VIDEO: 2016 Kawasaki KX85

2016 Dirt Rider 85cc MX Shootout: Fourth Place

The 2016 Kawasaki KX85 has had an update as recently as 2014, when it got a new frame, new bodyworks, and updates to the engine and the suspension’s valving. The green bike was lacking in power compared to most of the engines it competed against, and the powerplant had its best power right in the middle of the rpm range. On our second day of testing, at a tighter desert test track, the Kawi did much better on rider score sheets since the short straights there didn’t highlight the bike’s lack of ponies. Suspensionwise, the Kawasaki’s suspension worked better on the the slow speed chop than the high speed bumps, and the chassis seemed more dependent on sag setting and fork height to get a balanced feel. Test riders were split on the handling, with some riders giving it high praise, others feeling the bike was heavy; though most riders agreed the bike had a low and compact rider cockpit.

A general note to non-riders: We tested with a group of six young but highly skilled and very experienced racers, and our shootout was geared toward this type of top-level racer. If you're researching a first bikes for a kid, none of the 85cc race bikes are a great choice, a trail bike (CRF-F, TT-R, DR-Z, KLX) would be the right machine to get a youngster into the sport.