Kawasaki Bayou 220

Kawasaki was founded in 1878 in Japan. It started as a supplier of technological innovations. Kawasaki became a manufacturer of motorsport vehicles, aerospace and energy systems, personal watercraft, hydraulic machinery, and ATVs/ UTVs. Kawasaki Bayou 220 is an ATV quad first introduced in 1988. It is a 4*4 with some advanced features.

Bayou 220 is a small but powerful vehicle that went on to become one of the longest-selling ATVs by the manufacturer. The ATV was in production for a decade and a half. The simplistic design may not make it look like a big deal, but the Bayou 220 is a super cool vehicle with better stability on hilly and uneven terrains.

Let’s check out what makes this ATV quad so popular compared to its peers.

More about Kawasaki Bayou 220

Bayou 220 entered the market when there was an increase in accidents due to rash ATV driving. The size, design, and features were carefully planned to suit riders of all levels. A novice could handle Bayou 220 just like a professional. The vehicle wasn’t limited to use by experienced riders or veterans.

A 215cc air-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke engine powered the vehicle. It had a reverse gear, reliable shaft drive, better suspension, and low RPM to make long drives more enjoyable. The affordable and budget-friendly price was another advantage of Kawasaki Bayou 220. Moreover, it had a top speed of 45 mph.

This model was the third-generation ATV in the Bayou series. It was similar to Bayou 180 (the first in the series released in 1985) and Bayou 330 in build but had a compact and better quality chassis. Kawasaki went on to release Bayou 400 in 1993 to enter a new market (where riders loved bigger and more powerful ATVs).

Kawasaki Bayou 220 had several models, variants, and trims. The company released a new model every year, starting in 1988 and ending in 2002. The 1988 Kawasaki Bayou 220 had a model number of KLF220-A1 (where A1 denotes the first year of release). Similarly, the 2002 Kawasaki Bayou 220 had a model number of KLF220-A15 (where A15 is the 15th year of production).

The price for second-hand/ used Bayou 220 ranges from $2700 to $3800. The vehicles in the lower range will need additional repairs to deliver top performance. However, ask a mechanic to thoroughly check the ATV quad before you finalize the purchase.

Specifications and Features of Kawasaki Bayou 220

Kawasaki Bayou 220 was a certified bulletproof classic in a small and compact design. It was best suited for trails and muddy roads. The manufacturer maintained quality through the years of production to ensure happy customers. Bayou 220 (and all Kawasaki vehicles) are particular about the type of gasoline used as fuel. Unleaded gasoline with a fuel stabilizer is the best choice. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for fuel.

Dimensions: 68.7* 40.2* 40.9 inches (LWH)
Dry Weight: 404 lbs
Fuel Capacity: 2.6 gallons (with a reserve of 0.53 gallons)
Wheelbase: 43.9 inches
Load Capacity: 285 lbs
Carrier Capacity: 44lbs to 66lbs
Ground Clearance: 6.1 inches
Seat Height: 28.7 inches
Suspension: Single A-arms with dual shocks and 4.5-inch travel on the front and Quad-Link system with dual shocks and 4.9-inch travel in the rear
Tires: Dunlop KT856 AT218- 9 front tires and Dunlop KT857 AT2210- 10 rear tires

Engine and Ignition

Bayou 220 has a 215cc four-stroke single-cylinder air-cooling SOHC Mikuni VM24SS engine with 13 to 15 horsepower. It has a bore-stroke ratio of 2.64 * 2.4 inches and a compression ratio of 9.3:1.

The top speed for the ATV is 45 mph. It has an electric starter Capacitor Discharge Ignition (CDI). However, be very careful with the ignition. Most damages and issues are traced back to the ignition problem. It is a vulnerable part of the vehicle.

Drivetrain and Transmission

Bayou 220 has a 4*4 manual transmission to avoid complications. This makes it an easy ride for amateurs and professionals. The controls are on either side of the handlebar. The fuel gauge, fuel tank cap, and indicator lights are in the center of the console.

The front brake lever, throttle lever, and limiter are on the right side. The reverse gear knob is on the left side under the handlebar. The five-gear transmission has a primary and secondary clutch.

Brakes and Shocks

Kawasaki Bayou 220 has front and rear mechanical drum brakes. We aren’t sure if the shocks are preload-adjustable. However, we are confident of the smooth and enjoyable ride offered by the quad. The brakes, shocks, and suspension ensure you don’t feel the strain of riding on an uneven and dirty road. Bayou 220 is more stable and less prone to throw up off the seat. Maneuvering bumpy roads and curves is easier than it seems. But pay attention to the road and be alert.

Build and Exterior

The steering is one of the highlights of this ATV quad. It is lightweight and responsive. You control the steering rather than the other way round. It makes the ride less stressful for novice riders.

A not-so-favorable aspect is the height of this vehicle. It is shorter and sits closer to the ground. It is heavy, too, despite the compact size. Tall riders will not be fully comfortable with Bayou 220 on long trips. It is more suited for people with an average build. The load capacity is good enough, but the engine might make a few noises if you add cargo/ load to the maximum limit.

The steel body frame and plastic body are strong and durable. The seat cover is made of vinyl. It has basic fittings like foot pegs and utility racks at the rear for the cargo. You can customize and upgrade Bayou 220 to add new fittings like a speedometer, etc.

Issues with Kawasaki Bayou 220

Bayou 220 is not perfect by any means. It has a few issues, which crop up from time to time. Since new models are no longer available, you have to buy used vehicles for other owners. This increases the risk of ending up with a defective Bayou 220 if you aren’t careful. Pay attention to the following factors when inspecting the vehicle.

Starter Motor

The starter problems are less because of flooding and more because of a defective starter circuit. This issue is most common in the 1994 model. However, you should first make sure that the problem isn’t because of the solenoid.

The battery cables and secondary ignition also cause problems. In most instances, replacing the pulsing coils fixed the issue. Long-term use loosens the connections, especially when used on bumpy and messy roads. Regular maintenance to inspect and tighter the wires will help. Get the electric components also checked periodically and replace the defective/ worn-out parts. Clean the metal parts to prevent corrosion.


Malfunctioning of the fuel or ignition system is a major cause of backfiring. You will hear a popping noise when riding at high or low speeds (in the fifth gear or less than 20 mph).

This happens when you reduce the speed a little too quickly. That said, it is also a sign of wrong valve timing and a badly tuned carburetor. It leads to the surging of the exhaust system and triggers backfiring. While it isn’t much of an issue, ignoring it can lead to more problems. Check everything, from the exhaust valves to the ignition system to identify where the actual problem is.

Engine Noise

Engine noises are not uncommon in ATVs. The vehicles are used on rough terrains, after all. That doesn’t mean you can ignore the noises. If you hear sounds like a metallic valve clicking or lack of change in the engine sound irrespective of the gear, it indicates an issue with the engine.

Inspect the valve clearances, rod bearings, clutch hub, rocker arm, cam lobe, and all components of the vehicle until you identify where the problem lies. Take the Bayou 220 to a mechanic (they’ll use the mechanic’s stethoscope to correctly identify the cause). Fixing the components is tricky and best left in the hands of an expert.

Defects in the 2002 Model

Several units from the 2002 Bayou 220 model had to be recalled due to defective fixing of the axle nut. This was a major issue as it increased the risk of accidents (injuries and death). Though the manufacturer rectified the flaw, you should be vigilant when buying a 2002 model.

Final Words

Kawasaki Bayou 220 is a dependable, fast, and comfortable ride for newbies and veterans alike. It is available for an affordable price, though you need to check for a couple of recurring issues with used models. It is powerful yet easy to ride in mud bogs.

Get the Bayou 220 inspected before purchasing it. You can install additional fittings to increase its overall performance.