complement the feel of the engine mounts. ( 6) Styling. As is the case with all new models, the 2014 KX250F received bold new graphics, which aren’t bold enough to make them easy to differentiate from last year’s scheme. The new bike does have a white rear fender and white side panels that mimic the KX450F. ( 7) Controls. Would you believe us if we told you that Kawasaki aborted the longer grip design of a year ago for a 10mm-shorter grip configuration? It’s sad but true. We liked the longer grips. The throttle grip isn’t vulcanized to the plastic throttle tube (just like last year), but the clutch-side grip is. You’ll need to buy new handlebars if you want to save yourself the headache of peeling off the stock grip. Q: WHY HAS THE KAWASAKI KX250F WON MXA’S 250 SHOOTOUT WITH SUCH FREQUENCY? A: In a word: powerband. The 250-class shootout winner is determined by a bike’s ability to blast past the competition, whether into the first turn or out of corners. The KX250F is king in this category. It has no equal. While it’s true that the 2014 KTM 250SXF boasts more horsepower on the dyno, the KX250F has a broader powerband that’s much easier to use. Imagine twisting the throttle at almost any speed and having instantaneous power. That’s what it feels like to ride the KX250F. Yes, the Kwacker has shortcomings. It is not the best-suspended nor sharpest-handling bike in the class, but those faults are mostly forgotten once a rider’s right wrist rotates downward. Q: HOW DOES THE 2014 KAWASAKI KX250F COMPARE TO LAST YEAR’S MODEL ON THE DYNO? A: Our 2014 KX250F performed identically to last year’s model on the dyno. It makes sense, since Kawasaki didn’t make any performance upgrades to the bike. The KX250F produced a whopping 41. 14 horsepower at 12,200 rpm with 20. 36 foot-pounds of torque. Note that this is one of only two bikes to ever break the coveted 40-pony barrier; the other is the KTM 250SXF. The jury is still out as to whether any other manufacturer will join the 40-plus brigade for 2014.Q: HOW WOULD WE DESCRIBE THE POWERBAND OF THE 2014 KX250F? A: Explosive. Mind-bending. The cat’s meow. It will make a slow rider faster and satisfy the needs of a highly skilled racer. The DFI downstream injector sprays fuel into the 43mm Keihin throttle body at low rpm, and the upstream injector begins to feed fuel at 7000 rpm. At full throttle, the upstream injector is doing all the work while the downstream injector is shut off. Air velocity reaches the fuel nozzle approximately 120mm above the downstream injector, which better atomizes the gasoline at high rpm. This technology, along with specialized camshaft timing, a shorter cylinder head for increased compression, mapping and exhaust (with resonance chamber), equates to a diabolical weapon of moto destruction. Less-skilled riders enjoyed the capabilities of the four-valve, double-overhead-cam engine. The powerband wasn’t moody or schizophrenic, but free-flowing and vivacious. There were very few weaknesses, and those shortcomings were only felt by Pro-level riders who voiced that the KX250F engine lacked the top-end gusto they desired. Q: IS LAUNCH CONTROL AN ADVANTAGE ON THE 2014 KX250F? A: No. To us, equipping the KX250F with Launch Control is a feeble attempt at captivating an uneducated audience willing to be swayed by doodads. While we readily admit that Launch Control is a welcome addition to the KX450F, it doesn’t belong on the KX250F. Why? At 55 horsepower, the KX450F can light up the rear tire like a jack-o’-lantern on napalm. It’s true that the KX250F produces eye-watering power, but it lacks the punch to warrant retarding the ignition. At best, Launch Control is suited to begin- ners. All of our testers tried the button but ignored it after a few uses. Why? They felt more confident controlling wheelspin by using the clutch. Q: WHAT IS THE SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE OF THE 2014 KX250F? A: Inflation is the scapegoat for every business. The rise in oil prices, a worker strike in Asia, a drought in Rwanda—you name it, there’s a reason why everything, from gasoline to ginger ale, is more expensive than last year. Thankfully, Kawasaki has bucked this trend with the KX250F for 2014. True, they upped the cost of the KX250F by $600 over the previous four years, but Kawasaki has stood pat on $7599 for the second year in a row. Bravo! Q: HOW WELL DOES THE 2014 KX250F HANDLE? A: The KX250F has always handled like a girl getting ready for a blind date—confused, somewhat ditzy, Hot rod: The KX250F has had the best engine for several years.