Looking to get a Kawasaki KLX 125 but not sure if it’s right for you? Whether you want to buy your first dirt bike or adding to your current fleet, you’re in the right place!
In this article, I’ll show you what kind of bike the KLX125, why it may or may not be the best dirt bike for you, and what to expect when buying and owning one so that you can ride more and work on it less.
What is the KLX125? Is it the same as DRZ125?
It’s a 125cc 4 stroke trail bike made for beginners that want to learn how to ride a dirt bike with a clutch. It’s air-cooled, simple, reliable, and easy to ride. It’s the same dirt bike as Suzuki’s DRZ125, just with different colored plastics.
Who’s it for?
Who’s it NOT for?
Looking for a dirt bike to jump and/or race? Then the KLX125 is NOT for you. If you’re an experienced rider, then the performance – most notably the suspension – will be underwhelming and downright dangerous in stock form.
Seat height – what size rider is the KLX 125 for?
The KLX 125 small wheel model has a 30.5 inch seat height, making it a good size dirt bike if you’re 4’8”-5’2” tall. The KLX 125L big wheel model has a 31.7 inch seat height – it’s better if you’re 5’0”-5’4” tall.
It also depends on your inseam length. Being able to touch the ground with your foot can help give you more confidence if this is your first dirt bike. However, you don’t need to touch with both feet. What you really need is to learn the proper techniques to balance so that you won’t need to touch the ground unless you come to a stop.
Engine – what to expect
It’s a 125cc air-cooled, 4 stroke engine with a 5-speed manual clutch transmission, but what does that mean for you? A 125cc air-cooled 4-stroke engine is pretty simple, low-performance and reliable – perfect if you’re just starting out and want a low-maintenance bike.
The power is very smooth and predictable. This is also nice for learning how to ride with the clutch because it won’t get out of control very quickly compared to a high-performance enduro bike.
The KLX 125 only has about 7 HP in stock form. That may sound pretty low, but it makes decent torque right off of idle, so you don’t have to rev it up high to get it moving.
I actually enjoy riding small and “slow” bikes because they’re fun to ride “fast” and generally safer because you’re not as likely to ride out of your comfort zone if you accidentally twist the throttle too far. There are some simple mods to get it up to 10+ HP if you want to make it faster, which I’ll go over later in this review.
You can reach a max speed of about 45 MPH on a stock KLX 125 if you’re on flat ground, but that number is very important. If you’re serious about dirt biking, then you’re probably not going to be riding a trail at that top speed.
Want to go faster or accelerate quicker? Just change the gearing (Amazon). Less teeth on the rear gives you a higher top speed, and more teeth on the rear sprocket gives you quicker acceleration.
The stock suspension is simple and soft – good if you’re a beginner because it’s comfortable riding trails at low speeds to absorb the bumps. Once you start riding faster or if you weigh over 140 lbs, it will start bottoming out easily.
When the forks and shock bottom out, you’ll feel and hear a “clunk”. This can eventually lead to damage, but it can also cause you to get out of control because the bike will bounce from compression too much.
Can you do jumps?
The KLX 125 is not good for jumping unless you make the suspension stiffer. The frame should also be strengthened if you’re a heavier rider or else the frame welds can crack.
With conventional RSU (right-side-up) forks, you get simplicity and reliability. Unfortunately, there’s no external adjustability other than moving the front forks up or down in the clamps – this would raise the front-end and change the geometry to get a better balanced feel with the front and rear.
The most important thing is having the right fork springs for your weight. A stock KLX125 is made for 80-120 lb riders for casual trail riding. If you’re lighter or heavier, then you want a different spring rate (Amazon).
The stock shock is just as soft and can only be adjusted with the preload, which is actually very important if you want the proper ride height. When the rear is too low or high, your dirt bike will be out of balance and won’t handle as well.
A properly balanced suspension setup will give you the most traction, which leads to better comfort and confidence while riding. If you want to upgrade the rear shock, a heavy duty spring is affordable and fairly simple to replace.
The KLX 125 has a low seat height and a short wheelbase compared to adult-size dirt bikes. This makes it handle well at low speeds and in tight areas – a perfect recipe for learning to ride or starting out trail riding.
The KLX 125 weighs 194 pounds, but what does that mean in comparison to other dirt bikes? Well, it’s about 50 pounds lighter than an average full size bike, which means it’s easier to handle because you can lean and turn it with less effort.
It’s also easier to pick up if you happen to fall over. It’s a few pounds lighter than a TTR 125, but not noticeable enough to make a difference.
Model year history & changes
Kawasaki hasn’t made any major changes to the KLX 125. There was a big wheel and small wheel model option, but other than that it hasn’t been updated. They discontinued the 125cc trail bike and started making the KLX140 in 2008.
Reliability – how long will it last?
If you want a reliable engine that’s going to last for many years, the KLX 125 is a good choice. Everything is built with durability in mind, and the air-cooled engine is low-performance, which means that you’ll be able to ride it much longer without needing a rebuild.
If you do simple maintenance, such as oil changes and keeping the air filter clean, it will last hundreds of hours easily – possibly thousands if you pay attention when there’s a problem arising.
Any common issues?
The KLX125 does not have any major common problems that you need to be concerned about. Most issues are just common to all dirt bikes, such as not starting.
Kawasaki KLX 125 Specs & dimensions
These are all of the essential specifications and dimensions:
|Engine||124cc air-cooled 4 stroke|
|Transmission||5-speed manual clutch|
|Seat Height||30.5” (77.5cm)/31.7” (80.5cm)|
|Top Speed||45 MPH|
KLX125 vs KLX125L
The standard KLX125 has 14/16” wheels with a 30.5” seat height, while the KLX125L has 16/19” wheels with a 31.7” seat height. Obviously, the large wheel model is better for a slightly taller rider, but the larger tires make it handle better off-road and on the trails. The bigger circumference makes it easier to roll over obstacles.
How much does a KLX 125 cost?
It really depends on your local used market, especially in this day and age. I’ve seen used KLX125’s for sale as cheap as $700, but some people are asking $2000 or more if they’re in good shape. I’d say a good average price is around 1200-1800 dollars.
Is the Kawasaki KLX 125 a good dirt bike for you?
If you haven’t figured out whether or not this dirt bike is for you, the lists below should make it pretty clear.
You should get a KLX125 if you:
- Are a new rider
- Under 5’6″
- Prefer reliability over performance
- Just want to casually trail ride
- Need a spare dirt bike for your girlfriend, wife or teen
- Need a low maintenance dirt bike
You should NOT get a KLX125 if you:
- Want a high performance race bike
- Just want to go fast
- Want the latest technology
- Don’t like green
KLX125 vs KLX140
The KLX140 is the updated version of the KLX125, in my opinion. It’s a totally different dirt bike, but it rides and handles just about the same. The biggest differences are the power an starting.
The KLX140 is better than the KLX125 because the bigger engine gives you more torque and horsepower. It also has electric start, whereas the 125 only had kickstart.
The KLX125 weighs less and will be cheaper to buy on the used market.
KLX125 vs TTR125
These 125’s are very similar in all aspects. The Yamaha TTR125 has more model options, including electric start, so I give the edge to the TTR. With that said, if you don’t mind kickstart and find a good deal on a KLX125, it’s going to be just as reliable and good for learning to ride on.
Best KLX125 mods
There are some performance mods you can do to make your KLX 125 quite a bit faster, but it still won’t compete with an MX or enduro bike.
Upgrades, such as an aftermarket exhaust system and big bore kit will give you more torque, horsepower and throttle response.
Cheap KLX 125 mods include:
- Rejetting the carburetor to make it run well and reliably
- Stiffer fork and shock springs
Will the KLX125 make you a better rider?
If you’re just starting out riding off-road, the KLX 125 is a great bike to learn on because it’s easy to ride, but there’s something that will truly turn you into a better rider faster.
Learning to ride with proper technique will not only make you ride with more confidence, but you’ll be much safer, and I want to help you get started. Tap here for a practical guide to become a better rider.