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We test the trusty 2023 Kawasaki KLX230 S to see if it is more trail, enduro or even adventure!

The last time we tested the Kawasaki KLX230 S was in 2019 in issue #488 and while not much has changed from a development perspective, curiosity has been eating away at me. It was fun as a dirtbike but its overall performance in single trail was limited by the gear required to make it ADR compliant. So, I’d been thinking, how would it go as an adventure bike? After all, it has more adventure qualities than dirtbike. We grabbed the latest model, strapped a bag on the back and hit the purple line out of Sydney.


ADR Compliant Almost all enduro and trail bikes are ADR compliant but none are as compliant as the Kawasaki KLX230 S and this is good for adventure riding. Most Kawasaki KLX230 S will be sold with the the mirrors, indicators and pillion ‘pegs fitted. The same can’t be said for enduro bikes, often sold with just the front indicators and a brake light.

ABS Brakes If you’re going to load up a bike with luggage and hit the road, ABS brakes are actually excellent for beginner adventure bike riders. They take the emphasis of perfect brake control and let you focus on other aspects of riding without tucking the front-end. The rear brake on the KLX230 S has switchable ABS so you can still skid it around and from our experience, ABS on the front and not on the rear is a great combo for adventure riding.

Tyres The unbranded tyres are a great compromise for both dirt and bitumen surfaces. They look like they will crunch some miles and they had pretty decent grip too.

Seat The seat is wide, flat and low, perfect for long hauls sitting down. It has a strap at the back to which you can grab to lift the bike or strap things down to. With a seat height of 830mm, the Kawasaki KLX230 S seat is 40mm lower than the KLR650. This is better for learners and short-arses.

Size The KLX230 S is not a full size bike. It is a three-quarter bike which for beginners is ideal for learning how to adventure ride on. While it has the same ground clearance as a KLR650 at 210mm it weights a staggering 87kg less at 135kg. If you have to pick it up off the ground or balance it between your legs, less weight is a game-changer.

Gearing The gearing on the Kawasaki KLX230 S is perfect for adventure riding. We hit 130km/h in sixth gear and could have stretched it further. But we could also ride around in first and second in the tight dirt sections without needing to abuse the clutch. Gearing is spot on for adventure riding for beginners.

Suspension This one falls into both the good and bad column. The suspension is incredibly soft which is great for long days in the saddle but if you were to load it up with panniers this might be an issue.

Instrument cluster The headlight and cockpit setup while bulky provide plenty of space to hang other bits and pieces off like a GPS or phone. The tachometer is also great with plenty on display from revs, to speed and fuel level.

Keys This is a strange one but having a key on an adventure bike is a good thing. It allows you to lock it up while you’re in a pub in the middle of nowhere. You can also lock the fuel cap so no cheap bastard can steal your fuel while you’re sleeping.


Suspension travel While the suspension is nice and soft for long hauls, it does not have a great deal of travel at 158mm front and 168mm rear. When we loaded it with gear, it sunk into the travel even further.

Fuel While we found the fuel consumption quite good, we were a little worried that the small, 7.5-litre tank wouldn’t carry us further than 250km. We rode for about 150km and had to put nearly five litres in it.

Tiedowns The major issue for the KLX230 S is that there is nowhere to tie a bag off to. A simple rack on the rear that sits above the rear mudguard would be good. We understand why there isn’t one, this bike wasn’t designed as an adventure bike.


The Kawasaki KLX230 S would suit a beginner adventure bike rider still learning how to ride. It has an incredibly smooth, EFI, 233cc motor that isn’t intimidating. The seating and standing positions are very neutral and the low seat height and soft suspension mean getting your feet on the ground to save a fall is easy. The ABS on the front will help a beginner learn to brake in the dirt and the tacho with excellent display is easy for a beginner to keep an eye on where things are.

Without any carry racks you’ll struggle to fit the kitchen sink on the back but an overnight bag strapped down nice and tight will still work. And, at $6663 plus ORC the price is just about right.

Engine Type             Four-stroke, air-cooled, single-cylinder

Displacement           233 cm³

Bore x Stroke           67.0 x 66.0mm

Compression Ratio 9.4:1

Fuel System              Fuel Injection Keihin

Starting                      Electric

Transmission           Six-speed

Clutch                         Wet multi-disc

Suspension – front  Conventional 37mm telescopic fork, 158mm travel

Suspension – rear   New Uni Trak with adjustable preload, 168mm travel

Brakes – front           Single 265mm disc ABS

Brakes – rear             Single 220mm disc ABS (switchable)

Wheelbase                1,360 mm

Ground Clearance   210mm

Seat height                885mm

Fuel Capacity           7.5 litres

Weight                        135kg (wet)

Tyre Size-front         21-inch IRC Trails-GP

Tyre Size-rear           18-inch IRC Trails-GP

Warranty                    24 Months Unlimited Kilometres

RRP                             $6663

Words | Mitch Lees

Photos | ML & Josh Evans