It’s like getting hit the face with a metal pan, when the power band hits on an off-road 450. The acceleration is so violent and so immediate that it makes you wet your pants. So if you’re planning to start your off-road adventures atop a 450, well, just don’t. It won’t end well. What you need is a nice, friendly trail-bike that is light and manoeuvrable, yet has enough grunt to give you your daily adrenaline fix. What you need is something like the KLX 140G.
The KLX series is Kawasaki’s trail and endure line of motorycles. That means that they do not use competition-spec components and have engine lives longer than the lifespan of a fly. The idea of the KLX line is to mix performance and usability. The series starts from mini-bikes like the KLX110 and goes up to the KLX450R, which is Kawasaki’s competition-spec enduro racer. Right in the middle of this spectrum sits the KLX140G- mid spec, learner friendly, 144cc, trail motorcycle. In case you’re wondering, the G in the name stands for giant.
What this means is that the KLX140G uses full-size wheels unlike the KLX140L, which is meant for younger riders. It uses the 21-inch and 18-inch combination that is standard across almost all full-size off-road motorcycles. The KLX140G uses a simple formula for power- a 144cc, air-cooled, single cylinder, four-stroke motor. Why the lack of sophistication? Because the simpler the engine, the easier it becomes to run and maintain the motorcycle. To dumb it down further, the fewer the parts, the more unlikely they are to break down.
So, unlike competition motorcycles, engine life isn’t 40-50 hours. It is closer to the regular street-going motorcycles. However, one thing that stays similar to competition motorcycles is the chassis. It is an aluminium perimeter unit that is a lot like the frames used on the KX motorcycles. This frame is attached to a conventional, 33mm, Showa fork upfront and a fully adjustable, single shock with Kawasaki’s
Uni-Trak linkage system at the rear. The front gets 190m m of travel and the rear, 200mm. This isn’t incredible amounts of travel, but is adequate for most trail work. There are also disc brakes at both ends and most importantly, it also gets an electric starter. But enough with the specs. How does it feel to ride? In one word-brilliant. I’ve always maintained that Honda’s CRF230F was the friendliest, full size, off-road motorcycle out there, because most of the 150s felt too slow. But not the KLX.
The engine delivers so much torque right from low down that you can climb ridiculous inclines on shifty surfaces without thinking twice. And it isn’t slow either. You can carry some serious speed through the trails. Now I’m not talking about 140kph kind of speeds, but an 80kph seems doable without any stress. And the suspension? Oh man, for something that has only 190mm of travel, it can handle whoops and jumps pretty well. It never bottoms out and is incredibly absorbent.
It usually takes people a little while to get used to a new motorcycle. But not on the KLX. Within a few minutes on the trail, you will find your rhythm. And a lot of it has to do with the motorcycle’s friendly ergonomics and size. For someone of average Indian height, the KLX isn’t too tall. You can comfortably have one foot on the ground and also have both feet down on tippy toes. The seat is long and narrow and except for right up front, it is relatively flat too, allowing you to move around easily.
The KLX140G marries learner-friendly size, unintimidating yet adequate performance and a puppy-doglike character. Of course, like all the other off-road Kawasakis on sale here, the KLX140G too is not road legal and cannot be registered. This means you cannot ride this motorcycle to the Kawasaki service centre when the time comes. You’ll need a truck every single time. On the plus side, not being road legal also means that 3.91 lakh (plus transport cost) is the landed price.
To me, the 140G is one of the best bikes to hone your off-road skills before you graduate to something bigger. Yes, you will have fun with it and learn your basic skills too. But you will also plateau in a while and want something bigger, faster and more sophisticated. But then again, isn’t that the truth of motorcycling? You will always, eventually, want something bigger, better and faster.