KAWASAKI KLX250 (2009 - on) Review
- Novice-friendly trailie
- Soft performance inspires confidence
- Aggressive enduro styling
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£70|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The Kawaaki KLX 250 is a tried and tested machine and has been around since ‘06 with its latest upgrade in ‘09. Well-built with a strong engine, the bike does its best work in the bottom to mid-range.
The KLX is lightweight and narrow, making it easy to handle for new riders. Off-road the Kawasaki is very capable, the suspension is soft enough to absorb bumps with ease and feels more composed than the Honda CRF250L But this certainly doesn’t warrant the additional £849 asking price.
In 2016 the Kawasaki KLX 250 was given a major update to keep it current among the handful of 250 trailies still on sale.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
The standard dual purpose tyres are fine on the road, though struggle with very loose or wet surfaces. The suspension is very soft and pitches back and forth, though it means it deals with potholes very well. Heavier riders will need to up the preload to stop the suspension bottoming out off-road. Again, more suited to sedate off-roading rather than hammering around an enduro course.
EngineNext up: Reliability
The liquid-cooled single dates back 20 years, and feels like it. Power is modest, but there’s no danger of it ever catching you out. 70mph is just about flat out – it seems Kawasaki restricts the engine in the upper gears, as it seems to lose its ability to rev in fifth and sixth. You have to be very brutal with it off-road to get the wheel-spinning, and combined with the whisper-quiet standard exhaust it won’t offend rambler as you cross the countryside.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
From a distance the KLX is a smart machine, but look closely and the details is cheap. It doesn’t take much off-road use to damage the finish either – boots rub paint through and everything quickly looks scruffy. MCN’s test bike suffered two mystery electrical faults too – though that’s likely to be unique to this bike rather than a widespread issue.
Our Kawasaki KLX 250 owners' reviews show a mixed bag of opinions, ranging from highly positive to disappointingly negative. The overall score is about average, but it's worth reading them before taking the plunge and buying one.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
If bike prices hadn’t been forced up by the poor exchange rate, the KLX could have been a bargain, but at a quid under £4000 it’s a pricey way to get a soft, basic trail bike. It’s hard to recommend it to anyone – commuter riders would be better off with bikes like Kawasaki’s own Ninja 250R. Off-road riders will be happier with something more up to rigorous riding. The KLX is a pleasant bike – but it’s hard to identify who should buy one.
Group test: Honda CRF250L vs Kawasaki KLX 250 vs AJP PR5 vs Yamaha TT250R.
First published 10 April 2013 by Andy Davidson
The trusty 250cc trailie obediently sat at motorcycling’s side for years. Ready, resilient, hard-wearing and undemanding, willing to shepherd new riders into the fold or accompany the experienced on adventures they wouldn’t risk their pride and joy on. Its reward? Years of neglect by owners and manufacturers. Honda – with its CRF250L – breathed life back into biking’s St Bernard. But has the 250 trailie still got life in it? There was only one way to find out: take it on an trip where bikes with more to lose would never dare – to the end of the green lane, and beyond. We pit the Honda CRF250L against the Kawasaki KLX 250, AJP PR5 and Yamaha TT250R.
The MCN Verdict
The 250s are brilliantly versatile machines, just as capable of delivering on adventure as their bigger-capacity brothers. The Honda narrowly emerges on top, besting the Kawasaki as the most accomplished machine. Both bikes fit the bill well on and off-road, the Honda slightly favouring on-road, the Kawasaki off it. The Honda has the strongest motor and the fact that it is three years newer than the Kawasaki really shows in ride quality and styling. The AJP was the cheapest and lightest bike on test but also had the worst fuel economy. It’s clearly more off-road biased than the rest, and belongs on green lanes. The Yamaha was on test as a benchmark bike, and a nod to the secondhand market. Eight years older than the rest, its age didn’t show, and you should be able to get a good one from around £1500. What you see is what you get with these machines; they don’t take themselves too seriously, and they will take you anywhere. They acted as our key to another world.
The KLX is a simple machine – the LCD dash give the basics, the only storage is a small canvas bag on the tail and the seat isn’t really up to big miles or two-up use – it has pillion pegs, but they’re a token gesture and the bike struggles. But that’s fine – it doesn’t pretend to be a sophisticated machine. As long as you’re not expecting R1200GS levels of kit, then it does exactly what it promises.
|Engine type||DOHC 4v liquid-cooled single cylinder four-stroke, six gears, wet clutch|
|Frame type||Steel perimeter|
|Fuel capacity||7.7 litres|
|Front suspension||Compression damping|
|Rear suspension||Preload, compression damping, rebound damping|
|Front brake||250mm disc, twin-piston sliding caliper.|
|Rear brake||240mm disc, single-piston caliper|
|Front tyre size||3.00-21|
|Rear tyre size||4.60-18|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||60 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£47|
|Annual service cost||£70|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two year unlimited mileage|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||22 bhp|
|Max torque||15 ft-lb|
|Top speed||72 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||120 miles|
Model history & versions
2009: New model
2011: KLX250 White introduced [£4,539]
Owners' reviews for the KAWASAKI KLX250 (2009 - on)
7 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI KLX250 (2009 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£70|
Annual servicing cost: £60
Easy riding trail bike, not manic and with a few well chosen modifications ( clutch switch link, cam mod, kdx snorkel, custom seat) a tractable comfortable explorer for the countryside. Purchased second hand for a good price including supermoto wheels (never fitted) has been totally reliable, would buy a new one (KLX300) but Kawasaki uk doesn't think we are worthy. I'm an older gentleman and done the big bike scene, grew out of that, now exploration of the back lanes is king. There is a dearth of choice for a low cost, decent trailie in the UK now sadly, would help to get more people on bikes if there was at least minimal choice available.
Decent enough suspension when adjusted for personal preference, braking no issues
Needed mods to get the best from it, but ok as standard if that floats your boat.
No issues whatsoever bar routine servicing
Everything you need, fuel gauge would be good along with bigger tank though.
Buying experience: Private purchase, took time to get the bargain I wanted
link out the clutch switch and release the beast!
More adjustable than a much adjusted thing, tons better than something with a "H" on the tank...
could use a few more ponies, the chassis and suspension easily outperform the motor, but link the clutch and it boosts power in the upper gears (search for more info, it changes the map a bit).
65mpg + easy servicing, bullet proof motor, what's not to like?
Could do with heated grips and a rack as standard.
Buying experience: private purchase, as it's all second hand for these.
Before reading my review note that I’m a novice and have no experience competing in off-road events of any kind. I ride for pleasure and bought my second hand 2011 KLX250 for green-lane riding, and to replace a 1980s Honda CRM (which was stolen from my garage). I put a few thousand miles on the CRM, and have clocked up close to 3k on the KLX (I’d guess 50%+ of all those miles were off-road – i.e. green lanes and local quarries). If the KLX is the first off-road bike you’ve owned, you’ll find it relatively light, quite agile and pretty robust. However, for riders with experience of bikes like KTM250EXCs etc., I should imagine the KLX will feel ludicrously flat, bland and heavy. But such riders will probably never ride a KLX. Instead, it’s far more likely the bike will end up in the hands of those looking for a machine to take out onto their local legal lanes, where the going will probably be good-to-soft and comparatively manageable in general. There’ll most likely be little in the way of rock-hopping, firing out of berms and cresting high-speed woops. No – a British KLX is probably going to spend most of its off-road duties coasting along pleasant, mostly verdant trails in second or third gear. Generally at 25-30mph, circa 4-5k revs. So a soft-tuned, tractable character is desirable – which is just as well, because the KLX doesn’t really do feisty and flighty. Coming off my old but still very dependable CRM, I first had to acclimatise to the KLX’s engine braking. The free-revving, free-wheeling habits of the Honda were replaced – initially at least – by pitching and yawing as my careless throttle hand tried to learn less lazy habits. But this happened soon enough, and I quickly started to bond with the easy-going, well-made Kawasaki. Did I miss the more characterful CRM – with its smoky blue fury up top and its mellow, comfortable obedience down low? Yes. That was a rare bike, remembered fondly by all those who owned one. But if the KLX was one-dimensional and congenitally docile, it felt similar to the CRM in terms of height, weight and immediate rideability. In fact, it seemed perhaps a bit lighter and dare I say it, a tad more accurate. But that’s to be expected of a tight, young bike against an older one that’s had years – decades – of enjoyment wrung out of it. Regarding the KLX’s road-manners, you’ll have to adjust to its docility and soft-centre. The trick is to short-shift, feeling for that little bit of torque at 3k – whip it through the box and arrive quite promptly at 55mph in top. It’ll sit there all day, content and settled, taking the occasional sip of petrol when necessary. Which isn’t all that often. Overtakes will want a bit of forward planning – but that’s a given when riding a 4t 250cc single. Yes, you can rag the living nads off it – but it really is a case of diminishing returns, and what power has been served up initially is pretty much all that’s on offer. Whilst there may be a little more higher up, it ain’t going to amount to much. Better to relax into it, having ridden on the back of those early little blobs of torque. OEM tyres are road-friendly and the bike likes them, will corner surprisingly well on them, but needs re-shodding for mud-plugging. That’ll mean Michelin AC10s then. Once knobbles are in play, the KLX’s polite road manners inevitably start to strain as the bars flap around and the bike wallows and jitters around corners. Such foibles can readily be ridden around, though, and – once off road – the KLX will frolic like a foal on the AC10s. Ally Renthals should also be considered as replacements for the steel, braced OEM bars – especially if decent, armoured handguards are going to be used. Such guards will not only offer good hand protection, but will also prevent branches and hedgerows levering the front brake on. Getting good guards on with the stock bars can be a monstrous faff – hence flatter, unbraced Renthals. Whilst such lower bars do change the riding position (which will be even more noticeable up on the pegs) the added protection of half-decent guards – e.g. Acerbis X-strongs - does help to off-set this change in the bike’s ergos. I personally haven’t felt the need to fit risers to bring the bars back up – though I suppose fussier owners might (assuming such items are available). At any rate, the rigidity of the ally Renthals may feel a little harsher on the hands compared to the more flexible (even though braced) stock steel bars – but then again, this does probably contribute to more accurate handling. Particularly off-road. A further mod – the inevitable end-can. Chuck a Delkovic on there. No need to spend more than that. It’ll sound shite for the most part – but at least it’ll be audible, and seem like the bike is powered by an actual engine, rather than a herd of hamsters on an exercise wheel. Most of the time the resultant tone is rattley and harsh – but there is a slightly mellower thump in there somewhere. Plus of course, the bike will lose a bit of weight – probably more than has been incurred by the addition of hand guards. One other item to consider is a more meaningful bash plate. Expect to pay between £50 and £100, and add half a kilo. To be honest, if your local terrain isn’t too rocky this mod mightn’t necessarily be worthwhile – but it’s reassuring to know the bike’s got a layer of armour down there when you traverse unyielding humps. And at least the additional weight is carried low. Some concluding comments: The KLX’s finish is good, and I’m tempted to say better than the CRF250L. The Kawasaki’s swing arm in particular seems to have a thick layer of enamel baked on, and even a bit of flake in the paint. Good. Plastics aren’t so great and don’t prove overly resilient to scratching – these can soon age the bike a bit, but can be freshened slightly by the application of one or two well-chosen stickers (much cheaper to replace than the plastics themselves, of course). Handling-wise, the KLX is glad to get off road – especially once on AC10s. It finds and keeps a line quite effortlessly and is more than happy to plod along a rutty trail, shrugging off abrupt surface deviations - the bike also has a decent snout for sniffing out a better line and can locate the more navigable parts of a trail before you’ve asked. Such obedient tractability is never unwelcome, and being able to leave the bike to do some of the work while you grab a sneaky sit down after a few hours up on the pegs is great. You’ll probably thank the little KLX for such courtesies. Summarily what seems like a dull bike on-road proves to be a friendly, competent and relatively eager ride when the tarmac runs out. I like this bike a lot and unless competitive riding is in the offing, it’s enough for most (even if they’ll insist otherwise). Easy to pick up when dropped, remaining pretty unflustered through the gnarls, and feeling robust and well-made at all times, the KLX is easily as good as the heavier, dearer CRF250L.
Version: 2016 Fuel Injection
Annual servicing cost: £100
Have had this bike for just under two weeks brilliant little machine, keep on top of the cleaning and it will look good i bought it from new 0% finance £99 deposit 36 £100 a month at £3750 on the road, so i got a bargain. I use this mainly to get to work and popping out to friends or shops and on the weekends i go off the beaten track on green lanes, I've upped and stiffened the rear suspension which is adjustable which is great if you carry a few Ib's extra but what it isn't is a full on MX machine ready to race, the suspension is soft and does dive under breaking if applied harshly i tend to use 60/40 both back and front to mitigate this,it's no race machine 100mph bike, but give it some welly on the throttle and it can be quite perky and for 90 odd miles for 5liters of petrol it's cheap to run and it put's a grin on my face and i like the looks.
comfy enough on short journeys wouldn't want to do any long haul jobs as seat can be a bit hard after an hour lol, but then again you can do anything on any bike these days bigger fuel tank and an iron but i recon you could do some serious miles, light handling fun and easy to handle great fun
give it a bit of beans and it's quite perky it's not going to break any speed records but give it a handful and it goes pretty well has surprised my friends on how quick it picks up you have to work it and in the right gear can pick up nicely.
90 miles to the fuel lite comes on and that's only 5 ltrs used could do another 20 miles i recon but i always re fuel when the light comes on
Buying experience: great local dealer has been brilliant first service was free only had to pay for oil and filter very helpful adjusted the suspension for me as i carry a little extra weight than the avarage bloke
Annual servicing cost: £50
If you understand what this bike is and what it's for, you'll find it's pretty much perfect. You do need to be quite tall though, at 5'9" I can touch both feet but can only put one foot flat. I've heard in reviews the idea of being low-powered, but understand this is for a reason - reliability. All sorts of mods exist to pep it up, up to and including a 350cc big bore kit, but that rather loses the point of what it's for. It's a true dual-purpose bike, that will poodle around town or country lanes with ease, yet will respond with a silly and eager grin once you go where the roads are rough or non-existent. Is it for 40 foot jumps on a motocross track? No. Is it for 100mph on tarmac? No. Is it for both on road and off road, with goat-like agility with an easy, loping stride? YES!
Soft, plush and comfortable, but the stock seat is a bit too slim. Aftermarket wider ones are available, or try the Coleman ATV seat covers. It can nose-dive a bit under heavy braking but that's expected considering the 10" or more of travel. Unlike it's main rival the Honda CRF250L, the suspension on the KLX is adjustable.
Smooth power, though it doesn't always sound smooth, easy starting, great traction off-road, it inspires confidence and just gets you there. On the street it's punchy enough but obviously not fast on motorways. American riders get a restricted version that does around 83mph, so I'm not sure why the MCN guys say 72 for the more powerful UK version? Still tight and running in?
One of the reasons I got one was friends of mine use them off road her in Borneo, where the twin radiators and supple suspension allow them to survive where "sportier" bikes quickly die.
Expensive for me, as I had to buy 2 to get 1, due to 100% import tax here. They are cheap to run though and parts are a tiny fraction of exotics such as KTM (and it rarely needs any)
There's no fuel gauge, though it does flash the word "FUEL" and an orange light when you're running low - which you will do, as it has the same stupidly small 2.0 gallon (7 litre) fuel tank as the KLX150cc. Happily a 3.0 gallon aftermarket tank is available. The toolbox is hopelessly exposed, meaning you'll take the tools out and not have them when you need them. Locked under the seat would be vastly better.
The KLX250 is/was my first bike, and boy do I wish i just got a restricted 600 instead :P It's fast becoming a chore to ride because it feel so damn sluggish, its light on the suspension and handles alright but the engine is that bloody slow. It revs nicely, and it just about gets by off-road but I'm finding it a tad slow as a commuter. This wouldnt be so bad, but any upgrades you put on it do literally nothing to help it, it accelerates a tad faster, but theres still no top end. It was £4,700 when I got it (Breand new) and a year and a bit old its already dropped £1,700 in depreciation. The only good side I can give about this bike is it's insurance prices. For my first year riding after my test is was £1000, where as the 250 ninja was £4,000 minimum for fully comp. It's stupid I know, but quite frankly I can't wait to get a restricted 600 once my insurance runs out for this year :D A reliable bike, but the performance really lets it down... P.s. It actually sounds like a lawn mower, no joke!
Great bike for the money. Mine was bought new, and after running in the engine loosened up nicely. It's great on the road, and handles the green lanes as well as any other more expensive bike. Yes the power is a bit low but the bike will not chuck you about. The engine just keeps plodding on with low maintenance costs as well. The fuel injection provides smooth power delivery and the bike is comfy too. It's a great bike to get on and just ride, it looks good and sips fuel. Yes it's no WR or KTM but it's a fraction of the price with low running costs.