2018 Kawasaki KX85

All rise for the power valve.

2018 Kawasaki KX85Kawasaki

From rotary valves to reed valves to power valves, over the decades, engineers have tried multiple pathways to improve the output and broaden the powerband of two-stroke engines. Like most modern two-strokes, the KX85 mini-motocrosser has reed-valve induction, but it also offers an exhaust power valve, which not all similarly sized machines can boast. Controlled by engine rpm and throttle position, the power valve adjusts exhaust-port timing to conditions, giving the KX85 a meatier powerband and thus a competitive advantage.

There is more to love besides the KX85’s powerband though, including an inverted fork, 10.8 inches of multi-adjustable suspension travel at both ends, and a low wet weight of 165 pounds. Don’t let the steel frame scare you away. While not as “modern” a material as aluminum, on the KX85, the tidy dimensions of the steel tubes contribute to a slender machine that’s more suitable for smaller riders. No big-wheel version is offered, so when growing riders turn into beanpoles, they’ll have to hit the aftermarket for parts or else step up to a KX100 or a competitor’s 125 as the next step.

Likes: Seriously fast, adjustable handlebar mounts, great appearance

Dislikes: Lags behind big bikes in suspension tech

Verdict: A serious racer that is also forgiving for novices

2018 Kawasaki KX85 Specs and Pricing

MSRP $4,349