2004 Kawasaki KX250F 4-Stroke
Complete Model Details | Riding Video
Kawasaki 2004 KX250F
This bike is too good to be Kawasaki’s first effort at building a 4-stroke motocrosser!
Is this a gutsy move, or a big risk? What would you call any attempt by a manufacturer to produce a new model to compete against Yamaha’s beloved YZ250F? The target (the YZ250F) is out there, you can see it, you can touch it and you can ride it – but how do you beat this incredibly successful and capable bike? We’d classify this as one gutsy move by Kawasaki, especially since this is Kawasaki’s first ever 4-stroke motocross machine.
The KX250F is all-new, from hub to hub. The powerplant is a 249cc, liquid-cooled single with dual overhead cams driving four light-weight titanium valves. The piston is forged and slides in a chrome composite plated aluminum cylinder. One nice feature of the new engine is that circulating engine oil is routed internally through the cylinder bolt passageways, thus eliminating the complexity, weight and vulnerability of exterior oil lines. The slick shifting transmission originally began life as a 6-speed during development, but a 5-speed was chosen for final production.
We spent a full day aboard the KX250F at Southern California’s Cahuilla MX Park. This really fun natural terrain track features soft sandy soil, incredibly fun banked corners, and a few easy jumps - no serious doubles or triples. The track started out smooth in the morning and then developed bumps and ruts as the day wore on.
Once on the KX250F we noticed two things quickly. The first is that you kick-start this engine like a 125 2-stroke, using only a quick stab motion. Once it’s running, you notice it really doesn’t sound much like a 250. The exhaust note is a bit raspy and deeper toned than any 250 we’ve heard. (you can hear it on or video)
Both of our riders were immediately comfortable aboard the KX250F. There are no strange quirks, no getting accustomed to how the bike runs, shifts or handles. The KX just feels right, first time out. The engine has a bit of torque for a 250 4-stroke, making it easier to ride than a rev-it-or-loose-it 4-stroke. The power is strong and quite useable, though the KX has less over-rev than the Yamaha YZF. One thing we really like about the Kawasaki is that you can leave the throttle pegged leading into that next corner without the bike falling on its face. The engine hits a soft rev-limiter which allows it to kept moving forward, though at a reduce power level.
More mid-range power means less shifting, which the KX does remarkably well. There's enough power on tap for intermediate or lower skilled riders to ride the bike a gear up, making the KX easier to ride. All riders will enjoy the strong and predictable brakes which provide excellent feedback to the rider.
The suspension was ideal for our track conditions. The action was smooth, compliant and well controlled. Only more testing on hard-pack and rougher tracks, however, will show just how well things work in various riding conditions. The KX felt light and controllable in the air, and landed without any complaint. Our test bikes were setup rather soft for existing track conditions. (see video)
We were thoroughly impressed with the new KX250F in our admittedly perfect riding conditions. The engine isn't as demanding to keep spinning and it's easier to use the available power. The KX also excels in comfort, feels very neutral in handling, and we love the new narrower chassis and completely unobtrusive seat and tank combo which allows excellent transitioning up over the front wheel.
We feel Kawasaki’s new KX250F (also sold as a Suzuki RM-Z250) hits the mark. The bike doesn’t feel at all like a first effort, instead it feels like a highly refined, state-of-the-art motocrosser.
This early released KX250F appears to have surpassed the competition of 2003, but how it stacks up against the 2004 models remains to be seen. We’ll finally see Honda’s new CRF250F and Yamaha’s is pumping up the mill of the YZ250F. Only time will tell who comes out on top in this now highly contested class. What we can say with certainty is that it will be exciting, to say the least, to watch top AMA Supercross riders compete against each other aboard all of these incredible 250s. With bikes like the KX250F we can also predict the 125 class will never be the same.
Model Details KX250F | KX250F Video
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