MXA RETRO TEST: ADAM CIANCIARULO’S ROOKIE-YEAR 2013 KX250F
In 2013, Adam Cianciarulo was short and used low, sweeping Renthal handlebars, 5mm-lower subframe and a forward seat hump location. Even so, MXA’s taller test riders felt confident on the Pro Circuit KX250F.
We get misty-eyed sometimes thinking about past bikes we loved and those that should remain forgotten. We take you on a trip down memory lane with bike tests that got filed away and disregarded in the MXA archives. We reminisce on a piece of moto history that has been resurrected. Here is the test of Adam Cianciarulo’s 2013 rookie-year Pro Circuit Kawasaki KX250F.
Once every decade, the “next big thing” makes an appearance on the scene. History has proven that these highly touted up-and-comers rarely fail to meet expectations. Need proof? Ricky Carmichael, James Stewart, Jeff Emig, Justin Barcia and Travis Pastrana notably ascended to the Pro ranks and continued their winning ways.
We’re always amazed by factory bikes. Every part has that newer-than-new feel. No stone is left unturned. Cianciarulo’s KX250F was light and flickable in the air, easily soaked up chop, and revved to the moon. One MXA test rider confessed, “This bike is like cheating.”
Adam Cianciarulo is the latest “next big thing.” His name has been bandied about by the sport’s biggest stars for many years. Jeremy McGrath predicted that Adam Cianciarulo would be a future champion when the Florida native was still competing in the 50cc class. Ricky Carmichael praised him as he rose through the 65cc ranks. Team Kawasaki signed him to a long-term deal when he was still on 85cc bikes. And, Pro Circuit began grooming him before he was in his teens. Everyone who is anyone believes that Cianciarulo has the speed, talent and determination of a winner. With 11 AMA National Amateur titles to his credit, it was expected that when Adam turned Pro, he would win every moto by 30 seconds and entertain crowds from Unadilla to Utah. It didn’t happen.
Pro Circuit runs every race engine on a dynamometer for a performance evaluation before it gets plugged into the bike. Mitch Payton uses every tactic possible to make the most potent powerplants, including titanium valves, high-lift camshafts, high-compression pistons and ported heads. Each engine has a two-hour lifespan. There were only 40 minutes left on the clock when Pro Circuit gave us Adam’s National bike.
What if Adam Cianciarulo hadn’t contracted salmonella poisoning in the days leading up to his professional debut at the Hangtown National? No one will ever know. The bug sapped his energy and cannibalized what muscle he had packed on in the months before his AMA National debut. Forget fighting for the lead against Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen; Adam struggled just to keep nutrients in his frail body.
To quote Adam Cianciarulo, “I’m not too picky about my suspension, but I do like my forks really stiff. That way, when I’m coming into corners, the bike doesn’t dip down.” Adam’s bike was far from balanced, but that didn’t offend our test riders. The shock was soft but predictable and resistant to bottoming.
History will show that Cianciarulo raced against the world’s best, but few will remember Adam’s moto scores from his first-ever AMA National at Budds Creek. He went 14–17 for 16th overall‚ a far cry from what the soothsayers had predicted. As the series progressed, Cianciarulo built up endurance and improved his speed, and his determination finally paid off. At the penultimate round of the Nationals, he scored a third-place moto finish at Utah. And even though he missed four rounds out of 12, Adam finished 16th overall in the points standings.
Many AMA Pros crank their headset bearings down to act as a steering stabilizer. It works, but is hard on the bearings. MXA test riders liked the tightened feel in corners and straights, but the sensation was unusual when turning up jump faces. Mechanic Brett Mountain says that the steering head bearing races are scorching hot after a long moto.
The MXA wrecking crew has extensive history testing Mitch Payton’s Pro Circuit race bikes as far back as 1979. Pro Circuit’s race bikes are always eye-wateringly fun to ride, so we were tickled pink when Mitch asked if we were interested in testing one of Pro Circuit’s Kawasaki KX250Fs at the conclusion of the 2013 AMA National series. Mitch Payton sweetened the deal by giving us the pick of his litter. We could choose from among the bikes of Blake Baggett, Darryn Durham, Martin Davalos, Justin Hill and Adam Cianciarulo. We didn’t hesitate. We chose Cianciarulo’s KX250F, given all the hype that surrounds the affable youngster. In no way, shape or form were we disappointed with our choice. Why? If Adam Cianciarulo’s bike is any proof, the kid is going places and lightning fast. And, Pro Circuit’s KX250F will take him there‚ just as long as he stays away from the gas-station sushi that got him back in May of 2013.
The radiator gussets have been reinforced with an extra bead of aluminum. Note how far the left-side radiator extends below the shroud. Heat can be a significant problem over the course of a sweltering, 35-minute moto. Cianciarulo’s mechanic, Brett Mountain, installed mesh screening over the intake scoops to ward off damage from roost.