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Kawasaki Bayou 220 Specs and Review

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The Kawasaki Bayou 220 ruled the four-wheeler landscape long before Team Green had its greats – the trail-conquering Prairie, the V-Twin-powered Brutes, and the sport-oriented KFX. This small but mean machine was one of the firsts to successfully tread the ATV playing field and introduce advanced features to the market. Let us take a closer look at one of Kawasaki’s longest, best-selling quads in this guide.

Introduced in 1988, the Kawasaki Bayou 220 is a rec-utility vehicle considered the most hardworking 4×4 in its class. Boasting an automatic clutch, reverse gear, and independent front suspension, this 215-cm3 quad ran circles around its counterparts and enjoyed a 15-year production run.

A certified bulletproof classic, this small, light machine pioneered the four-wheeled ATV segment for Kawasaki like easy. Its “work hard, play harder” concept and straightforward design were more than sufficient a formula to win consumers’ and enthusiasts’ hearts over. Wondering about what else the Kawasaki Bayou 220 has to offer? Read on and discover.

The Forefather of Four-Wheelers

As Team Green’s first four-wheeled off-road vehicle, this description is befitting the Kawasaki Bayou 220. Launched in 1985, the Bayou was initially produced as a 185-class machine. The timing of its inception was spot on, as reports of ATC-related accidents and injuries were brewing on the horizon, pushing consumers to go for a more stable off-road vehicle design that would provide them years of riding and outdoor fun.

With the Bayou 220, Kawasaki provided a highly reliable shaft drive, smooth-riding suspension system, convenient reverse gear, and plenty of low-RPM torque perfect for long trail rides and explorations. Not only was this wheeler small but also one of the most economical quads ever offered by its manufacturer. This rec-utility vehicle did a fantastic job as Kawasaki’s pioneer ATV, even besting bigger-displacement machines in handling and performance.

The Kawasaki Bayou 220 is the 3rd generation of its series, coming out three years after its predecessor joined the four-wheeler bandwagon. It carried on the same characteristics as that of the Bayou 185 and 300, but in a more compact chassis. During its 15-year production run, the Bayou released a bumped-up 400-cm3 4×4 version in 1993. This displacement upgrade catered to an entire market that was slowly shifting its interests towards big-bore machines.

1998 Kawasaki Bayou 220 Specs & Features

Engine

The Bayou 220 has tons of power, making it an excellent ride on technical trails and mud bogs. Its engine is bulletproof and has remained unchanged throughout the quad’s production. Fuel tank capacity is pretty sizeable and located under the handlebars. However, the machine is a bit picky with the fuel it takes. Mixing unleaded gasoline with a fuel stabilizer is advised, as it inhibits fuel oxidation and minimizes gummy deposits in the tank.

Kawasaki 220 Bayou (KLF220)
Engine Brand Name Mikuni
Engine Type 4-Stroke SOHC
Cylinder Arrangement Single cylinder
Carburetion System Mikuni VM24SS
Engine Cooling Air cooling
Engine Fuel Unleaded gasoline of at least Antiknock Index/PON 87 or RON 91, containing < 15% MTBE (Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether)/TAME/ETBE, < 10% ethanol, or < 5% methanol w/ cosolvents & corrosion inhibitors
Fuel Capacity 10 L/2.6 US gal (reserve – 2 L/0.53 US gal)
Bore x Stroke Ratio 67 x 61 mm (2.64 x 2.4 in)
Compression Ratio 9.3:1
Starting System Electric/recoil
Displacement 215 cm³ / 13.1 in³
Maximum Power 13–15 hp/13.2 – 15.2 PS (9.7–11.2 kW, estimated)
Maximum Torque 17.7 Nm (1.8 kg-m, 13 ft-lb) @ 6,000 RPM
Top Speed 45 mph (72.4 km/h) – owners’ claim
Lubrication Forced lubrication (wet sump)
Engine Oil & Quantity 2 L (2.1 US quarts) w/ filter
2.1 L (2.2 US quarts) w/out filter
API grade of at least SJ meeting JASO T903 MA
SAE 10W-30, 10W-40, 10W-50, 20W-40, 20W-50 – depending on ambient temperature

Drivetrain

This 4×4 has a no-nonsense manual transmission that not only makes the quad a joy to ride but also allows novice riders to learn how to operate ATVs with confidence. All controls and levers are easily visible and spread out on either side of the handlebar.

The front brake lever, throttle limiter (for less experienced riders), and throttle lever are on the right, with the rest of the controls and switches on the left. Indicator lights are found on the center console, slightly above the fuel tank cap and fuel gauge.

The reverse knob is on the left side of the body panel, under the handlebar, while the 2-way key-operated ignition switch is at the same location on the opposite side of the body panel.

Kawasaki 220 Bayou (KLF220)
Clutch Wet shoe, automatic, centrifugal type (primary)
Wet, automatic, multi-disc type (secondary)
Transmission Type 5-speed constant mesh w/ reverse, return shift
Drive System Shaft drive
Primary Ratio 3.450 (69/20)
Final Drive Ratio 4.680 (18/15 x 39/10)
Overall Drive Ratio 12.686 (top gear)
Transmission Gear Ratio 1st – 2.923 (38/13)
2nd – 1.684 (32/19)
3rd – 1.173 (27/23)
4th – 0.923 (24/26)
5th – 0.785 (22/28)
Reverse – 3.115 (27/13 x 33/22)

Ignition

Perhaps, the most sensitive of the Kawasaki Bayou 220 parts is its ignition system. One solid proof of this statement is that most of the four-wheeler’s problems trace back to flaws in this area. Another interesting fact is that the Bayou’s charging system and rated output are unspecified in its manual. Consequently, owners will have to rely on Kawi forums to obtain more information about the machine’s voltage regulator and other electrical components.

Kawasaki 220 Bayou (KLF220)
Ignition CDI (Capacitor Discharge Ignition)
Ignition Timing 10° BTDC @ 1,800 RPM – 35° BTDC @ 4,600 RPM
Spark Plug NGK D8EA (gap – 0.6-0.7 mm, 0.024-0.028 in)
Fuse 20 Amp; 10 Amp or less (auxiliary light circuit)
Battery 12V 12 Ah, YTX14AH/-BS battery formats
Battery Dimensions (L x W x H) 5.2 x 3.5 x 6.5 inches (132 x 89 x 165 mm)

Tires & Brakes

It is unlikely that you will score a secondhand unit with stock rubber in mint condition nowadays. You may find stock wheels are still in decent condition and provide good traction. However, it is best to replace them with aftermarket Kawasaki Bayou 220 tires like Maxxis M9207 Front PRO ATV Tires (view on Amazon) – for improved cornering angles and overall handling.

Kawasaki 220 Bayou (KLF220)
Front Tire, off-road/road air pressure Dunlop KT856 AT21 x 8-9, tubeless
Tire Pressure: 20.68 kPa (0.21 kgf/cm2, 3 psi)
Rear Tire, off-road/road air pressure Dunlop KT857 AT22 x 10-10, tubeless
Tire Pressure: 20.68 kPa (0.21 kgf/cm2, 3 psi)
Front Brake Type Mechanical drum brake
Rear Brake Type Mechanical drum brake
Green 2002 Kawasaki Bayou 220 Tires

Suspension

Contrary to what other online sources claim, this machine’s front suspension is not fully independent. It is also not clear if the front and rear shocks (view on Amazon) are preload-adjustable or not. Despite falling short on these aspects, the Bayou 220 exhibited superb maneuverability and handling over rough roads and berms. Its light and responsive steering allow for a non-restrictive riding experience.

Kawasaki 220 Bayou (KLF220)
Frame Type Tubular, double-cradle
Caster, Trail 4°, 17 mm (0.67 in)
Turning Radius 2.7 m (8.9 ft)
Front Suspension Type, Travel Single A-arms w/ dual shocks, 114 mm (4.5 in)
Rear Suspension Type, Travel Quad-Link system w/ dual shocks, 124.5 mm (4.9 in)

Dimensions

The Kawasaki Bayou 220 is quite large and heavy for its 215-cm3 displacement. It also sits lower than average, which taller riders may find uncomfortable. The quad does provide decent load capacity for its size – although this feels a bit lacking given its low-end grunt.

Kawasaki 220 Bayou (KLF220)
Length 1,745 mm (68.7 in)
Width 1,020 mm (40.2 in)
Height 1,040 mm (40.9 in)
Seat Height (Unloaded) 730 mm (28.7 in)
Ground Clearance 155 mm (6.1 in)
Wheelbase 1,115 mm (43.9 in)
Track (F/R) 764 mm (30.1 in) / 776 mm (30.6 in)
Dry Weight 183 Kg (404 lbs)
Carrier Capacity (F/R) 20 Kg (44 lbs) / 30 Kg (66 lbs)
Vehicle Load Capacity Limit 130 Kg (285 lbs)
Hitch Tongue Weight 14 Kg (30 lbs)
Trailer Weight (including cargo) 204 Kg (450 lbs)

Exterior

It has a double-cradle tubular steel frame and plastic body material available in two color options. Styling is rugged but simplistic and comes standard with a vinyl saddle, footpegs atop full floorboards, and utility racks for light loads. Since it lacks instrumentation, a Trail Tech 752-119 Black Vapor Digital Speedometer Tachometer Gauge Kit (view on Amazon) will be a clever addition to your quad.

Instrumentation Kawasaki 220 Bayou (KLF220)
Speedometer N/A
Indicator Lamps Standard
Trip Odometer N/A
Fuel Gauge Standard
Engine Stop Switch Standard
Oil Temperature Switch N/A
Headlight 12V 25W x 2
Brake Light/Taillight 12V 8W x 2
Speedometer Light N/A
Indicator Lights (reverse, neutral)
Colors Hunter Green, Firecracker Red

How Much Is It Worth?

The table below shows the list price of the Bayou 220 for all its models (Source: Nada Guides):

Year – Trim – Model Number List Price Retail/Trade-In Values
1988 Kawasaki Bayou KLF220-A1 N/A $250 – $1,690
1989 Kawasaki Bayou KLF220-A2 $2,699 $475 – $625
1990 Kawasaki Bayou KLF220-A3 $2,799 $475 – $625
1991 Kawasaki Bayou KLF220-A4 $2,849 $475 – $625
1992 Kawasaki Bayou KLF220-A5 $2,899 $475 – $625
1993 Kawasaki Bayou KLF220-A6 $3,099 $475 – $625
1994 Kawasaki Bayou KLF220-A7 $3,349 $475 – $625
1995 Kawasaki Bayou KLF220-A8 $3,499 $530 – $695
1996 Kawasaki Bayou KLF220-A9 $3,699 $610 – $800
1997 Kawasaki Bayou KLF220-A10 $3,719 $640 – $845
1998 Kawasaki Bayou KLF220-A11 $3,299 $655 – $860
1999 Kawasaki Bayou KLF220-A12 $3,299 $670 – $880
2000 Kawasaki Bayou KLF220-A13 $3,299 $700 – $920
2001 Kawasaki Bayou KLF220-A14 $3,299 $735 – $970
2002 Kawasaki Bayou KLF220-A15 $2,999 $755 – $995

These listed prices do not include auction listings of the Kawasaki Bayou 220 across multiple online sites, ranging between $500 and $1,600. Most of these resale units are 1999 to 2002 models and are hard to come by outside of the U.S. For its low price point, expect your pre-loved wheeler to have a rusty muffler, no title, and a plugged carb needing work.

What Problems Should I Expect?

Quad Bikes on Sand

2002 Recall

The rear wheel hubs of the KLF220 are attached to the axles by a castellated nut secured with a specified torque. A cotter pin locks it in place. The axle nut on several of these models was incorrectly tightened before inserting the cotter pin, causing an axle nut failure (hub coming off the axle shaft), potentially resulting in injury or death. Kawasaki dealers rectified the assembly flaw by applying the correct torque to the axle nut.

Backfiring

This problem often indicates a fuel or ignition system malfunction and may sometimes occur if the fuel pump does not squirt in enough fuel in time. Symptoms include an unusual popping noise when going on 5th gear, riding speeds below 20 mph, or letting off the throttle, plus a noticeable difference in power output.

More likely causes are as follows – a poorly tuned Kawasaki Bayou 220 carburetor, incorrect valve timing, or reducing your engine speed too quickly. Any of these problem sources cause the exhaust system to surge. Setting the idle screw too low (the perfect formula to running rich) can also trigger backfiring.

While a backfiring issue is not as grave as other problems encountered with this four-wheeler, it is always advisable to look into it microscopically. Prioritize doing compression and leak-down tests after confirming that you have this problem. Installing a Stage 1 Dynojet kit, snorkel, and K&N filter seems to get the job done for experienced owners.

Shimming the needles is another route that some riders take. It is also worth checking if your quad’s exhaust valves are too tight, as this causes backfiring through the carb, which blows a hole in the carb boots.

Starter Motor Problems

Although confused with a flooding issue, this problem is often in the starting circuit. It could be a defective Kawasaki Bayou 220 starter circuit relay or a short, rendering the primary ignition system inoperable while engaging the starter – and is quite prevalent in 1994 models. Rule out the source by jumping the solenoid if you suspect this. If it works, you would know that everything between the solenoid and starter motor is okay and that the issue is probably between the start button and solenoid.

Plugged Kawasaki Bayou 220 battery cables and connections also point to problems with the secondary ignition. Replacing the pulsing coil – what generates the ignition signal from the rotor portion of the stator assembly – has been proven to fix this issue. Bear in mind that vibration (from traversing bumpy/rocky terrain) also loosens wire connections. So, if you take on numerous rock-crawling sections, inspect your wire connections twice as often. Replacing the stator or CDI box should be your last recourse.

Grounded kill switch, a neutral-only start switch, blown fuse, flywheel slipping or shearing the woodruff key, wire shortage, and a dirty shaft are other causes. But if you want to be completely certain, the service manual recommends checking on these other items:

  • Low-voltage battery
  • Relays not contacting or operating
  • Ignition switch trouble
  • Engine stop switch trouble

Regular inspection of electrical components tremendously helps in identifying starting issues in their early stages. Cleaning the brushes and the copper surface they run on with a non-flammable cleaner is another preventive measure. Some tips shared by veteran Bayou owners include cleaning the orange-colored copper surface with 400-600 grit fine sandpaper and ensuring no oil is spilling from the engine (and dirtying the contacts).

Engine Noise

Engine noises are often described as louder than a valve click, more metallic than a rod bearing, and stays the same in or out of gear (even when in forward or reverse gear position) and regardless of vehicle load. And while it is something to be expected from an ATV, ignoring it should never be an option – as persistent ticking sounds often indicate a bad rectifier/regulator in its pre-detonation stage or an internal problem within the vehicle.

In this scenario, it is best to get a tapered bar or mechanic’s stethoscope and determine where the noise originates. If it is from the top, inspect your quad’s cam lobe and rocker arm surface (including cam bearings and rocker pins) for wear. Also, make sure to check/adjust valve clearance if you see no visual damage. If it is coming from the bottom center, see if your rod bearing is going bad. And if the sound is from the bottom right, then take a look at your clutch hub.

You may need some non-hardening gasket sealer as you troubleshoot this issue, as well as a flywheel/bolt puller to take the flywheel and the balancer nut off. Analog meters also work better at giving you accurate voltage readings versus digital ones. Typically, adjusting the valves and cam chain resolves the problem, while replacing the piston and rings (ideally paired with a flex hone) helps mitigate the noise.

Be careful when adjusting the chain tensioner on a Kawasaki Bayou 220, as it has a one-way clutch that lets the tensioner come out but not go back in. Especially on older engines, you may need to loosen the bolt and let the spring push the tensioner out before tightening the bolt back in.

About Kawasaki

Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. is a corporation widely known to produce aerospace equipment, industrial plants, ships, tractors, and off-road vehicles – among these numerous side x sides, motorcycles, and ATVs like the Kawasaki Bayou 220. Founded in 1878, Kawasaki began as a supplier of technological innovations for Japanese shipping businesses and has now evolved into a massive company producing aerospace and energy systems, hydraulic machinery, motorsport vehicles, ATVs/UTVs, and personal watercraft.

Conclusion – Kawasaki Bayou 220 Review

All in all, the Kawasaki Bayou 220 is a praiseworthy machine that is highly capable, surprisingly fast, and forgiving to novice riders. But do not let these qualities fool you – this trail tamer is not solely for the untrained beginner. Riders of all skill levels are guaranteed to have a blast riding outdoors and traversing diverse terrain with its excellent power delivery, rugged aesthetics, and practical features.

Call it a vintage quad, if you will, but this four-wheeler can still provide you an exhilarating riding experience – just like any other present-day behemoth. It has successfully captured the hearts of enthusiasts once, and it can do so again.

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