Bikes That NEED To Be Made – Kawasaki KLX350S

Ah the mighty KLX250S. Based off the KLX300 from the 90’s it was first released in 2006, updated in 2009 and then re-released in 2018. It’s one of the most popular dual sport bikes getting around today. Why? At about $5399 off the showroom floor ($7500 in AUD) it’s inexpensive, has large service intervals, good quality suspension and is as reliable as a hammer. Oh, and it’s a pretty good bike too.

The KLX250S is a good bike, but is reasonably heavy and underpowered.

With a wet weight of 304lbs (137kg’s), she’s a bit of a porker. When you couple that with 24hp, they certainly aren’t a performance beast. Sure you can do some easy mods to lighten them up and add a few more horsepower, but they really do need a bit more oommphh.

Now, Kawasaki has just released the new, dirt only KLX300R. I haven’t ridden one, but apparently it’s a pretty good bike. I think it’s pretty safe to say that very shortly, the KLX300S will be announced. I’ve got no complaints about this, I’m a big fan of the 300cc size bike and this could give the current 250S the boost it really needs. But I think Kawasaki should take things even further and make a KLX350!

The venerable DRZ400. Its been around forever and still sells in droves

The 350cc size is kind of the odd size out atm. There are currently only 2 manufacturers that make 350’s, Beta and KTM. Both are by all accounts great machines, but calling them dual sports is a bit of a stretch. Both are street legal, but these bikes are thoroughbreds with tons of power and shorter service intervals. I believe a KLX350 could really fill a void in the market.

Other bikes that the KLX350 would be competing with are the CRF250L, WR250R, SWM300 and the DRZ400. At the moment, the KLX250S has some pretty good competition between the CRF and WR. They are all extremely similar bikes though IMO. The DRZ is a great bike, but its long in the tooth, has a 5 speed transmission with ratios that are just too close together and no fuel injection. The SWM300 is a bit of a smokey, but it needs a little more love than the others.

I don’t think Kawasaki wouldn’t need to change much at all. The base of the new KLX300R is a good foundation with adjustable suspension and modern tech. It would need to keep its design principles pretty well exactly the same. I mean if it aint broke….

Now, the KLX350 kind of already exists. Well not ”officially”, but as a 351 add on kit from Bill Blue. A 351 kit with a tuned carburetor and exhaust makes about 30 hp at the rear wheel. Pathetic you might be thinking. Well let’s compare that to a stock KLX250S. They have 19 hp at the rear wheel. More importantly, torque is up from 13ft/lbs to 21. Now yes, this is with a tuned carb and exhaust, but there is no denying this is a huge bump.

For anyone worried about reliability issues with the bored out capacity, it appears you have nothing to worry about. Numerous people have reported that their KLX351’s are just as reliable as the 250. It appears like Kawasaki really overbuilt the 250’s motor.

The Beta 350 and KTM 350EXCF are amazing machines, but in a different category to the KLX250S.

So you are probably thinking, why not just buy a KTM350EXCF? Well as I mentioned earlier, they are completely different bikes and also in a completely different price range. A new 350EXCF costs $12000 ($14900 AUD before on roads!), so yeah; it’s over double the price. They are just not even in the same ball park.

So will Kawasaki make a KLX350? No, I don’t think so. With the KLX300R coming out, the 300S will inevitably follow. And that’s by no means a bad thing. Plus it would just be easier, and not to mention cheaper for Kawasaki to retool the new 300R. But I think a 350S could really sell. I mean the DRZ400 was around when Adam was a boy and is still one of the bestselling bikes getting around. A KLX350 is nearly everything a lot of dual sport owners are crying out for. But for now, you’ll have to make your own.

Sadly, I think we’ll just have to make our own KLX350’s.

1 Comment

  1. Completely agree with you. As an owner of a 2009 KLX250S, I do not believe a less than 50cc bump in displacement is enough for me to open up my checkbook. A 350 would do it for me. A 400 would be sweet! I know I can always go the BB351 route, but once you add the carb (not cheap) and aftermarket exhaust, you could have purchased a new KLX with FI. I think it may happen (a 350) but not for at least 5 years.
    My 250 has been utterly reliable but has issues when it encounters hills or headwinds and hopefully not both! Hard to even maintain 55 when that happens at my 4500’ elevation. Nice write-up, BTW.


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