Tired of getting stuck in immovable Jakarta traffic? Thinking of turning to motorcycles to move faster and foster a better fuel economy? But don’t want to join the annoying crowd of mopeds and scooters?
Consider this: an off-road motorcycle with urban road capabilities, at a reasonable price of roughly Rp 25 million ($2,050), made in Indonesia.
That’s the offer from Kawasaki, which will start building the 2014 model of its 150cc KLX off-road bike at its new factory in Bekasi starting in January.
A KLX150L prototype was presented to the media recently, and it had a visibly taller and longer appearance than the previous model.
“Both tires are five centimeters bigger than the current model to improve its off-road capabilities,” said Kawasaki Motor Indonesia president Yoshihiro Tanigawa.
Its muffler is designed to meet Euro-3 emission standards and the company said it took around two years to develop the exhaust system.
The old model, the KLX150S, was accompanied by a sister bike designed for less challenging terrain called the D-Tracker. Kawasaki did not say if the L series would follow suit. If it does, the only notable changes would be in the tires — with smoother options and the addition of a softer front suspension.
While most 150cc premium bikes cost more than Rp 30 million, Kawasaki says the KLX will be cheaper because it is assembled in Bekasi, unlike the 250cc version imported from overseas. However, the new model will cost around Rp 2 million more than its predecessor.
“We try to balance between the imported bikes and the locally made motorcycles. We try to produce as many motorcycles as we can in the Indonesian plants, but we need to import products that we can’t build here,” Tanigawa said.
The Bekasi plant, the company’s second in Indonesia, has a production capacity of 140,000 units a year.
The KLX still uses a carburetor, where other producers have already adopted fuel injection systems for most of their latest models.
But Tanigawa presented two reasons for sticking with the carburetor.
First, easier maintenance — a very crucial aspect for a motorcycle that you can take to swamps, country tracks or steep valleys.
Second, the fuel injection system requires high-octane fuel, which is often unavailable in the remote areas where the bike is expected to be driven.
Many car owners who plan to save money by using motorcycles are often faced with limited choices. They are reluctant to buy the more common types of mopeds and scooters, yet imported motorcycles can cost more than their cars.
This sums up Kawasaki’s target market: affordable bikes that still stand out from the crowd.
“There are many different market categories here in Indonesia, but we focus on a specific area, the sport bike, including this off-roader KLX,” Tanigawa said.
The Japanese manufacturer expects to sell 1,500 KLX150Ls per month, along with 2,200 units of the S series that will remain in production for an unspecified period.
Tanigawa said he was confident about meeting the target in the “friendly” Indonesian market. Even compared to the world’s largest motorcycle markets of China and India, “Kawasaki sells more motorcycles in Indonesia,” he said.