Kawasaki isn’t backing off. The KX250F was the most
powerful 250F last year, and it’s long been heralded as the
winningest bike in its class. Still, Kawasaki engineers were
given the go-ahead to keep right on working, and the 2013
version of the bike has a surprising number of changes.
The motor got a higher compression ratio, a different intake
port shape and new valve timing. The Keihin injection system still has the “upstream” auxiliary injector between the
throttle body and the airbox. In the chassis department, the
frame itself is new, with a narrower midsection and a stiffer
steering head. The SFF single-spring fork was redesigned
with larger inner tubes and a new piston design. And, there
is a very long list of detail changes, including the grips,
plastic and brakes.
STRONG POINTS: It’s all about the motor. Last year
Kawasaki had the most powerful 250F, and now it’s even
stronger. The KX makes a huge amount of power right off
the bottom and never lets off, all the way to a screaming
peak. Oddly enough, the KX is no longer the king of the
dyno. That honor now goes to the KTM. But, the KX motor
still gets the nod as the testers’ favorite. The motor has no
weak spots from bottom to top. The ignition can be tai-
lored to different conditions with optional electronic cou-
plers. None of the provided maps make a drastic differ-
ence—certainly not enough to knock the KX motor off its
thrown. It effectively has the three best motors.
Overall handling is another strong point. The Kawasaki
feels light and turns reasonably well. The new frame
makes a noticeable difference despite being only 4mm
narrower. The clutch is good and the brakes are strong.
WEAK POINTS: You have to fine-tune your complaint
generator to pick on anything here; the KX has no real
weak points, only areas where it isn’t as strong. The rear
suspension is difficult to set up. All the test riders agreed
that it kicked on sharp braking bumps, but no two agreed
as to why. Some said it was too stiff; others said that it
was blowing through the travel. This resulted in some
instability, which, in turn, makes the bike difficult to handle
on rough tracks. The fork is good, but perhaps not as
good as the nearly identical unit on the Suzuki. All the rid-
ers complained that the Kawasaki was too loud. The 7/8-
inch bars have outlived their usefulness.
BOTTOM LINE: Last year the Kawasaki emerged in a
dead heat with the Suzuki for best-in-show status. This
year is a repeat, but at a higher level. The Kawasaki is
improved, and so is the Suzuki.
Where champions are grown
250F MX SHOOTOUT
;;;;;; The Kawasaki KX250F weighs 227 pounds
and sells for $7599.
The KTM 250SX-F
weighs 231 pounds
and sells for $7899.