2013 Kawasaki KX 250 F Test
The perfect motocross bike can vary greatly depending upon the rider. For example, a rider in his 40s who is slowing down is looking for different things than a teenager who is honing his skills and getting faster every day. However, a bike that may fit the bill for a large number, and wide variety, of riders is the 2013 Kawasaki KX 250F.
Kawasaki has been leading the class for a number of years on the national motocross scene with the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit team winning numerous championships with the KX250F, including Blake Baggett taking the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross 250 title in 2012. Much of that racing technology has made its way to the 2013 model.
Starting at the very core of the 2013 Kawasaki KX250F, the twin spar aluminum frame is all-new and 4mm narrower than the previous version. Power has been boosted with a new head design that has a straighter intake tract. The cylinder has been shortened by a hair to raise the compression, and the intake cam has been changed to boost the top end power. At the end of the combustion process, there is a new exhaust system with a resonator chamber in the stainless steel header pipe to enhance the bottom end power and a shorter, fatter muffler keeps the decibel level down.
To make use of the newfound power, Kawasaki includes three different easily selectable power curves for the KX250F-standard, hard terrain, and soft terrain. Returning for 2013 is the unique duel injector EFI system, with an upper injector in the airbox boot.
Also returning are the Showa SFF (Separate Function Fork) forks, featuring a design that has the spring in one fork leg and the damping in the other. For 2013, the inner fork tubes are 1mm larger, and the main dampening piston is 2mm larger, resulting in less internal pressure while still achieving the same dampening force, which is now more progressive. The Showa SFFs are exclusive to the KX250F.
Add these updates to the all-new slimmer bodywork and front number plate, and the bike has an unmistakable modern sleek appearance. The 2013 Kawasaki KX250F looks fast just sitting on the Works Connection stand!
Taking the ’13 Kawasaki KX250F out on the track put an instant grin on the face on Ty Cullins, our up-and-coming teenage test rider. He was immediately comfortable with the neutral handling and the layout of all the controls. The rear suspension handled the big landings without a whimper yet was still plush over the braking and acceleration bumps. On the front end, the forks had an initial harsh feel over the small bumps, but once he picked up the pace to race speed, the forks became much more complaint and allowed Ty to push hard into corners and skim the top of the whoops.
As nice as the handling is, Ty couldn’t stop talking about the KX250F’s motor. “This thing rips!” were his first words coming off the track. Compared to his personal TM Racing 250 MX Italian exotic, the Kawasaki pulls much harder down low with a lot more punch in the mid range. This allowed him to not clutch it so hard coming out of the turns to build speed before the next obstacle on the track. Top end over rev is good, yet nothing that special, but that’s fine. This bike pulls so hard through the bottom and mid-range all that is needed is another shift to build more speed.
Ty raced two classes in the REM Series at Glen Helen Raceway on the 2013 Kawasaki KX250F. Out of four starts, he got a holeshot in one moto and finished 1st place in both his classes. These where his first wins on a full-sized motorcycle, showing his initial impression of the bike was an accurate one.
As a 200-pound 40-year-old vet rider, I was a bit more skeptical going in. I grew up riding and racing 250cc two-stroke motocrossers, so 250cc four strokes have always felt flat and underpowered, including the 2012 Kawasaki KX250F that I had a chance to ride a couple of months ago. Now, I have a new appreciation for the small bore thumpers–at least the 2013 Kawasaki KX250F!
This is the first 250F I have ever ridden that doesn’t feel underpowered to me. I could easily race this bike against 450s in the Vet class and not feel I was at a disadvantage. The 2013 KX250F has the long mid-range pull that I can exploit, and still have that light feel I have always liked from a two-stroke 250.
Other details we like are the ease of starting. No need for an electric starter here on the KX250F. I even started it from cold with my hand! The front brake is very strong; it has the feel of the Euro bikes with Brembo brakes. The EFI runs very clean and smooth–no strange lurching or odd feel when idling through the pits like we have felt on other EFI equipped bikes. Nothing ever came loose or gave us any problems. With the addition of a flywheel weight, a large tank, and some hand guards, this should also make a real nice off-road racer–or maybe Kawasaki will come through with a KLX250F.
The complaints are all very minor. The black plastic shows wear very fast. We prefer the white rear fender and side panels of the KX450F. Fat bars are an option only; the standard-diameter bars are so 20th century. We also could never feel much of a difference in the power with the different curves. For those who have the time and inclination, the maps can be manually changed with the optional KX FI Calibration Kit.
The 2013 Kawasaki KX250F is a versatile machine that can please a wide range of riders; in this test, it proved to be a great bike for both a teenager and his vet rider Dad to enjoy and race.
2013 Kawasaki KX250F Specifications
- Engine: Liquid-cooled, four-stroke single with DOHC and four-valve cylinder head
- Displacement: 249cc
- Bore x stroke: 77.0 x 53.6mm
- Fuel injection: EFI with 43mm Keihin throttle body and dual injectors
- Compression ratio: 13.8:1
- Ignition: Digital CDI
- Transmission: Five-speed with wet multi-disc manual clutch
- Final drive: Chain
- Frame: Aluminum perimeter
- Rake / trail: 28.7 degrees / 5.0 in.
- Front suspension / wheel travel: 48mm inverted Showa SFF telescopic fork with 40-way spring preload adjustability and 22 position compression and 20 position rebound damping adjustability/ 12.4 in.
- Rear suspension / wheel travel: Uni-Trak linkage system and Showa shock with 9 position low-speed and stepless high-speed compression damping, 22 position rebound damping and fully adjustable spring preload / 12.2 in.
- Front tire: 80/100-21
- Rear tire: 100/90-19
- Front brake: Single semi-floating 250mm petal disc with dual piston caliper
- Rear brake: Single 240mm petal disc with single-piston caliper
- Overall length: 85.4 in.
- Overall width: 32.3 in.
- Overall height: 50.0 in.
- Wheelbase: 58.1 in.
- Ground clearance: 13.0 in.
- Seat height: 37.2 in.
- Curb weight: 233.6 lbs.
- Fuel capacity: 1.61 gal.
- Color: Lime Green
- MSRP: $7,599
- Helmet, pants, jersey, and gloves: Shift Racing
- Goggles: Steel MX
- Boots: Alpinestars Tech 10
Photography by Don Williams
Photo rider: Ty Cullins, TEC Cycles ( http://www.tec-cycles.com )