Kawasaki went back the drawing board in 2003 when it came to the KX125. That was great news since the bike’s design hadn’t seen any major changes in years. The bike is new from the ground up a completely new motor and perimeter frame, with revised suspension settings to complete the package. From outward appearances, Kawi simply dissected the perennial best motor in the class, the YZ125, and copied it. The top-end looks almost identical.
For the most part, it worked out. The Kawasaki KX125 is greatly improved from past incarnations. The new version rips. Its awesome handling and great suspension ranked consistently high in those categories from all of the test riders. “The suspension was plush, nice and smooth through the rough stuff, and had good bottoming resistance,” raved Sean Borkenhagen. “It was the best for me.”
While the suspension and handling characteristics of the little KX are awesome, we just hope it’s not because we were going slower than we were on most of the other bikes. The KX isn’t slow, it’s just not as fast as most of the other bikes in the class. Power-wise, the KX is very close to the Yamaha it emulated, but the Yamaha is no longer at the top of the heap. However, the bike is world’s better this year and, as you have seen, it’s not holding back a certain kid named Bubba (although he could probably win on a Hodaka Combat Wombat).
Strong bottom-end power provides the grunt to launch the KX, but a relative lack of top-end means it falls behind on long straights.
Kawasaki’s technician tinkered with the jetting a little by leaning out the pilot jet and needle, while the 420 main jet was left in place. The pilot jet was reduced from a 40 to a 37.5 (same as the RM125), and the needle was leaned out by moving it from the third to second clip position.
The rest of the KX is finished off very nicely. The clutch and transmission received top ratings from the test crew, as did its brakes. It is very skinny and easy to move around on, and the adjustable, rubber-mounted handlebar clamps are a nice touch that enables riders of all sizes and styles to personalize the feel of the bike. (KTM and Honda also have adjustable bar clamps.) The soft, flat seat combines with the extremely thin and comfortable layout to make it a pleasure to ride. Lower-level riders will feel like heroes on this bike, turning in fast lap times in complete control.