Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

KDX 200 or 220 for Casual Trail Riding

Recommended Posts

I keep coming back to this bike (KDX, generally) as being one I could have a long-term relationship with. I've never ridden one, though and never owned a Kawi dirt bike. I'm a Yamaha guy mostly. They don't make a good 2T trailbike anymore since they stopped making the IT. I have an old IT 250 I love to death and will never part with, but the ancient suspension and poor ground clearance make it a less perfect choice for larger trail junk. I like doing single-track, moderate to technical stuff and a little cross-country desert whoop stuff. I'm thinking more on the lines of the "E" model given its lower seat height and ergos similar to my DR 350 (which I also love and will never part with). My concerns are: never had a bike with liquid cooling or a power-valve (I know, I'm an old-school luddite) and the Kawi's seem to have a tendancy to weakness in these areas. How easy are these things to work on, and how often are there failures? I'm also not keen on the "internal" crank seals. Splitting the cases to change crank seals is really dumb to me. How often do these fail? Any help or encouragement is appreciated. Thanks!

*mods, sorry about the extra posts, please remove...my crappy browser didn't like this post*

Edited by Helmet_Hair

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am not alone in thinking the kdx200 is one of the most reliable bikes, this side of a z50! Plenty examples of stock bikes with over 10k miles on top end.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

im not sure what weakness you speak of in the cooling system and PV. although ive never had it happen, seal failures occur from time to time, but thats not limited to the kdx, that can happen with any liquid cooled bike. and the power valve...? just clean it (regular maintenance) every top end and theres nothing to worry about. dont confuse catastrophic failures of the PV with a weakness, as that is cause by a gross lack of maintenance. they are a piece of cake to work on in my opinion, no more difficult that any other 2 stroke with a PV. failures are very rare if at all if the bike is maintained. the internal crank seals do suck, ive never had a set go bad in years of riding kdxs, and i have at least a few hundred hours on my hybrid.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

im not sure what weakness you speak of in the cooling system and PV. although ive never had it happen, seal failures occur from time to time, but thats not limited to the kdx, that can happen with any liquid cooled bike. and the power valve...? just clean it (regular maintenance) every top end and theres nothing to worry about. dont confuse catastrophic failures of the PV with a weakness, as that is cause by a gross lack of maintenance. they are a piece of cake to work on in my opinion, no more difficult that any other 2 stroke with a PV. failures are very rare if at all if the bike is maintained. the internal crank seals do suck, ive never had a set go bad in years of riding kdxs, and i have at least a few hundred hours on my hybrid.

I guess I just see quite a few posts about pv failures related to the kdx. I've seen very few related to YZ's for instance. I don't know if it has anything to do with the alminum gears on the pv....I don't know much about powervalves, though. Never owned a bike that had one!

So, for those that own the 'E' model, how do they fare in the conditions I outlined in my initial post. I'm pretty experienced (nearly 40 years on bikes) but I wouldn't say I was some kind of expert rider, I just like to have fun, do a few events, and do some single track. I'm about 150# and 5' 8", fairly short legs. The bike might sit for a month or two without being ridden.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

HelmetHair....I cant speak to the E models, but I picked up a 2006 KDX200 (H model) for my daughter and I can tell you that the OEM seat foam height is really thick. I had someone shave nearly 2" from the seat foam and you can hardly tell by looking at it but it's definitely 2" lower. I also put a Kouba 2 link on the bike to lower it another inch. She is just a bit under 5' 5" and can now touch the ground with her toes.

My only point is dont limit yourself just to the e models....go for best price and condition combination. Cutting down the stock seat on the "H" model should get you where you need to be at 5' 8" without even having to touch the linkage.

I havent had a chance to get it on the trails yet, but I like the wide ratio gearing and it seems very easy to ride and turn while putting around on the street in front of the house. My dad rode an '81 IT465 and a lot of things about the stock KDX remind me of that bike (not quite the same low end power). After getting used to the new four strokes, these watercooled two strokes seem very simplistic by comparison (even with the powervalve). There really arent very many components to a water cooled two stroke motor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

HelmetHair....I cant speak to the E models, but I picked up a 2006 KDX200 (H model) for my daughter and I can tell you that the OEM seat foam height is really thick. I had someone shave nearly 2" from the seat foam and you can hardly tell by looking at it but it's definitely 2" lower. I also put a Kouba 2 link on the bike to lower it another inch. She is just a bit under 5' 5" and can now touch the ground with her toes.

My only point is dont limit yourself just to the e models....go for best price and condition combination. Cutting down the stock seat on the "H" model should get you where you need to be at 5' 8" without even having to touch the linkage.

I havent had a chance to get it on the trails yet, but I like the wide ratio gearing and it seems very easy to ride and turn while putting around on the street in front of the house. My dad rode an '81 IT465 and a lot of things about the stock KDX remind me of that bike (not quite the same low end power). After getting used to the new four strokes, these watercooled two strokes seem very simplistic by comparison (even with the powervalve). There really arent very many components to a water cooled two stroke motor.

I'm 5' 7'' and love my kdx 220, I sold my 09 kx250f to by the kdx and love it for tight single track woods ridding. For the $ you can't find a better bike for what you are looking for. I have many friends that now ride new ktms that tell me the kdx is the best bike they ever had, (in its time.) There are no problems with the PV, the bike is know to be bulletproof.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

HelmetHair....I cant speak to the E models, but I picked up a 2006 KDX200 (H model) for my daughter and I can tell you that the OEM seat foam height is really thick. I had someone shave nearly 2" from the seat foam and you can hardly tell by looking at it but it's definitely 2" lower. I also put a Kouba 2 link on the bike to lower it another inch. She is just a bit under 5' 5" and can now touch the ground with her toes.

My only point is dont limit yourself just to the e models....go for best price and condition combination. Cutting down the stock seat on the "H" model should get you where you need to be at 5' 8" without even having to touch the linkage.

I havent had a chance to get it on the trails yet, but I like the wide ratio gearing and it seems very easy to ride and turn while putting around on the street in front of the house. My dad rode an '81 IT465 and a lot of things about the stock KDX remind me of that bike (not quite the same low end power). After getting used to the new four strokes, these watercooled two strokes seem very simplistic by comparison (even with the powervalve). There really arent very many components to a water cooled two stroke motor.

IT 465, eh? That bike was a legend for being a woods monster! I'm trying to steer clear of monsters as I age. I rode a KTM 300, which was a very nice bike, handled beautifully on the trails, but one false move with the right hand would put you in the weeds or into a tree in a heartbeat. From what I've read about the kdx, that's really not as much of an issue...35hp vs. 55hp suggests the kdx is on par with my beloved IT 250, which is more appealing to me. I've been around long enough to realize I don't need the fastest, latest, greatest weapon available. Just need a decent tool...one that can be my friend.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The KDX200/220 is a great bike with plenty of room to grow. Mostly cheap and free mods will make it quite a fun ride. It will never be a 250 but the power is the smoothest Ive ridden and it hass all you need. Maybe not all you will want though. Handling on a stock bike suffers because the chassis was not changed from 95 to 2006 when it was discontinued. Some suspension work will help greatly but it will never handle like a modern chassis. The answer to that is to put the super smooth motor in a newer kx chassis...

Get one. Ride it. Mod it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nothing better for casual trail riding like in the title. I used to bleed blue, but I am kicking myself for not buying one sooner. If you want to ride aggressively, it will need some work, especially on the forks. Has a reputation as being bulletproof. I rode a 92 wr 250 and it was not nearly as smooth. The forks were good, the shock was stiff, and it was peaky compared to the KDX.

Edited by gsa102

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IT 465, eh? That bike was a legend for being a woods monster! I'm trying to steer clear of monsters as I age. I rode a KTM 300, which was a very nice bike, handled beautifully on the trails, but one false move with the right hand would put you in the weeds or into a tree in a heartbeat. From what I've read about the kdx, that's really not as much of an issue...35hp vs. 55hp suggests the kdx is on par with my beloved IT 250, which is more appealing to me. I've been around long enough to realize I don't need the fastest, latest, greatest weapon available. Just need a decent tool...one that can be my friend.

A little off topic, but my Dad rode that IT465 until he was 70 years old (and he is only about 5' 8") Our last ride together about 4 y ears ago was from Crested Butte, over Pearl Pass, then over Taylor Pass to Taylor Park and then back over Italian Creek Pass to get back to Crested Butte. He has since been diagnosed with cancer, treated and making a full recovery. I was just thinking that maybe he will want to ride the KDX200 when we are back in Crested Butte this summer.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess I just see quite a few posts about pv failures related to the kdx. I've seen very few related to YZ's for instance. I don't know if it has anything to do with the alminum gears on the pv....I don't know much about powervalves, though. Never owned a bike that had one!

So, for those that own the 'E' model, how do they fare in the conditions I outlined in my initial post. I'm pretty experienced (nearly 40 years on bikes) but I wouldn't say I was some kind of expert rider, I just like to have fun, do a few events, and do some single track. I'm about 150# and 5' 8", fairly short legs. The bike might sit for a month or two without being ridden.

show me a PV failure that wasnt cause by neglect, i have yet to see one. there are no aluminum gears in a kdx kips.

here a kips how to i wrote up a a while back, this will give you a good idea of what your goin to be looking at.

http://www.thumpertalk.com/topic/657765-kips-top-end-info-and-how-to-kdx200/page__p__6582097#entry6582097

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A little off topic, but my Dad rode that IT465 until he was 70 years old (and he is only about 5' 8") Our last ride together about 4 y ears ago was from Crested Butte, over Pearl Pass, then over Taylor Pass to Taylor Park and then back over Italian Creek Pass to get back to Crested Butte. He has since been diagnosed with cancer, treated and making a full recovery. I was just thinking that maybe he will want to ride the KDX200 when we are back in Crested Butte this summer.

Good to hear your dad is doing well. He has my respect for riding a real man's bike and beating cancer too!

Sean, thanks for the link, very informative on the top end on the KDX. Good work!

Blackwoodz, I'm not sure which WR250 you'd be referring to (2T or 4T). The old 2T is appealing, but i'd be running the same risks of whiskey-throttling it off a ledge or something. The 4T is a fine bike too, but it's a 4T, and the initial cost on one of these is well over $2K for a decent one. I'd sure like to keep it all below $1500 for a nice, needs-no-work-KDX. I think it's possible.

I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for a decent bike. I've seen a few around here in various states of "maintenance". $500 for a non-running E model to $3650 for a nearly new '06. Hopefully in the next month or so, I'll be checking some out in person and I'll likely post up my questions here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've got a pristine 96 WR250 low-hour smoker, a souped-up 07 WR250 thumper (yz cam, etc.), and a 97 KDX200 with modern inverted forks. They are all tuned for my riding skill with suspensions dialed and the engines are all crisp and strong. Guess which one I ride the most....the KDX. I love single track, and it's just lighter and quicker - and the most fun. BUT...for me, the stock front end it sucked for what I need even when fully modified with springs and gold valves - just too much flex. For the more casual rider they'd be fine.

I had an E model for several years and did have to replace the power valve due to gear shearing (I bought in new back in the day) - but the newer power-valve friendly premixes should eliminate the carbon build up that caused that wear problem. Replacing that power valve was no big deal in any case. BTW, it was the aluminum gear that failed.

Edited by SPUTTER
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've got a pristine 96 WR250 low-hour smoker, a souped-up 07 WR250 thumper (yz cam, etc.), and a 97 KDX200 with modern inverted forks. They are all tuned for my riding skill with suspensions dialed and the engines are all crisp and strong. Guess which one I ride the most....the KDX. I love single track, and it's just lighter and quicker - and the most fun. BUT...for me, the stock front end it sucked for what I need even when fully modified with springs and gold valves - just too much flex. For the more casual rider they'd be fine.

I had an E model for several years and did have to replace the power valve due to gear shearing (I bought in new back in the day) - but the newer power-valve friendly premixes should eliminate the carbon build up that caused that wear problem. Replacing that power valve was no big deal in any case. BTW, it was the aluminum gear that failed.

then i should rephrase there are no aluminum gears in the A/H models, i guess there is in the E models and i would assume that its a sacrificial gear.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Been in the saddle for 41 years myself. Owned a 1985 KDX200, 1991 DR350, 2000 KDX220.

What would you like to know? All three of these bikes were solid as the rock of Gibraltar. As reliable as the dial tone. No problems at all with any of them. And they all had more miles than a marathoners sneakers by the time they were sold.

Your concerns in regard to water cooling and power valves are unmerited. The motorcycle is a mechanical device and yes, something can and probably will go wrong at some time or another. But, as Sean mentioned, most failures are due to negligent maintenance or its just plum wore out from use!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am not alone in thinking the kdx200 is one of the most reliable bikes, this side of a z50! Plenty examples of stock bikes with over 10k miles on top end.

My sons 95 went the whole year without a problem

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, even the reports of the KDX KIPS being "complicated" to work on is greatly exaggerated. KDX is a rock solid trail bike, that can be modded into a fairly competent "C" class race bike. At least in my neighborhood, H models are way more common in the classifieds than the older ones. And at 5'8", you shouldn't have that much trouble with reaching the ground on a newer version either. I know guys who are shorter than that who are riding YZs, RMs, and such in the woods with no problems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

show me a PV failure that wasnt cause by neglect, i have yet to see one. there are no aluminum gears in a kdx kips.

here a kips how to i wrote up a a while back, this will give you a good idea of what your goin to be looking at.

http://www.thumperta...97#entry6582097

Have you ever owned an E series? They eat kips valves. And yeah, both the aluminum subvalves and idler gear have aluminum teeth.The H bikes have the same aluminum gear setup on the subvalves. For some reason they don't get shredded as easily though. Better design, I guess. At any rate, they're easy to replace so it's not that big a deal. Better than screwin with valves on a fooper.

I prefer riding my E bike over either of my neighbors H bikes, although it could just be setup. The E engine definitely has a bit more grunt.

Edited by juliend
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Reply with:

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...