Kawasaki KDX 200SR


Make Model

Kawasaki KDX 200SR


1992 - 94


Two stroke, single cylinder, reed valve


198 cc / 12.0 cu-in
Bore x Stroke 66 x 58 mm
Cooling System Liquid cooled
Compression Ratio 7.7:1 (high speed) 9.2:1 (low speed)


35mm Keihin carburetor


Starting Kick

Max Power

37 hp / 27.5 kW @ 8000 rpm

Max Torque

3.2 kgf-m @ 7500 rpm


6 Speed 
Final Drive Chain

Front Suspension

37mm Kayaba forks compression adjustable
Front Wheel Travel 290 mm / 11.4 in

Rear Suspension

Single Kayaba shocks adjustable for compression rebound damping, spring preload
Rear Wheel Travel 300 mm / 11.8 in

Front Brakes

Single 221mm disc

Rear Brakes

Single 218mm disc

Front Tyre


Rear Tyre

Seat Height 915 mm / 36 in

Dry Weight

107 kg / 236 lbs

Fuel Capacity 

12.5 Litres / 3.3 US gal
Related Link Kawasaki KLX
Road Test  

MY HOW THEY howled. The punters, that is, not the bikes. Last winter Kawasaki announced they would no longer bring in the very bike most beloved of club-class enduro riders and all-round mucky buggers everywhere. The KDX200 would be replaced instead, decreed Big Green, by the new KDX250 -the one with upside-downers and the garish Kerrang stickers like the ZZRs.

At £3014, the 250 was to be about 600 quid dearer than the 200, but price wasn't the problem. The big 'un was a balls-out 58bhp motocrosser with lights, a serious piece of off-road psychosis with a seat height up in the heavens; the 200, on the other hand, was Mr Softee, 37bhp-worth of tame, rideable, reliable cleandirty underwear, if you see what I mean. You'd have to be good (or nuts) to make anything of the 250's potential; most off-road riders aren't that good, and they're not afraid to admit it. Bring back the 200.

Kawasaki - who presumably had their ear to the ground and were worried it might get knobbly tracks all over it - eventually relented and belatedly brought a batch of 200s in for us also-rans to complement the 250s they'd already ordered for the bonkers end of the market. I bought a 200, 'cos I'm bonkers but not very good with it. Ask anyone.

Now in its third year — although its air-cooled predecessor was a class favourite too - the '91 KDX is really a '90 KDX in any colour you want as long as it's puke - sorry, lime-green. Just like Dave Thorpe's. Er, Dave Thorpe's bike that is...

Compared to the KMX200 the 'D' is a claimed seven bhp stronger; it's the same weight - it loses some peripherals but gains pounds thanks to beefier suspension kit with oodles more travel, adjustment and all-round efficiency; there's a much stiffer chassis with quicker-steering, more racer-orientated geometry. And, above all, the KDX comes standard with knobblies, which are as much a revelation on dirt as slicks are on tarmac, and you can't get slicks for the KMX's 17in rear hoop.

Gas the KMX200 in a moment of panic, and the chances are it'll either do not very much or dump you on your ear. Gas the KDX and miraculously, it straightens itself out, lofts the front end over that gully, or otherwise somehow gets you out of bother. (Even when it doesn't, the get-offs are more spectacular and always worth a round of applause from your mates). Particularly at speed, the KDX steers and stops accurately where the KMX is ragged and vague. In short, the KDX is a genuine competition tool where the KMX is merely a competent all-rounder. It instantly makes you a better rider.

Saddle rides high on green plastic tank. Clocks - who needs 'em?

Despite all that suspender travel, the seat is of manageable height. 36 inches sounds like a lot, but it sags a good deal with a rider on board. The suspension isn't exactly works kit - what do you expect for two grand? — but it's honest and workmanlike and soaks up bumps and fire break thrashes like a good 'un. Compared with the KMX the extra suspension sophistication allows less trail without any tradeoff in stability. Despite the extra wheelbase, it's fairly nimble, too, and responds accurately to body English. 37 horses might not sound like much these days, but they propel a mere 2251b of hardware pretty rapidly. The KDX will wheelie at the drop of a copper's gaze and is quite capable of embarrassing 250 roadsters if you're prepared to forget how lethal knobblies can be on wet tarmac. With the right gearing it'd make a genuine lOOmph street bike. On dirt, there's power enough to cope with stomp-sapping sand or to loosen the rear end if you need to (although nothing like to the extent of a fullblown motocrosser, thank God). And yet it plonks almost as well as the KMX (which, cc-for-cc must be the most flexible two-stroke single ever). And it doesn't even foul plugs, although mixing petrol for it is a chore I thought went out with flared pants.

Mechanically, the KDX shares the same basic KIPS-equipped water-cooled, six-speed configuration with the KMX, but the engines are totally different. The 'D' is seven cc bigger and more crucially has less oversquare dimensions, allowing more cylinder wall area to cram full of ports. At 35mm the Keihin carb is nine mm bigger, and the exhaust system has the sort of volume that makes strokers lose their asthma, without ripping the environment apart with stray decibels. And its transfer port bulges are unquestionably sexier. I'm also told that slapping on a KX250 motocross silencer does it no harm at all.

Just as important, given it's Joe Clubman's appeal, the KDX has earned a reputation for being bullet-proof, and holds its value better than most ofF-roaders. Water pump seals sometimes go allowing coolant into the gearbox. This is easily spotted, showing up as a pale, creamy emulsion through the sight-glass, a bit like baby vomit. A new seal takes about an hour to slot in. The standard chain is crap and should be thrown away and replaced by an O-ring (unless you like buying sprockets), and Renthal 'bars aren't a bad idea either. And for some reason it seems to eat rear pads.

Strictly speaking, KDX's aren't street legal, but are easy enough in practice for an individual to register. The authorities seem prepared to overlook the plastic tank - Porsches have got 'em after all. You're supposed to add a speedo (an odometer and trip is standard), brake light and horn, although the second-hand one I bought had none of these. Mind you, it was registered as a scooter combination.

The KDX200 is without doubt the best bike in its class. This isn't really as big a deal as it sounds, as it's in a class of one; no other bike attempts to combine — at any price - a tractable (but not slow) two-stroke engine, a chassis with serious off-road capabilities and a saddle you don't need to be Godzilla to climb on. There's nothing radical about the KDX, but nothing else comes close to meeting the same honest formula. It'll never sell remotely as well, but it's not for nothing that the off-road fraternity regards it as fondly as a certain class of headbanger loves LCs. In it's small green way, it's a classic. CD

Source Bike 1991