This is a rundown of Kawasaki’s KDX175 and KDX200 Enduro models from their introduction in 1980, until their retirement in 2006.
1980 Kawasaki KDX175 Photo Credit: Cycle World
Originally introduced for the 1980 season, the first KDX175 was Kawasaki’s answer to Suzuki’s hugely successful PE175. Using a frame and motor derived from their KX125 motocrosser, the new KDX175 offered 24 hp (claimed) and a smooth delivery. Because it shared much of its architecture with the all-new KX125, it also received Kawasaki’s new single-shock suspension system. Dubbed the Uni-Trak, this system differed from Yamaha’s mono-shock layout by placing its single large damper in an upright position and attaching it to the swingarm via a bell-crank linkage. In 1980, this was very advanced stuff and none of the KDX’s competitors (including its own 250 and 400cc KDX stablemates) offered anything like it.
1983 Kawasaki KDX200 Photo Credit: Dirt Bike
After two years of minimal changes, it was time for a complete redesign in 1983. An all-new motor, chassis, and bodywork lowered weight, improved ergonomics and increased performance. The new motor boosted torque by increasing overall displacement 25cc and redesigned suspension improved handling by increasing overall travel 10mm front and rear. Because of the bump up to 198cc, the new KDX adopted a new name, one it would keep for the next twenty-three years – the KDX200.
1988 Kawasaki KDX200 Photo Credit: Dirt Rider
After a further two years of minor upgrades, it was time for another major revamp in 1986. Once again leveraging technology from their motocross department, the ’86 KDX featured a KX125-inspired chassis, bolted to an air-cooled 198cc motor. While the displacement remained the same, the rest of the motor was new and featured Kawasaki’s innovative KIPS (Kawasaki Integrated Power-valve System) for the first time. Once again developed by the motocross department, the KIPS combined the resonance chamber Honda’s ATAC with the variable exhaust port of Yamaha YPVS into one comprehensive design. By using this system, Kawasaki was able to tune the KDX for both strong low-end and high-revving power. In addition to the new motor and chassis, the ’86 KDX received redesigned bodywork, beefed-up forks (43mm) and a front disc binder for the first time.
1989 Kawasaki KDX200 Photo Credit: Dirt Bike
The 1989 season would see the KDX200 receive its next major redesign. As before, the KDX borrowed liberally from the KX125 and featured a chassis patterned after the ’88 KX125. The new frame featured a redesigned “bottom-link” Uni-Trak design with increased travel and a lower center of gravity for improved handling. Travel was also increased up-front, with the new 43mm non-cartridge dampers offering 3/4 of an inch more movement than 1988. In addition to the new chassis, a redesigned KX125-based motor boosted power by adding liquid cooling and adopting Kawasaki’s latest triple-valve KIPS design. With all-new bodywork and the addition of a rear disc, about the only thing that was not improved for 1989 was the KDX’s weight, which increased five-pounds over 1988.
1994 Kawasaki KDX200 Photo Credit: Dirt Bike
In 1993, the KDX finally received a suspension upgrade to cartridge internals and a switch to an inverted design. While an improvement in performance, they remained too soft for anything above a trail pace and a far cry from the ones found on the KX125.
1995 Kawasaki KDX200 Photo Credit: Dirt Bike
The 1995 season would see the KDX200 receive its last major redesign. Once again a clean-sheet upgrade, the new bike adopted the perimeter frame design the KX125 had been using since 1990. This increased rigidity and improved handling over previous KDX designs. A new 198cc motor kept the liquid cooling and upped the power with a redesigned KIPS, new crank and revised porting. Perhaps most interesting of all, was Kawasaki’s decision to ditch the inverted forks of ’93-’94 in favor of a set of 43mm conventional cartridge units.
Last of the Mohicans: The 2006 Kawasaki KDX200 Photo Credit: Kawasaki
After 1995, the KDX would only receive cosmetic updates. In 1997, Kawasaki would add a 220 version to the lineup with a larger bore and smaller carb. Designed to do battle in the 250 class, the KDX220R proved different, but not necessarily better than the 200. In 2006, the KDX would finally be retired for good, the victim of concerns over more stringent emissions requirements.