A multibike test as involved as a Dirt Rider shootout not only declares a winner, but more importantly discovers the strengths, weaknesses and personalities of each machine. Empirical testing may uncover a single "best" choice, but a motocross bike is the link between rider and track, and the best bike is also dependent on those other two variables--the who and the where.We lined up test riders from national pro to vet novice and ran the shootout officially on three SoCal tracks: Racetown 395, a fast track in the high desert with big jumps and sandy dirt over a hard base; Piru MX, a tight, hard-packed track on a hillside; and Milestone MX, an intermediate track ripped deep to develop ruts. We also leaned on our impressions from intro days, and the days and tracks between then and the shootout. We ran stock tires up to and through day one, then we spooned fresh Dunlops onto all (745 front, 756 rear). Otherwise, the bikes were bone stock except for the DeCal Works preprinted number plate backgrounds and a few Dirt Rider and Texaco logos. Each motor started our test with approximately 15-20 hours of run time save for the Suzuki, which showed up on our first comparison day as the yellow 2009 models arrived late.We picked a winner, but don't ignore the information on each bike. Choosing a best overall pick is like a manufacturer settling on the best overall suspension settings; they work well across the board, but what satisfies the majority of riders may not suit you. Put yourself into the conclusions and opinions and let our results tell you which bike is best overall and what each machine is like. Each can be the best pick for some riders and some conditions. Then, when someone tells you their ride is better because it won the shootout, just smile knowing that's not what shootouts are about. That's what we do.Kawasaki KX250F
Kawasaki completely redesigned its 2008 Dirt Rider shootout winner and came out with something more serious. Nearly everyone fell in love with the Kawi's power in spite of its raspy, loud exhaust tone. The power picks up in the bottom and doesn't just pull, it yanks from there like no quarter-liter thumper before it--all the way into a screaming fast top and an overrev that doesn't fall too flat. Many riders commented it felt as if they were riding a heavily modified engine, not a stocker. The transmission only helps with each gear picking up the meaty pull. All that juice, yet it remains easy to manage for slower guys. The suspension is balanced and the overall handling was almost unanimously rated as excellent. The bike has a rear-end-low feeling but it turned precisely and handled the high-speed sections excellently. The bike seems aimed more at the faster, serious rider, and it really shined at Racetown.Engine
* Outstanding power--responsive and plenty of it.
* Feels like a modified engine right off the showroom.
* Popping on decelerating.
* Too loud.Chassis
* Balanced and stable.
* Excellent turning.
* Feels low in the rear.Suspension
* Good suspension balance.
* Trades plushness for a more aggressive setting.
* Generally stiffer than the other bikes, but often this was said in praise, not complaint.
* Some riders, fast and slow, found the settings a little skatey or loose.Why The KX250F Should Win
* Stable, balanced feel at speed.
* Power. No need to mod it, this thing rips bone stock!* The only all-new bike.
* Serious race bike with passing power and a matching package for fast lap times.Why The KX250F Shouldn't Win
* Take a photo at the dealership, because this bike gets ugly and clapped-looking fast.
* Some riders felt a skatey feeling in the tires.
* Serious race bike, not as fun to ride as some other bikes.
* It's not only loud, but the noise sounds bad.This Is Your Bike If...
* You ride aggressively and happily trade plushness for control.
* You want to grow your trophy collection.
* There's a Kawasaki dealer within driving distance...or you like road trips.