First Impression: 2004 Kawasaki KX250

We took delivery of our shiny new 2004 Kawasaki KX250 yesterday at Cahuilla Creek MX Park, and to cut to the chase, little changes made for big improvements on the new green machine. With all of the hype this year centered around four-strokes, let’s just say that you better not sleep on the magic of a two-cycle in the right conditions!


So what’s new on the big Kawi? Well, if you ask the technicians, the biggest change in performance for 2004 lies in the new linkage system. Dubbed the “New Link UNI-TRAK,” the suspension rocker arm is now mounted to the swingarm rather than the frame. This allows the suspension forces to be transferred to the new, longer hydroformed aluminum swingarm instead of the frame, which in turn makes the frame lighter and also affects the handling characteristics of the bike.

So did it work? We say yes. The linkage system that Kawi ran with is becoming more and more popular recently, and we can see why—handling on the ’04 was the biggest change made by far. At the rough and choppy Cahuilla Creek facility, the KX250 carved through turns like no other green bike we’d ridden before. Many of the turns were blown out from the crowded weekend before, which forced test riders to make their own squared-off inside line. Though there was virtually no traction on the slippery inside sections, the Kawi glided through with ease and made its own line where needed. Turning has never been easier, and we were very impressed with the overall handling of the bike.


On to the motor. With revisions to the cylinder head dome height, exhaust ports, and new pipe and intake manifold boot, the ’04 KX250 means business. Though they didn’t make the most drastic changes ever to the engine, the KX is plenty fast and better than ever. With a strong low-end hit and mid-range pull, there is always plenty of power on tap.

One aspect of the motor we loved was the smooth pull. There is no tricky powerband to deal with on the KX, just great roll-on power. We haven’t done any dyno tests yet, but the KX did feel a tad bit behind on power compared to its competition. Now, keep in mind that this may not be a bad thing. Hear us out—combined with the new linkage and smooth handling characteristics the KX is easy to ride, plain and simple. Sometimes power isn’t everything. We’re convinced that when united with its smooth handling, the Kawi has more than enough ponies to win in the hands of the right rider.

This is the kind of bike that you can jump on and go fast immediately, and that’s a good thing! Even our testers that have been spending more time aboard four-strokes as of late were able to adapt to the 2004 Kawasaki KX250 quickly. That speaks for the rideability of the green meanie.

All totaled, we drove away from Cahuilla with even more anticipation than ever for our 2004 250cc shootout. Of the bikes we’ve ridden so far, there are no losers in 2004. Which will come out on top? Keep looking for your shootout issue in the mail and find out!