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Kawasaki Brings Back KLX250 for 2018 – Now With Fuel Injection

After a three year hiatus, Kawasaki is bringing the KLX250 dual sport back to the U.S. market, now with fuel injection, rather than a traditional carburetor, feeding the 249 cc single. For those of you who like to pretend you are in the military hunting down the enemy, there is the KLX250 “Camo Edition”. For a mere $200 (the Standard model is priced at $5,349, while you can go Camo for $5,549), you gain invisibility while behind enemy lines.

In all seriousness, with recent investments by Honda in the same category, the small displacement dual sport market in the U.S. is apparently picking up. We tested the original carbureted version of the KLX250 back in 2009, and found it quite capable off-road. We will be sending our youthful editor to test the new model in a couple of weeks.  Stay tuned for our report (unless he disappears forever on the Camo Edition).

Here is the press release from Kawasaki:

The KLX®250 motorcycle is built to take riders to new places. Borrowing notes from the KX™ line and Kawasaki’s racing heritage, this 2018 street legal, dual-purpose motorcycle is designed to cut through the busy traffic of an inner city or climb up a back trail to see the city from a beautiful view. The long awaited return of one of Kawasaki’s most versatile motorcycles, the 2018 KLX250.

  • New Fuel Injection system
  • 43mm 16-way adjustable front suspension
  • Uni-Trak 16-way adjustable rear suspension
  • New Digital Camo offering
  • Stainless-steel exhaust
  • Sharp, aggressive bodywork

The 2018 KLX250 motorcycle receives a new fuel injection system for improved starting at all elevations, fuel efficiency and performance. The KLX250 motorcycle is the ideal platform for riders seeking a less expensive, lightweight dual purpose motorcycle that is capable off-road.

STYLING

  • KX™-inspired two-piece radiator shroud
  • Off-road fenders
  • Sharp taillight design for increased visibility
  • Digital instrumentation

The KLX250 features aggressive styling that is sure to turn heads whether riding in the city or off the beaten path. Upon first glance you’ll notice the aggressive front cowl, front fender and two-bulb headlamp design. A sharp taillight further contributes to the aggressive styling. Taking cues from the KX family, the KLX250 motorcycle features two-piece radiator shrouds and KX-style fork guards, which help protect the inner tubes from rocks and brush.

An all-digital instrument console gives the rider at-a-glance information. Features include a digital bar-graph tachometer, digital speedometer, clock and dual trip meters. Fuel-injection and low-fuel warning lamps are also included.

Dual high-capacity Denso radiators like those used on KX motocross bikes deliver superior cooling efficiency and contribute to space and weight savings. The radiators are very slim and feature tightly packed cores and a fin design for excellent heat dispersion.

ENGINE

  • New Fuel Injection (FI) system
  • Stainless-steel exhaust system

The engine of the KLX250 motorcycle is a modern, lightweight and compact, 250cc liquid-cooled DOHC engine with a wide torque band, pulling from down low. The new KLX250 features a new fuel injection system, for improved fuel efficiently, improved starting in a variety of conditions and better performance and throttle response. The FI system utilizes an ultra-fine atomizing (10-hole) injector. The result is a very smooth engine character, especially in the rpm range most used in day-to-day riding.

With an electric starter and Kawasaki Automatic Compression Release (KACR), which automatically lifts an exhaust valve during engine cranking, starting the KLX250 is a breeze. Precise control of ignition timing by the digital CDI also contributes to easy starts and reliability under extreme conditions.

The engine has low reciprocating weight, thanks in part to the use of a cam lobe for each valve, with shim-under tappet arrangement, which also contributes to better efficiency during high rpm. A lightweight piston, piston pin and connecting rod allow power-producing revs. With a bore and stroke of 72.0 x 61.2mm, the engine displaces 249cc. The engine is mounted low in the frame, contributing to a low center of gravity. Flat-top piston and pent-roof combustion chamber deliver a 11.0:1 compression ratio.

The engine of the KLX250 engine features an electro-fusion cylinder, which is an ultra-hard coating that offers superior heat transfer and less weight. It also contributes to engine reliability: the coating holds lubrication well, resists abrasion and seizure, and allows a tight piston-to-cylinder clearance for increased horsepower.

Its smooth engine is due in part to a gear-driven engine balancer, providing smooth power delivery from idle to redline. On long rides this means greater rider comfort and less fatigue. The KLX250 motorcycle also features an all-stainless steel exhaust system, with a honeycomb catalyzer located in the muffler.

Gear ratios facilitate smooth shifting through the rpm range and help with increased performance off-road and on. A revised shift drum offers an improved shift feeling, ensuring gears firmly engage.

CHASSIS & SUSPENSION

  • Fully adjustable suspension
  • 43 mm inverted cartridge fork
  • Gas-charged rear shock
  • Front wheel travel of 255mm and rear travel of 230mm

The box- and tubular-section high-tensile steel perimeter frame of the KLX250 motorcycle creates a slim, lightweight package, which offers both great cornering performance and straight-line stability. The 26.5-degree caster angle and short wheelbase contribute to quick handling, while the high rigidity of the frame increases straight-line stability. The lightweight, highly rigid aluminum D-section swingarm also contributes to reduced unsprung weight and rigidity.

The 43mm inverted cartridge-style front fork comes with 16-way compression damping adjustment, adding incredible adjustability for a variety of riding conditions. The cartridge provides consistent damping force by minimizing aeration of the fork oil. Uni-Trak® rear suspension provides great road holding ability and bump absorption. The gas-charged shock with remote reservoir has 16-way compression and rebound damping and fully adjustable preload adjustability.

Front wheel travel of 255mm and rear travel of 230mm creates a comfortable street ride and makes the KLX250 a capable off-road machine on the trails. Footpegs are positioned close to the bike’s centerline for a slim riding position conducive to both on- and off-road riding.

WHEELS AND BRAKES

  • 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels
  • Front 250mm disc and 240mm rear disc

The KLX250 features a 21-inch front wheel and an 18-inch rear wheel, for great handling and plenty of tire options. Great wheel rigidity care of thick spokes (4.0mm), which contributes to lighter, smoother handling and offers greater durability for off-road riding.

Front and rear disc brakes offer impressive stopping performance, with a twin-piston caliper gripping a 250mm disc up front and a single-piston caliper gripping a 240mm disc in the rear.

KAWASAKI KLX®250
Color: Lime Green
MSRP: $5,349
Availability: The 2018 Kawasaki KLX250 is available for purchase early October, 2017

KAWASAKI KLX®250 Camo Edition
Color: Matrix Camo Gray
MSRP: $5,549
Availability: The 2018 Kawasaki KLX250 Camo edition is available for purchase early October, 2017


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58 Comments

  1. Lenz says:

    Lot to like in this bike – the bore / stroke ratio will make great power through the low and mid range revs, the fuel injection will lift engine output some and the 6 speed transmission will continue to allow a useful low gear and a decent top gear for highway use.

    Can’t see a close competitor to it for the price.

  2. Geoffrey Hill says:

    I like it. If it don’t look too dorky in person (Aggressive crouching ready to pounce) It will be my next bike. Sold my ’89 Klr 250 4 years ago. Too hard for me to start. If it looks like an animal ready to jump will go with Honda.

  3. endoman38 says:

    Nix on the ‘youthful’ test rider. You need a rider who started riding shortly after dirt was invented and inherently isn’t happy with anything. Then you’ll get an unbiased review. I offer my services.

  4. -D says:

    Yamaha should bump up the displacement of their WR250R by 100cc’s.
    They would own this market segment. The euro bike companies haven’t yet
    figured out that dual sport bikes in the 250-450 cc categories should not have
    motocross racing engines in them that require maintenance intervals measured in running hours instead of miles. The Japanese understand this simple concept very well…

    • MotoMaster39 says:

      I think it would be a better idea for the Japanese brands to take their existing 450MX platforms and: 1) lower overall compresion ratio 2) Less aggressive cams and steel valves instead of Titanium. 3) Slightly lower spec suspenion, and maybe a basic steel chassis instead of aluminum.

      I would rather ride a 350 than a 250, but a 350 is still too small for much highway use. They are lagging big time with a 450 dually, and they can definitely make a reliable one if they tune it right.

  5. Paul says:

    EFI has been available on this bike, outside the USA, for many years now. Not sure how much is actually “new” in the system. That said, they operate very well. Throwing a Bill Blue big-bore kit (with the proper ECM mods) really wakes the bike up. Not sure the 351 will work, but the 331 kits have seen great success. This bike has always had a great frame and suspension, relative to the price. Really happy to see this bike going forward in the USA.

  6. william says:

    The best times I have had riding was on a klx300. Fuel injection is a good update. My 300 was kick start, but I got old so electric start is now preferred for me. I do also wonder why they stay with 250 when they already made a 300 that ran good and the trend is 250 is kind of too small. I think previous posters are correct, it would sell much better if it was a 300. I thought the 300 handled quite well. So the previous posts about whether its suspension is cheap junk and the bike characteristics are poor I think not the case. Not the highest end stuff, but does a great job with what it has. I would say the klx300 was much better than my (crf230 with a $1000 after market rear shock). I was looking at bikes in this category but did not really like any enough to buy. 350 KTM freeride maybe, but its not in USA. The other KTM bikes are tall and very expensive. I am glad Kawi brought the klx back.

  7. Vrooom says:

    Maybe they’ll give the 650 fuel injection one of these decades. This looks like a fun affordable dual sport.

    • Selecter says:

      I’d already own a KLR650, likely as a primary daily-rider, if they’d offered FI on it. That is the singlular thing that keeps me away from them.

      Some people have their tank seams to complain about, some people have their inner tubes, and I have carburetors. It’s not so much the operation of the carb that bothers me as the deplorable condition of our fuel, which all of my carbureted bikes so far (with notable exception of my Ninja 250) have had some sort of problems with. Never a hiccup from my fuel-injected bikes.

      • todd says:

        Don’t let your bikes sit so long without riding. It’s not the quality of fuel that’s the problem. All gas evaporates when it sits around and you are left with the “varnish” that gums things up. If you ride your bike at least once every couple months you won’t have any problems.

        • Selecter says:

          ALL of my carburetor-equipped bikes were daily ridden. Nice swing… but a grand miss.

          Fresh gas all the time helps in no way at all with the constant, steady wear and degradation of the carburetors themselves – seals, o-rings, jets, etc… most of which fuel injection systems simply aren’t very susceptible to.

          • paquo says:

            Fresh fuel totally helps carbed bikes, if you leave the float bowl(s) full it’s just a matter of weeks before this grren sludge starts to form on the jets. Allowing new fuel to move through is the difference between a motor that runs and one that won’t.

      • Dino says:

        I agree with Todd, riding more frequently helps, but a good gas stabilizer works wonders. Added to the tank when you know it may sit (or every tank for my lawn mower) and no more problems with the old carbs. If you can get gas without ethanol, even better as that alcohol is not good in practically anything other than cars! I love fuel injection (no choke, always starts)

      • Paul says:

        Another little trick is to add a dollop of ATF to the tank when filling up. It mixes freely and doesn’t evaporate like gas does, so your jets will always be clean.

  8. paquo says:

    why don’t the japanese make 450 dual sports aside from the drz ?

  9. Jonny Blaze says:

    Wish they update the whole design of the bike, instead of just cosmetic.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      I’ve ridden the carbed version of the bike and liked everything about it except the carburetor. Fuel injection is a great addition, but, IMO, the bike didn’t really need anything else (OK, 100 more CC’s would have been great.) Chassis is good, and the suspension parts are also not bad at all for the price point.

      What would you have changed about it?

  10. MotoMaster39 says:

    F.I. should remedy the notoriously tricky starting.

    Does anyone else find it ridiculous that Honda and Kawi have 250 dual sports with good shocks and inverted forks, yet their 650s have frames/ suspensions which havent changed since the 80’s?

    • Dave says:

      Flipping forks upside-down doesn’t automatically make them good. It’s what’s inside that counts.

      • guu says:

        Are any of them good? The press does a bad job of reporting this. Most of the time the consumer has no idea if the forks are even rudimentary cartridge forks or super-cheap and super-bad damper rod designs from the 70´s.

        • PatrickD says:

          This bike’s details say cartridge-style; it’s pretty vague.
          Damper rods should’ve been cast into the design bin years ago, but they’re present on a suprising propotion of new bikes. You have to scan the technical details to find out, and even then it might not be declared.

          • guu says:

            Yes, Kawasaki PR makes this clear in this instance.

            However most of the time its not mentioned in the PR and if its not the press rarely reports about such technical details.

        • XR650Lover says:

          The XR650L is equipped with what was 1980’s “state of the art” with fully adjustable front and rear boingers. Having said that, the costs for those suspenders have been paid for decades ago as well as the old tech air cooled mill. Eventually the big 4 will replace their old tech with 450 water cooled, injected derivatives of their MX engines. Eventually may mean long after I’ve taken a dirt nap based on their commitment to do nothing so far. I’d be happy as sh*t just to get a viable and easy to implement fuel injection rig for my BRP.

          • Neil says:

            The question is, why take so long to update it? People would buy more of an updated machine, I reckon.

          • Ed says:

            If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it.

          • Dave says:

            Re: “the costs for those suspenders have been paid for decades ago as well as the old tech air cooled mill.”

            Unfortunately, that’s not the way it always works. Time defrays the R&D cost, but tooling must be renewed periodically, more often than we sometimes think. This savings is always offset and sometimes lost just in inflation & currency fluctuation.

      • P Harris says:

        They can be adjusted 16 ways!!That’s a lot of ways.

    • Tom R says:

      The Japanese 650 single dual sports (especially the Honda and Suzuki) are the poor, ignored, bastard step children of the motorcycle world.

      Sure wish the manufacturers would throw a dash of R & D at this segment. I’d like something that isn’t a replica of something made 20+ years ago, and I’d like it to run correctly above 4000 feet of altitude.

      • PatrickD says:

        Oddly, kawasaki made a bang-up-to date KLX650R for the UK market (at least) back in 1993. It was very trick and by all accounts was a superb bike, on and off road. But the old KLR outsold it, and it disappeared. Sad.

  11. Jon says:

    Not just camo but digital camo. Strange how Kawi come out with this bike yet Yamaha have discontinued the WR250R.

    • John A. Kuzmenko says:

      The 2018 Yamaha WR250R is listed on the http://www.yamaha-motor.com website.

      • xLaYN says:

        Weird, the XT starts at 5.1k, the KLX starts at 5.3k and the WR at 6.6k, more than 1.3k more than the KLX, may be related to the aluminum chassis on the WR.

        Seems like the KLX it’s the bang for the buck option.

        • Dave says:

          From what I’ve read, the WR’s price increase is more than justified. It is said to be far more off-road capable than the Honda, though this bike could be different.

        • Randy in Ridgecrest says:

          I own a WRR, have ridden a carbed KLX, and it’s a nice bike, but the WRR is considerably more powerful and more off road worthy. Of the three 5K bikes I’d go for the KLX.

      • Jon says:

        That’s great news, lots of web chatter saying it was dead!

  12. MIGUEL ZEDRX says:

    The old KLX300 cylinder should bolt right on. I had a ’99 300 with a 330cc big bore kit. Don’t ask me why I threw all that money at a slug. It’s a Kawi disease thing.

    • todd says:

      I had a ’97 KLX300 and fixed it up to where it was pumping out 36hp at the rear wheel on a dyno. At 2-something-hundred pounds and with a Baja Designs kit to make it street legal and suspension all valved to my weight the bike was a wild hoot to ride. I mean massive acceleration…

      I ended up selling it because other KLXers were exploding engine cases through the kick starter. It wasn’t until I was showing it to potential buyers that I understood why; people would look like a jack rabbit trying to kick start it like it was a two stroke. I had to show many people the proper way to start a thumper – jently push the kick lever through a couple cycles, ease past tdc and one solid, deliberate kick would fire it up.

      • guu says:

        This was also a problem on the early (modern Japanese) MX 4-strokes. People would break YZ400F kick starters left and right starting them like two-strokes after a fall in the heat of the battle.

        • John A. Kuzmenko says:

          I can vouch for that when the 1998 YZ400FK came out, and many people would simply not use the decompressor lever properly, if at all.
          They would simply flip the kick start lever out and jump on it like they were trying to stomp on a big, scary spider they just spotted.
          Funny thing is, the proper technique was not something new for that bike, but went back to the 1976 TT500C and XT500C.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “People would break YZ400F kick starters left and right starting them like two-strokes after a fall”

          “hot buttons” and decomp levers be damned, i’m racing…!!!

    • Tim says:

      It does. That’s what I’m doing with my ’09. I have all the 300 parts (and the kick start parts) and I’m just waiting for winter to tear it down.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Don’t ask me why I threw all that money at a slug”

      dude…! why’d you throw all that scratch into a slug…? (best Spicoli impersonation)

  13. Tyler says:

    Cool little bike, glad they kept the KLR650 styling team away from it. I also love that Kawi is sticking with the Electro-fuse cylinder plating technology, the same stuff they used on my ’78 KE250

  14. Bill says:

    I just wish there was an optional larger gas tank available from the manufacturers. Otherwise, very nice.

  15. Tim says:

    Love my ’09. Kinda wish it had FI sometimes. Wonder why they don’t just go ahead and make it the 300. EPA stuff, I reckon.

    • Stuki Moi says:

      It has to be 250 in the markets that matter for this kind of bikes.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        And yet we have a Ninja 300, R3, CBR300, RC390 and whatever BMW is calling their new 300s. Heck Kawasaki already has a Versys 300.

        • Dave says:

          But we don’t have 300’s from any of their off road models, even though Honda uses the actual engine in their street bike. I can only guess that the volume or demand isn’t there.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            People also used to say that same thing about the Ninja 250: has to comply with other markets licensing/insurance requirements, demand isn’t there, etc. Then Kawasaki rolls out the 300, and apparently demand is so good that everyone else wants in on the action, too.

            I believe you’d see a similar explosion with dual sports if displacement ventured into the 300 – 350 range.. For much of North America, 250cc one-lungers just aren’t quite enough for road use. 300’s at least get you to barely adequate while suffering no weight penalty, which is very important in dual sport world.

    • Tom R says:

      If it was a 300, why don’t they just make it a 350?
      ,
      If it was a 350, why don’t they just make it a 400?

      See where we’re going here?

    • Norm G. says:

      KLX500 or i’m not buying it.

  16. xLaYN says:

    After a couple of weeks the review came in with a lot of photos of just jungle… among the remarks the camo was superb.

    Nice little bike.

  17. Grover says:

    Finally…an injected KLX250.