are new from the ground up, built on a new compact steel perimeter frame that offers a shorter wheelbase and a lower seat height, making the model more accessible. The ergonomics are inspired from the KX motocross lineup, meaning the silhouette of the model is narrower and easier to grip with the knees. 

Gallery: 2020 Kawasaki KLX230

Both 230s are fitted with a 21-inch wheel at the front and an 18-inch circle at the back. The wheelbase on the KLX230 is longer than the KLX230R’s by 0.9 inches and is lower by a little under two inches. This results in the R weighing in at only 253.6 lb while the dual-purpose 230 adds 40 lb. 

Underlining the two 230s is a brand-new 233cc four-stroke, single-cylinder mill, teamed with a six-speed transmission. The lightweight engine has been designed to offer optimal low to mid-range power. The gear ratio has been adapted to the model’s purpose as well to provide optimized output on and off the road. 

Both models are mounted on a 37mm telescopic fork at the front and Uni-Trak linkage system and shock at the back. On the KLX230, the suspension set up offers 8.8 inches of travel while the KLX230R an additional inch of travel. The road-ready 230 also gets a bigger brake 265mm petal brake disc at the front, versus 240mm on the R, both teamed with a dual piston caliper. At the bake, stopping power is provided by a 220mm petal disc teamed with a single piston caliper on both models. 

Gallery: 2020 Kawasaki KLX230R

The KLX230 also becomes the first Kawasaki off-road model to be offered with optional ABS. The manufacturer worked with Bosch to design an ABS system that’s not as sensitive and that's far less invasive than a standard one. 

Interestingly, in the dual-sport segment, the 230 joins the 250, the only other dual purpose Kawasaki model. The biggest difference between the two models, aside of course from the displacement, is that the 230 is air-cooled while the 250 relies instead on liquid. Weight-wise, the two are very close, with only an 11-pound difference and the 230 equipped with a 37-mm fork versus the 250’s 43mm set up. While these differences might seem minimal, making the 230 a pointless addition, to the informed off-road rider, the subtle nuances are enough for one to be offer a versatility the lineup was previously lacking. 

Pricing on the all-new 2020 Kawasaki KLX230 has been set at $4,599 for the entry-level model and at $4,899 for the ABS version while the KLX230R is offered at $4,399. 

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