Romance: The MXA test riders love the KX250F’s instant-on
style of power. It is a 40-horse catapult.
Q: WHAT ARE THE WORST ATTRIBUTES OF
THE 2016 KX250F?
A: MXA test riders spend every waking minute
working on, riding and analyzing new bikes. As much as
we focus on finding the good in the machines we ride,
it’s hard not to see the chinks in a bike’s armor. Here are
the KX250F’s chinks.
(1) Business model. By virtue of the four-year
development cycle, the 2016 KX250F is an orphan bike.
Kawasaki’s benign neglect not only signals that there will
be an all-new KX250F in 2017, but that it has no plans to
develop this rolling chassis any further. The message to
the consumer is caveat emptor. If you buy this bike, you
are buying the last of the line. You don’t need Sherlock
Holmes to tell you that the resale value will fall as soon
as the 2017 model is introduced.
( 2) Handling. It is a lot cheaper to make a slow bike
fast than a bad-handling bike into a carver. The KX250F
line’s eight shootout-winning years were achieved in
spite of its stodgy, upright, old-school handling. The
meanest thing that an MXA test rider ever said about
the handling of a KX250F was that “it handles like a tug
boat.” Harsh, but it doesn’t handle like a speed boat.
( 3) Clutch. The four Japanese brands would have gone
merrily on their way with the pitiful clutches they had
foisted on the public had KTM not come along with its
absolutely brilliant hydraulic system. Once racers learned
how good a clutch could be, not just in metering forward
drive but by self-adjusting the lever play, doubling the
clutch plates’ life and making the ham-fisted feel superior,
they gave marginal clutches, like the one on the KX250F,
the stink eye. Stiffer clutch springs are a must-have.
( 4) Shifting. The KX250F transmission refuses to
upshift without resistance, particularly under duress. We
learned to use the clutch to our advantage, although
doing so aggravates the clutch issues.
( 5) Chain guide. Kawasaki’s engineers need to call
(541) 772-4161 for much-needed advice. That is the phone
number to T.M. Designworks. If they don’t call, you
should, because the stock chain guide has the lifespan of
a gypsy moth.
( 6) Grips. They’re too hard and too painful for most
hands. Plus, Kawasaki still vulcanizes the clutch-side grip
to the handlebar so that it takes dynamite to replace it.
We are forced to buy an aluminum throttle tube just to
run the grips we want.
Q: HOW DOES IT RUN ON THE DYNO?
A: The magic dyno number in the 250 class used to
be 40 horsepower. But the magic went out of the number
when the 2016 Husqvarna pumped out 44. 34 horsepower
and was joined by its twin brother the KTM 250SXF
in the rare air of the mid-40s. That means that while
Kawasaki was the first to break the big four-oh barrier
four years ago, they are now part of a four-bike club akin
to the one Chuck Yeager started. At 39. 87 horsepower,
the KX250F is one full horsepower above the 38. 89 horsepower of the 2016 Honda CRF250 and 38. 35 horsepower
of the 2016 RM-Z250, but well below the Austrian duo.
Q: WHAT IS THE SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE
OF THE 2016 KX250F
A: Kawasaki has not raised the price of the KX250F
since 2013. It retails for $7599. How does that compare to
the competition? The CRF250 is also $7599. The YZ250F
is $9 cheaper at $7590. The RM-Z250 is $100 more
Couplers: This is the stock green coupler. Every MXA test
rider prefers to race with the white coupler instead.