Our Kawasaki KDX220R test ride bewildered us and made us ask a few questions. How can a two-stroke engine be this quiet? How does it manage to generate so much power in the low- to mid-range of the powerband? How do they get it to handle so well? And, most important: Where can we buy one?
The KDX220R is categorized by Kawasaki as an Enduro/Off-Road bike, so it's designed to shine in a tighter, lower-speed trail environment where low-end power and nimble handling are of critical importance. To do this, Kawasaki engineers began with the KDX200's successful engine design, and then they increased the cylinder bore by 3 mm. This gives the KDX220R's liquid-cooled two-stroke engine an extra 18 cc over the KDX200, which in turn allows the 220R to build power more quickly and pull more strongly in the low- to mid-range of its powerband. On our test ride we found that the power, and power delivery, of this engine allowed us to climb steep trails at slower speeds than a typical two-stroke motocross bike might have demanded, thanks to the low-end power available, and this meant we were more in control of the bike.
Kawasaki engineers borrowed designs from their KX motocross models for the KDX220R's high-tensile steel perimeter frame, and its 26.5-degree steering angle and short wheelbase contribute to its quick-handling characteristics.
We were impressed at the bike's ability to soak up rough trails and settle down after mild jumps. The 220R offers 11.4 inches of wheel travel in front and 11.8 inches of travel in the rear. Of course, good stopping power is also a priority, and the front and rear disc brakes seemed to offer more than enough grab to haul in the almost 223-pound bike plus the rider.
Other notable KDX220R features include a narrow, well-padded seat, a standard O-ring drivechain, a headlight and a taillight, an odometer, a rear fender bag and a large 2.9-gallon fuel tank.
The bottom line is that the KDX220R contains many of the same outstanding characteristics of a powerful, tight-handling two-stroke motocross bike, but in a package that's much more trail-friendly.
|Vehicle model||’02 Kawasaki KDX22R|
|Bore x stroke (mm)||69.0x58.0|
|Compression ratio||7.2:1 (high speed) |
9.3:1 (low speed)
|Aspiration||Keihin PWK33 carburetor|
|Cooling||Liquid, dual radiator|
|Front||43mm conventional cartridge fork, |
20-way compression damping
|Rear||Uni-Trak, swingarm, single shock, |
20-way compression damping adjustment,
18-way rebound damping adjustment
|Front||Disc, twin-piston caliper|
|Ground Clearance (in.)||13.4|
|Fuel Capacity (gal.)||2.9|
|Seat height (in.)||36.2|