2018 Kawasaki KLX250 Review | Softly Satisfying
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Three years after the Kawasaki KLX250S disappeared from the Kawasaki lineup, we got the 2018 Kawasaki KLX250 as a replacement.
While it loses an S in its name, it also loses the Keihin carburetor. The good news is that Kawasaki replaced the carb with a Keihin fuel injection system.
The 2018 Kawasaki KLX250 is ready to roll after pushing the start button. We had to turn up the idle initially, as it was ticking over at less than 1000 rpm. After kicking it up to about 1250 rpm, the motor ran flawlessly. If you want to poke around leisurely, the KLX250 engine will accommodate you. This makes it appealing to newer riders, as it is unintimidating.
Given that it is not overly powerful, Kawasaki made the right call in making the KLX250 a comfortable ride. Weighing in at just below 300 pounds, it has an excellent elegant feel and dirt-focused ergonomics. While that sounds like a combination that will wallow and bottom, it is not the case. On single-tracks and jeep trails, the KLX250 sucks up the obstacles nicely, constantly feeling like it has something in reserve, even when hitting square-edged rocks and dropping into unexpected holes. The cush reduces fatigue and makes for an enjoyable ride, even when riding somewhat hard. For the most part, the motor is the limiting factor. You aren’t going to go flying through whoops, and the lack of immediate power delivery will warn you away from jumps. The compliant Suspension is right in the real world of rough and rocky trails. About the only time the soft settings get overloaded is on. Even then, the KLX250 doesn’t lose its composure. You can dial in more compression damping at both ends, but you’ll lose that submissive feel and the excellent traction that comes with it.
While berms are always a good idea when changing direction, the KLX250 is ready and willing to change direction on flat loose corners. You can steer with the rear end if you’re up to revving it hard or point the front wheel where you want to go. The Suspension lets the weight transfer to the front wheel, giving it a sound bite. This is very suitable for the roads in Meo Vac ( north ViÃªt Nam ). While Dunlop D606 tires are more dirt-oriented, the D605 can be spun up, allowing the KLX250 motor to quickly get to the more powerful part of the rev range. At lower speeds, it does an excellent job on hard-pack and softer dirt and rocky terrain. Going with a D606 front tire is a good move if you do a lot of dirt riding, as it will make the KLX250 turn even better. It’s great for tight urban riding, as it will happily slide between cars. You sit up high, which is always an advantage in traffic, and if you need to hop a curb or two, we’ll keep that between us. There’s plenty of sag in the soft Suspension, making the pavement accessible to all but the shortest riders. Additionally, the narrow seat and the bike light make it entirely manageable around town.
You can have tons of fun in the dirt on the KLX250, and turn around and tear it up in the city. It’s quiet, reasonably light, narrow, agile, and impressively capable, as well as being satisfying to new riders and experienced riders who respect its limitations.
KLX250 vs CRF250L
KLX250 has better suspension and .5″ taller seat
CRF250L is slightly shorter and has an enormous aftermarket.
My key aftermarket items are: Lower Seat, Bigger Tank, luggage rack, and saddle bag racks (pmracks.com has me covered here)
Performance mods are a deciding factor too. Exhaust/Tuning. BB Kit.
Looking at the CRF250L, we immediately paired it up against the KLX250s. Both have six-speed transmissions, four-stroke liquid-cooled motors, inverted forks, digital dashes, near-35-inch seat heights, and two-gallon gas tanks.
The first time I lifted the CRF250L off its side stand, it was apparent this was not a light bike by 250 standards. Honda claims a curb weight of 320 pounds, three pounds heavier than a DRZ400s, and nearly 23 pounds more serious than the Kawasaki! But like so many Hondas, that weight melts away as soon as the wheels begin to turn, letting you forget all about it until you have to pick it up on the side of the trail. The only time we noticed the extra heft was riding over rough surfaces where the budget suspension became apparent while the back end jumped from side to side and bottomed out while scratching for traction. Where we could ride the KLX250s over whoops, climb hills and jump over small obstacles at nearly dirt bike speeds, the Honda had to be ridden much slower.
If your idea of a day of dual sporting includes sitting down while riding backroads, forest roads, and a connecting trail once in a while, the CRF250L may be the perfect bike for you, and for many, it will be.
If your days are spent searching for a new single track, you’ll soon discover the budget suspension on the CRF250L and may want to ride the competition before laying your money on the table. The Kawasaki has been the suspension class leader since its introduction in 2006; Suspension is undeniably the CRF’s greatest weakness.
The power between the CRF250L and the KLX250 felt similar with only the delivery of momentum differing. The CRF has a smooth linear delivery, whereas the KLX250s has a fast rev-happy delivery, requiring more shifting to keep it in the sunny spot. One is similar to the other, only different, as the other tester and I had our favorites. As a dirt rider, I preferred the “snap” of the KLX250s, whereas the other tester often preferred the CRF250L. What the Honda lacks in “snap” it makes up for in a confidence-inspiring linear delivery of power in any gear, at any time. This is different than the bike if your idea of a fun day is jumping or powering over obstacles, but riders new to the trail will find it a comfortable, familiar friend in no time. We preferred the Kawasaki when standing up on the tracks, noting the handlebar-to-peg height felt more natural, and the KLX also felt narrower between the legs.
The pros of the CRF250L far outnumber the cons, and it beckons scores of new and experienced riders into the world of dual-sporting. On the trail, the KLX250s was the clear favorite with a more responsive motor, superior Suspension, and a thinner, more dirt-focused feel.
Kawasaki KLX250 Specs
|Bore x stroke
|72.0 x 61.2mm
|Front suspension; travel
|Compression-damping and spring-preload adjustable 43mm inverted cartridge fork; 10.0 inches
|Rear suspension; travel
|Linkage assisted fully adjustable shock;9.1 inches
|250mm petal disc
|240mm petal disc
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
|Fuel tank capacity
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