bikes match each other in the power race until the top end, where the extra horsepower and the extra rpm favor the Austrian 250. Q: HOW FAST IS THE 2013 KAWASAKI KX250F? A: Given that the 2012 KX250F blew away expectations with its incredible powerband, we expected nothing less from the 2013 model. We weren’t disappointed. The biggest compliment that we can pay to Kawasaki’s 250 four-stroke engine is that it doesn’t do anything glaringly wrong. In a category where a potent powerband trumps all other areas (suspension, handling, shifting, brakes, etc.), the KX250F is still a leader. There’s a tremendous gap between the most usable power- band and the most powerful powerband. For a 250 four-stroke, the KX250F’s output is supremely usable. Slower riders enjoyed the explosive bottom-end hit, while those with more experi- ence adored the midrange pull. Pro-level riders found it best to keep the engine in the meat of the powerband and shift often. How does the 2013 KX250F compare to the 2013 KTM 250SXF? They may be peas in a pod on the dyno, but the KX250F revs quicker and hits with a more pronounced bark in the middle, while the KTM never gives up the ghost, revs to an amazing 14,000 and has no equal on top-end power. The KX250F has a better all-around powerband that suits a wide range of skill levels, while the KTM 250SXF is a Pro-level machine that favors the talented. Q: DO THE AGGRESSIVE AND SOFT MAP COUPLERS REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE? A: The 2013 KX250F comes with two optional preprogrammed map couplers. The green coupler is stock. The white coupler is aggressive. The black coupler is mellow. Which coupler is like baby bear’s porridge? Most MXA test riders favored the white (aggressive) coupler. It spiced up the KX250F engine and increased the over-rev capabilities. The green (standard) coupler was our second-favorite option. The black (soft) coupler was our least favorite. We would only use this map when racing on ice or linoleum. Q: WHAT IS THE SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE OF THE 2013 KX250F? A: $7599. Kawasaki has raised the price of the KX250F by $600 over the last four years. Blame it on inflation and the cost of the two extra couplers. For the sake of comparison, the 2013 Yamaha YZ250F is $300 cheaper, the Suzuki RM-Z250 is the same price, and the KTM 250SXF is $200 more expensive. Q: HOW GOOD IS THE SHOWA SUSPENSION? A: Just like the Apple iPhone, the KX250F suspension gets better every year. Forks: Kawasaki made a spring-rate change to the SFF fork last year, going stiffer to accommodate faster and heavier riders. It was a wise idea. For 2013, the fork tubes are larger, which equates to increased rigidity and less deflection (both good traits). We like the option of changing ride height by adjusting preload. Most test riders were satisfied with the stock preload, but shorter riders loved the idea of being able to let the bike sag in a little farther. Shock: The incessant wallow that plagued the KX250F for Getting there: While the new brake caliper is stronger than ever before, it’s still not the best brake in the busi-
Something borrowed: Just like the KX450F last year, the
2013 KX250F comes with three different couplers.