Kawasaki may not have invented the mid-size pit bike, but its KLX110 has defined the class with outstanding standard performance, solid reliability and a boatload of additional potential. Since it out-muscled Honda’s XR70R and beats up on Yamaha’s TT-R 110, the KLX has been one of the few pit bikes that can be raced at the highest levels with the stock frame and survive, so it can easily take the abuse of a kid who can break an anvil with a rubber hammer. After many years unchanged, the 2010 KLX gets a tough new look and added performance. It seems Kawasaki managed to upgrade the bike to help more advanced youth riders and adults without screwing it up for kids. A host of small changes make the KLX new, but one change makes the bike twice as fun: Now there are two to choose from. The 110 now comes in an L version with more substantial suspension, a two-inch higher seat height and a manual clutch.A few of the new upgrades are going to put an “ouch!” on the aftermarket. Tapered steering head bearings, a manual clutch (on the L) and a new four-speed transmission highlight the list. The four-speed is a closer ratio, so the top speed is near the same as with the old three-speed, but the gear spacing is more compatible with the new engine’s 15-percent stronger output. This means that riders will shift the new bike a little more often, so other refinements in the transmission also ease shifting effort. The regular 110 selects those gears with an auto-clutch feature as it always has, but the L has a sweet manual clutch. It is cable operated, but has a nice engagement and a pull that any aged rider will appreciate. In addition to freeing up the exhaust flow, changes in valve timing, ignition and the piston rings help increase boost. More riders, especially younger kids and first timers, will appreciate the fact that the KLX is now electric-start. It retains a reshaped kickstarter for battery failure emergencies, which we have not experienced. The bike does not require a key. A combination on/off switch/starter button turns the bike on and reminds you that it is on with a light.
Much of the R&D time was spent on suspension. The swingarm pivot is lowered, and there is a longer, stiffer rear shock. It allows no adjustments, but does offer increased bottoming resistance. The fork was tuned up to match. The suspension on the 110L is more than a tune-up, though. The travel is increased, and the fork legs have more axle underhang.Riding the new bikes is a treat compared to the older version. It takes no time at all to get spoiled by the E-start, and the bike warms up quickly for a green sticker -legal machine with an easy to reach choke knob. The engine is responsive and pulls well gear-to-gear without the gappy bogs and hitches common with the old three-speed. It has pretty good torque for such a small motor; it feels like there is plenty of flywheel effect to keep her spinning. Thanks to great jetting, the bike is peppy and responsive like it has a lighter flywheel when you get on the gas. It revs out pretty far but the bulk of the useable power is in the lower and mid-range parts of the RPM. The power spread works well with the new transmission. About our only complaint with the engine is that the exhaust noise is higher than what we’d like for a bike that could be ridden around in a backyard.
The handling on the KLX110 is as fine as ever. The bike has a good suspension balance front-to-rear and the handling is nimble, and riders didn’t feel the added weight of the starter. The 110L has roughly an inch more travel, sits higher, has more clearance for the rider’s legs, and the controls and footpegs-especially the under-footpeg brake lever-don’t drag as easily. The engine is up higher, and you do feel that, but most riders felt the difference was worth it, and most liked the manual clutch. Kawasaki has done a great job in setting the suspension to be stiff enough to take a beating from kids jumping it (you know that’s all kids want to do anyways!) while at the same time hold up an adult who thinks they are a kid. Both front and rear have decent bottoming resistance but you can still get them to clank. And watch the footpeg bolts as they screw into the cases-you don’t want them to tear out. Yet even for a new rider right in the size range for either of these bikes, the suspension will get the job done and give room to grow. Both 110s are better for larger, more aggressive riders, but with the new electric start the KLX is better than ever for new riders.The drum brakes are a little on the soft side for anyone used to discs, but they slow the bike fine and are not intimidating for a first timer who may not be so coordinated with the controls. The KLX has been picked on for is its overall weight, right at 160 pounds without gas. It feels a bit heavy compared to some of its competition, especially when picking it up after a tumble, but the additional weight of the electric starter did not make a noticeable difference in weight feel to our testers. Durability on these bikes has been excellent in our experience. The motor, when left stock, is bulletproof. Over time the suspension valving will fade and the footpegs and especially the rear brake pedal will get wrapped around and bent. But the big pieces hold up just fine to all normal abuse.The 2010 KLX110 and KLX110L are a perfect upgrade from an already successful model. Kawasaki made all the right improvements, wrapped it in a more stylish skin and included a second size to more fully round out the line, providing more options for buyers out there. As a first or second machine for a young guy, you can’t go wrong. Especially considering they can keep riding it as they get older, and you can, too.
|Claimed weight||168 lb.||168 lb.|
|Actual weight (tank full)||166 lb.||165 lb.|
|Seat height||26.6 in.||28.5 in.|
|Footpeg height||11.5 in.||12.5 in.|
|Ground clearance||8.4 in.||10.0 in.|
|Wheelbase||42.6 in.||42.6 in.|
Weight 127 lb.
Experienced pit bike nutThe 2010 KLX110 and KLX110L are pretty similar to my 2009 KLX, but with a lot more cool little features that make it a whole new bike. To start off, both of the 2010s have a fourth gear, which I have been trying to get for my ’09 ever since I bought it. One of the things I was skeptical about was the electric start, because I thought it would make a bike that is already heavy a lot heavier, but to my surprise I didn’t even know it was there while I was riding – until I had to start it. I favored the 110L because it had much more ground clearance than the standard 110, and that can be very helpful on the trails. The only problem that I noticed about the KLX110L is that the rear end rides a little high, but having the extra inch of travel is worth it. The last advantage to the 2010 is a much fiercer look compared to the older, mellower body style.
Weight 185 lb.
Former minibike legendThe KLX seems to be the hot pit bike for anyone serious about pit bike riding and racing. Kawasaki has done an excellent job of improving the smaller one and creating the larger one for anyone interested in getting into this now-outdated and ever so cult-like riding craze. Easily a solid choice for a new rider, provided they fit on the bike size-wise, we wanted to know if they hold up to mondo-adult-sized fun. And they do. We motoed these bikes on our backyard courses and even took them riding on some off-road loops, dragging and sliding them over rocks and downed trees. Though anyone serious will still be easily looking at dropping near the price of the machine on modifications, box-stock I had plenty of fun without harming the bike or my now-fragile body. And that is asking a lot from the suspension. The electric start is a bonus. On a cost per smile ratio, I don’t know of any bike in any size that matches the KLX. And if you don’t believe me, you wouldn’t understand it no matter how much I try to explain it.