The Kawasaki KX85 is not a kid's dirtbike with a go-fast kit - it's built from the ground up as a motocross racing machine in the Pro Mini class for riders from eight to 11 years old. But it's been virtually unchanged for almost a decade so for 2014 the Green Meanies have given it an all-new engine with (they say) 20 percent more power, along with a beefed-up frame and upgraded running gear.
The two-stroke single now has electrofusion cylinder coating to reduce friction and heat, a new piston with a single compression ring instead of the previous two and a revised squish area in the cylinder head.
The nozzle jet of the big 28mm Keihin PWK semi-flat slide carburettor has been moved closer to the boiler room to improve throttle response, crankshaft diameter has been increased by 2mm for extra rigidity and resin blocks reduce crankcase volume, thus increasing compression.
Scavenge and exhaust porting has been revised and the exhaust power-valve simplified to just two components rather than the three-piece construction of earlier models.
To handle the extra heat, the radiator is 40mm taller and wider, for a claimed 50 percent increase in cooling.
But more power translates into more trophies only if the rest of the bike can use it to improve lap times.
The 2014 KX 85's frame is virtually unchanged but has been strengthened in key areas, with revised mounting points for new, minimimalistic body panels.
Its 36mm upside-down forks have been re-valved for improved damping and greater resistance to bottoming out, with shim-stack valves - as used in the KX450 and KX250 - replacing the previous port-style valves for improved compression and rebound damping, while the axle mounts are 12.5mm shorter to reduce unsprung weight and provide greater clearance in ruts and turns.
The rear monoshock has also been redesigned to allow compression damping force to be generated at slower stroke speeds for a more stable ride, with a 150g lighter spring and a more user-friendly clicker-type damping adjuster that provides 24 clicks of compression damping adjustment and 21 clicks of rebound tuning.
SLIMMER AND FLATTER
A new 220mm front petal disk is gripped by a dual-piston calliper, while a 184mm petal disc with a single-piston caliper attends to the back end.
The 2014 KX85 comes with a slimmer, flatter seat, a 20mm lower fuel tank and slimmer body panels, matched by slimmer mudguards to reduce the amount of mud collected during wet races.
Like Kawasaki's works racers, the new KX85 comes with black-finished alloy rims and blue damping adjusters; the rear shock body is anodised black, while the swing-arm sports a brushed-aluminium finish.
The 2014 Kawasaki KX85 will be released in South Africa during November, just in time for Christmas. Pricing, as always, when they get here.