OFF-ROAD ICONS THE LIFE AND TIMES OF THE
1980: The first KDX200 wasn’t a 200 at all; it was the
KDX175 that came in Kawasaki’s dirt redo of 1980. The
KDX175 was introduced alongside a single-shock “
Uni-Trak” line of motocross bikes (and even a short-lived
KDX250). The 200 was closely related to the air-cooled
KX125, but had a larger tank, a headlight and different
gear ratios. Oddly enough, it was faster than the KX that
year and inspired some cheating on the amateur level.
1983: This was the first year of the “real” 200. The
KX125 motor was new the previous year, and the 200 got
its more compact lower end but remained air-cooled. The
frame was similar to that of the 175, but it was shorter and
had a newer version of the Uni-Trak rear suspension. The
new rear end had a single wishbone pushing a rocker that
gave the shock a rising rate. The 175, oddly enough, had
a regressive rate. As the direct result of a racing program
with Jack Penton, the 200 got a quick-detach rear wheel.
It also got one of the first digital odometers in the dirt
world. The MSRP was $1600.
1986: Kawasaki gave the 200 a major makeover, again
borrowing much from the KX125 motocrosser. It kept its
air-cooled cylinder but got a power valve, which was
called the Kawasaki Integrated Powervalve System. The
bike had a front disc brake, but a drum in the rear. The
In the first year of the KDX200, the DB crew had a 200/175
comparison. “It is a very fast, sometimes violent motorcycle
that will demand a certain amount of attention from the rider.”
Jeff Fredette has KDX200 in his blood. And every KDX contains more than a little Fredette too.
In 1986, the KDX was all new and good—very good. The air-cooled, power-valved 200 would still be a hit today, especially
if they could sell it for the 1986 price of $1899.