Kawasaki dub the 2020, ‘the fastest KX250 ever’. We hit the track to investigate.
STORY CONOR FRASER PHOTOGRAPHY MATT BERNARD
The Kawasaki KX250 has long been a front-runner in the 250 four-stroke motocross class. Known for its strong engine and dependable handling, the 2020 model was treated to some considerable updates to see it’s return to the top of the ever tight 250 four-stroke pecking order. In recent years, the Yamaha, KTM and Husqvarna have taken it to the Kawasaki in the lites class fight, in particular when it comes to outright horsepower. Kawasaki are dubbing this the most powerful Kawasaki KX250 ever, and we would believe it. Outright horsepower is incredibly important when racing a 250 four-stroke. When compared with the 450 class, where each and every model has a huge amount of grunt on tap – for the average man, too much.
- NEW engine with increased peak power
- NEW revised bore and stroke
- NEW finger-follower valve actuation
- NEW larger-diameter intake and exhaust valves
- NEW larger-bore high performance piston
- NEW low-friction crankshaft pin plain bearings
- NEW stronger cam chain and relocated cam chain tensioner
- NEW shorter intake funnel
- NEW larger throttle body
- NEW shorter exhaust system design
- NEW 48 mm KYB coil-spring fork
- NEW KYB shock unit complements front fork
- NEW Uni-Trak® rear suspension link
- NEW stiffer front and rear spring rates
- NEW revised front brake pad material
- NEW larger-diameter 250 mm rear disc
- NEW rear brake master cylinder
- NEW lower front engine mounts
- NEW factory-inspired green bodywork
ON THE TRACK
For 2020 the green camp has placed an emphasis on improving the mid to top end power on their lites class motocross offering. Although we didn’t have the previous model to compare back to back, my initial feeling after hoping on the bike was that this improvement was noticeable. As you take the bike into over-rev it continues to pull which is a commendable trait for a 250F. The engine feels “freer” than previous and provides a playful or exciting feel that encourages you to rev the bike. I did however experience a noticeable bog off 0% throttle when quickly accelerating, now this could have been attributed to the hot & sticky conditions we were riding in or an incorrect choice of coupler, but it was enough to make me weary when accelerating on the landing of jumps.
I personally hate the often-un-warranted dislike and polarising shift to openly bash air forks when any new model is released. There is hundreds if not thousands of hours spent on research and development in this area and I do personally believe that the future of motorcycle suspension will involve air components. With that being said, the previous fork on the 2019 model (Showa SFF) wasn’t the best air fork on the market. The shift to the proven KYB units is one definitely in the right direction for this chassis. With a plush initial feel and good bottoming resistance, the bike holds up more in the front end than the previous model. This could be attributed to a wallowy feeling rear shock that has a tendency to blow through the stroke. Like a handful of other manufacturers, for 2020 the bike is sprung on the heavier side for a traditional 250F rider, which will suit your intermediate and up rides and those a little larger in statue like me!
STOP THE ACTION
Another addition for 2020 was the increase in rear rotor size to 250mm. This modification was included on the 2019 KX450F when it was released in late 2018, and definitely takes some getting used to, but I think is a positive move once you gain a feel and stop locking the rear wheel everywhere. With the chassis pretty much unchanged aside from some front engine mount bolts, the KX250 platform is one that is very stable and predictable. Being over 6ft tall means that the open layout of the cockpit suits me perfectly. Although the only manufacturer to still run a traditional 7/8th handlebar, I always feel comfortable very quickly hoping onto any model in the KX range and this bike is no exception to that.
Personally, I think the shift to all green bodywork looks awesome, there is something about the bike that looks aggressive and even “factory” when the bike is simply sitting on a stand. Initial impressions are that Kawasaki have made a better KX250 for 2020 by shifting the power delivery around, opening up the over rev and the addition of a KYB spring fork and shock.
HOW’S IT STACK UP?
Until we stack all the bikes together, it will be hard to know where it lies amongst its competitors, however Kawasaki have certainly taken a step in the right direction with this model. The engine is exactly what you want in a 250 four-stroke motocross machine, punchy with plenty of over-rev. The extensive changes to the engine have been worthy and given the Kawasaki a very competitive engine in the tight fought 250F class. The installation of KYB suspension is a good one and has improved the overall front-end feel of the bike tremendously. The 2020 KX250 is right in the fight for class honours – bring on the shootout.