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Click the following link for a video of the 2010 Kawasaki KLX110 & KLX110L. You can also click the following link for a 29-photo gallery of the 2010 Kawasaki KLX110 & KLX110L.
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Jeff Emig getting his minimoto on at Fox's track backyard track at their offices in So. Cal.

If there was a Fun Bike Hall of Fame, Kawasaki’s KLX110 would surely be among the initial inductees. It’s been the starting point for tons of kids, with an easy to ride bike with an automatic clutch, and a mild but entertaining powerplant. Of course, that bike has been the starting point for some absolutely insane mini-motocrossers, but that’s a whole ‘nuther story. For the most part, it’s been relatively unchanged over the years, and both adults and kids have logged lots of miles on the 110.

Tania Satchwell on the smaller KLX110.

This year, however, it gets tons of upgrades, and a new bigger brother that helps fill the size/performance gap between the 110 and Kawasaki’s bigger KLX140.

The thing you notice first is that the 110 has been given a styling update, and looks a lot more like the bigger bikes in the KX lineup. With new fenders, number plates, seat, and shrouds, it definitely fits easily into the look of the Kawasaki off-road family.

The updated KLX110.

The all-new KLX110L.

But in case you’re thinking they just made cosmetic changes, think again. The 110 (and 110L) also feature an all-new keyless electric start. Just flip the kill switch, push the starter button, and it fires right up. There’s still a kickstarter on each model as a backup. The kickstart lever is also new, and tucks in much better than before, so it won’t be banging the inside of your leg, or get pushed back so that you get that starter gear grind. They’ve also revised the automatic decompression to aid with easy starting, whether you’re using the e-start, or the kickstarter.

Here you get a look at the controls complete with electric start, which is good for an E ticket convenience. You also get a look at the new shrouds, which look a whole bunch more like you'll find on the bigger KX models.

Kawasaki also gave it a moderate power boost with revised valve timing, and improved flow in the exhaust and silencer internals. While still relatively mild, the exhaust note definitely has a little more bark to it. Also changed is a reduction in piston ring tension for reduced friction.

The transmission got an upgrade as well, and it’s now a four-speed gearbox, which was a frequent upgrade among mini racers. The shift drum itself has also been changed to provide a more positive feel and better engagement. And finally, the shifter has also been redesigned with a new shape that should provide for fewer unintended shifts. The shift patterns for the two are slightly different, though. The 110 still uses its familiar N-1-2-3-4, while the new 110L (which has a manual clutch) also benefits from a more traditional big bike pattern, with 1-N-2-3-4.

The clutch on the 110L is buttery smooth, has a light pull, and is perfect for beginning riders.

So how do the two bikes lay out side-by-side when it comes to the chassis? The L has more suspension travel, and a taller standover height. You can check out the chart below to get a better idea.

  KLX110 KLX110L
Seat Height 26.8" 28.7"
Front Suspension Travel 4.3” 5.5”
Front Fork Length 610mm 670mm
Rear Suspension Travel 4.3” (4.2 in ’09) 5.2”
Rear Shock Length 260mm (245mm in ’09)  
Rear Spring Rate 55 N/mm (37.3 N/mm in ’09)  

At 6’0”, and 205 pounds, I’m pretty much like a circus bear on the regular 110. But on the 110L, I actually had a blast on Fox’s mini track. Riding under the lights was fun, though a bit dark in spots.

See? Even six-footers can fit on the stock 110L. Yep, we also dig the new Answer gear.

Sure, I did rotate the bars forward a bit, because I was wearing knee braces, to prevent them from snagging under the bars. But overall, it definitely had a bit more grunt than a the previous 110, and it actually didn’t feel like it was horribly undersprung, even over some of the small doubles and tables on the Fox facility. Of course, Kawasaki recognizes that plenty of adults ride these as well, and took that into consideration, boosting the spring rates on both ends.

The clutch should prove to be plenty easy to use for beginning riders (we barely ever touched it once underway, even in tight hairpins), and shifting was smooth and easy. For that track? Put it in second gear and go.

If you squint a little, you can almost picture this bike under a Christmas tree...

Overall, Kawasaki accomplished two things here. They gave the classic 110 a nice upgrade, and did an awesome job of filling the gap between their regular 110 and their 140, while giving bigger and more advanced riders a nice upgrade. Suggested retail for the duo? $2,099 for the 110, and $2,249 for the 110L.

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