In our 2012 250 Motocross Shootout the Kawasaki KX250F was one of our favorite machines, but it still finished second to the RM-Z250. As the manufacturer with the most wins in the Lites class in AMA competition, Kawasaki doesn’t like second place. For the first time since 2008 the Pro Circuit Monster Energy Team got skunked in the Supercross Lites series with Honda taking both the East and West Titles. For 2013 Kawi has given Mitch Payton more ammunition in his quest for more Number-One plates to hang on the race rig door.
The KX250F has never been lacking in the engine department and while some are concentrating on smoothing out power, Kawasaki is all about more, more, more. Last year Kawasaki fitted a second fuel injector in the air boot, and this year it has been repositioned for a straighter shot into the reworked intake tract. The cylinder head has also been revised for a more direct path to the intake valve. Additionally the intake valve timing has been retarded for better high-rpm performance. The piston has a new design with higher compression. Finally a new exhaust that features a resonance chamber is meant to give the KX more bottom end.
On the MotoUSA dyno the Kawasaki the KX250F puts out some of the best numbers in the test with 36 horsepower at
While the peak HP number isn’t the highest in the test, the 2013 KAwasaki KX250F has the best motor in the shootout.
12,200 rpm, second only to the rev happy KTM. Its 17.97 lb-ft of torque puts the Kawi just a fraction behind the 250 SX-F and RM-Z250, although on the track it feels much meatier. Just like last year, our team gives the green machine the nod in the Engine category thanks to a powerplant that just has so much character and grunt that even the HP king KTM can’t hold a candle. Grab a handful anywhere in the rev range and the Kawasaki pulls hard. Lug it or rev it, the choice is yours with the KX250F.
“The motor on the Kawasaki really sets it apart from the rest,” comments Matt Armstrong. “It is really aggressive on the bottom, and has a lot of over rev.”
X Games Women’s Moto X Champ Vicki Golden adds, “The Kawasaki was an easy choice in the engine department. The bike would pull no matter what gear I was in. Normally on a stock 250F I have to do a lot of shifting but with this bike I didn’t have to.”
Power is nothing without control, and Kawasaki has fitted the KX250F with a chassis that allows you to use the massive power on tap. The frame has some significant changes to the steering head and shock tower for more stiffness and response. Kawi’s engineers also narrowed up the frame by 4mm for a more nimble feel. The swingarm is also stiffer through a 20mm longer front portion. On the track these changes made the KX250F easier to move around on and muscle around the track. While not as predictable as the Honda and not as sharp at the Suzuki, the Kawasaki was a solid all-round performer, getting a second place ranking from our team in the handling department. If not for a front end that has a slight push when rushed into fast corners the KX may be the best in the bunch.
“The Kawasaki tracked well and jumped awesome,” says pro racer Chris See. “But the fact that I could never really get it to turn without having the front end push made me rank it behind the Honda.”
Although the KX450F got Kayaba’s new Pneumatic front for 2013, the KX250F sticks with a Showa Separate Function Fork, but this isn’t a bad thing as the front end on the Kawasaki is excellent. Out back the Uni-Track system is just as good if not better, earning a high rating from the MotoUSA crew. In small chop or smashing through the whoops the KX soaks up anything you can throw at it. Bottoming resistance is excellent but never harsh. If not for the Honda’s amazing feedback the KX250F would have been tops.
“The suspension felt great; it responded well through the whoops and tracked well through the turns,” testifies TLD’s Nate Verdugo. “I over-jumped a few obstacles on the course, thanks to the HP and the suspension it was very forgiving.”
Last year we complained about the front brake being underpowered and soft, but not so this year. Slowing down the 234-pound KX this year is much improved with a new front master cylinder and pads. A single finger on the lever rewards the rider with excellent feel and power, however the initial bite and overall power still can’t match the KTM’s Brembos.
Nick Thiel sums it up simply, “The KX had good brakes but they lacked the strength that KTM had.”
Even with the slimmer frame, the 2013 KX250F feels larger than the rest of the machines in the class, but even so it earned the full ten points in the ergonomics category. There is plenty of room to move around, and the flatter seat and tank area
allows the rider to get up to the front easily.
“The Kawasaki all around felt good to me,” says See. “The new frame is slim, and the bars were a good bend and height. I have no complaints about this dirt scooter.”
In the drivetrain department the Kawi is just slightly behind the KTM and Suzuki in the scores. While the clutch is fade-free and has a smooth actuation, the gearbox just isn’t as smooth as the previously mentioned machines. We have no complaints with the gearing on the KX, but that could be because of the power to pull in any gear.
“The clutch and the transmission on the Kawasaki were smooth,” admits Golden. “The gears were long and made shifting a rarity on the bike.”
In the performance testing the Kawasaki’s power actually hurt its times in the Holeshot test. Some wheel spin on the slippery start straight resulted in a mid-pack result of 4.567 seconds to cover 125 feet at 44.7 mph. The 3rd gear Roll-0n test numbers were slightly better with a third place 2.267-second pass in a distance of 90.4 feet. During Superlap testing, our
The 2013 Kawasaki KX250F is locked in a tie with the 2013 Honda CRF250R thanks to its killer engine.
three pro-level riders averaged a single flying lap time of 1:22.2 – good enough for second place. Both Nick Thiel and Vicki Golden had their best times on the KX while Chris See had his third-best time behind the bars of the green machine.
After sifting through piles of data, riders’ notes and lap times the 2013 Kawasaki ends up sharing the first place trophy with the Honda CRF250R. Where the Honda earns its keep by being easy to ride, the Kawasaki hits the competition over the head with sledgehammer power. If you are looking for the bike with an engine that is second-to-none, look no further than the KX250F. It’s just a bonus that it has an excellent chassis to back up its brawn.