Kawasaki was seemingly unphased by how weird of a year 2020 was. Though on the inside, the company likely faced more challenges than it let on, on the surface, it was business as usual for Team Green.
The company unveiled a slew of new products and even announced that its motorcycle division would become its own entity in 2021. With the year coming to an end and the impressive number of new additions to the green lineup, you’d think that Kawasaki is done unveiling bikes for a while, but you’d be wrong. It’s going to add two new models to the list in January, 2021.
Until we find out what models will complete the lineup in a few weeks, let’s take a look at all the new stuff we already know is coming.
For 2021, the Kawasaki KLX250 turns into a 300. Team Green had already introduced the off-road-only KLX300R in 2019 and the new road-legal KLX300 follows in its trail. It runs on the same 292cc, DOHC, single, paired with a six-speed transmission.
The KLX300 receives the same suspension hardware as the R which includes a 43mm inverted fork with adjustable compression damping at the front and Uni-Trak shock with piggyback reservoir with adjustable rebound damping and spring preload. Suspension travel is slightly shorter on the road model with 10 inches of travel front and 9.1 inches back (versus 11.2 inches front and back).
The brake components are also slightly different, with a single 250mm disc with dual-piston caliper at the front and a 240 mm disc with single-piston caliper at the back. It also comes with all the mirrors, lighting, and plate holder the R doesn’t have. It results in a slightly higher weight at 302 pounds—despite the 2.0-gallon fuel tank instead of 2.1.
The new 2021 Kawasaki KLX300 starts at $5,599.
Kawasaki KLX300 SM
The most exciting of the two 300s introduced in November, 2020, is this one: Kawasaki’s first supermoto in a decade, the KLX300 SM. A supermoto is a track-ready dirt bike so Kawasaki took the KLX300’s architecture and mounted it to a pair of 17-inches wheels shod in IRC Street Winner tires.
While the suspension is the same as the base KLX300 (with shorter travel), the SM gets a brake upgrade with a 300mm disc with dual-piston caliper at the front and the same 240mm disc with single-piston caliper at the back.
The 2021 Kawasaki KLX300 SM starts at $5,999.
Kawasaki KX250X and KX450X
For 2021, Kawasaki updated its competition-ready KX250 and KX450 motocross and added a new “cross country” trim level for both, the Xs.
To make the bikes more competition-ready, Team Green said that it tuned the engine and the suspension accordingly, upped the brake components’ quality, added a skidplate and sidestand, and wrapped the 21 and 18-inch wheels in Dunlop GEOMAX AT81 tires. The 250 gets Kayaba suspension hardware while the 450 is upgraded to Showa components.
Pricing on the 2021 Kawasaki KX250X starts at $8,399 and for the Kawasaki KX450X, at $9,599.
Kawasaki Meguro K3
In December, 2020, Kawasaki introduced yet another addition to its heritage lineup. Based on the W800, the new Meguro K3 revives the first chapter of Kawasaki’s history book. What we assume will be a special trim level uses the same frame and engine as the W800 but receives a few stylistic choices of its own. They include red accent, including on the engine’s bevel drive, a taller handlebar, a smooth saddle with white piping, and adjustable rear shocks.
As things currently stand, Kawasaki doesn’t plan to import the model to the U.S. for the time being (despite securing the name “Meguro” with the USPTO in 2019).
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R and ZX-10RR
We expected a new ZX-10R to be part of the lineup Kawasaki was going to unveil on November 23, 2020. Sure enough, the WSBK-inspired bike and its racing variant debuted with a slew of updates, including a new Euro 5-compliant exhaust system.
On the surface, the two sportbikes receive a redesigned fairing with Ninja H2-inspired lines and shapes with new aerodynamic winglets and LED lighting all around.
The chassis gets a few updates and notably gets a slightly wider fork offset and a longer swingarm for improved handling. Other 2021 upgrades include electronically-actuated valves, new gear ratios, and an air-cooled oil-cooler. The bike also comes with cruise control, riding modes, and Rideology App connectivity.
The 2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R starts at $16,399 and the ZX-10RR, at $28,999.
Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+ Skyhook Update
Though the term ”Skyhook” has been around for close to a decade—we wrote about the 2013 Ducati Multistrada 1200’s Skyhook suspension in the past—in 2020, an increasing number of manufacturers have adopted a version of the active suspension that acts like the back of the bike is suspended to, well, an imaginary hook.
The list of bikes now featuring a Skyhook suspension includes two Kawasaki motorcycles, one of which is the Versys 1000 SE LT+. The bike itself didn’t change much—it was already thoroughly upgraded for 2019, so it didn’t need much work. The only update for 2021 is the addition of the Showa Skyhook EERA technology that now works hand in hand with Kawasaki’s Electronic Control Suspension to provide optimized support at the back and increased stability on bumpy surfaces.
The 2021 Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+ with new Show Skyhook technology is priced at $18,199.
Kawasaki Z H2 SE
The Kawasaki Z H2 is brand new to the family. Introduced as a 2020 model, Team Green’s supercharged hypernaked created a lot of waves when it launched in October, 2019.
This year, the maker upped the technological ante with the introduction of the new Z H2 SE, equipped with Kawasaki’s Electronic Control Suspension (KECS) with Showa Skyhook technology, like on the Versys. This means that the H2’s suspension can now be electronically adjusted by the rider via the onboard computer.
The new 2021 Kawasaki Z H2 SE is priced at $19,700.
Two Mystery Kawasaki Bikes
While at this point of the year, we normally have a pretty solid idea of what a given manufacturer is going to offer in the new year, Kawasaki pushed the launch of its last two new bikes until January, 2021. The teaser video suggests that the two models are capable off-roaders—one of which is also adapted for the road.
The former is perhaps the most mysterious model of the two. Kawasaki’s off-road lineup is pretty complete at this point so chances are this is going to be an entirely new model. We suggested it could potentially be a road-legal version of the competition KX450 or perhaps a KLX300 competition version.
The latter is likely a dual-sport, one many suspect to be the long-awaited KLR650 replacement. After all, the mid-size adventure slash dual-sport segment is thriving and it would be a shame for the brand behind one of the most iconic adventurers to miss out on the trend.