MXA’S 90-SECOND TEST: 2014 KAWASAKI KX250F
The Kawasaki KX250F has won MXA’s illustrious 250 Four-Stroke Shootout six times out of the past eight years, and for good reason. The Kwacker has consistently had a top-notch engine package that suits a wide range of riders.
Not radically changed from the previous model, the 2014 KX250F is still one of the preeminent bikes in the class. The breadth and strength of the powerband caters to all skill levels, while the suspension and handling are decent enough to do the job. This is a solid package build around an explosive engine.
Powerband. The KX250F powerplant produces a whopping 41.14 horsepower–as much as four horsepower more than some of their competition. Although the KTM 250SXF is king of the dyno, the KX250F makes the most usable horsepower across the broadest range. It has the best powerband.
Plug-in maps. Kawasaki includes two additional mapping couplers that can be swapped out with ease. The white (aggressive) coupler adds more power, while the black (soft) coupler detunes the engine characteristics.
Upstream injector. The KX250F proves that two injectors are better than one. We love the technology and instantly notice the results when riding. Good stuff.
Suspension. Showa’s SFF fork settings are an improvement. We like that the preload can be adjusted. The shock is workmanlike, although the settings are rather soft for heavier riders.
Details. Kashima coating, blue-anodized caps and plugs, black rims and Launch Control add pizzazz to an already attractive package.
Brakes. The weak brakes on the KX250F hardly do a serviceable job of slowing down the spitfire locomotive.
Handling. The KX250F front end pushes and the shock wallows. There are solutions, but they will lighten your wallet.
Sound. The exhaust note is raucous and loud.
Shifting. Getting the transmission to shift up while the engine is under a load takes patience and luck.
Grips. Kawasaki increased the length of their grips by 10mm in 2013, but reverted to 10mm shorter grips for 2014. What gives?
WHAT DID WE CHANGE?
Here is the short list of things the MXA wrecking crew changed on the 2014 KX250F.
(1) We ran a T.M. Designworks chain guide.
(2) We swapped out the stock 22.5mm offset triple clamps for aftermarket 22mm clamps to improve cornering performance.
(3) We added a longer Pro Circuit shock linkage to reduce wallowing.
(4) We installed stiffer clutch springs.
(5) We replaced the cotter pin and rear axle nut with a Honda self-locking axle nut.
WHAT DO WE THINK?
The KX250F has long been lauded as having the best engine in a highly competitive class. It does everything else moderately well, but it reigns supreme thanks to its potent powerband. This is the bike we would choose to race in the 250 class.