When it comes to ADV motorcycles, we’ve all gotta start somewhere, right?
While social media is filled with pictures and videos of riders on huge R 1250 GS reaching the farthest corners of the globe, you’d be foolish to think they got their start on a bike that big.
As with any activity worth doing in life, starting small is the best. The same is true when it comes to ADV riding.
You’ll want a motorcycle that’s manageable, light, and cheap – all qualities you’ll find in the Kawasaki KLX230S.
What Makes a Good Beginner Bike?
One of the things the KLX230S has going for it for beginning ADV riders is how unassuming it is. It’s narrow, and even though it might seem tall, the soft suspension compresses quite a bit once you sit on it.
This combination of narrowness and plushness means average-size adults should be able to touch the ground fairly easily – that’s a big deal for new riders.
You might also notice the headlight at the front and turn signals at the rear. This means it’s road legal. Sure, learning on the dirt is great practice, but combining it with real-world riding out on the roads will serve you well for future ADV riding.
But let’s not dwell on the road stuff for too long other than to know you can legally go there.
As you probably guessed from the name, the KLX230 is powered by a 233cc, air-cooled, two-valve, single-cylinder engine. For the new rider, this translates into a bulletproof engine that requires little maintenance.
It doesn’t make a lot of power, either – a great thing if you’re still learning the ropes. The power is easy to manage as one adapts to the delicate dance of using the clutch and the throttle at the same time. Speaking of the clutch, pull is very light and simple, too.
Once you get going on the KLX, the narrowness and lightweight translates into a bike that’s easy to get along with, as you’re able to maneuver around parking lots, open fields, or if you’re up for it, a trail, without much effort.
Kawasaki sells two versions of the KLX, with or without ABS. On the road, ABS is a great safety feature, especially when road conditions aren’t very good.
Even though the KLX brakes are far from powerful or aggressive (which is what you want as a new rider), there’s plenty of stopping power to lock up either end, say, if a deer crosses the road in front of you suddenly and you rush for the brakes with all you’ve got.
Without ABS, there’s a good chance you’re going down. With it, you have better odds of staying upright and avoiding that deer.
However, the tables get turned once you go in the dirt. You want to be able to lock up the wheels (the rear especially).
If you see yourself spending more time in the dirt than on the road, the non-ABS version would be the way to go.
As you’re learning the ropes off-road, getting comfortable locking the rear and feeling it slide is an invaluable lesson.
Eventually, you can even use the slide to your advantage to point the bike where you want to go. But that’s a lesson for another time.