Last spring, my daughter asked me when she could get her own motorcycle. I replied when she could ride her bicycle without training wheels. Little did I know she’d take that as a challenge and learn how to ride the bicycle in less than three days. 

I’d planned on teaching her to ride later, but all great plans, etc, etc. Luckily, my last job allowed me to find a way to bring both a Kawasaki Elektrode and Razor MX350 into our garage. And since then, she’s ridden both extensively and gotten really good at riding on the backyard track I’ve built, jumping the mini kicker, riding along sidewalks as our family goes on hikes, going up and down hills, and even navigating the snowy roads of our neighborhood. 

She’s also ate shit a lot and got right back up every single time. 

What’s far more interesting, however, is how she’s turned herself into a young motorcycle writer in that she has a lot to say about these two motorcycles. She loves one, the other she absolutely doesn’t. 

Given these are pretty expensive machines for young children and parents aren’t made of money—I wish I was—I wanted to share our thoughts on the two. Hopefully, this will help parents like myself who either have the most determined little girl who won’t stop asking for her own motorcycle or a precocious little boy just starting to ask if they can go with mommy or daddy riding. 

Well, help in that you pick the right motorcycle. I can’t help if they become hooligans like the rest of us. That’s on you. 

Kawasaki Elektrode

Gigi’s Kawasaki Elektrode Review

I’ll be the first to admit that one of the reasons I immediately loved the idea of the Elektrode wasn’t because of specs or whatever, but because my first motorcycle was a 1986 Kawasaki Ninja 600. So the idea of my daughter’s being a Kawasaki, too, was just cool. My daughter is far more unbiased and unafraid to tell us her opinions, though. 

“I like that it fits me,” she tells me during breakfast one morning, adding, “And you can change the seat as I get bigger.” I prompt “Taller?” and she nods in agreement. She’s not wrong, the girl is lanky and touches the pegs on full-size motorcycles already, and the Kawasaki has a good amount of adjustability in terms of the seat height and the bar angle to grow with her. 

Kawasaki Elektrode
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 In that same vein, she was also keen on the power adjustability of the Elektrode, saying “I liked starting slow. But now I’m fast. I like that it’s fast but not fast that I’d fall off!” Thankfully, I’ve had a few motorcycles and e-bikes lying around to chase her, but while on our hikes, that’s slightly harder since I usually have a dog leash in my hands, a kid on my shoulders, and my 40-pound Sitka hunting backpack. What she also told me was that she likes the Kawasaki’s throttle, in that she can modulate it pretty easily. “I feel safer with the green bike,” she tells me, adding “not the blue (Razor) one”, which I’ll get to why in a second. 

The Kawasaki has a standard motorcycle-style throttle in that it runs the entire length of the handlebar, it’s not just some nub at the end of the bars. And the three power levels are incremental, giving parents and children alike the space to learn in one setting before moving to the next. She sorta skipped the first setting, however, as she’s a speed demon and, like I said earlier, taller. So the slowest setting was a little too slow for her to ride without falling off. 

“I also like the style. I like the color because it’s green and pink.” Those pink graphics are available through Kawasaki, which we got and she helped me apply before she ever ripped it around. But what can I say, she loves the color pink and it looks pretty damn rad. Her HJC helmet is also pink, and she’d have it no other way. 

As for the Razor…

Razor MX350

Gigi’s Razor MX350 Review

“I don’t like the size,” Gigi says, so I ask her why. “Because I’m bigger, so that’s why I’m doing the Kawasaki,” she tells me. And again, she’s not wrong. Gigi’s tall for her age at around 4 feet and that Razor doesn’t have any of the adjustments that the Kawasaki has, so she sits on top of it, rather with it. 

What’s wild to me, however, is that Razor says this is built not for younger children like Gigi, but for older kids. When I brought this idea up to Razor last year, they tried to get Gigi on the smaller MX125 because it would “Suit younger children”, while I was looking at the company’s MX650. I can’t help but wonder whether she would’ve liked the MX650 more given that it might fit her better.

Her criticism doesn’t stop there. “I don’t like the Razor because it can make me fall off,” she says after stuffing a spoonful of cereal into her face. “How do you mean?” I ask quiz her. “I can’t use it,” mimicking the throttle. “Oh, because it’s jerky. It’s on/off, right?” I say, to which she says “Yeah!” From both what I watched her do, as well as when I’ve moved the bike into our garage, she’s right. There’s slack in the chain drive, but there’s an immediacy to the throttle—and no way to modulate power—that makes for a jerky experience. The result is a lot of whiskey throttle. Not super great for children, in my opinion. 

She also mentioned that she didn’t like the throttle itself, telling me it was like “Your bike in the shed” otherwise known as my QuietKat Lynx electric bicycle, i.e. that it doesn’t have a full handlebar throttle. Instead, the Razor has just a partial throttle near where your thumb sits. This engineering is sort of odd to me in that it makes sense for the Lynx and other e-bikes, as you want a partial static handlebar when you’re riding it like a bicycle. But why would you do that for a fully electric motorcycle? Why not just do a full handlebar throttle like the Kawasaki or literally every other motorcycle on the market? 

“I don’t have control. I don’t like that,” she tells me. I get it, I wouldn’t either. 

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What’s Next?

“But soon I’ll need a bigger one,” she says confidently, “I’ll need one when I’m 11.” She’s about to turn six, so I think I have some time if her inner timetable is right. I don’t think it is. She’s not only growing like some gamma radiation-exposed Hulk, but she’s taking to her motorcycles like a fish to water. 

I see the same steely-eyed determination whenever she hops onto the Kawasaki that I saw when she first hopped onto her bicycle without training wheels. She’s going to be riding circles around me in no time. I’m doomed. But this was always sorta the plan. I was hoping to get her into motorcycles so one day we could go out and ride a set of dirt bikes together and go on an adventure. She’s progressing to that point rapidly. 

We still have a ways to go, but I think it’ll happen sooner than I predicted. Luckily, the Kawasaki can still grow with her as she gains more confidence. It’s the more expensive of the two options, but the one I’d still go with if you want to learn the right way. 

I will say that I get the idea behind the Razor. It makes sense for older kids who aren’t as young as Gigi and have a little more finite control of their hands and feet. It’s super small though, which confounds me as someone who’s always struggled with cramped engineering—I’m 6’4”. And the price point isn’t bad at all. 

But the Kawasaki offers far more customization, adaptation and capability when you’re trying to teach your kids the fundamentals of motorcycle riding. “Daddy, when can I ride my motorcycle again?” she asks me as she hops down from her chair. Help, I’ve created a mini-me.

 

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