2013 Kawasaki KX250F Review
A terrific motocrosser gets many improvements for 2013
For almost a decade, Kawasaki’s impressive KX250F has spent more time on top of podiums all over the world than any other motocrosser. The race-proven technology of the KX250F returns for 2013 with a new adjustable ECU, a slimmer frame, upgraded Separate Function Fork (SFF) and revised ergonomics. With all of these new changes, as well as an already great platform to work with, there is no doubt the 2013 KX250F is poised to continue its dominance of the quarter-liter class.
At first glance, the new 2013 KX250F catches your eye with its slick looks and new slim design. With its lime-green plastic, black rims and new black rear fender, this bike looks just about as good as it feels.
After being one of the thicker models the last few years through the seat and tank area, Kawasaki has made the new KX250F slightly narrower for 2013, including smaller radiator shrouds where a rider’s legs makes contact with them. This slimmer design is just what the doctor ordered for this already great-handling bike, doing wonders for how the bike feels when sitting on it. With these ergonomic changes, the 2013 KX250F has now become one of the thinnest bikes on the circuit.
The chassis is not only narrower, it’s also more rigid. A revised steering head gusset, a new rear shock mount tower and a new curved left-rear engine hanger bracket beef up the frame, while a new cast section in the swingarm offers 4.2% greater torsional rigidity and improved durability.
A small but notable upgrade for the 2013 KX250F is the new grips. Gone are the short, diamond grips that ate up a rider’s hands. The new grips are softer, slimmer and longer, so there’s more room to move your hands around and they won’t get chewed up anymore. I know the new grips may seem like a small feature, but this change is proof Kawasaki listens to consumer feedback. After speaking with a few of the Kawasaki employees, they said one of the biggest complaints about past models were the awful grips.
Kawasaki has had many firsts on the track in the last decade, but they have also led the way with technology. Take for example its Digital Fuel Injection (DFI) with industry-leading dual fuel injectors. For 2013, Kawasaki has moved the second injector upstream of the throttle body. This relocation of the second injector helps build a wider and more potent spread of power as the revs build. The result is smoother delivery right from the first turn of the throttle all the way through to the upper rev zone.
The DFI system would be nothing without a very workable ECU system. The 2013 KX250F is the most easily adjustable model in its class – ECU changes can simply be done at the side of the track. Kawasaki provides each bike with three DFI wire couplers that attach to the system just behind the steering head so you can simply unplug it and plug in the new one. The couplers are color-coded: white, green and black. The green one contains the standard mapping, while a soft-terrain map is loaded into the white coupler to give the engine a little more throttle response. The black one provides smoother power delivery for hard- packed tracks.
And if you’d like even more ECU settings, then you can purchase the KX FI Calibration Kit from your local Kawasaki dealer and create whatever program you like. This is the same kit the factory team uses so you know it works very well.
A fast, adjustable motor would be nothing on a dirt bike without a very good suspension, and the 2013 KX delivers. Before it debuted on the 2013 Suzuki RM-Z250 and 450, the KX was the only production motocross bike to feature Showa's SFF front fork, which separates damping and shock absorption duties into individual fork legs.
This means one fork leg has a spring in it, while the other carries the damping circuits. This technology cuts down on weight and allows for very smooth fork action. For 2013, there is also a fork preload adjuster at the top of the right leg. A 17mm bolt allows for a quick change of the spring preload so it is easy to make the forks stiffer or softer depending on your preference. This adjuster works very well and is easy to use, just a quick turn and your fork action is different.
To complement the Showa fork is a very workable Showa rear shock. With its industry-leading Kashima Coated cylinder wall that helps reduce friction and its high- and low-speed compression adjusters, you can dial in the best setup to get the power to the ground and soak up any bumps you can throw at it.
Kawasaki brought us out to one of the most historic tracks in the USA, Spring Creek Raceway in Millville, Minnesota, to test how well the 2013 KX250F works on the track. I had seen Millville many times over the years on television but had never been there. Let me just say that the hills are big and steep, the dirt is loamy and deep, and horsepower is needed in every section.
Thankfully, the 2013 KX250F’s motor pulls stronger than any other 250F I have ridden. It is snappy and pulls hard all way through its rev range. Based on the strength of its engine, I really believe riders of all abilities could be competitive on the stock version. During the day I tried the different ECU couplers and found that I really liked the soft-terrain (white) map, the one that gave the bike a little more bottom end.
The action of the Showa SFF fork is smooth and even on the jump-filled Millville track, I didn’t bottom it once. The suspension allows you to get the power to the ground, and with the all new Dunlop Geomax MX51 tires that come stock, the bike hooks up all over the track. I am more accustomed to riding bigger bikes, but I instantly felt very comfortable on the 250. At 234 pounds, the KX250F is a little heavier than some of its competition, but the extra weight isn’t noticeable on the track.
I would recommend the 2013 KX250F to any rider of any skill level. From a beginner rider to a pro-level racer, this bike has something for everyone and will no doubt continue to win championships all over the globe. The price for the 2013 sits at $7599, which is very comparable with its competition. But with all of the tuning capabilities that come with the 2013 KX250F, it really is in a class by itself.
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