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2001 Kawasaki KX85: MD Ride Review

Kawasaki has been known for its 80cc motocrosser with a broad spread of power. Good low end, coupled with a solid mid-range, but a little weak on top compared to some of the competition. For 2001, Kawasaki tried to combine the best of both worlds — a good, rideable low-end and mid-range, with a shrieking top end.

A big part of Kawasaki’s strategy was to provide a stock bike with an 84.9cc motor — 5cc larger than the competition. Kawasaki accomplished this by increasing the bore of its cylinder. The larger, but lighter, piston produces slightly less compression in the re-designed cylinder head, which tends to increase high rpm power.

A new 28mm carburetor (2mm larger than last year) works with revised ignition timing and improved air flow from the air box to boost power, as well.

Finally, Kawasaki redesigned its exhaust port, revised its power valve system (KIPS), added a carbon fiber reed and a new exhaust pipe.

All of these changes, coupled with the significant increase in displacement, allowed Kawasaki to maintain a broad, relatively easy to ride, powerband with a stronger top-end pull.

A new look also graces the KX85 with a new gas tank providing a lower center of gravity, and a new left-side shroud that makes the bike look like its bigger siblings. The KX85 has a front fork that is adjustable for compression damping, and rear shock that is adjustable for preload, compression and rebound damping.

The bike was test ridden by Evan Edge, an experienced 11 year old rider. Evan is about four foot seven inches, and this was his first ride on an 80 class motocrosser. Evan has been riding since the age of 5, and his most recent ride was a Suzuki DS80 (primarily, a trail riding machine). Evan likes to trail ride, with the occasional motocross track thrown in. Evan is not a racer.

Evan absolutely loved the KX85! The power was smooth and broad and, at first, Evan was somewhat intimidated by the top end rush. The KX85 is very fast, but very smooth in its power delivery.

The thing Evan raved most about was the suspension. Weighing in at approximately 80 pounds ready-to-ride (with all of his gear on), Evan left the suspension where Kawasaki’s Joel Albrecht dialed it. He found the suspension extremely plush, yet he never bottomed while landing from relatively high jumps.

Adding to the cushy feel of the ride was a very comfortable seat.

Other than being a little bit short for the bike, Evan had no trouble kick starting it. The engine typically fired right up, and Evan felt the clutch and transmission worked perfectly for him. He doesn’t recall missing a single shift, or finding a false neutral.

Evan felt the bike handled well in a straight line (no complaints of head shake) and turned well — both on a motocross track and while trail riding. The low end power was more than enough for Evan’s trail riding, and probably better than some of the competition that focuses on more top-end hit.

Evan tends to use the back brake more than most riders, and he felt that the Kawasaki had a powerful, yet controllable rear brake. Evan wasn’t accustomed to a front disc as powerful as the KX85’s, and he never pushed it to its limits. He felt that it worked fine for his purposes, however.

The bottom line is that Kawasaki appears to have successfully combined its traditional, broad, easy-to-ride powerband with a much stronger top end. The KX85 is an excellent bike for novices to experts, and a pretty good trail bike for experienced, faster trail riders.

The MSRP of the 2001 KX85 is $3,199.00. Check out Kawasaki’s KX85 page for more info.