Performance and handling on a budget By the staff of Dirt Wheels
Until we picked up the sporty Kayo 200 Jackal, our only experience with quads from this Chinese company was a brief exposure to the Kayo 150 Storm. The Storm uses a lay-down engine like the Honda TRX90 but with more power. The Jackal is a 200cc upright engine, and it looks like a generic single-cam 200 engine like you would see in an ATC200X or a Yamaha TT-R225 dirt bike. This is a proven engine design, and one that has proven reliable from Chinese engine manufacturers.
Unlike many Chinese-brand quads, the Kayo looks proper, sporty and stylish. We noticed that with the Storm, the suspension actually works, and the same was true of the Jackal. The Jackal suspension is a bit stiffer than the Storm, but this is a sport quad that is intended for riders over 16 years of age. In that age group, the Jackal could see complete beginners and extremely fast and accomplished riders. There are five-position preload collars on the front shocks, and the rear shock has preload adjustment as well, but there are no damping adjustments. Second, we noticed the easy and reliable electric start. Some smaller quads have finicky electric start, but the Jackal started right up and continued to be easy-starting even after sitting for several weeks. There is no backup starting system, but with a clutch and carburetor it can be bump-started.
As we were familiarizing ourselves with the machine, we quickly learned that the transmission shifts all up with neutral at the bottom. Once you are in neutral, push down once more for reverse. It is super easy, and we worried that riders could accidentally shift into reverse while moving, but it isn’t possible. It won’t shift to reverse unless completely stopped. That makes it one of the easiest reverse systems that we have seen. Like the Honda TRX250X, you need to keep track of the gear you are in. You could downshift on a hill and shift into neutral.
Then it was time to get riding. There are various reasons that budget quads in our stable don’t get a ton of miles on them. The brand wants them back right away (perhaps fearing they will break), or we can’t entice any of our riders to spend much time on them. We rode the Kayo as much and as hard as any quad we have had to test. Even though the quad is somewhat compact, it is rated for the 16-plus age group. We loaded it with adult riders ranging from 150 pounds to 250 pounds, and from just over 5 feet to just over 6 feet in height. Daniel Gonzalez is 5-foot-3 and Collin Duffy is 6 feet. Both normally ride 50-plus-horsepower Honda TRX450R race quads. Where they live, they have a twisty off-road loop and a small moto track they can ride with quiet machines.
It is routine for the Kayo to start up after work and moto into the darkness. Both riders are capable of pushing the 200 to its limits during their daily moto sessions.
WHAT DANIEL SAYS
“For my height [5-foot-3], the Kayo is very comfortable. The angle of the stem and the Renthal-like feel of the tapered handlebar put the rider into the perfect attack position. That helps the rider to have the confidence to ride it aggressively in and out of turns. The Kayo felt very natural in the air even when comparing it to a full-size machine. The suspension preloads off the lip, making it feel well-balanced.
“The suspension feels very plush over medium-rough terrain and handles like any full-size machine I’ve ever ridden. I was impressed how well it handled for a quad that has not been around for very long. It is a very sporty machine, and once I started riding it, I wasn’t eager to switch to another machine.
“The power is very respectable for its class. Midrange to top-end is strong, and revved high enough to let you ride in the gear longer into the corners. You would have to maintain that pace around the berm to stay in that gear. Once the bike dropped into its lower-rpm range, it would lose its momentum and force the rider to shift down into the lower gear.
“Using the manual clutch allows the rider to work the clutch to get the engine back into its happy rpm range. The clutch also allowed an experienced rider to charge in and out of turns with a faster pace than is possible with an automatic. The clutch feel was firm but predictable once it begins to engage. The Kayo would make a perfect quad to teach a beginning rider how to manipulate a clutch before they jump onto a large-displacement machine in the future.
“Most people would not take note of the headlights, but the ones on this machine were impressive. The projection of the lights was fluid and wide, which made me comfortable approaching oncoming situations with confidence. Since the lights have a halogen color (same color as a traditional headlight), they cut through the dust, allowing enough visibility to see through the dust if you are following someone.
“Steering is light and responsive on tight trails if the rider is in a neutral position on the bike. Ride too far back and it would push into the corner. The width and ride height of the bike were very nice, and it allowed me to slide into corners with confidence. The brakes are phenomenal.”
NOT ALL PERFECT
Gonzalez did find some faults in the Jackal: “The contour of the plastics makes the rider compartment feel more cramped than if they were designed more swept back. That would allow the rider to get down lower into the corners. Grab handles on the rear fenders also prevent the rider from stretching farther back on the machine. The plastic is supported by metal brackets, and the metal is flexible and bent easily with a heavy, aggressive rider. Eventually, the plastics flexed back far enough that they melted around the exhaust.
“The controls are not very adjustable for a smaller hand size. The thumb throttle is swept back too far for the average rider. I had to almost overextend my thumb back to fully let off the gas. The swingarm protection snapped off on its first impact with a trail obstacle. An aftermarket one would be nice to have if one is available. Plus, the heel guards cracked on both sides from riding aggressively through rough terrain. The bike might need to be re-sprung for lighter riders.”
After the favorable performance of the Storm and the exciting look of the 200cc Jackal, we could see that it was a more serious sport model. We were not surprised at all that the quad was fun, fast and effective. There isn’t much action in the 200cc sport arena these days, but at one time 200cc four-strokes were a major segment. Kayo is showing that the 200cc class is still fun. We were generally impressed by the quality and performance of this machine. The Kayo Jackal makes a good first sport machine for riders, and it comes at a very reasonable price of $2,899. To learn more about the Kayo USA line-up, go to www.ridekayousa.com or call (909) 823-2903.
SPECS 2020 KAYO USA 200 JACKAL
Engine Air-cooled SOHC 4-stroke, single cylinder
Fuel system Carbureted
Fuel capacity 1.6 gal.
Transmission 4-speed manual w/reverse
Final drive Chain
Front Double A-arm
Front Dual hydraulic disc
Rear Single hydraulic disc
Ground clearance 3.7”
Curb weight 364 lb.
Colors White w/ orange