Words and Photos by Brendan Lutes
Video by Casey McPerry
After introducing a new KX250F last year that received enhancements to the chassis, suspension, and motor, Kawasaki decided to leave the bike well enough alone for 2014, offering up a machine with only a few key refinements.
Perhaps the biggest and most notable advancement for the KX250F is the addition of the Launch Control Mode button that has previously only been seen on the KX450F. When pressed on the starting line, the Launch Control Mode is designed to retard the ignition, allowing the bike to put better power to the ground. Shifting into third deactivates the Launch Control, returning the power to normal. Second on the list of changes to the motor is the improved transmission, which is designed to making shifting smoother, especially under power. Up front, the Showa Separate Function Fork received new settings to improve suspension action and work harmoniously with the rear shock. Further enhancing the handing are the new motor mounts. The new mounts are now thinner and made from steel, giving the frame and bike better rigidity for better front-end feel and traction. Lastly, the grips are changed; they are now made from a softer compound and shorter in length than last year.
When we first fired up the bike, it started easily, resonating a throaty exhaust note. Out on the track, the motor feels much like last year, producing good useable power all throughout the powerband. The power comes on strong right out of corners, hits hard in the midrange, and continues to pull. We tested the different EFI couplers and found that the more aggressive white coupler allowed the KXF to pull further and rev higher than the stock coupler. Both of our test riders also preferred the white coupler over the stock one--even when the conditions got dry and slippery. The new updated transmission made shifting a dream. We were able to shift with confidence under power and right before jumps. When ridden back-to-back with the 2013 machine, the transmission is a noticeable improvement.
When compared to the 2013 KXF, the new suspension settings are an improvement. When entering corners over rough chop, the fork soaks up the hits and the shock doesn't kick, working in unison with the fork. We did play with the preload of the fork, however, in order to keep the front end higher all around the track and the fork working in the sweet spot of the stroke. After the change, the bike worked remarkable well and inspired confidence all around the track. The fork on the 2013 felt soft, springy, and vague, as it blew through the stroke easily. The 2014 settings withstood hard hits, big jumps, and rough chop much better.
When it was all said and done, while the updates done to the bike were minimal, they were noticeable. The new KX250F handles better and is an improvement over the 2013 machine. We still have plenty of testing left to do, however, so be sure to check out an upcoming issue of TransWorld Motocross for a more in-depth review of the KX250F.