The Kawasaki feels truly
light now, which improves
performance in every way.
MX TEST: 2017 KAWASAKI KX250F
subframe and the swingarm are also new and lighter.
Interestingly enough, even with the focus on weight loss,
Kawasaki didn’t change to an air fork. It kept the Showa
SFF Type 2 fork, with a single fork spring in the right leg
and the damping functions in the left leg. It has a titanium-nitrate coating on the lower legs, which Kawasaki’s
marketing department worked overtime to call the “
super-hard coating.” This year the fork spring is stiffer and the
valving has been changed. In the rear there’s new linkage
and more valving changes. The rear shock spring is
Altogether the changes amount to a fairly decent weight
loss. The KX250F weighs 221 pounds on the official Dirt
Bike scale. That’s a pound lighter than the Yamaha. Take
WHAT’S IT MEAN?
There’s no question that the Kawasaki is better. The
width of the frame and radiator shrouds alone accomplish-es the much-needed goal of making the bike feel lighter
and more agile. It’s not that the old bike was a truck; it’s
just that it felt more cumbersome than bikes like the KTM,
which were much lighter, and even the Suzuki, which is
famous for handling well in turns. Kawasaki is back in
the game, handling-wise. It’s still a very neutral bike that
doesn’t make big demands on the rider. You don’t have
to learn a special cornering technique or alter your riding
style. No matter which bike you’re accustomed to, the
Kawasaki will feel perfectly natural within a couple of laps.
Part of that is because the chassis is very adjustable.
The bars can be moved forward or backward to one
of four positions that cover a range of 35mm. The
footpegs can be mounted in high or low positions that
are 5mm different. It’s a bike that can be shaped to
just about anyone. On the first day of riding we made
the bike fit 130-pound, 16-year-old Robbie Wageman,
then turned around and made it fit Ron Lawson, who
is proportionately older and heavier (by an undisclosed
In the suspension department the Kawasaki has the
same strengths and weaknesses as before. Overall, it’s
a good package. The fork performs well, and it’s very
easy to understand and set up. In this age when you
are expected to check air pressure before each ride, the
Showa SFF system is absolutely painless. You don’t think
about it. It has a preload adjuster that adds to the bike’s
adjustability. This fork has a very good comfort factor. It
doesn’t beat you up with little stuff. Slap landings from
big jumps—where you come up short or flat-land—are
well handled. The only real trouble comes when the track
gets really rough and you ask the front end to deal with
a series of braking bumps or any impacts that come in
rapid succession. You get two or three bumps for free;
the rest will cost you. We rate the rear end slightly higher.
It’s easy to tune your way out of any trouble. If the track is
rougher in the second moto, you can add a click or two of
compression damping. The Kawasaki never does anything
wicked if you guess wrong or adjust it in a bad direction.