Bike Test: 2021 Kawasaki KX250

2020-10-29 02:12
Tester: Jason Abbott
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 190 lb
Ability: Vet Pro/Expert

To see a full list of changes to the 2021 Kawasaki KX250, check out the First Look here.

The all new frame and swingarm along with updated suspension settings have a planted and confidence inspiring feel on the track while Ergos and overall cockpit layout and the addition of the Renthal fat bar had us feeling right at home on the 2021 KX250 within a couple of laps.

Overall, we are very happy with the suspension once we dialed things in a bit. At 190lbs I am not your target rider for this model but we were able to find a setting I was comfortable with. Initially, the fork felt like it was riding a little low in the stroke and the front end would dive under braking (fork at 5mm and 103 sag). The rear shock rebound was a little fast for my liking as well. I went back to the truck and added two clicks stiffer compression to help with front-end hold up, two clicks faster rebound for better bump compliance and we went two clicks slower on the shock rebound to reduce pitching. This setting felt much better but I felt the fork still needed more attention when it came to corner entrance braking bumps. I ended up dropping fork from 5mm to 3mm and that filled the gap I was looking for making the bike more stable on entrance especially on rough and uneven sections. Another notable mention is the bottoming resistance from the KYB suspension. The fork especially is very good. On multiple occasions, I would over jump sections on purpose and it passed with flying colors.

2021 Kawasaki KX250

2021 Kawasaki KX250
New swingarm.

New swingarm.
New Renthal Fatbars.

New Renthal Fatbars.
New bodywork (seat and plastics).

New bodywork (seat and plastics).
Mostly new motor, without a kickstarter.

Mostly new motor, without a kickstarter.
Hydraulic clutch.

Hydraulic clutch.
Hydraulic clutch.

Hydraulic clutch.
Case guards.

Case guards.
Electric starter.

Electric starter.

Another honorable mention is the braking performance. Both front and rear had very good stopping power and feel. I still don’t care for the awkward tapered front brake lever but the bite is impressive.

The team at Kawasaki spent a considerable amount of time revamping the 250 powerplant with a new head, cams, piston, crank, single bevel spring clutch along with other upgrades and mapping updates. One of my favorite updates on this model was the addition of the hydraulic clutch over the previous cable clutch offering as it helps provide a more consistent power delivery through corners and other tight sections. Overall I thought the engine produced solid power but I couldn’t nail down one mapping coupler that I would be completely happy with at Perris Raceway. I think each of the couplers has its strong point and its more about finding which coupler suits your riding style or track the most.

The green (stock) coupler has a peppy feel but the meat of the power is a little narrow and the overall character could be improved on both bottom and top. The bottom needing smoother roll on and the top needing more aggressive pull. I also found myself using the most amount of energy with the green coupler. The white (lean) coupler made the top end pull more aggressive but it only slightly improved the out of corner bottom end compared to the green coupler. The black (rich) coupler has the torquey bottom roll on I was looking for but the rest of mid/top power is too mellow.

If I could make a custom map using the Kawasaki mapping tool, I’d blend it with a black bottom, green mid and white top. This would give you the smooth roll on down low, peppy mid and over-rev to the moon. We look forward to a follow-up test on the KX250 where we can try these settings and explore some more suspension settings at other tracks.

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