2013 Kawasaki KX250F | First Ride

Track Rocket

By Karel Kramer, Photography by Karel Kramer

They say: “The most advanced 250F motocross bike ever!”
We say: “A 250F with a magic motor.”

Even as Kawasaki understandably lavishes R&D budget on its open-class KX450F, it’s still found the time and pocket change to aggressively update the KX250F. So it was no surprise that the 2013 KX250F now has a narrower frame and a flatter, more friendly riding position, much like the 2012 450.

Other changes include a reinforced steering head and shock mount. The KX still uses Showa’s Separate Function Fork (SFF) with the damping in the left leg and the spring in the right, but the fork lowers have expanded to 48mm to make room for larger damping pistons and a preload cap now sits atop the right leg. The shock and fork valving is updated to compliment the fork and frame changes.

All these updates are welcome and, based on the past rate of progress, expected. What wasn’t expected was the number of updates to the engine. After all, the previous KX250F was already one of the most powerful machines in the class! The intake valves, which close on new more durable seats, respond to revised timing—it’s retarded by 4 degrees to improve high-rpm power. A new, more durable piston rides in a slightly shorter cylinder that results in a 13.8:1 compression ratio, up from 13.5:1.

Many of the changes Kawasaki made were aimed at high-rpm performance, and there is no doubt that the KX250F runs strong on top. But the true joy of the bike is the bottom-end power and roll-on performance. If you have ever considered swapping your 450 for a 250, this is the bike that will convince you. This engine barks right off the bottom with a punch that is totally unexpected from a 250cc four-stroke.

Even more impressive is the fact that all this performance comes with 100-percent civility: The bike starts easily, idles smoothly and gets moving without a hint of hesitation.

All other facets of engine performance are strong. The clutch pull is light, yet engagement is smooth and progressive and the clutch seems up to the task of feeding the considerable power to the rear wheel. Shifting is crisp and reliable. Like the 450, if you are not happy with the performance you can change it in a snap by swapping out an electrical coupler to alter the fuel and ignition maps. We liked the black, “soft” plug because it took the edge off the power hit and helped the bike find traction while riding over roots and rocks.

If the bike generates any controversy it is in the area of handling. We only had an unfamiliar track to use as a yardstick, and it took careful setup to get the 250 to behave well in rutted turns. Once it was dialed, however, it was a rocket. This bike provides that magic feeling that a light motorcycle has on the track like all modern 250Fs, but without needing to wring its neck to get it moving. Whether you ride for fun, for trophies or money, this bike is a sweet tool for the job.

Tech Spec

Price $7599
Engine type l-c single
Valve train DOHC, 4v
Displacement 249cc
Transmission 5-speed
Claimed horsepower na
Claimed torque na
Frame Aluminum perimeter
Front suspension Showa 48mm SFF fork with adjustable spring preload, compression and rebound damping
Rear suspension Showa shock with adjustable spring preload, high/low speed compression and rebound damping
Front brake Nissin two-piston caliper, 250mm disc
Rear brake Nissin single-piston caliper, 240mm disc
Front tire 80/100-21 Dunlop MX51FAJ
Rear tire 100/90-19 Dunlop MX51J
Seat height 37.2 in.
Wheelbase 58.1in.
Fuel capacity 1.6 gal.
Claimed curb weight 233.6 lbs.
Contact www.kawasaki.com
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars
The fastest and most advanced 250F just got better!

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