Kawasaki Bayou 300 4×4 Specs and Review

Blue 1994 Kawasaki Bayou 300 ATV

Shortly after launching its first four-wheeled ATV, Kawasaki introduced the market to the 4WD concept with its Kawasaki Bayou 300 4×4. This mean machine had rock-solid durability, rustic charm, and was dead-set to conquer the toughest terrain. Let us learn more about this impressive trend-setter in today’s guide.

The Kawasaki Bayou 300 4×4 goes down in history as the 1st 4WD off-road vehicle from Kawasaki’s famous best-selling lineup. Featuring dual-mode differential, hydraulic disc brakes, and a 700-lb hauling capacity, this machine reigned as “the strongest four-wheeler in the field” during its heyday.

The classic best-seller is one of the few old-school machines whose reliability overshadows its many setbacks, making it a preferred choice by many enthusiasts and nouveau riders.

Remarkable hauling capabilities, a robust build, and low-gear power are among its key selling points. Read on to know more about what this best-selling machine has to offer.

Kawasaki’s First 4×4 ATV

Only four years after the Bayou 185 launch, Team Green wowed the market with its first 4WD off-road vehicle – the Kawasaki Bayou 300 4×4. The machine boasted a torquey 290-cm3 power mill (the biggest displacement released at the time), plenty of gutsy hauling power, and a limited-slip front differential.

While consumers already found the standard 300 models sufficient, the 4×4 was a refreshing, welcome take on the machine – affording riders the freedom to choose between maximum grip and enhanced maneuverability whenever the situation called for it.

The vehicle’s upgraded design and functionality propelled it to be one of Kawasaki’s longest best-selling units. Additionally, its other standard features such as front and rear shaft drive, reverse gear, and cargo racks made it an excellent companion in farms, dockyards, and other tough domestic and agricultural applications.

The four-wheeler’s power and durability (and then the newly-added 4WD option) strengthened its foothold as the crowd favorite in the utility segment.

With all its attributes put together, the quad naturally catered to hardworking folks and weekend warriors. This machine played the role of a workhorse (for most of the week) and rode out to revel in the outdoors on weekends and in-betweens.

Riders coming from owning 200-class ATVs found the Bayou 300 not only perfect for riding technical trails and hauling jobs but also quite impressive. With current tech advancements and broad aftermarket support for ATVs, off-roaders will have a blast customizing this mean machine.

Everything ATV-UTV-Reviews gives a brief overview of the Kawasaki Bayou 300 4×4. The presenter also shares some tips and how-tos and shows how the wheeler performs on wooded trails throughout the video:

Kawasaki Bayou 300 4×4 Specs & Features

Engine

Although 4×4 trims share similar engine specifications as the base models, they have a slightly larger fuel capacity and slightly higher torque. Given their added weight and driveline mode, Bayou 300 models are also slower when compared to their 250-cc successor.

Kawasaki Bayou KLF300A/B Kawasaki Bayou KLF300C, 4×4
Engine Brand Name Keihin
Engine Type 4-Stroke SOHC
Cylinder Arrangement Single cylinder
Carburetion System Keihin CVK32
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 9 L/2.4 US gal (reserve – 1.7 L/0.45 US gal) 11 L/2.9 US gal (reserve – 2 L/0.53 US gal)
Bore x Stroke Ratio 76×64 mm (2.99 x 2.52 in)
Compression Ratio 8.6:1
Starting System Electric/recoil
Displacement 290 cm³ / 17.7 in³
Maximum Power 19 hp/19.3 PS (14.2 kW, estimated) 20 hp/20.28 PS (14.9 kW @ 6,500 RPM)
Maximum Torque 22.6 Nm (2.3 kg-m, 16.6 ft-lb) @ 6,000 RPM 23.5 Nm (2.4 kg-m, 17.4 ft-lb) @ 5,500 RPM
Top Speed 40-50 mph (64.4-80.5 km/h) – owners’ claim
Lubrication Forced lubrication (wet sump)
Engine Oil & Quantity 1.7 L (1.8 US quarts) w/ filter
API grade of SJ meeting JASO T903 MA
SAE 10W-30, 10W-40, 10W-50, 20W-40, 20W-50 – depending on ambient temperature
2.2 L (2.3 US quarts) w/ filter
API grade of SJ meeting JASO T903 MA
SAE 10W-30, 10W-40, 10W-50, 20W-40, 20W-50 – depending on ambient temperature

Drivetrain

Aside from a semi-automatic transmission, the Bayou 300 also has locked-axle and differential mode. The differential mode is comparable to Honda‘s current Turf mode. This feature is beneficial on lawns or golf courses but not advisable around campgrounds, pavement, or towing a trailer.

Kawasaki Bayou KLF300A/B Kawasaki Bayou KLF300C, 4×4
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 Shaft drive, 4WD
Primary Ratio 2.888 (78/27)
Final Drive Ratio 4.886 (20/16 x 43/11) 6.910 (37/29 x 20/16 x 39/9) – low
5.416 (33/33 x 20/16 x 39/9) – high
Overall Drive Ratio (Top Gear) 10.858 15.357 (low); 12.037 (high)
Transmission Gear Ratio 1st – 3.090 (34/11)
2nd – 1.928 (27/14)
3rd – 1.368 (26/19)
4th – 1.000 (23/23)
5th – 0.769 (20/26)
Reverse – 3.072 (26/11 x 26/20)

On the other hand, the locked-axle mode is best when sport riding or climbing hills and rugged terrain. Paired with using the sub-transmission shift lever, riders can maximize transmission efficiency at low speeds and turn the machine into a true-blooded workhorse.

Ignition

Unlike smaller-displacement Bayou models, the 300 trims require a YB14A-A2 battery (view on Amazon) format and spark plugs with different heat ranges. The ignition system for these quads also changed from a DC-CDI to a transistorized type.

Kawasaki Bayou KLF300A/B Kawasaki Bayou KLF300C, 4×4
Ignition Battery & coil (transistorized ignition)
Ignition Timing 10° BTDC @ 1,300 RPM – 40° BTDC @ 4,000 RPM 10° BTDC @ 1,300 RPM – 30° BTDC @ 4,000 RPM
Spark Plug NGK B8ES/BR8ES (gap – 0.7-0.8 mm, 0.028-0.032 in) NGK D8EA (gap – 0.6-0.7 mm, 0.024-0.028 in)
Fuse 30 Amp; 15 Amp (auxiliary accessory circuit)
Battery 12V 14 Ah, YB14A-A2 battery format
Battery Dimensions (L x W x H) 5.31 x 3.50. x 6.94 in (134 x 89 x 176 mm)

Tires & Brakes

Depending on your preferred tire brand, the maximum pressure when seating tire beads will vary – it is crucial you follow these thresholds. For instance, a stock Dunlop rubber will permit 250 kPa (2.5 kgf-cm2, 36 psi), whereas a Goodyear Tracker MP tire will only allow 225 kPa (2.25 kgf-cm2, 32 psi). Maxxis MU02 Zilla Mud/Snow Tires (view on Amazon) may have similar pressure caps.

Kawasaki Bayou KLF300A/BKawasaki Bayou KLF300C, 4×4
Front Tire, air pressureDunlop KT761 AT22 x 9-10, tubeless
20.68 kPa (0.21 kgf/cm2, 3 psi)
Dunlop KT962 or Goodyear Tracker MP AT24 x 8-11, tubeless
34.47 kPa (0.35 kgf/cm2, 5 psi)
Rear Tire, air pressureDunlop KT765 AT24 x 11-10, tubeless
20.68 kPa (0.21 kgf/cm2, 3 psi)
Dunlop KT962 or Goodyear Tracker MP AT24 x 10-11, tubeless
27.58 kPa (0.28 kgf/cm2, 4 psi)
Front Brake TypeDual hydraulic discs / Expanding drum brakeDual hydraulic discs
Rear Brake TypeExpanding drum brakeExpanding drum brake

Suspension

Front- and rear-wheel travel figures are slightly downgraded from the Bayou 250’s 4.5/4.9 inches. As a result, many riders find the quad’s suspension system lacking. Still, experienced mechanics and owners do not recommend tinkering with the vehicle.

The front suspension is factory-built to give a harsh ride. Any increase in the front axles’ angle may lead to more wear or damage of front-drive components.

Kawasaki Bayou KLF300A/B Kawasaki Bayou KLF300C, 4×4
Frame Type Tubular, double-cradle Tubular, double-cradle
Caster, Trail 3°, 13 mm (0.51 in) 1°, 5 mm (0.2 in)
3°, 13 mm (0.51 in) – ’04 model
Turning Radius 2.9 m (9.5 ft) – locked axle mode
2.6 m (8.5 ft) – differential mode
2.9 m (9.5 ft)
Front Suspension, Travel Independent double wishbone w/ dual adjustable shocks, 109 mm (4.3 in)
Rear Suspension, Travel Quad-Link w/ twin shock absorbers, 119 mm (4.7 in)

In this video, Mid Nebraska Motorsports gives a detailed overview of the drive shaft, wheel-and-tire, and suspension components of a 1991 Kawasaki Bayou 300:

Dimensions

There is a minimal variance between the overall dimensions of the base and 4WD models. Capacities are similar across all versions, except for the vehicle load capacity limit. Like its predecessors, the Bayou 300 retained its utility racks – bumped up to carry 140 lbs – while trailer capacity almost doubled.

Riders can maximize the quad’s carrier capacity by attaching a Black Widow ATV Cargo Box (view on Amazon) at the back.

Kawasaki Bayou KLF300A/B Kawasaki Bayou KLF300C, 4×4
Length 1,910 mm (75.2 in) 1,860 mm (73.2 in)
Width 1,115 mm (43.9 in) 1,120 mm (44.1 in)
Height 1,035 mm (40.75 in) 1,105 mm (43.5 in)
Seat Height (Unloaded) 749 mm (29.5 in) 805 mm (31.7)
Ground Clearance 195 mm (7.68 in) – rear axle 225 mm (8.86 in) – rear axle
Wheelbase 1,210 mm (47.6 in) 1,200 mm (47.2 in)
Track (F/R) 834 mm (32.8 in) / 844 mm (33.2 in) 844 mm (33.2 in) / 860 mm (33.86 in)
Dry Weight 223 Kg (492 lbs) 260 Kg (573 lbs)
Carrier Capacity (F/R) 32 Kg (70 lbs) / 63 Kg (140 lbs)
Vehicle Load Capacity Limit 182 Kg (400 lbs) 195 Kg (430 lbs)
Hitch Tongue Weight 14 Kg (30 lbs)
Trailer Weight (including cargo) 317 Kg (700 lbs)
Colors Smoky Blue, Dark Royal Red, Woodsman/Hunter Green, Sunbeam/Aztec Red

Exterior

The styling of the Bayou 300 is simplistic and rugged but sleek, befitting the basic four-wheeler. If there is one thing that needs dire improvement, it is its instrumentation.

Kawasaki Bayou KLF300A/B Kawasaki Bayou KLF300C, 4×4
Speedometer N/A
Indicator Lamps Standard
Trip Odometer N/A
Fuel Gauge Standard
Engine Stop Switch Standard
Oil Temperature Switch N/A
Headlight 12V 65W/60W x 2 12V 25W/25W x 2
Brake Light/Taillight 12V 27W/8W x 2
Speedometer Light N/A
Indicator Lights (reverse, neutral)

How Much Does It Cost?

The list price of the Bayou 300 (including its 2WD trims) ranged from $2,549 to $5,299, with the 1997 Kawasaki Bayou 300 4×4 (KLF300C9) having the heftiest price tag.

The mid-90s saw the most expensive resale values for this machine’s model years and trims. All 2×4 and 4×4 versions eventually reduced their MSRPs by a few hundred dollars, which lasted until their final production year. Here is a table showing the list prices of all models released under this series (Source: Nada Guides):

Year – Trim – Model NumberList PriceRetail/Trade-In Values
1985 Kawasaki Bayou KLF300A1N/A$405 – $1,975
1986 Kawasaki Bayou 300 – KLF300A1$2,549$295 – $1,830
1987 Kawasaki Bayou KLF300A2$2,699$295 – $1,830
1988 – 1989 Kawasaki Bayou KLF300B1/B2$2,999$295 – $1,975
1989 Kawasaki Bayou KLF300C1, 4×4$3,999$355 – $2,195
1990 Kawasaki Bayou KLF300C2, 4×4$4,149$355 – $2,195
1990 – 1991 Kawasaki Bayou KLF300B3/B4$3,399$355 – $2,195
1991 – 1992 Kawasaki Bayou KLF300C3/C4, 4×4N/A$380 – $2,520
1992 Kawasaki Bayou KLF300B5$3,499$380 – $2,520
1993 Kawasaki Bayou KLF300B6$3,699$380 – $2,520
1994 Kawasaki Bayou KLF300B7$3,999$380 – $2,520
1993 – 1994 Kawasaki Bayou KLF300C5/C6, 4×4$4,499$405 – $2,985
1995 Kawasaki Bayou KLF300B8$4,199$325 – $2,155
1995 Kawasaki Bayou KLF300C7, 4×4$5,049$355 – $2,435
1996 – 1999 Kawasaki Bayou KLF300B9/B10/B11/B12$4,399$300 – $2,205
1996 Kawasaki Bayou 300 – KLF300C8, 4×4$5,249$375 – $2,965
1997 Kawasaki Bayou KLF300C9, 4×4$5,299$375 – $2,965
1998 – 2004 Kawasaki Bayou KLF300C10-KLF300C16, 4×4$4,999$375 – $2,965
2000 – 2001 Kawasaki Bayou KLF300B13/B14$4,299$415 – $2,695
2002 – 2004 Kawasaki Bayou KLF300B15/B16/B17$3,999$795 – $1,160

Auction listings are not very far from retail and trade-in pricing. Noticeably, this four-wheeler retains its value well when in mint or near-stock condition. Resale values are between $356 and $2,329. 2WD trims tend to be sold cheaper (usually below $1,000) compared to 4×4 models. 

Units in good condition typically come with aftermarket carrier racks, an original tool kit, and an owner’s manual (no need to buy a Clymer’s manual online). Others may even have a new battery and Kawasaki Bayou 300 carburetor.

Because they are secondhand, expect these machines to have certain defects. Some of them may not have run for a while before being sold. At best, stock cargo racks may appear a little rusted due to frequent use. 

Perhaps, the biggest challenge any Bayou 300 buyer would have is determining how used up an old unit is, as there is no record of the vehicle’s accumulated mileage or hours due to its limited instrumentation.

Kawasaki Bayou 300 Common Problems

Close-up Tail View of ATV Quad Bike

The Kawasaki Bayou 300 series is known not only for offering the public the largest number of trims but also for being the most problematic of all the Bayou displacements. Below are some of the 4×4’s top known issues:

2002 Recall

The rear wheel hubs of the KLF300-B and KLF300-C are held to their respective axles by a castellated nut fastened to the axle with a specified torque then locked in place by a cotter pin.

For recall-affected models, the axle nut was not torqued according to spec before inserting the cotter pin. This assembly flaw caused the hub to come off the axle shaft. Dealers nationwide were instructed to correct the torque applied to the axle nut to resolve the problem, which posed rider hazards potentially resulting in grave injury or death.

Misfiring

Typically, misfiring or backfiring points to a malfunction in the fuel or ignition system. This dilemma may sometimes occur if the fuel pump is timed incorrectly (affecting when it spurts fuel) or if there is an abrupt reduction of speed, causing the quad’s exhaust system to surge.

It may also indicate a poorly tuned carburetor or incorrect valve timing that often manifests as an unusual popping noise when going on 5th gear, riding speeds below 20 mph, or letting off the throttle.

Setting the idle screw too low (the perfect formula to running rich) can also trigger backfiring – it is essentially counter-intuitive to the machine’s factory settings.

Doing compression and leak-down tests should be a priority once you have confirmed having this problem. Some tested-and-proven fixes include installing a Dynojet kit, upgrading the snorkel, and equipping the Bayou 300 with a better air filter.

Shimming the needles and ensuring exhaust valves are not too tight are other things that can help eliminate misfiring. Additionally, doing the latter prevents backfiring through the carb, which damages your carb boots in the process.

Stalling Issues

An improper or restricted fuel flow often leads to your engine losing fire or dying every few minutes. Sometimes, this results from intense riding, as turning the handlebars left or right when riding can pull the plug easily. 4x4s stored unused and for long periods also tend to stall more than machines ridden regularly.

Should you encounter symptoms, check your vehicle’s fuel lines, filters, and vacuum mechanism. If they check out, start looking into electrical components or a potentially bad CDI or stator. Likewise, inspect if electrical plugs have come undone or gotten disconnected.

Surface rust on the connections and overheating episodes are common tell-tale signs that you have a defective CDI or stator. However, for electrical plugs, you need to physically inspect them to tell if they are not functioning the way they should.

Since the electrical plugs are found underneath the handlebars and in front of the gas tank, remove some of the front plastic to access them. Securing the plug/connection with a cable tie or electrical tape may also help prevent further recurrences of wire-connection-related problems. 

Making a mental note to not go over your vehicle’s maximum fording depth (20 cm/8 inches) reduces the likelihood of shorting due to moisture buildup or wet parts.

Starter Motor Challenges

Often, problems in the primary starting circuit rendering the ignition system inoperable while engaging the starter trigger difficulties with the starter motor, which should never be confused with a flooding issue. While determining its root cause is not exactly a piece of cake, it is just a matter of figuring out if the disconnect is coming from the solenoid, starter motor, or start button.

Subsequently, not finding any of these components as problematic indicates that the problem may be in the secondary ignition – often made apparent by plugged battery cables and connections. Some proven remedies involve replacing the pulsing coil that generates the ignition signal from the rotor portion of the stator assembly, the stator, or the vehicle’s CDI box.

Regular examination of electrical components tremendously helps in identifying starting issues in their early stages. Inspection should include looking into other probable causes such as a low-voltage battery, relays that are not contacting or operating, and trouble with the ignition or engine stop switches – among other things.

Cleaning the brushes and copper surface the brushes run on with a non-flammable cleaner is another preventive measure and is best accomplished using 400-600 grit fine sandpaper.

Ticking Noises

Engine noise is also known to occur in some Kawasaki Bayou 300 models – although not as prevalent as in 220/250 versions. Owners describe the sound as being metallic, louder than a valve click, irrespective of vehicle load or gear position.

Furthermore, it seemed to match the speed of the RPMs. It occurred intermittently for some and persistently for others, eventually going away after a few shifts with no adverse effect on how the machine runs.

While it can be tempting to ignore the problem, it is better to get a mechanic’s stethoscope and find out where the noise emanates. Depending on where you hear it, your four-wheeler’s cam lobe and rocker arm surface (including cam bearings and rocker pins), rod bearing, or clutch hub may be worn and needing repair or replacement.

You may need to adjust the valves and cam chain to resolve the problem, as simply replacing the piston and rings would only lessen the noise. Also, note that Bayou 300 models have a nut behind the clutch known to come loose due to the retainer breaking – it may be worth your while to check that out too.

How to Shift into Differential Mode

Engaging the differential mode of the Bayou 300 is fairly easy. Here are the steps you have to follow:

  • Bring your quad to a full stop and put the transmission into neutral.
  • Pull the differential lever up all the way. If you encounter any difficulty doing this, turn the handlebar on either side and slightly rock the wheeler to help with shifting.

To disengage differential mode, stop your vehicle completely. Then, slide the differential shift lever to the left and push it down all the way (this activates the locked-axle mode).

About Kawasaki

Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd., maker of the Kawasaki Bayou 300 4×4, is a globally renowned manufacturer of ATVs, side x sides, and watercraft. First founded in 1878 by Shozo Kawasaki, this humble parts supplier for shipbuilding businesses has now grown into a massive Japanese conglomerate introducing innovations in aerospace and energy systems, hydraulic machinery, transit, and motorsport vehicles.

Conclusion – Kawasaki Bayou 300 Review

Indeed, the Kawasaki Bayou 300 embodies the endless possibilities of utility-themed vehicles. It did so during its production and still does now. It may have had limitations with its suspension and front-drive components. But thanks to these drawbacks, Kawasaki was able to continue creating more formidable machines that consumers genuinely enjoy.

The quad’s excellent power delivery, simplistic design, and practical features are attributes still embedded in all of Kawasaki’s product offerings. If you are looking for a budget ATV that ranks high on functionality and fun factor, nothing can beat the Kawasaki Bayou 300 4×4!

Kris Peter

Adventure seeker and off-road enthusiast. I love the thrill of going off-road and taking on the elements.

Recent Posts