2014 Kawasaki KX250F | Motocross Motorcycle Test

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2014 Kawasaki KX250F | Motocross and Off-Road Motorcycle Test

The Kawasaki KX250F returns for 2014 as one of the most powerful and technologically advanced bikes in its class. After the unveiling of an essentially brand new machine in 2011, the KX250F has received measurable improvements in the years following, including the Showa Separate Function Fork (SFF) and the addition of dual fuel injectors in 2012 and last year’s model bringing an updated chassis and motor.

For 2014, the Kawasaki KX250F comes with an improved transmission, new suspension valving, new front motor mounts, and Launch Control. After countless laps out on the track, the KX250F proves once again why so many riders and top-tier motocross teams, including Pro Circuit, select this impressive machine as their weapon of choice.

I opted to put the KX250F to the test at Pala Raceway in Southern California. As a former national track, the course consists of massive jumps, deep ruts, and long straightaways. Pala Raceway serves as a true test of how well the 250F can hang on some of the gnarliest terrain that motocross has to offer.

Beginning with the engine, it is in one word, incredible. This comes as no surprise as the quarter-liter Kawasaki powerplant is known as being one of the fastest in its class.

The fuel-injected bike starts easily after finding top dead center and required a light, easy kick to fire the machine. The high idle switch was not necessary as the bike started so easily and stayed running without the use of it, even when cold.

After my first few laps on the track, I quickly noticed how responsive the bottom end power was. The hard-hitting low-end makes inside lines a great choice and it pulls hard in either first or second gear through the corner.

While the power is plentiful, it is very user-friendly and doesn’t want to break traction causing the rear end to swap out from underneath you. The strong bottom end soars into the mid-range, but doesn’t stay long. It quickly escalates into the higher rev range, and doesn’t sign off until hitting the rev limiter.

The Kawasaki motor excels at high rpm, and likes to be ridden aggressively. With how quickly the bike gathers revs, flawless shifting is necessary to stay at the front of the pack. The KX250F delivers with smooth and predictable shifting and proved that the addition of a fourth dog to the transmission for 2014 was serving its purpose.

Complementing the remarkable motor is the Dual-injector Digital Fuel Injection (DFI) system. The system features two injectors that spray a second quantity of fuel upon hard acceleration and dramatically improve power at the top of the rev range.

A new feature to the KX250F for 2014 is Launch Control, which is activated by holding the button on the handlebar for three seconds in first, neutral, or second gear. Upon activation, Launch Control retards the ignition timing until the rider shifts into third gear and allows for better traction on starts.

Launch Control especially comes in handy on a dirt or concrete start, as most riders’ first instinct is to grab a handful of throttle straight out of the gate. Launch Control helps alleviate wheel spin and get to the first turn ahead of the competition.

Kawasaki knows that more power to the rear wheel is not always the answer, even on the smaller-displacement 250F machines. The fact is, when the going gets slick, and traction is harder to come by, most riders will do better with less power to work with.

To address this reality, Kawasaki offers three different interchangeable maps for the KX250F’s DFI that can be swapped out by simply plugging in to the power coupler near the headset of the frame.

The black coupler delivers a softer, mellower powerband and was noticeably less snappy on the bottom end hit. However, it was helpful towards the end of the day when the track had deteriorated and had become hard-packed.

The stock green coupler works well in all types of terrain from hard pack to sandy conditions. The white coupler is designed for those looking to get the most power out of the KX, with the most aggressive hit of the three pre-programmed settings.

The white map is more responsive and crisp down low, while packing a much bigger hit allowing the KX to pull further and rev higher than the stock green coupler.

The exhaust system matched the KX250F motor perfectly. Up front, the header pipe features a resonator chamber to enhance low-end power, and make it easy on the ears by keeping the decibels down. The muffler has a deep, throaty sound and doesn’t leave you wanting to immediately tear it off and purchase an aftermarket full system.

The revised suspension settings the bike received worked together wonderfully. The stock springs are a bit stiff for my weight of only 130 pounds, so we had a set of lighter springs installed.

After riding the 2014 Kawasaki KX250F with the stock springs as a baseline, I found that using a proper spring rate to my body weight improved the steering, as the bike was not riding high in the stroke. I felt I was really able to come into corners with much more speed and confidence. As with any bike, proper setup is essential to success on the track.

The front end has a planted feel in each corner and does not want to push. As a result, cornering on the KX250F is excellent, and the fork has great bottoming resistance when landing from a big jump.

Regardless of whether I land front wheel or rear wheel first, the forks soak up each impact with ease and make for a smooth ride. The Showa forks soaked up braking bumps regardless of how hard I hit them.

Although, they seemed to work best when you hammered your way through with some momentum and speed. The forks come standard with a Kashima Coating treatment on the inside of the fork tubes in order to reduce friction and improve consistency in suspension action.

Moving to the rear shock, the Showa unit soaks up all of the big hits and does not send a jolt through my legs when coming up a little short on a jump, or blasting through a set of whoops or braking bumps. The KX250F sits down in each corner and feels extremely nimble when turning and scrubbing or whipping off the face of a jump. The shock also receives the Kashima Coating treatment on the inside cylinder wall in order to reduce friction and the chance of the shock fading during a long moto.

In addition to the revised shock settings, the new, steel front engine mount plates contribute to improved handling, as well. The new front mount plates are 29-percent thinner than last year’s, and are designed to improve front-end feel and traction. Kawasaki achieved their goal, as the front-end feel on the KX is outstanding. The front-end tracks through corners easily in a variety of conditions from flat turns to deep ruts. It also handles the chop as well, resulting in less fatigue for the rider.

In the ergonomic department, the KX250F comes equipped with several top-of-the-line parts. The clutch lever has a noticeable, but not extreme, bend with a comfortable feel when feathering and popping the clutch. The front brake feels great, as well, with a gradual arch that fits the index finger properly.

The clutch itself is reluctant to fade, and I hardly had to touch the adjustment during my time on the bike. The front and rear brakes are predictable and consistent, lasting the duration of a long moto and refusing to fade when being dragged excessively.

The aluminum Renthal handlebars pass minimal vibration to my hands, which helps save some fatigue in the arms. The bars are a moderate bend that suits a variety of riders, who may differ in height and riding styles. However, a much taller rider may want to invest in a set of bar risers or taller bend.

The new grips were surprisingly comfortable, as they were soft and didn’t leave me with a fresh set of blisters after a day on the bike. The Dunlop Geomax MX51 front and rear rubber work great in the wide variety of conditions at Pala Raceway and other places I tested, including hard pack, intermediate, and sandy berms.

Maintenance on the KX250F is simple and easy. Changing the oil requires a 16mm socket to unscrew the drain bolt. It isn’t even necessary to remove the skidplate because there is a hole wide enough to fit the socket through and allow the oil to drain directly out. Refilling is as simple as unscrewing the oil filler cap, which is right above the clutch cover. Oil filter access is a breeze as there are two 8mm bolts to unscrew right in front of the clutch cover. Air filter access proved to be easy as well as the filter and cage fit perfectly together with the help of two holes on each end to hold the filter onto the cage and ensure correct fitment.

The 2014 Kawasaki KX250F is suited for riders Novice and above who are looking for a serious, race-ready bike right out of the box. A beginner rider will not be at a disadvantage riding this bike, however, it takes at least a Novice rider to be able to appreciate and take full advantage of the KX250F’s fantastic motor and handling capabilities.

Novice, Intermediate, and Pro motocrossers will love the 2014 Kawasaki KX250F’s never-ending powerband, fantastic handling, and nimble chassis. If you’re a Novice or higher level motocross racer, and looking for a serious machine to race in the 250 class, the Kawasaki KX250F is a machine capable of taking you to the top step of the podium.

RIDING STYLE

Helmet: Vemar VRX9
Goggles: Oakley Airbrake MX
Neck Brace: Leatt-Brace Pro-Lite
Jersey: Moose Racing Racewear Sahara
Pants: Moose Racing Racewear Sahara
Gloves: Moose Racing Racewear Sahara
Boots: Sidi Crossfire 2

Moose Racing sponsors Andrew Oldar.

Photography by Don Williams

2014 Kawasaki KX250F Specs
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…DFI 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 nine-position low-speed and stepless high-speed compression damping, 22-position rebound damping and fully adjustable spring preload / 12.2 in.
Front tire…Dunlop Geomax MX51 80/100-21
Rear tire…Dunlop Geomax MX51 100/90-19
Front brake…Semi-floating 250mm petal disc with four-piston caliper
Rear brake… 240mm petal disc with two-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
2014 Kawasaki KX250F MSRP…$7599.

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