Kawasaki unleashed it significantly revamped 2020 KX250 to the media for a full day of riding at the Castillo Ranch MX in California. We have more days lined up to ride the bike at other tracks shortly, but here is our quick first impression of the obviously greener and, yes, even meaner KX250.
First Ride On The 2020 Kawasaki KX250
Letting the 2020 Kawasaki KX250 Rip
Besides making sure there is no doubt that you’re riding a Kawasaki with all that green plastic now (with distinctive KX graphics that are in-molded), Kawasaki made many internal changes to the bike for the new model year, focusing most of its attention on the motor and suspension departments, especially the suspension. As for the engine, it was all about more top-end power.
Getting the new KX250 in and out of the turns seemed a little easier than before, thanks to the improved forks and updated shock. It has a more balanced feel, and it stays more planted in the rutted turns, as well.
Up front, Kawi ditched the former Showa SSF (Single Function Fork) fork for a more traditional KYB fork with dual coil springs. The overall spring rate is stiffer than the previous model. The fork offers both compression (top of fork legs) and rebound (bottom) damping adjustability. Our expert-level test rider, who weighs 170 pounds, found the fork to be a significant improvement over the previous SSF fork but also found the springs to be a little soft for his ultra-aggressive riding style and taste. Overall, though, the KX’s suspension, right out of the crate, should fit a wide range of riders.
The KX250 now has one of the largest-diameter rear disc brake in its class. It’s grown from 240mm to 250mm, and the rear brake master cylinder comes right off the KX450. There’s also an over-size 270mm disc up front that is carried over from the 2019 model. The shape of the disc, however, is different. Needless to say, we had no issues slowing down the KX.
A new lower front engine mount eliminates the former through-bolt design to a stud bolt design, which Kawasaki claims alters frame rigidity, thus improving the feel of the bike on the track.
We wouldn’t be entirely wrong saying that the KX250’s engine is all new. Kawasaki made numerous changes to it all in the name of finding more high-revving top-end power. For one, it has a larger bore and a shorter stroke now, going from a 77.0 x 53.6mm to a 78.0 x 52.2mm configuration. Exhaust and intake valves are larger (and lighter) for greater flow to improve high rpm performance. Like the KX450, the KX250 now uses a finger-follower valve actuation system—technology borrowed from the company’s WorldSBK department. This design enables for a higher rev limit and more aggressive cams. There is also an all-new piston design and updates to the crank. Added to the mix is a larger throttle body (44mm versus 43mm), and a straighter intake channel via a revised airbox. Kawasaki claims an approximately three horsepower gain.
It pretty much goes without saying that the exhaust system has been revised, too. The headerpipe is reshaped and the muffler is shorter. As you can see, however, there is still a manual kick-start system. Kawasaki chose not to join the E-start parade yet but to instead focus on breathing more firepower into the bike rather than making it start easier—and to, perhaps, increase weight. Like last year, the KX is a little on the hard side to fire up; sometimes it will on the first kick, other times, for no apparent reason, on the fifth or sixth kick. Once it does light, though, you’ll certainly know it has. We can’t decide whether it’s louder than last year’s bike or not. Either way, this bike turns heads when it comes to life.
We found the new Kawasaki to indeed have noticeably more power—from midrange on up for sure. Our test rider said he could certainly feel the difference but still wished for more revs on top, but we’ve never met a professional motocross racer who didn’t wish for that out of a 250F. For most riders, however, the new KX250 should do the trick. There is a bit of a price to pay for all the screaming power, though—slightly less bottom-to-mid pull. Still, our test rider had no problem getting out of the corners quickly or asking it to carry him over that lengthy tabletop right out of a turn—as long as you don’t let the engine fall off the pipe. Momentum and RPMs are your friends on this bike. Just keep the “Rs” in the sweet spot, and you’ll be fine.
We left the Castillo Ranch quite confident Kawasaki delivered the goods with this bike. It’s noticeably faster when you grab a handful of throttle, and the suspension is much improved, thanks to the new KYB 48mm fork and updated KYB shock. Super fast riders might want more spring, but for most of us, Kawasaki seems to have gotten it in the ballpark when it comes to showroom floor settings. This bike has tons of adjustability in the suspension depart—not to mention, ergo department, too. Handlebars position is super adjustable, and footpeg height is still changeable, also.
Despite all these updates, the 2020 Kawasaki KX250 increased just $50 in price, with a new $7,799 MSRP. And Kawasaki pledges to continue its commitment when it comes to trackside support, KX racer support, and Kawasaki contingency programs, which are some of the best in the business.