In the sport of supercross and motocross, very few bikes have seen as much success as the Kawasaki KX250F. As the weapon of choice of the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team, the bike has been raced to countless national titles indoors and out.Through all of that testing, feedback, and development, the KX250F has been revised every year since its inception in 2004. The 2015 Kawasaki KX250F is no different – it receives several updates to improve both performance and reliability.The 2015 revisions include a bridge-box piston for better reliability. The new piston is lighter and stronger to enable increased performance as well. A revised exhaust system designed to increase power from bottom to top. A new magneto rotor in the ECU has been added for harder hitting power, along with revised Dual Fuel Injection (DFI) settings for better bottom and mid-range power.
New valving in the KX250F’s Showa Separate Function Fork (SFF) and firmer settings for the Showa shock were implemented in the suspension department. Kawasaki saved some unsprung weight via lighter axles. A self-locking rear axle nut replaces the old cotter pin design, while a 270mm oversized Braking front brake rotor assists with the stopping capabilities.Kawasaki expanded the KX250F’s adjustability options with adjustable upper triple clamp mounts to accommodate shorter and taller riders. Green-accented engine plugs and caps keep the KX looking like the factory Monster Energy Kawasaki machines, as well.The engine is, by far, the most notable, praiseworthy characteristic of the 2015 KX250F. Kawasaki provides the rider with a broad powerband that is extremely enjoyable and fun to ride, with no surprises from bottom to top.Kicking the EFI engine to life is effortless. One you make it a point to find top dead center, the KX starts in less than three kicks when cold, and after warmed up, the bike starts on the first try on nearly every occasion. At idle, the KX has a deep, throaty exhaust note.Bottom-end power is strong, which helps in every aspect of motocross from the start to exiting corners. Inside lines with obstacles afterwards are a much less daunting feat with such a strong bottom end. In several corners at Pala Raceway (a former national track in Southern California), I was able to navigate the inside line in second gear and power out of the corner with ease thanks to the confidence-inspiring low-end torque.The mid-range is beefy and predictable. All skill level riders will find this part of the powerband very user friendly. The power becomes progressively more hard-hitting as I found myself hitting the top end very quickly after riding through the mid-range power.Top-end power is amazing. The harder and longer you keep the throttle wide open, the more you can feel the KX progressively pull to the rev limiter. Faster riders will love the strong top end power and how linear the powerband is reaching that point.The revised EFI settings were noticeable in the bottom and mid-range power. While the KX250F has always been strong in this area, the revisions made it even better in those parts of the powerband. Shifting the KX is easy, and hitting a false neutral is a rarity.Returning on the KX250F is Launch Control, which is activated by holding the button on the handlebar for three seconds in either neutral, first, or second gear (so much for Andrew Short third-gear holeshots). Upon activation, Launch Control retards the ignition timing until the rider shifts into third gear, allowing for better traction on starts. This 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 is put in place to help alleviate wheel spin and help the rider get to the first turn ahead of the competition.Interchangeable couplers for different ignition mapping are also back. Kawasaki designed three different interchangeable maps that can be swapped out by simply plugging different dongles in to the power coupler near the headset of the frame. The black coupler delivers a softer, mellow powerband and was noticeably less snappy on the bottom end hit.The stock green coupler worked 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 maps. The white map was 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. I preferred to use the white coupler.The suspension on the 2015 Kawasaki KX250F is compliant on a variety of different types of terrain, and the revisions made to both the front and rear end made for an even smoother ride. The Showa Separate Function Fork (SFF) feels plush and progressive through the stroke with the new valving. They allow the front end to track in corners very well. Confidence is instilled in the rider in being able to lean the bike over without the worry of washing out.As I put more time on the KX250F, I began to stiffen the compression on the front forks in order to help with the bigger impacts when landing off the several big jumps at Pala Raceway’s main track. The best setting I found was seven-clicks stiffer from stock on the compression clicker. This was the best of both worlds in order to keep the plush feel when cornering and navigating small chop, while still allowing the forks to soak up the bigger impacts. In the cosmetic department, the forks received green-anodized caps and a new silver finish on the outer fork tubes. The silver finish looks very similar to the Monster Energy Kawasaki machines of Davi Millsaps and Wil Hahn.The Showa rear shock worked well in nearly all conditions, thanks to the new firmer settings. It settled well in rutted corners and hooked up great upon exiting. However, when landing from the very biggest jumps, it seemed to blow through the stroke and bottom out with the stock settings.To alleviate this, I began to turn the compression adjustment in to make it stiffer. After a few motos of testing different settings, I came to find that the best set up for me was six clicks stiffer on the compression. The shock was still able to get track well in corners and upon acceleration, yet still held up well to resist bottoming out. Kawasaki kept with the green theme on the 2015 model by utilizing a green shock spring as well.The handling of the KX250F is fantastic. After I got the suspension clickers where I wanted them, the bike cornered extremely well and really settled into ruts nicely. It is not the lightest-feeling 250 four stroke that I have ridden, but I still felt comfortable on the bike and I feel that it offers a good balance between straight-line stability and cornering ability.In the ergonomics department, the KX250F comes equipped with several high-end parts. The clutch lever has a noticeable, but not extreme bend, for a comfortable feel when clutch feathering and slipping.The Renthal bars offer minimal vibration, which help save some fatigue in the arms. The bars have a moderate bend that will suit a variety of riders differing in height and riding styles. Taller riders looking for a broader rider compartment can move the bar mounts into the far-forward clamp position, thanks to the new upper triple trees. The grips were surprisingly comfortable as they were soft and didn’t leave you with a fresh set of blisters after a day on the KX250F.The new 270mm Braking front rotor makes last year’s 250mm rotor feel obsolete. The bigger rotor allowed for a very progressive feel, but was also sensitive enough to help the bike stop suddenly if needed. The rear brake had a progressive feel as well, and did not fade during the duration of a long moto. The clutch was reluctant to fade, as I did not have to use it very much thanks to the great power that the engine produces. With that being said, I hardly had to touch the adjustment during my time on the bike.The Dunlop MX51 front and rears worked great in all conditions from the hard pack, intermediate, and sandy berms. While the tires offer fantastic bite and traction in a variety of conditions, it would be nice to see Kawasaki put the new Dunlop MX52 rubber on for 2016.Maintenance on the 2015 Kawasaki KX250F is a breeze. Changing the oil requires a 14mm socket to unscrew the drain bolt on the bottom of the engine. It isn’t necessary to remove the skidplate, as 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. The only gripe I had is that removing the oil filter after the cover is off can be difficult, as the rubber grommet faces the engine and therefore, has to be pulled out with a bit of effort. To alleviate this problem, I used a pair of pliers to coax the filter out by grabbing it by the recessed area facing the cover.The air 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. Mounting the air filter to the airbox can take some coaxing when the two mounting holes are not properly lined up. However, after changing it a few times, it became much easier as I learned the proper technique.The 2015 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 engine and handling capabilities.Novice, Intermediate, and Pro motocrossers will love the KX250F’s aggressive, yet linear powerband, fantastic handling, nimble chassis, and powerful front brake. The only thing the KX rider may want to invest in is an aftermarket muffler, as the stock one is a bit loud and raspy. If the rider does not mind that, the exhaust system still produces great power.I absolutely loved riding and racing the KX250F. I have never felt more comfortable on a 250 four-stroke motocrosser than I have on the 2015 model. The bike suited me extremely well and I felt that I could push myself to ride faster than I ever have before. If I were to purchase a 250 four-stroke this year, the 2015 Kawasaki KX250F would be at the top of my list. To put it simply, I loved this bike!Riding Style:
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This week, in the first segment Editor Don Williams talks to us about the new Kawasaki Versys 650 LT. It’s the middleweight ADV style machine that uses the same 650 parallel twin motor as the Ninja 650, so it’s an excellent performer in a user-friendly, good looking package.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my dearest industry friends—now retired Honda PR executive, Jon Seidel. Jon’s fascinating career spans some 30 years with Big Red, and gave him some great experiences with some incredible machines. I was fortunate enough to be invited on many of the press launches that he organized. His new project is documenting and saving many of the old archives from years gone by—and incidentally, if you have anything that may be of value to the project, please contact us by email at email@example.com and we’ll pass it all on to Jon.
So on that note, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!