So if you are into dual sports, unless you have been living under a rock, you’ll have seen that both Honda and Kawasaki recently announced their much awaited 300cc dual sports, the KLX300 and CRF300L. If you were living under that rock, go and check out the articles I’ve done on them!
Now in this video, I’m going to break the bikes down, directly comparing their engine, suspension, looks (because I’m vain like that, don’t pretend you aren’t!), specs and give my opinion on which one I think you should buy. Alright, enough messing around, let’s get into it.
Ok first off, let’s start with looks. Yes, this is probably the least important category, but it’s honestly valid. I mean, I don’t want some bike in my garage that’s been beaten with the ugly stick, and I owned a KLR650! While looks are subjective, I think there’s no denying the CRF300L takes the win here. Sure, the camo KLX300 looks pretty tough with its blacked out frame and rims, but Kawasaki hasn’t done anything to update the looks. This design has been out since 2008 (and dates back to the 90’s), and it’s starting to show. First win to Honda.
Alright let’s look at the engine and transmission. We already know that unless both engines are somehow as bad as 2020, they are both going to be as reliable as a hammer. The KLX300 motor is a re-sleeved KLX250S motor that has been around since Adam was a boy, and that engine has legendary reliability. It has a 6 cc advantage over the CRF300L, its 292cc’s verses 286cc’s. The Honda engine has been taken straight out of their CBR300, and it should take you around the world without any dramas. Both are running EFI and have 6 speed transmissions. Performance wise, I can’t see there being any major differences here. It’s a bit concerning that Kawasaki hasn’t released official performance numbers, but until we’ve ridden them, I think it’s safe to say they’ll be very similar or the Honda might have a small advantage. I’m going to score this as a tie.
Ok suspension time. I’m already going to call this one straight away and say that the KLX300 will have better suspension. Why? The KLX250 had MUCH better suspension than the CRF250L and it appears that while Honda has added travel front and rear, it’s still budget, basement non-adjustable suspension that frankly, isn’t up to snuff for any serious off roading. Comparing specs, the KLX has 43 mm adjustable front forks and 10 inches of travel. The CRF has the same size forks with 9.8 inches of travel. Looking at the rear shocks, the KLX has 9.1 inches of travel with a piggyback reservoir and adjustable rebound damping. The CRF has 9.4 inches of travel and no adjustability. What also has me concerned is watching the CRF300L videos that are currently online, the suspension looks SOFTTTTT. Here’s hoping they put it heavier springs for overseas markets. I’m not hopeful though. So a win to the Kawasaki, 2 all.
Ok let’s break down the bikes features and specs. Feature wise, I think the CRF edges out the KLX. The CRF has an LED headlight, a nicer dash with a gear indicator and fuel gauge and also switchable ABS. I know some people don’t like modern tech on their bike, but these are nice touches, especially the fuel gauge and LED headlight. I own a KLX250S, and I would love it to have a brighter LED headlight and a fuel gauge.
Weight, while the 300L has gone on a pretty decent diet, at 304lbs its still 2 pounds heavier than the KLX300. Honestly, I doubt anyone would really notice the difference. For those who are worried about seat height, the KLX is 1 inch taller than the CRF at 35.2 inches. Where the old model KLX250S had a sizeable ground clearance advantage, with the KLX300 this has unfortunately shrunk, most likely due to its now longer rake and trail. The difference here is now only 0.2 of an inch, the KLX has 9.8 and the CRF 9.6, both reasonably low. Besides that, the bikes are remarkably similar. They’ve both have steel frames, tank sizes are both 2 gallons and everything else is much the same.
A couple of things worth mentioning. The CRF has better foot pegs and a new one piece frame. I’m not sure how that will go in the long run off road, but my initial thoughts are I’d rather it didn’t have one. So the CRF has better features and the KLX a slightly better ground clearance. Let’s score this 1 to Honda and 0.75 to Kawasaki.
Ok last up is the price. Kawasaki has come straight out and given a price of $5599 USD for the base KLX300 and $5799 for the camo version. Honda, we aren’t exactly sure so we are going to speculate a little based off the Thailand price and some overseas prices. Some people have commented saying the CRF is 5400 EUR and based on my Thailand calculations it’ll be $5500 USD. So, this is pretty well a tie.
Alright, so both bikes have their pros and cons. The Kawasaki is honestly dated but has better suspension. The Honda looks great and based off the fact Kawasaki haven’t released any performance numbers, I think the CRF motor might have more potential, but no doubt you’ll need to upgrade that suspension. My final score tally is….4.75 to the Honda and 4.50 to the Kawasaki.
For my money, I’m leaning slightly towards the Honda. If the Honda had better suspension, I would recommend it straight away. If you are going to change the springs on your Kawasaki, I’d be leaning towards the Honda again. If Kawasaki had some more updates to their bike besides the motor, I’d be recommending it.
Honestly, we are going to have to wait for them to come out. Either way both are going to make solid dual sports, with caveats.