The hill climb episode left us scratching our heads even further when we got the dyno numbers on the little Thumper. With a max of 18.2 horsepower at 8100 rpm, the Suzuki is the least powerful of the bunch. However, relative to its peak torque of 13.7 ft/lbs.at 6600 rpm, the DR stays above 12 ft.-lbs. from 4900 rpm to 7900 rpm, providing a wide plateau in the heart of its powerband.
The XR250 came in second in the dyno wars, cranking out 19.6 horsepower at 8100 rpm. Yet, the ponies don’t tell the story of Honda’s little Thumper. It’s the combination of low gearing and respectable torque that make the XR such a joy to ride. Despite giving up close to five horsepower to the KLX, none of our test riders predicted such a numerical discrepancy in power. In fact, most felt the Honda, despite 50cc’s less than the KLX, would be neck and neck, at least in terms of low-end torque.
The XR hits hard off the bottom so it was no surprise when we saw that it pumped out 12 ft.-lbs. of torque at 3600 rpm and maintains or exceeds that number all the way to 6800 where it reaches it’s peak of 14.3 ft.-lbs. at 6800 rpm. Unfortunately, unlike the KLX and DR, the Honda loses significant power once it ascends past 8500 rpm.
While the XR and DR-Z just miss the 20-horsepower mark, the KLX soars right by the target and hits a whopping 24.3 horsepower at 7900 rpm. Of course, an extra 50cc of displacement doesn’t hurt. But in contrast to the Honda, the KLX has a very smooth and linear power band. The gearing is neither too tall nor too short and the power is evenly distributed throughout. The KLX reaches double-digit horsepower numbers earlier than its competitors, making 10 horsepower at 3800 rpm and continuing to pull hard throughout the powerband. The KLX tops 20 horsepower at 5900 rpm and continues in the 20s until way up at 9900 rpm.
The Kawasaki also pumps out the most torque. Where the Honda grinds out 12 to 15 ft.-lbs. of torque from 3700 rpm all the way 8400 rpm, the KLX hits 12 ft./lbs of torque at 3300 rpm and holds or greatly exceeds that number until 9400 rpm where it reaches its peak of 17.5 ft.-lbs. of torque at 6900 rpm.