Well I’ve owned my mighty Kawasaki KLX250S for a little while so I reckon it’s time for a thorough review. In this review I’ll cover the engine, transmission, suspension, brakes, fuel range, things I like and things I don’t like.
Just some details on the bike, it is a 2009 model and has 8138 miles (just run in for a KLX!). It also has a few mods, a FMF pipe, an opened up air box, upgraded handle bars, hand guards, a Seat Concepts seat and a rear luggage rack. Pretty standard mods really. The KLX250S is pretty well unchanged since 2009, bar the edition of EFI.
The main type of riding I do is, well dual sport riding! For me that usually involves a mixture of back roads and gravel roads (minimum 25 minutes riding) to get to off road sections. I ride the bike hard, but I don’t thrash it. Now, into the review!
The engine is certainly no powerhouse, but it does suit the bike. On the road, it could certainly use more power. Overtaking on back roads can certainly make the old ass pucker, but off road it actually works quite well. You won’t have any trouble keeping up with mates in the scrub, providing you really rev it out.
Where the bike is let down is a lack of torque and low end grunt (it is a 250cc 4 stroke after all). This becomes an issue in the bush when you want to lift the front wheel over logs and obstacles. One thing I will say though, the bike can lug, doesn’t stall easy and has great traction. This makes it especially good in slippery conditions and hill climbs.
I like the 6 speed gear box, it shifts very smoothly and the ratios are well pretty well spread. I’ve kept the gearing stock because it suits the style of riding I do. It’s not perfect, first gear could be slightly shorter for off road work (it’s about right on road), but then 6th wouldn’t be tall enough. I think 6th gear could be slightly taller; there isn’t a lot of difference between 5th and 6th. But then you would have a problem where the bike would struggle to pull it due to a lack of power.
The bike will sit on 70mph all day, but much more and it’s a struggle. I generally take the smaller highways on trips where she’ll sit on 60-65mph all day.
Fuel economy wise, I get 60mpg and that seems to be pretty among KLX250S owners. So with a 2 gallon tank, you have a 120 mile tank range.
The KLX has surprisingly good suspension! For a budget bike, there isn’t much to complain about here at all. Both the front and rear offer a smooth ride, on and off road. I’ve got into some, ‘’Oh f*#k’’ situations and the Kwaka has just soaked it up with no issues.
When you push the bike hard, it can and will bottom out, especially at higher speeds. For me at 185lbs and the pace I ride at, some harder springs should fix this.
I haven’t touched the clickers yet as I’ve been really happy with how it’s been performing. I’ve noticed the bike could use some more ground clearance. It scraps pretty easy over logs and obstacles.
I like the brakes all round. The front brake is really good off road and has a solid amount of power. On road, it could use more, but is adequate. The rubber brake lines can get a bit squishy when you work them hard, but I’m not sure I’d bother changing them.
The rear there is solid and works well, no complaints.
Something to be wary of is the front brake line needs to be rerouted. Why? Because when you brake, it kinks the brake line and causes the front brake to lock up. I learnt this the hard way recently with some crashes, good times! The fix is simple; move the plastic grommet that threads the front brake line to inside the fork leg instead of outside.
Things I like
One of the main things I like about the KLX is that it’s just so versatile. It doesn’t do anything great, but does nearly everything well. It’s easy to ride for long periods and doesn’t tire you out.
The second thing I like is there are plenty of aftermarket parts. Exhausts, tanks, seats, foot pegs, racks…you name it, it’s out there. On top of that, you can get them new or second hand. I was lucky in that my bike came with everything that’s on it. Oh, and it only cost me $2000! Bargain.
Third up are the stock luggage points. On the rear sub frame there are two on either side and on the lower sub frame there is another. This certainly makes things a butt load easier when you want to strap on some camping gear. There is also a helmet lock which I find handy for when you need to grab something from the shops or have a beer at the pub.
The last thing I like is the build quality. The KLX250S is built like a tank! All the fasteners are good quality and so are the plastics and switches. This bike is built to last.
Things I Don’t Like
I already mentioned earlier that I think it’s underpowered, so I won’t touch on that again. The bike is cold blooded though. It’s a common problem among KLX250’s. I think its carb related as the EFI models don’t do it. I can confirm it’s pretty annoying in the Illinois climate with our brutal winters.
The fuel range, it’s just not enough. The bike really needs another gallon, especially for the style of bike it is. Another gallon would give you roughly 180 miles fuel range which would be just about right.
The KLX feels good to throw side to side through single track and on the street. When the going gets slow, it becomes a handful because it’s simply too heavy. This coupled with the lack of grunt make the bike tiring in technical terrain. Realistically the bike needs to lose at least 10lbs, 20 would be better.
The bars are too low. I’m 6ft and have to crouch when standing. This becomes tiring and is pretty uncomfortable. Normally I’d just chuck a set of bar risers on the bike and be done with it, but some of the cables aren’t long enough then! I know some people have got certain sizes to work; I’ll have to do more research on this to see what I can do.
The foot pegs are too small. For street riding they are ok and I’m happy they are proper steel pegs without crappy rubber inserts. But off road, I struggle with how small they are. Yes this is an easy fix, but when other bikes in the competition have better pegs stock, there’s not excuse.
Last up is the lack of a bash plate. I know most bikes don’t come with a bash plate stock, but the KLX’s motor really sticks out on the sides and is venerable to rocks and damage.
Should You Buy One?
If you are thinking about getting a KLX250S, yeah I think you should. The green meanie is a solid bike that does lots of things well and nothing great. Just be wary, if you are looking for an excitement machine, this isn’t it. You’re not going to be on the back wheel out of corners and blasting your mates.
I got one because its suits the riding I’m doing and they are cheap AF. Would I get one if I had more money? Probably not, I’d get a DRZ400.
But the bike has good bones. The suspension is good and it’s built like a tank. With some mods, it will take you pretty much anywhere and be bloody reliable while doing it.