The serious Japanese dual-sport market began a half-century ago using two-stroke technology, and Kawasaki built its first “dual-purpose” thumper, the KL250, in 1978. Decades of advancements brings us to the current KLX250. And, oh, how different it is. Unlike its doggish predecessor, the 2018 KLX250 now features fuel injection, liquid-cooling, disc brakes, and long-travel suspension that your Uncle Ernie from Poughkeepsie could only dream about. Street legal yet reasonably light (304 pounds wet) and nice and tractable off-road, the KLX250 is a do-it-all machine.
The KLX250 formula has two demerits. One is the 249cc DOHC engine; despite being loosely based on the KX250F motocross design, it isn’t really big enough for extended freeway work. The second is the DOT dual-sport tires, which are plenty grippy for road work but leave much to be desired off-road, especially in sand or mud. That, however, is easily fixed, leaving only the bike’s outright performance as a downside. But its reasonable price point and otherwise excellent rideability make the KLX250 a strong choice in the quarter-liter dual-sport category nonetheless. A Camo version all but disappears in the woods.
Likes: Sound engine and handling, roomy cockpit, nice styling
Dislikes: Not enough beans for extended freeway or highway work
Verdict: A solid dual-sport starter bike