There are still many dirt riders who understand there are some advantages to modern four-strokes yet appreciate the fact that two-strokes also have their advantages. Then there are those who don't care what four-strokes have to offer; they simply have a passion for two-stroke power. Even if you belong in the latter group, you can be grateful for four-strokes. For 2004, it appears that all the brands developed their two-strokes under the premise that they had to have a good two-stroke engine and it must be competitive on the same track as four-strokes. As a result, we are seeing some truly great two-stroke powerplants in the newly arrived models.That observation holds true with the fresh reincarnations of the Kawasaki KX125 and KX250. The green guys went full force into improving the new-for-2003 KX125. It was the first time in many years that the KX125 was such a major player in Dirt Rider's 125cc MX shootout (Jan. '03). With a year gone by and many changes and improvements undertaken, the KX125 is once again an impressive effort.The story of the KX250 is much the same. The '03 engine left us dissatisfied. It gave us a taste of its potential with a fat midrange pull, but the overall hamburger was diluted with a soy protein patty. That's fine for vegans, but even vegetarian motoheads demand motors with meat. The '04 KX250 has returned to the days of big bottom-end power. It hits hard off the bottom and pulls smoothly through the midrange before revving out well.In addition to receiving many changes to improve power, the KX125 and KX250 gained durability, and the rider compartment was adjusted to be a bit more comfortable. Both bikes basked in the attention of suspension engineers, and under that scrutiny grew a new (for Kawasaki but blatantly Yamaha-like in appearance) type of linkage anchored to the swingarm rather than the frame and a much-revised 48mm Kayaba fork.On TrackThe KXs received a serious overhaul in the rider compartment and suspension and chassis departments. Our favorite change is the 8mm-taller seat with its gripper cover. The foam change gets the rider in a more natural position, and the gripper cover holds him in the improved position via added buttocks traction. Along with the raised seat height, the footpegs are 3mm higher. The changes seem small, but they provide a noticeable improvement in rider comfort.When we first received news of the revised '04 machines, the tech writers were obviously most excited with the swingarm-mounted linkage and its contribution to what was claimed to be vastly improved suspension action. Our initial testing revealed that the suspension is indeed improved. In fact, the suspension on the 125 works great. It tracks and handles similarly to '03 KX125s but seems to be more comfortable at speed over choppy ground and feels more planted and surefooted than ever before. Both the suspension and the less-cramped rider compartment cooperate to improve cornering characteristics.The KX250 suspension feels balanced, too, and generally tracks well, yet it is more touchy about setup for the fast and rough parts of our test tracks. Part of the problem could have been that the 250 was just too soft for our testers. The '03 KX250 was one of the best-handling 250s in our shootout (Dec. '02), but the bike seems to have lost some of that universal appeal with the '04 model. Of course, slow motorcycles almost always feel as if they handle well, and the '04 inherited a much more muscular engine. Perhaps that is the difference.Whatever the case, the '03 KX250 was somewhat softly suspended and lacked bottoming resistance. For both KX models these facets of suspension performance have been bolstered, but the 250 still feels soft enough to ride off-road in a pinch. Our fastest and heaviest riders needed stiffer settings.Kawasaki may have made the suspension sound like big news, but when we rode the bikes, the big-time boost in engine performance was what we noticed first. The KX125 was perhaps slightly more impressive since it started with such a pleasant motor in '03. For '04, it has lots of power off-idle with plenty of strong, torquey midrange pull. Novice to intermediate-level riders will love the bottom-end muscle and the midrange hit. The top-end power is strong, but the KX also has good overrev and doesn't go annoyingly flat too early. Keeping the engine in the power sweet spot takes little thought or effort. The KX has the oomph to short-shift and not fall off the pipe. Flat, slick corners are usually a big handicap on a 125, but the KX has so much roll-on power that it gives you a feel of confidence when accelerating through flat, packed corners.Our '03 KX250 stayed around long enough for us to get a good feel for its bolt-on hop-up potential. We liked an FMF Fatty pipe and silencer, since the exhaust system came with a power-valve shim that really helped the midrange. The stock '04 engine feels far better anywhere in the rpm range than that modified '03 ever did. The engine not only is faster but adds more meat to the power. The bottom power is especially strong. Short-shifting the new 250 is the best option, but the engine is strong throughout the rpm range. You will be happily surprised at how much torque the KX250 cranks out.As for features, the Kawasaki has plenty of them. One of the noticeable changes was the graphics. Kawasaki heard the cries for graphics that don't self-destruct at the sight of a knee brace. This year, they're not just Bold New Graphics but are thicker and designed to have a gripper feel to them. After hours of knee braces rubbing against the radiator shrouds, the graphics were still intact and looked as though they may hold up a good long time. Kawasaki made a number of changes aimed at improving the durability of its product line, and the effort was well-spent. Our '03 KX250 got ridden more than any other staff bike, and it went home to Kawasaki feeling good--and it took only one top end rebuild during the year to keep it feeling fresh. That is a huge improvement over past years' models, and the '04 KXs promise to be even better. Add higher-quality parts to the list of improvements--more enhanced comfort, supple suspension and magnified power--and you have good reason to part with some green to go green!