The bike we deserve, not the one we need.
When Kawasaki announced that it would launch six new bikes on November 23, 2020, we put our professional speculator hats on and tried to have a go at guessing what was hiding under the covers. Whether it was a delusion or wishful thinking, many of us expected (hoped?) that the dual-sport teased in Kawasaki’s clip would be the KLR650 revival we’ve all be wanting. We were hoping for a KLR650 descendant, we got a supermoto instead.
The bikes are now here and there are only five instead of the promised six with two additions pushed to January, 2021. It turns out that some of our guesses were right, some were wrong. The all-new 2021 KLX300 and KLX300 SM categorize as the latter.
Sadly, we didn’t get the mid-size adventurer we were hoping for. Instead, we got a bit of an interesting beast, especially coming from Team Green. After a decade out of the supermoto segment, Kawasaki is back and this time, the all-new KLX300 also gets the street treatment.
Gallery: 2021 Kawasaki KLX300SM
A supermoto is what happens when you take a dirt bike and tune it up for the street/track. Several manufacturers offer factory-ready supermotos, most of which are European (think KTM, Husqvarna, Aprilia, and Ducati). Kawasaki did very briefly dabble in the segment in 2009-2010 with the KLX250SF and it's now back at it.
The KLX300 replaces the outgoing KLX250 and receives significant updates—updates carried over in the SM trim level. While the new KLX300 is a proper dual-sport, the SM moves the arrow further toward the “street” end of the gauge. Both bikes are built on the same box-and-tubular-section high-tensile steel perimeter frame and mounted to the same 43mm inverted fork and Uni-Trak suspension with gas-charged shock as the base KLX.
The engine is the same for both news bikes; a 292cc single with a 78.0 x 61.2 mm bore and stroke and 11.1:1 compression ratio, paired to a six-speed gearbox.
The SM replaces the KLX's base 21 and 18-inch wheels with a pair of 17-inch rims wrapped what looks like street-ready IRC Street Winner tires instead of knobbies. The SM’s seat height is lower, at 33.8 inches instead of 35.2. The brake hardware at the back is the same on both bikes—a 240-mm disc with a single-piston caliper—however, the front wheel gets an upgrade to a 300mm semi-floating disc from a 250 mm petal disc teamed with a dual-piston caliper.
The KLX300 supermoto upgrade adds a reasonable $400 to the MSRP with the 2021 Kawasaki KLX300 priced at $5,599 in Lime Green and $5,799 in Fragment Camo Grey while the KLX300SM is priced at $5,999 and available in Lime Green/Ebony and Oriental Blue/Ebony (both the same price).