2016 Kawasaki KX250F
HE AIN’T HEAVY
Words: DRD | Photos: Paul
With its big brother getting the cover treatment in the current issue, it is only fair that the 250F gets some love, too. With that, we give you the first Kiwi test of Kawasaki’s MX2 moto!
While both do everything well, with both continuously given awards – with the big bike being the four-times and current “Bike of the Year” and is in in the running to do the same – but the 250 was just went on its way but was overshadowed by other bikes in its class.
Sometimes, those other bikes did not live up to the hype, but the KX250F – that was the tried and true – kept on keeping on and becoming a favourite of everyone who rode it. Just like big brother.
LIVING IN THE SHADOW
Again, we don’t want to keep referring back to the KX450F, as it’s never fair to compare two different bikes in two different classes, but it’s hard not to do so. Plus, we do so in a positive way, since the KX250F has now taken the place of the last generation KX450F – albeit, just in a different class.
How do we mean? While the four-fit has undergone a complete makeover, which even saw the bike drop nearly five kilos, the 250F is doing what it does best: doing everything well.
The 2016 KX250F marks the fourth year of its current incarnation. As we mentioned for the ’15, it was a given that Kawasaki would have ironed out any remaining quirks on the bike, so this – the last of its generation – will be almost perfect, right?
Before we get to that, let’s just reiterate that this is the last of this generation, since Big Green will give us a new quarter-litre in 2017. Most of the manufacturers use the trickle-down effect: the premier bike will receive a complete makeover before the MX2 machine gets the same.
Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, such as KTM’s 250 SX-F that was updated side-by-side with the 450 SX-F.
But this is about green a bike, one that is not ground breaking, but it is a bike that works – and works well. While so many sales are made on the word ‘ground breaking’, most riders – that includes us and most of you – should be looking at a string of words such as ‘tried and true’.
Yeah, we know it sounds boring. But, really, there is nothing boring about the KX250F.
Before focussing on each aspect of the KX250F, let’s take a look at the overall bike. First up, let’s be honest: the ’16 KX250F hasn’t received many updates. But, like we mentioned above, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, the 2015 model had such features that other manufacturers have just received, so it still is cutting-edge.
‘Launch Control.” What is the first thing you think of when you hear those two words? A rocket, that’s what. While it is a clever play on words, which has been adopted by every manufacturer that features it, it is also exactly what it is.
With launch control on, the ignition is temporarily retarded, making starts much easier. The thing is, most racers of a certain level can easily tame a 250F – no matter how strong the engine is – on the gate. So, while most will still use it, it is the amateur and younger racers who will be relying on the big red button.
But one thing it has that hasn’t been replicated by other marques is the dual injectors, which means it has a downstream injector for a smoother response to the power, while the upstream injector takes care of the hard-hitting power.
Still on the topic of its digital fuel injection system, is the mapable power, which is easily done with the included couplers.
That’s not all, though, as the Kawasaki KX FI Calibration Kit also lets owners create their own engine maps, so a rider can adjust any aspect of the power, or use the proven maps that are included. Remember, too, that the engine is no slouch. When we first tested this current generation, it was – and still is – the only 250F to make it up Broxy’s infamous triple step-up that sits on the side of a hill. Many bikes have tried, as have many riders, but Broxy and the KX250F are the only two that can claim the honour of having made it on a bike in this class.
But what good is having a powerful engine, which is fully adjustable, if the rest of the bike is a dog?
That’s what makes the bike so loved. Now, just like big bro, the KX250F has adjustable footpeg mounts that allow the owner to lower the position by 5mm, which also lowers the centre of gravity. To continue the adjustability in the cockpit, it also comes with an upper triple clamp that is adjustable in four ways. This gives the pilot the choice of four bar positions, helping make the bike more custom than any 250F that has come before it.
Keeping the bike sprung are the Showa Separate Function Forks – or, as it’s more commonly known, SFF – and Showa shock and Kawasaki’s own Uni-Trak linkage. Unlike the 450F, which has Showa SFF-Air TAC Separate Function Forks, the springers on the 250F still have a spring and don’t rely on air pressure to do the work. But, unlike most forks, the SFF on the 250F only have one spring, in the right fork tube, while the damping system is contained in the left.
Just like 2015, the bike also has an oversized 270mm brake rotor on the front, which gives some of the best braking and feel on a Japanese moto.
The KX250F has a lot of power, although, when it comes to this class, it’s never enough. But, the most power there is, the less stable the power plant becomes – it’s a fine line between the bike being the fastest MX2 bike and one that grenades on the gate.
Thanks to the dual injectors, the power is strong off the bottom, which continues up through the rev range, making it extremely usable through the whole curve – an attribute that any bike, especially a 250F, needs. So, stock and on the standard coupler, the engine has power throughout the curve that is useable by almost everyone – so, what is the point of the other couplers?
Not every racer needs the power down low, but needs a mid range hit that continues into the stratosphere, which is where most pro and expert racers want the power. That’s where the couplers – and the KX FI Calibration System – come in to play. Swapping out the white plug for the black plug makes the aggressive engine into a monster – for its cubic capacity, anyway. If you go green, instead of black, you’ll find the power curve a bit more mellow than stock.
If none of this sounds like what you want for the day, the Calibration Kit is what you need, which also has a fail-safe built in (just in case you try to take it too far in either direction).
NO AIR BUT LOTS OF LIFE
For its senior year, the KX250F has the same Showa SFF as the ’15, but with updated settings to make it more comfortable right out of the box. In this test, which is the first of many on the quarter-litre, the bike was ridden by two pro racers that have done their time on many brands over many years in a lot of countries, and nothing was said about them – that means that they function well.
And for the average rider, it is no secret that a spring fork is perfect, but there will come a time when air suspension technology and knowledge will be at a level that everyone, from clubman to pros, will be able to work with them.
Until then, live in the now with the great Showa SFF springers.
Now that its big brother has moved on, the KX250F has stepped up to fill its shoes as a bike that ticks all the boxes in its class, including one that no other bike can claim: adjustability.
So, with this introduction, it’s also time to say goodbye to this generation of the KX250F. We say that, ‘cause it is the last, but the bike will also be flying off showroom floors… just like it has for the last three years.
2016 KAWASAKI KX250F
Type: 249cc liquid-cooled, single-cylinder four-stroke
Bore x Stroke: 77 x 53.6mm
Compression Ratio: 13:8:1
Fuel System: DFI with 43mm Keihin throttle body
Ignition System: Digital DC-CDI
Transmission: five-speed gearbox
Frame: Aluminum perimeter
Front Suspension: 48mm Inverted Showa SFF-Air TAC Separate Function Forks with 310mm of travel
Rear Suspension: Uni-Trak linkage system and Showa shock with 315mm of travel
Front Brake: Single semi-floating dual-piston caliper with 270mm Braking petal-style disc
Rear Brake: Single single-piston caliper with 240mm Braking petal-style disc
Overall Height: 1290
Seat Height: 960mm
Ground Clearance: 345mm
Fuel Capacity: 6L
Dry Weight: 106kg
WHITE = SOFT
It doesn’t mean you’re soft, so don’t worry. The soft refers to the terrain it is perfect for, such as mud.
GREEN = STANDARD
While standard sounds run of the mill, nether of these bikes are, even right out of the box…
BLACK = HARD
Hang on, fella, ‘cause you’re gonna find out what fast is – but that doesn’t mean it also gives you the skills to use that speed, though!