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TRAIL TEST | 2023 KAWASAKI KLX230R | Bike Reviews

Does the 230cc four-stroke have a place or is it in no-man’s land? We test the 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R to find out.

You get enough top-riders to tell you you’d be better off on a rocket ship of a bike rather than a reliable, rideable steed and you’re walking out of a dealer’s door with a KTM 500 EXC-F. But most people don’t need a high-powered four-stroke, they need a 230, more specifically a 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R.

We grabbed a 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R and headed off into the bush with our 13-year-old tester, Marcello Evans to see if he would be more comfortable jumping on a 230 than a 250.


The 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R is air-cooled like those older ones before it but this time the 233cc four-stroke motor is injected not carburetted. It runs a six-speed transmission and an electric starter and disc brakes front and rear. It has a 37mm telescopic fork, just like the CRF230F did and Uni Trak shock. It carries 6.6 litres of fuel and tips the scales at 115kg.

The KLX230R is not registerable so it doesn’t carry any of the ADR compliance gear the KLX230 S does. Oh and it runs a 21-inch tyre up the front and an 18-inch tyre out the back so while the steel perimeter frame is quite small, the wheel sizes are big to help with bumps and rocks.


Marcello is more than capable of hopping on a 250cc four-stroke and ripping the hell out of it. He’s sneakily jumped on his dad’s Beta RR300 before and I’ve seen him riding around on a Yamaha YZ450F when the owner wasn’t watching. So while Marcello may not need the KLX230R as a stepping stone to a bigger bike, he has tested a handful of bikes for ADB and that means he has a great wealth of testing experience to draw on.

That being said, Marcello’s current ride is a modified KLX140 so the KLX230R would naturally be the next step up. After hitting a few laps of the trail loop we had setup, Marcello had a big grin on his face and came back in exclaiming “Immediately, I love the extra power!” when he compared it with his KLX140.

“Riding a KLX140 for a few years has made me used to heavy bikes. So jumping on the 230 wasn’t a shock at all, compared to someone coming from an 85cc two-stroke” Marcello went on to say. The KLX140 weighs 95kg wet so it’s about 20kg less than the KLX230R. The Kawasaki KX85 weighs 73kg so the difference is much bigger.

Asked how he felt tearing off into the bush for the first time, Marcello said, “I felt comfortable on it straight away and got stuck into my favourite fast tracks and didn’t think about the bike too much. When my Dad and you (Mitch) forced me to think about what I liked, all I could think about was how can I get one because the extra power was so much fun”.

When comparing it to his KLX140, Marcello said the power difference was massive. “Powering out of corners and tractoring up hills was so much better than my KLX140. Crack the throttle, and it just goes with no delay. Monos were a lot easier because of the extra torque, and I didn’t need to get the revs exactly right to mono, which was a nice change. It has a lot of power that’s easy to use anywhere in the rev range, especially for my weight.

When Marcello came back in we asked him to see how fast he could go on it and he was blown away by how fast it went but also how easy it was to control. “I did some speed runs down a road and top speed was a lot of fun! It was definitely the fastest I’ve ever been on a bike”.

Marcello’s KLX140 has motocross suspension so it’s quite firm for a trailbike so we were concerned the KLX230 would feel too soft. “I’m only 50 kilos, so the standard suspension was pretty good, maybe a bit stiff but it was brand new so it would soften up as it wears in. The stiff suspension made it easy to hit rocks and roots to lift the front or do little jumps. I got addicted to that for a while”. Turns out we were wrong!

We asked if he noticed the extra 20 kilograms when stationary and he did mention that he struggled to resurrect it after one crash. “I only dropped the bike once, which was a pain because I struggled to lift it back up. It’s 115kilos, 20 kilos heavier than my 140. So for harder enduro riding it may be a bit much for me right now. But for riding that is easy for me, I loved it a lot.

“Except for the weight issue if I dropped it, it was super easy to ride”.

But, the main question we wanted to know, was did Marcello think the 2023 Kawasaki KLX230R was a good bike for riders to get used to before jumping up to a 250cc four-stroke and he definitely thought it had a place in that market.

“It stopped well and basically did everything I wanted” Marcello said. “I’ve ridden a few 250cc four-strokes, and they are way too tall, and the power is way too crazy to enjoy. I think the KLX230 would be a good bike if the 140 size is a bit too small and the 250s are too much”.


Engine Four-stroke single-cylinder, SOHC, two valves

Displacement 233 cc

Bore x Stroke 67.0 x 66.0 mm

Compression Ratio 9.4:1

Fuel System Fuel injection

Starting Electric

Cooling Air-cooled

Transmission Six-speed

Clutch Wet multi-disc, manual

Fuel Capacity 6.6 litres


Ground Clearance 275mm

Seat Height 900mm

Weight 115kg (wet)


Front Suspension 37 mm telescopic fork, 220mm travel

Rear Suspension New Uni Trak with adjustable spring preload, 223mm

Front Tyre 80/100-21-inch

Rear Tyre 100/100-18

Front Brake Dual-piston, 240mm disc

Rear Brake Single-piston, 220mm disc


RRP $6,362


WARRANTY Six months parts and labour