KAWASAKI KLR250 (1984-2001) Review

Published: 23 November 2006

"A fun, economical, long-lasting and undemanding dual purpose machine"

Kawasaki KLR250 motorcycle review - Side view

"A fun, economical, long-lasting and undemanding dual purpose machine"

  • At a glance
  • 249cc  -  26 bhp
  • 65 mpg  -  150 miles range
  • High seat height (855mm)
  • Suitable for A2 licence

Overall Rating 3 out of 5

Look up ‘easy going’ in any encyclopedia and you’ll see a cheesy picture of Kawasaki’s KLR250 beaming back at you. Kawasaki's KLR250 is a fun, economical, long-lasting and undemanding dual purpose machine. Most will undoubtedly have led hard lives as introductory green laners or farm bikes, but a little TLC and an easy throttle hand will keep a Kawasaki KLR250  oing for at least as long as people can read.

Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5

Since the last Kawasaki KLR250 came into the UK in 2001 it’s hard to make universal claims for handling – as many will be very tired. But with new fork springs and oil, a refreshed shock and greased linkages the Kawasaki KLR250 handles light trails just fine. The Kawasaki KLR250 was never intended as an enduro machine and its limitations are obvious off (and on) road. The brakes weren’t brilliant to start with, by now they’ll need a complete overhaul.

Engine 3 out of 5

The Kawasaki KLR250's liquid-cooled 4v SOHC motor is easy to kick over hot or cold. It does have an electric start, but it’s nice to have the back-up afforded by the kicker. Once fired up its quite smooth and the power’s just a smooth run up to the red line. It’s not as spunky as Honda’s CRM250 stroker, which claims another 10bhp, but it’s reliable enough for 50,000 miles without any major dramas. Avoid pillions.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

By-and-large the Kawasaki KLR250 is well made and intrinsically robust. Avoid anything that puffs blue smoke on start-up, anything that rattles and anyone who can’t tell you how to find the screw-adjusted valves (easy-peasy).

Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5

Kawasaki KLR250's will have had hard lives. But they are hardy wee beasties and should give plenty of riding pleasure. No Kawasaki KLR250 is worth more than a grand, though, even in the best of nick and even the oldest CRM MK 1 is a much better, more versatile buy. Find a Kawasaki KLR250 for sale.

Insurance group: 7 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 2 out of 5

On top of the kicker and e-start Kawasaki threw in a tacho for the KLR250, so you can watch the revs spin like billy-o. There are a few aftermarket exhausts made – Staintune and Big Gun to name two.

Owners' Reviews

2 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI KLR250 (1984-2001) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 3 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3.5 out of 5
Engine 2.5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3.5 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Does not rev, needs more gears for top end

27 July 2012 by lowflyingpilot

I have only ridden my KLR 250.I do not know how representative of KLR 250's my one is. But my bike background is KMX 125 & KMX200, KLR 650, BMW GS 650 Dakar. I downsized from the big bikes for better mpg. Having had the two stroke KMX 200 I know... Read more Kawasaki can produce pocket rockets. However I did not want to go 2 stroke again because I was sick of my clothes stinking of 2 stroke oil after 2 hours in the saddle. So the KLR 250 (I thought) was the way to go. The article is not accurate. ( I am writing this 27th July 2012, a previous poster says mistakes in the article have been rectified... they have not). There are mistakes. The KLR 250 does *not* have electric start. The engine (well my one which is old so I do not know how "normal" it is)..is straining by 8000rpm.It is not happy and balanced before the 8000 indicated. The absolute max rpm achieved on my one between gear shifts is 8,800rpm indicated. At this rpm it really is rough. (early valve bounce?) So why do Kawasaki redline it much higher than this? Maximum rpm (not blipping between gears)seems to be 8000rpm and maybe just up to 8500rpm downhill if you are lucky. As mine is the only KLR250 I have ridden I am not sure how representative this is generally. I think my one is not the best and tired. I like the (totally accurately recorded) 79.4mpg achieved riding all around Cornwall and Devon. Mixture of riding across Dartmoor (on the roads), A roads, and town centres (proper touring). With sections of flat out dual carriageway this was reduced to 62.4mpg. (Figures are imperial UK gallons) Plus points... starts easily (1st, 2nd or 3rd kick). Although I do triathlon training, and after all day training, kicking it then is the only time I have found it laboured. I find comfort reasonable. I have been in the saddle for 10 hours sometimes with stops for fuel and sandwiches. Sure it is not as comfortable as the BMW GS 650 Dakar where I can sit in the saddle all day and feel totally fresh at the end of it. It does feel more comfortable than my KMX's to be in the saddle for long periods. 64.2-79.4 mpg on open touring is the main plus point. Good analogue dials. Bad points:- Too low geared in top gear or needs more gears. It does not rev and on my one is too easy to sit at max rpm in top gear. Even on country lanes I often want another gear or two more than what I have. Does not rev to my satisfaction. Really 6500-7400 on mine feels the optimal sustained limit. Although I have sat at 8000rpm for sustained periods, but that does not feel "sweet". Sometimes indicator switch needs to be triple check its turned off, as sometimes hard to centralise on mine. Brakes could be sharper. ---------------------------------------------- The big brother KLR 650 was not that fast and too heavy. Hence I went for this 250 having owned 650's before. However now I want to check out the Suzuki DR 350 maybe as an "in between" that may have what I want. The lack of top end rpm and the need of additional top gears are the reasons why my rating is 3 stars across the board. If it revved and had more gears it would have ticked all my boxes. Summary good comfortable run about for short trips only. Great mpg. Needs to rev and have more gears though.

Overall Rating 3 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5
Engine 3 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
3 out of 5

KLR250

05 February 2012 by spondonste

Had one of these years ago. Because its a single there's a reasonable amount of power at low revs but there isn't much point in revving it out. Somebikes have had problems with cams pitting due to restricted oil flow to the head. If used at high revs... Read more for sustained periods of times it can burn oil and the end can is prone to rusting. It wheelies and stoppies fairly well and the bikes light so it can be thrown about easily. On the road the bikes ok but the lack of power makes overtaking at anything other than lower speeds a long winded effort. Handling is fairly good but the 21" front wheel limits decent road bias tyre choice. Its got adequate power for green laning and this is probably its niche. For those not wanting to bomb around it's a good choice and fuel economy is very imrpessive.

Overall Rating 3 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 2 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
Read all 2 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1984
Year discontinued 2001
Original price -
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 7 of 17
Annual road tax £38
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 26 bhp
Max torque 18 ft-lb
Top speed 86 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 20.4 secs
Average fuel consumption 65 mpg
Tank range 150 miles
Specification
Engine size 249cc
Engine type 4v single, 6 gears
Frame type Tubular steel cradle
Fuel capacity 11 litres
Seat height 855mm
Bike weight 117kg
Front suspension None
Rear suspension Preload
Front brake 212mm disc
Rear brake Drum
Front tyre size 3.00 x 21
Rear tyre size 4.60 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

1984: Kawasaki KLR250 introduced and ran virtually unchanged except for cosmetics for 17 years.
2001: Kawasaki KLR250 discontinued in the UK.

Other versions

None.

Photo Gallery

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  • Kawasaki KLR250 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki KLR250 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki KLR250 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki KLR250 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki KLR250 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki KLR250 motorcycle review - Top view
  • Kawasaki KLR250 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki KLR250 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki KLR250 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki KLR250 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki KLR250 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki KLR250 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki KLR250 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki KLR250 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki KLR250 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki KLR250 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki KLR250 motorcycle review - Top view
  • Kawasaki KLR250 motorcycle review - Riding
  • Kawasaki KLR250 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki KLR250 motorcycle review - Side view
  • Kawasaki KLR250 motorcycle review - Side view