Bikes 27 Oct 2017

Review: 2018 Kawasaki KX250F

MotoOnline.com.au tests the 2018 Kawasaki KX250F.

After being completely overhauled for 2017, the Kawasaki KX250F stepped up its game in a big way and featured substantial improvements from the ground up. So for 2018, Kawasaki has gone ahead and refined their latest 250cc four-stroke motocrosser and we’ve been provided with a more powerful engine and a better performing suspension package. So with that said, let’s go ahead and talk about how the 2018 Kawasaki KX250F fairs on the track.

Firstly, let’s start with the overall ergonomics and feel of the 2018 Kawasaki KX250F when you first hop on the bike. That initial feel is always the first indication you get before riding out on the track, and with this bike it’s a solid initial feeling when you swing a leg over. Much of this is thanks to the slim and streamline design of the aluminium perimeter frame and the latest plastics that we saw introduced for last year’s 2017 model.

The cockpit of the 2018 Kawasaki KX250F is very comfortable and it feels nice and small between your legs, the seat is also very flat which is a huge plus in my book. I personally would prefer a slightly lower bend of handlebar, but that’s something I got used to quite quickly and the actual sweep of the Renthal handlebars is right on the money. If you’re a fan of quite a neutral and regular feel, you’ll feel right at home on this bike.

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

One thing I should mention is the fact that the seat to foot-peg distance is slightly more cramped than some other models and in stock trim takes a few laps to get used to. I’m quite a tall rider and I’m very lanky, so it’s probably not going to be something that most will even notice. The good news is that Kawasaki kept this in mind when designing the frame and you can drop the foot-peg height by 5mm to open up the cockpit and regain that room that you’re chasing – great stuff.

Next up is the 249cc liquid-cooled, four-stroke engine. Designed to offer a wide power-band that extends far into the high rev range, the 2018 Kawasaki KX250F engine package is strong once again. For 2018 the duel-injected engine now uses a revised shorter downdraft-style intake duct and a larger diameter and longer exhaust header. Also new for 2018 is the intake camshaft timing, which has been advanced by six degrees and matched up to the advanced electronic fuel-injection system for improved power and torque.

Adding to the improved power and torque for 2018, the Kawasaki KX250F also features a new 43mm throttle body that is both compact and light. The main injector is now mounted at 30 degrees in the throttle body and the fuel-injection settings have been optimised to suit. A new fuel-pump, located in the fuel-tank, has also been added for 2018 and this lightweight aluminium unit increases the fuel pressure from 294kPa to 343kPa.

The 2018 Kawasaki KX250F engine package is a good all-rounder that provides ample power from the bottom all the way through to the top-end. Well-known as an engine that likes to rev, the 2018 Kawasaki KX250F is no different as it pulls high into the rev range, yet at the same time there’s still a nice bottom-end pull coming out of corners. We also have the option of changing out the fuel-injection couplers to alter the engine’s power curve, which is a nice addition to really fine-tune your ride.

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

As I usually find with most bikes, I opted to stick with the standard coupler as it’s a nice overall option and it suited the hard-pack surface at Wollongong Motorycle Club quite well. If you’re in sand conditions or there’s a whole lot of traction available, you may want to make the switch to the ‘hard’ coupler. Alternatively, you can go the opposite way and switch to the ‘soft’ coupler and really dull down the engine for those ultra-slick conditions.

In addition to the couplers, you can also alter the engine’s characteristics by using the KX FI Calibration kit. This handheld unit enables riders to create new data maps to suit their preference and it can be used without a PC by simply plugging it into the engines ECU. This is a great option for you serious racers out there and you can pick one of these units up through your local Kawasaki dealer and begin to fine-tune the already strong engine package.

If you’re looking to head to the local races with your new 2018 Kawasaki KX250F, the launch control system has also returned for the new year to give you that extra edge out of the gate. With the system retarding the ignition timing to allow for maximum grip off the mark, you can rocket out of the gate and once you shift into third gear the system then shuts off. This is a super handy feature right out of the box and it really will give you that added edge when you next line up at the races.

Now that we’ve taken a look at the engine package, let’s take a look at the suspension and chassis combination that allows us to put that power down to the ground. Mounted to the light weight aluminium perimeter frame are a set of Showa Separate Function (SFF) type two forks, which separate the damping and shock absorption duties. For 2018 these forks feature multiple updates in a bid to further improve the handling of the Kawasaki KX250F.

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

For 2018, a revised shim stack layout and softer spring rate helps to reduce the busy pitching effect over braking bumps and at the same time improves cornering stability. Whilst remaining stable in corners, the fork continues to offer sharp turn-in and at the same time bring optimum high-speed stability. It’s a nice overall package and the fork just feels solid right out of the box, it doesn’t do anything unusual and the predictability is something I personally enjoyed.

Featuring a 48mm inner tube, the SFF type two fork is rigid and it offers a planted feeling in the front-end. I’m all about front-end feel, especially on a hard-pack circuit, so for me this fork worked quite well and paired with the Uni-Trak rear suspension it was quite a solid combination. The rear shock features dual compression adjustability, allowing high-speed and low-speed damping to be tuned separately. A self-lubricating anodised coating on the tank cylinder helps prevent wear abrasion and reduces friction for smoother suspension action.

Extensive testing was also conducted by Kawasaki to determine the ideal linkage ratios and rear shock settings to achieve maximum rear wheel traction. The 2018 Kawasaki KX250F definitely hooks up in some of the most challenging conditions and the rear of the bike, much like the front, is again predictable and doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary. Overall the suspension package is quite strong on this bike and with some slight fine-tuning you’ll find that perfect sweet spot for your weight and riding style.

Image: Alex Gobert (Foremost Media).

To cap off the 2018 Kawasaki KX250F we also see black aluminium rims as standard, this really gives the bike that factory look right off the showroom floor. There’s also a 270mm front rotor standard which pulls the bike up quick-smart and provides a nice and progressive feel at the lever. In-mould graphics are also used on the shrouds, which is a huge plus in our book. These graphics will go the distance and no longer will your new bike look worn out in a few rides.

We also see the return of anodised green fork and shock adjusters, oil cap and generator cover to further add to that factory feel. The 2018 Kawasaki KX250F is a super clean looking machine and the updated bodywork carrying over from 2017, paired with these added extras, really makes it stand out on-track or in the pits. Much the same as its larger brother, the KX450F, you can just grab this bike right off the showroom floor, throw some numbers on and head to the races.

The 2018 Kawasaki KX250F is a strong machine in all aspects and is very competitive in stock trim. If you’re on the search for a high-performance 250cc four-stroke for 2018, be sure to take a look at this latest model from Kawasaki. The 2018 Kawasaki KX250F comes in at a recommended retail price of $10,599 and is now available nationwide at your local Kawasaki dealer, head to www.kawasaki.com.au for more information.

Vital specifications

Engine type: Liquid-cooled, four-stroke, one-cylinder
Capacity: 249cc
Bore/stroke: 77.0 x 53.6mm
Transmission: Five-speed
Seat height: 945 mm
Ground clearance: 320mm
Weight: 104.7kg (wet)
Fuel capacity: 6.3L
Price: $10,599
More details: www.kawasaki.com.au

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