2006 Kawasaki KXF 250 - First Look & Review - Dirt Rider

When Jesse Ziegler and Joe Mckimmy returned back to the office after the KXF intro, they were babbling fools. No they hadn't been out drinking after a lavish moto intro with Kawasaki at the secluded Castillo Ranch; they were punch-drunk in love with the latest entrant into the 250cc four-stroke aluminum frame club. They were ready to run to the computer and type out the web impression, but as a level-headed boss , I intervened, "It's really that good?"So we held off, in the name of safety, and took the bike out for a second day at Perris Raceway just to make sure. Well, I'm now typing this first impression in the same awe and stupor. Kawasaki has really kicked the level up a notch. You can get all the improvements, innovations and tech mumbo-jumbo later. This is just about how it hit us on the track.Plain and simple, this KX's new aluminum frame and Showa suspension do a really good job of working just like any other bike in its class with the same combination. There is an incredible plushness, especially in the fork. Considering we weren't fans of last year's front end, that one change improved the bike quite a bit. The rear end is a perfect match, and after two days of riding the only change was to the shock's preload for different weight riders. The new chassis obviously gives the bike a lighter and more agile feel, some improved bite on the front wheel, and better traction on the rear—especially in all of the rough stuff we took it through. Overall, it retained that good KX stability, and livened it up.As for the engine, it's been juicin'. We didn't do a straight-up back-to-back with our 2005 bike, but right away it was clear there was a significant power increase across the board. The new bike still has the typical KXF/RMZ characteristic on delivery, meaning it is just a little less free running than some of the other 250cc four-strokes out there, but it is deliberate. It pulls third gear better than I remember the old bike doing, in slower turns as well. Being brand new, it feels like the motor will loosen up and run even stronger, and get a little looser in the shifting where our bike was tight. The clutch adjustment was pretty important here as well.Through the curiosity factor alone, as well as everyone wanting to feel the new performance, the rest of the staff will be lining up to ride the KXF to get a really solid impression for the First Test in an upcoming issue of Dirt Rider.