ATV TEST: 2020 KAWASAKI KFX90
Kids are on a roll By the staff of Dirt Wheels
Riding isn’t just for grownups! The young ones want to hit fun trails and deserve to experience the pure joy of what ATV off-roading is all about. The best way to do that is to start young, and the best and safest way is to start off small. Some of us stretched our legs on two-stroke mini quads, bikes and three-wheelers back in their day, while others here at Dirt Wheels started riding on modern four-strokes. Kawasaki’s KFX90 is rated for riders 12 years of age and over, and is an outstanding and attractive entry point to safely experience the sport we love.
MAKE IT EASY
Learning how to ride can’t get any simpler than on a KFX90. Kawasaki took safety and ease of usability into account while designing this mini machine. The engine is a smooth-revving, 89cc, single-cylinder, air-cooled, four-stroke that utilizes a carburetor to flow fuel to it from a 1.5-gallon tank. Engaging the power output is performed by an electric start combined with an electric choke added to the carburetor. There is also a backup kick-starter that works by turning the CVT transmission to get the Kawasaki rumbling. Once it starts, riders control the action with a thumb-operated throttle that is designed for small hands to actuate.
There won’t be any surprises in the power department, so you or your youngster can focus on tackling the terrain ahead. Kawasaki designed an adjustable throttle limiter into the housing of the thumb throttle so you can curb youth’s natural need for speed until you are comfortable with their skill development. The continuously variable, fully automatic transmission has a speed-limiting collar designed in it that does not limit acceleration, but does regulate the top speed to 15 mph. Like the throttle stop, the collar is considered a normal adjustment when the parents recognize the rider has the control and judgment for more speed. Again, power and acceleration are not affected. Removing the collar allows the front CVT sheaves to move closer together and let the belt run up higher in the front. That effectively changes the CVT’s total gear ratio enough to raise the top speed to 25 mph. Removing the collar is tedious, because the floorboard and some side plastic must be removed, but it takes only simple tools.
Sporting the epic styling notes from one of our favorite past sport quads, the KFX450R, this little 90 looks aggressive. It also comes with sport-quad-style suspension. The front end sports a single A-arm design with multi-position preload adjustable gas-charged coil-over shocks. Each front corner offers 2.8 inches of wheel travel with an 18×7-8 inch wheel and tire setup attached. The rear end is suspended by a mono shock and a straight-axle swingarm configuration. The rear tires are 18×9-8 in size, and the KFX has 2.9 inches of rear-wheel travel. Kawasaki actually sprung the machine correctly for a young rider. An adult sacks the shocks out (as it should be), but adjusting it does make it better for heavier riders.
The rear axle is driven by a chain and sprocket mechanism out of the CV transmission. Attached to the swingarm is a single hydraulic disc brake that is controlled by a lever mounted to the left side of the handlebar. The right handlebar-mounted lever controls the dual front mechanical drum brakes. For a machine so small in stature, power, and a weight of 267 pounds, the KFX doesn’t need hydraulic disc brakes up front to help cease momentum.
THE FUN WON’T STOP
That’s right, your kid won’t stop riding this little quad until the gas tank runs dry. It is a blast to cruise around near camp, or follow you onto the easier trails. Our young and even adult test riders enjoyed how well it meandered over bumps, and turning the Kawasaki was a breeze.
The controls are friendly to small operators, and if you are feeling up to squeezing yourself onto the KFX, you can work the controls easily too. The plastics have great coverage against mud and tire roost, while the footwells also have ample coverage. A comfortable little seat and handlebar padding are nice touches.
Kawasaki’s KFX90 has sport quad-styled tires. The rears have a flatter profile, which allows them to slide around corners easier. Unfortunately, or fortunately to some parents, the KFX doesn’t have enough power to drift through turns at a quick clip. We made sure the throttle limiter was backed out for the more experienced test riders, and they still wanted a little more go before we removed the CVT collar. However, newer riders were quite content with the sprightly little engine’s output, and the throttle limiter was handy for beginners.
THE GREEN MACHINE
We are major fans of Kawasaki, even though they discontinued one of our favorite sport quads, the KFX450R. With that said, the KFX90 rests easily on our list of favorite youth ATVs. It comes in Lime Green or Vibrant Blue for 2020 and at a reasonable price of $2,599. If you think you want to start your rider with a smaller engine, the KFX50 is a great way to go. It goes for $1,999. Go to www.kawasaki.com to check out their youth machines, impressive UTV lineup or their great 4×4 ATVs.
SPECS: 2020 KAWASAKI KFX90
Engine Single, air-cooled, 4-stroke
Bore and stroke 47.0mm x 51.8mm
Starter Electric, kick-start backup
Fuel system Carburetor
Fuel capacity 1.5 gal.
Transmission Automatic CVT
Final drive Chain
Front Single A-arm w/ 2.8”
Rear Swingarm w/ 2.9”
Front Dual mechanical drum
Rear Hydraulic disc
Ground clearance 3.9”
Curb weight 266.8 lb.
Colors Lime green, vibrant blue
Contact .www.kawasaki.com, local dealer