with clickers to adjust compression
damping. The brake rotor received
a petal design. By far the most
important change from a marketing
standpoint is the bodywork. The KX
looks like it was designed by people
who are still alive. That will have a
huge effect on the bike’s sales.
DID IT REALLY CHANGE?
Yes! Not only does the KX look
different, it is different. To put a
point on it, the KX85 is much, much
faster. Kawasaki claims a 20-percent
increase in peak power, and that
seems accurate. If you aren’t familiar
with the old KX85, you might need a
little update. It was considered the
most beginner-friendly of the 85s. It
was smaller, lighter and slower than
a Yamaha YZ or KTM. Kawasaki
resisted the urge to supersize the bike
in fear of losing that novice appeal.
To compensate, there was the KX100
with a bigger bore and bigger wheels.
But, as it turned out, racers shied
away from the 100 because it wasn’t
the ideal bore/stroke configuration for
the Supermini class, so it was, effectively, another novice machine.
With the new KX85, the novice
appeal is still there for one very impor-
tant reason: its seat height remains
very low, and that’s the most impor-
tant single factor. Riders are quick to
adjust to horsepower, but no amount
of practice makes your inseam longer.
As far as suspension goes, the new
85 is, in fact, stiffer. That’s a compromise that’s unavoidable. An 85 is
expected to cover a wide range of
rider weight—from about 90 pounds
to 120. Additionally, the range of rider
skill goes from future James Stewart
to future chess champion. If you look
up “impossible” on Wikipedia, there’s
your definition. Now, the KX is aimed a
little higher on the food chain.
KX100 BIG WHEEL
In the Supermini class, the rules
allow big changes. Most engine tuners
change the stroke for the best results,
whereas Kawasaki increased the bore
by 4mm to make the KX100. So oddly
enough, most of the Kawasakis in the
Supermini class started off as 85s
Would your kids be interested in a video game that was designed before they were
born? That’s probably how they felt about the old KX85 too. A redesign was long
The biggest change in the KX motor is the more-advanced power valve.
The KX100 has the same chassis as the
KX85 but with bigger wheels. The displacement difference is the result of an
increase in bore alone.
before being heavily modified. That
might change. The new KX100 has an
increase in power similar to the 85’s.
We know that engine tuners will find
ways to get even more out of the bike
very quickly. We don’t know if it will
change the status quo, but it’s nice to
know that the bike at least has a fighting chance now. The real reason for
the 100’s existence isn’t racing. It’s a
stepping stone to bridge the increasingly big gap to a 250F. The bottom
line is that both the 85 and the 100
are vast improvements without vast
increases in price. Will they spark a
new war among manufacturers in the
mini classes? We can only hope. o