Navigating the vast terrain of dirt biking brings riders face-to-face with many options, each promising unparalleled performance. Amidst this landscape stands the Kawasaki KLX140L, a formidable contender boasting power, user-friendliness, and adaptability. In this detailed “Kawasaki KLX140L Review“, we delve deep into its mechanics, comparing it with its closest rivals and providing a holistic perspective for potential enthusiasts and seasoned riders alike. Our insights stem from firsthand experience, addressing its commendable features coupled with the challenges it poses.
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Kawasaki KLX140L Review: A Detailed Insight
One immediately notices the simple air-cooled motor when one looks at the machine. The electric start mechanism makes it a breeze to ignite and set into motion. Its user-friendliness is notable, especially for beginners. It’s impressive how it boasts the highest power in its class, thanks to its largest displacement. When it comes to maintenance, they appreciate the ease of regular upkeep. Moreover, the fully adjustable rear shock and disc brakes are key highlights.
Drawbacks to Consider
However, every rose has its thorns. The carburetor might take some time and effort to fine-tune to perfection. They noticed some discrepancies with the chain adjustment marks. Certain rubber components showed signs of decay when they first acquired the machine.
An Honest Overview
Acquiring the 2020 KLX140L right at the dawn of its release season seemed promising. Primarily, the purchase was for their young one’s learning curve. Initially, the bike appeared a tad too tall, but the growing rider found it slightly diminutive with time. The future might see them opting for a preloved model, possibly a Honda CRF230F or its contemporaries. It’s intriguing that in 2021, a rebranding took place, changing its title from KLX140L to KLX140RL. Yet, any significant alterations in the design or features need to be discernible.
Build and Ride Experience
In terms of construction quality, it fares decently. The lightweight nature is a boon for its category, simplifying the riding experience considerably. It exudes a non-threatening aura, perfect for novices, provided they measure up to the seat’s altitude. Over three cycles, their youngster has evolved into a confident trail rider, with certain terrains proving slightly taxing. Occasionally, challenging terrains demanded their intervention.
The power rendered is ample for a budding rider. Its efficiency on diverse tracks speaks volumes about its versatility. With disc brakes gracing both ends, the halting prowess is commendable. However, an observation from their end is the slightly elevated position of the rear brake pedal. Adjusting the rear shock proves beneficial, catering to diverse riders, terrains, and expertise levels. Noteworthy mentions include the electric starter, a 5-speed manual gear shift, and a clutch. As for protective gear, it has a rudimentary plastic skid plate and metal protectors jutting out from the lower frame.
To date, the original tires have held up commendably. Their trail ventures have spanned single and twin tracks, meandering through terrains like soft soil, gravel, muddy patches, waterlogged areas, loose pebbles, and rocky inclines. The bike’s performance under varying degrees of challenge – from flat terrains to moderately inclined landscapes – remains consistent and trustworthy.
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Kawasaki KLX140L Review: Service Insights
After acquiring the bike, the first order of business was to dive into its service manual, as is typical for any dedicated rider. Within the initial 5 hours or a month, standard maintenance commenced. It was a smooth process involving changing the oil and filter, scrutinizing the valve clearances, and inspecting elements such as fasteners, the air filter, and controls. A discovery was made regarding the KLX140L’s screw-type valve adjusters: the intake valve was off by a mere 0.01 mm. Nevertheless, after some adjustments, everything aligned more or less at the midpoint of their respective ranges. Following this, the maintenance milestones were every 50 or 6 months, except for valve clearances set at 100 or 12 months.
From the get-go, challenges arose. Difficulties in starting and a subpar run performance characterized the bike’s behavior. A notable power lag was evident, especially at lower engine speeds. This often made slow-paced rides a cumbersome affair. Despite numerous visits to the dealer, varying adjustments to the carburetor, and a myriad of changes in pilot jets, a consistent solution still needed to be discovered. The fluctuating elevations further complicated the matter. Although higher power ranges seemed unproblematic, achieving smooth operation at lower engine speeds remained a hurdle. Ultimately, the conclusion was drawn: the carburetor was exquisitely sensitive to changes in elevation and perhaps even temperature.
Upon closer inspection, several quality concerns surfaced. A compromised rubber component on the starter motor, a deteriorated rubber boot linked to the throttle cable, and a defective drain tube for the air box were just a few. Even after addressing these issues under warranty, other hitches, such as an air box leak after a wash, prompted further action. The seal between the air box and carburetor demanded a reseal.
The bike’s chain adjustment marks posed another gripe. Their inaccuracy forced reliance on manual measurements for chain adjustments. The wishful thinking was for Kawasaki to have incorporated the more intuitive snail-type chain adjusters, akin to what Honda and Yamaha employ.
Towards the end of a riding season, a new issue emerged: a fuel leak from the carburetor. Suspicions rested on the gasket, potentially damaged from previous services. Investigation revealed misaligned screws and sealants where they shouldn’t be. After addressing these, the fuel leakage issue dissipated.
Setting aside those above, the Kawasaki KLX140L primarily demanded the regular upkeep any motorcycle enthusiast would expect. Apart from the highlighted issues, no further complications arose.
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Kawasaki KLX140L Review: Valve Clearance Insights
Valve Clearance Specifications
Taking a detailed look, it’s emphasized that for the most comprehensive insights, referring directly to the service manual is recommended. Nonetheless, at room temperature, the valve clearances should fall within the following metrics:
- Intake: 0.04 – 0.08 mm (or 0.002 – 0.003 inches)
- Exhaust: 0.11 – 0.15 mm (or 0.0043 – 0.0059 inches)
It’s pertinent to note that measurements for valve clearances are taken when the piston rests at its top dead center (TDC) during the compression phase.
In terms of torque:
- Valve adjusting screw locknut: 8.8 Nm (or 78 in.lb)
- Valve adjusting cap bolts: 8.8 Nm (or 78 in.lb)
- Camshaft chain cover bolts: 8.8 Nm (or 78 in.lb)
Interestingly, the torque remains consistent across all these bolts.
Valve Clearance Check Procedure
To dive into the valve clearance inspection:
- Begin by removing several components – side panels, tank cover, seat, and the fuel tank.
- Then, proceed to remove the camshaft chain cover. This is the circular cover on the cylinder head’s top left.
- The valve adjusting caps (2 in number) must also be removed. Removing the lid from the alternator cover on the motor’s left side is essential. This action allows for the crankshaft’s counter-clockwise rotation using a socket and ratchet on the crankshaft bolt.
- Though not mandatory, the process is eased if the sparkplug is detached first. Rotating the crankshaft counter-clockwise and aligning the camshaft sprocket mark with the cylinder head’s projection mark is imperative. An additional rotation is required if the intake valve hasn’t opened and closed. This ensures the piston is at TDC during the compression phase. At this juncture, both rocker arms with valve adjusters should exhibit flexibility.
Measuring and Adjusting
With a feeler gauge in hand, proceed to measure the valve clearances. Should there be any discrepancy from the specified range, action is needed. Loosen the valve adjuster locknut, make the necessary tweaks, and then securely tighten the locknut. Post-adjustment, it’s crucial to recheck the clearances.
Before reinstalling the caps and plug, applying a light coat of oil or grease to the O-rings is a good practice. A replacement is advised if there’s any noticeable damage to the O-rings. Once everything is set, tighten all bolts per the mentioned specifications and reinstall any removed parts.
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Kawasaki KLX140L Review: A Detailed Comparison with Rivals
Comparing the Contenders
Regarding bikes in the same class, the Kawasaki KLX140L (KLX140RL) faces stiff competition. Its contenders include the Yamaha TT-R125LE, Suzuki DR-Z125L, and Honda CRF125FB. There’s also the Honda CRF150F, although it has been off the market for a few years. The prices mentioned are in Canadian dollars for those looking for a quick reference.
Suzuki DR-Z125L Breakdown
Sporting a 124 cc engine, the Suzuki DR-Z125L boasts a carburetor and is kick-start only. Unique features include a rear drum brake, no adjustable suspensions except for the rear preload, and a 5-speed transmission. It weighs 89 kg (196 lbs) and has a 4.8-liter fuel tank. The seat is 805 mm (32.0 inches) high and includes a plastic skid plate. With an MSRP (2023) of $4199 + fees, Canada’s warranty period is just 6 months.
Overview of Honda CRF125FB
The Honda CRF125FB (125 cc) is equipped with fuel injection and offers electric and kick starts. It has a rear drum brake and, similar to the Suzuki, only rear preload adjustments. With a 4-speed transmission, its weight is 90 kg (198 lbs) with a 3.7-liter fuel tank. The seat height is slightly shorter at 785 mm (30.9 inches). Engine protection features are present, and its 2023 MSRP is set at $5018, including $519 in fees. Interestingly, until 2018, this model had a carburetor.
Yamaha TT-R125LE Features
The Yamaha TT-R125LE (124 cc) integrates a carburetor with electric and kick starts. It has a rear drum brake, a fully adjustable rear shock, and preload-adjustable front forks. It offers a 5-speed transmission and weighs the same as the Honda at 90 kg (198 lbs) but has a larger 6.0-liter fuel tank. The seat stands taller at 805 mm (31.7 inches) and features a minimalist plastic skid plate. Its 2023 MSRP costs $4399 + fees, but its warranty is limited to just 90 days in Canada.
Features of the Kawasaki KLX140L (KLX140RL)
The highlight, Kawasaki KLX140L (KLX140RL) (144 cc), comes with a carburetor and only electric start. Its specs include a rear disc brake, a fully adjustable rear shock, and a 5-speed transmission. Slightly heavier, it weighs 95 kg (209 lbs) and sports a 5.8-liter fuel tank. The seat is 800 mm (31.5 inches) in height. It provides engine protection with a small plastic skid plate and steel frame “loops.” Priced at an MSRP (2023) of $4499 + fees, it will come in green or grey in 2024 at an MSRP of $4549 + fees. There are no significant mechanical changes announced for the upcoming year.
Personal Choices and Decision
Upon evaluation, certain considerations made the KLX140L the preferred choice over its competitors. For instance, the Suzuki DR-Z125L’s taller stature and kick-start-only feature were deterrents. While the Honda felt compact, the Kawasaki won due to its 5-speed transmission, disc brakes, adjustable rear shock, and superior motor size. Furthermore, its larger motor and torque signaled a longer bike life, meaning it wouldn’t be outgrown quickly. The Yamaha’s taller seat height posed a concern, coupled with a less appealing deal offer.
Final Thoughts on the Kawasaki KLX140L Review
There have been challenges with the KLX140L, especially at lower engine speeds. The thought of trading or selling crossed their mind, but perseverance paid off in resolving most issues. Its strong power, efficient suspension, and good brakes made it a keeper. So, is it recommendable? Absolutely. Even though fuel injection could be an added advantage (only seen in the Honda), they found the throttle response in their fuel-injected CRF250F slightly abrupt.
Ultimately, each bike has its own merits. The decision boils down to rider size and riding style. It’s also worth noting that dealer fees vary, so shopping around is advisable.