Story by Adam Booth • Photos by Adam Booth and Kris Keefer
The second day of our new model introduction at Competitive Edge with Kawasaki was spent on the high revving, high energy 2014 KX250F. The proven KX250F received modest changes but those changes were focused on improving handling and durability, two important categories, especially when the bike has already proven itself a rocket.
The engine, just as it was last year, is outstanding with good pull off the bottom right into the mid and screams into the top end power that seems to pull forever. The KX250F motor can be revved out in second or slightly short shifted into third depending on the style you like to ride. The 250F engine loves to rev so that is how we rode it. The bike still features the ability to swap out the provided EFI couplers to quickly change the mapping and power delivery. Starting, like the 2013 model is amazingly easy and takes almost zero pressure and speed from the right foot.
The transmission has a new four-dog set up instead of three-dogs per gear and the shift-fork grooves in the shift drum are more direct to enhance feel at the shift lever. With only a full day aboard the 2014 KX250F shifting felt as good as the 2013 but a huge difference wasn’t noticed. The revisions made will show over time, as the engine and transmission break in and accumulate wear.
The new high-tensile steel front engine mount plates are 29% thinner than the previous steel plates, aimed at better mix of chassis rigidity and improved front-end grip. To work with the new flex characteristics the fork damping was revised through the initial and mid-stroke. The shock also has a new baseline setting. With our 2013 KX250F on hand to compare to the 2014 model we felt stability increased from 2013. In rough fast sweepers there was more front wheel traction and less harshness coming from the front end. The thinner motor mounts give the front end a more positive and planted feel. The bike still likes to be steered with the rear end just like the KX 450. The KX250F is not a bike that knifes into turns or that feels like the front wheel is glued to the ground, yet handling is improved. Overall the KX250F is a very balanced and easy bike to jump on and go fast. The power delivery is great and stability of the machine is excellent.
The only modification to the engine was deep inside. The upgraded crankcase oil jet delivers a more optimized stream of oil to the underside of the piston, for enhanced cooling and better durability. The counter shaft sprocket is now also held on with a nut and washer instead of a circlip.
The Launch Control system, the same one Kawasaki uses on the KX450F is the first on a 250 four-stroke motocrosser. The system retards the ignition timing in first and second gears, to tailor the amount of torque delivered to the rear tire. It is easily activated by pushing a button on the left handlebar, while stopped in neutral, first or second gear. Maximum effect is felt within the first few seconds of releasing the clutch. Shifting into third gear automatically deactivates launch control mode and returns ignition timing to a normal map. Our initial test of the launch control system on concrete starts had us preferring to not use it. We will be putting it through a lot of testing but our gut reaction is that 250Fs don’t have enough power to warrant launch control.
At the end of the day we left the track very happy with the 2014 KX250F and the subtle yet noticeable changes. We are eagerly awaiting to pick ours up for the year and beginning the process of riding and testing at as many tracks as humanly possible. Overall this bike is a solid contender for 2014 250 motocross supremacy.