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Head To Head: Moving On Up To 85cc Dirt Bikes

Chaparral Motorsports
July 20, 2017
Last Updated: September 8, 2020

Kids grow quick, so if you've got a little one that has outgrown their 50cc dirt bike and want to get them onto something they can enjoy without breaking your bank account, Suzuki's 85cc yellow jacket is a great choice. With smooth power delivery, a very balanced feel, and easy to manage weight, this two-stroker is great fun and a competitive little machine. If your rider gets finicky about the suspension you'll be happy to know that front and rear is completely adjustable. The Showa 37mm front forks offer adjustable rebound damping with a 20-way compression adjustment and delivers 10.8 inches of travel. The Showa rear shock provides 10.9 inches of travel and you can also fine tune the compression and rebound characteristics.

2017 Suzuki RM85
MSRP $4,099
Engine 84.7cc, 2-stroke, liquid-cooled, single cylinder
Bore x Stroke 48.0 mm x 46.8 mm
Transmission 6-speed constant mesh
Fuel Delivery Keihin PE28, single carburetor
Power NA
Curb Weight 161 pounds
Seat Height 33.5"
Wheels (front/rear) 17"/14"
Fuel Capacity 1.3 gallons

While the Kawi and Suzuki may stack up pretty evenly there are a few characteristics that separate the two. First off all the KX 85 is 4 pounds lighter and offers a nearly 1" shorter seat height which can equate to a more comfortable and more confident ride. The Kawasaki offers a lighter and lower center of gravity as well as a 1" shorter wheelbase. Kawasaki is outfitted with a six-position adjustable handlebar mount to tailor fit the ergonomics for a wide range of riders. You can also dial in the front suspension via the 20-way compression damping adjustment. At the rear the Uni-Trak single shock offers 24-way compression and 21-way rebound damping, plus it has adjustable spring preload to make sure the bike is setup perfectly for your little ripper.

2017 Kawasaki KX 85
MSRP $4,349
Engine 84cc, 2-stroke, water-cooled, single-cylinder
Bore x Stroke 48.5mm x 45.8mm
Transmission 6-speed, return shift
Fuel Delivery Keihin PWK28
Power NA
Curb Weight 165.3 pounds
Seat Height 32.7
Wheels (front/rear) 17"/14"
Fuel Capacity 1.32 gallons

For those serious about competing, the KTM 85 SX is a smart move. It has a steeper price tag, but there's good reason. Light and nimble, high end components, and an easy-pull clutch with smooth shifting and power delivery are just a few ways in which the KTM stands out. The SX stays nice and light thanks to a chromoly steel frame and aluminum sub frame. The bike rolls on black powdercoated Excel wheels laced with black spokes with aluminum nipples and CNC-machined hubs. Suspension is provided by 43mm upside down WP forks with 10-1/2" of travel and offers rebound and compression adjustment. In the rear is an adjustable WP PDS mono shock. You kid will appreciate the easy clutch pull and smooth power delivery thanks to the Formula hydraulic clutch.

2017 KTM 85 SX
MSRP $5,599
Engine 84.9cc, 2-stroke, liquid-cooled, single cylinder
Bore x Stroke 47mm x 48.95mm
Transmission 6-speed, wet, multi-disc clutch, hydraulic clutch
Fuel Delivery Mikuni TM 24-505
Power NA
Dry Weight 148.8 pounds (about 156 pounds curb weight)
Seat Height 33.7"
Wheels (front/rear) 17"/14"
Fuel Capacity 1.3 gallons
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