To this day, no one knows what the Kawasaki KDX200 was supposed to be. Was it a beginner bike designed
to teach wives and kids the fine art of off-road riding? Or
was it a Navy SEAL of a bike built for the toughest enduros
and the most grizzled riders? Clearly it was used as both.
In its official lifespan from 1983 to 2006, the KDX was an
evolutionary alligator, remaining mostly unchanged as eras
passed and other bikes became extinct. One of the reasons that Kawasaki engineers made so few changes was
because they were afraid they would mess up the magic
formula. The KDX sold thousands of units, year in and year
out, without any need for reinvestment.
The reason it appealed to beginners is clear—it was light,
mild-mannered and inexpensive. The reason it appealed to
the hardcore enduro cult has something to do with the off-road war between the states. The rift between East Coast
riders and West Coast riders goes back decades. In the east,
races were tight and tough. Out west, they were fast and
angry. The KDX became the poster bike of the east, while
bigger, faster, motocross-based bikes dominated the deserts.
Kawasaki clearly didn’t care who was buying the ’DX. It continued to sell, and no other manufacturer really caught on.
Aside from brief intrusions on its turf, the KDX200 was in a
class of one for years.
The split personality of America’s combat elf
OFF-ROAD ICONS THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE KAWASAKIKDX200