First Impression: 2005 Kawasaki KX250

Out For Justice!

Kawasaki invited the TWMX testing staff out to Cahuilla Creek MX yesterday to take our first ride aboard the all-new 2005 KX250, and to say that we were quite impressed would quite simply be a massive understatement! Kawasaki’s engineers and R&D staff, which includes James “Bubba Stewart, have no doubt done their homework… So much so, in fact, that we can all but guarantee great happiness among all two-stroke 250cc pilots who choose the KX250 as their weapon of choice in ’05.

What’s New…?

…Everything! Kawasaki delivered a brand spankin’ new KX250 out to Cahuilla Creek for the industry press to get their filthy little hands on. From the motor to the chassis, the ’05 KX has taken on fresh new life. Here are some of the most significant of the changes…

In the engine department, Kawasaki engineers totally revamped the basic motor design that’s been common in every KX250 for the last half dozen years or so. They began by creating an all-new Kawasaki Integrated Power Valve System (KIPS), which has been designed to allow power to come on more smoothly, resulting in a more linear powerband, and improved traction. Next, they reduced the cylinder’s forward mounting angle from 10 degrees to five degrees, which allows for the use of a longer exhaust port, further enhancing power across the entire rev range. The cylinder also features a new, enlarged exhaust port, a redesigned intake port, and altered scavenge ports for improved efficiency. The coolant passageways within the cylinder have also been redesigned to help improve…well…cooling, particularly around the exhaust port to prevent heat-induced power fade during longer motos.

In the chassis department, the most significant modification to the steel perimeter frame is a decrease in steering rake from 27 to 26 degrees, which quickens steering response for better cornering performance. The frame’s stiffness balance has also been improved, and a new lower swingarm bracket was put in place to improve ground clearance. The revised frame is also narrower at the footpegs, giving the bike a slimmer feel. Higher footpegs complement the new riding position while also increasing ground clearance. While the design of the aluminum swingarm remains unchanged, the wall thickness of the main spars has been increased for enhanced stability and handling.

In the suspension department, a new set of twin-chamber Kayaba forks, which help to keep oil and air separate for stable damping performance during long motos, decorate the front end of the new KX. On the rear-end, the new UNI-TRAK rear suspension system features redesigned linkage ratios to suit the new frame and swingarm, and also provides a ride height that is 5mm higher. Other ergonomic and detailed changes include a new seat that is flatter and raised 10mm higher for improved rider mobility, a handlebar clamp that is 8mm wider to help prevent handlebar bending, and a quick-adjust clutch adjuster, which seems to have become standard on new bikes these days. The only thing that the new KX250 lacks in stock form is a set of aluminum handlebars.

On The Track…

…The new KX250 is phenomenal! When matched up against the stock 2004 version, there’s simply no comparison at all. The new motor is vibrant and alive, and packs a serious punch throughout the entire power range. The ’04 KX250 wasn’t a total slouch off the bottom, but the ’05 delivers more, and it does so across the board. It revs further in every gear, and where the top-end used to sign off, the new motor keeps on singing. Probably the most impressive thing about the powerband, however, is how useable it is. Thanks to a completely revised chassis and suspension, the KX ranks among one of the best tracking bikes that we can remember to date. The Cahuilla Creek circuit features a number of uphill, high-speed sweeping situations that can often times be tough to navigate. Where some bikes tend to skkip, push, and wander to the outside of said terrain, the new KX250 holds an amazingly straight line. In addition, the new, steeper rake angle did in fact improve the cornering and overall handling like the Kawi engineers were hoping. It turns great, and holds a perfect line through rutted corners. The updated suspension is very well balanced, although we did make a few adjustments to the compression clickers to fine-tune the ride. Speaking of balance, a consistent complaint about the KX250 over the years has been that it tends to fly front wheel high. For ’05, unless you sit on the rear fender off jump take offs, KX riders won’t have a balance complaint any longer.

To sum things up… The 2005 KX250 is hands down the best production KX250 that we’ve ever ridden, and there’s absolutely no doubt in our minds that it will be a serious contender come shootout time. Stay tuned for the complete 2005 KX250 bike test in the December issue of TransWorld Motocross.

Want to see the new KX250 (and Bubba) in action? Click the video link in the right-hand column.