Kawasaki presents their 2010 entry-level supermoto model, the KLX250SF, a motorcycle derived from the dual sport one with almost the same name. The engine and frame are those of the KLX250S , while the wheels are now suitable mostly for street exploitation and the suspensions position the bike as low as possible. That means a big “Aim here!!!” for beginners attracted by supermoto bikes, but also for those in search of a fun and versatile motorcycle capable of much more than what this category stands for.
Ok, so how big of a transformation can some 17-inch supermoto wheels and retuned suspensions do to a top notch motorcycle ready to hit the off-road? If the engine and frame are the right units to be kept (and in this case, they are), you’ll be surprised of the radical transformation.
27.8-hp carbureted single-cylinder engine
Without a doubt, the KLX250SF stands for a whole new kind of excitement and the fact that at its base sits the same 249cc liquid-cooled, four-stroke, DOHC, four-valve single cylinder engine that is properly valued through a six-speed gearbox, can only mean that Kawi is 100% confident in this powerplant’s capabilities. The frame remains the same semi-double cradle, high-tensile steel unit as the bike is pretty much out to do the same things as the S version, but without the same results off the road.
Light (302.1 lbs with all the fluids included) and user-friendly, the SF is very easy to get used to, so it is mainly addressed to beginners and/or female riders who search for an economical, easy to maintain and relatively cheap commuter.
The KLX250SF, although carbureted, meets CARB regulations thanks to an ingenious evaporative system that reduces emissions, so it seems that fuel injection isn’t the only recipe after all. Also, the Keihin CVK carburetor ensures immediate throttle response as well as healthy low and midrange torque, making it perfect for urban exploiting.
Riding on the freeway is mainly ensured by the sixth gear although the bike isn’t quite built for that. Wind protection is not a thing worthy to brag about and the fairly narrow seat will determine most riders to go and search for comfier aftermarket units. Ok, so it is the proper commuter as long as the distances aren’t that long, but this is the kind of bike that always remembers to you the reason for which you bought it and I’m praying that it wasn’t commuting on long distances. You’ll be perfectly able to hit the track on this thing and only then and there see what it is made off.
Another great thing that the SF borrows from its dual sport sibling is the digital dash, making the bike look much more expensive than $5.6 grand.
What’s not that great about the all-new KLX super motard is the fact that it walks on Honda’s ground as Big Red has been there first with their CRF230M. Also present in the manufacturer’s lineup as a 2009 model year, the CRF stands out thanks to those 17-inch wheels wrapped up in street rubber and thanks to an overall aggressive look even though we’re pretty confident that Honda could have done better. Kawasaki did and ended up with the 33.9 inches high seat while Honda achieved a seat height of only 31.7 inches, so you can get your conclusions from there. Both bikes feature electric starters and suspensions that are tuned for supermoto, but CRF’s air-cooled, single-cylinder, four-stroke, SOHC; two valve engine displaces only 223cc. Thankfully, this too is mated to a six-speed gearbox.
Although featuring a slightly smaller engine, the 2009 Honda CRF230M has a wet weight of 276 lbs and that makes it as competitive as the Kawasaki as long as the rider goes easy on the burgers.
With an MSRP starting at $5,399, the 2009 Honda CRF230M is slightly cheaper than the Kawasaki.
The 2010 Yamaha WR250X is at the moment a class leader and it is addressed to taller riders who have thrown a leg over a few motorcycles in the past. With a seat height of 35.2 inches and a fuel-injected 250cc, liquid-cooled, four-stroke, DOHC; 4-valve motor, this thing is built for the track, but Yamaha had the kindness to add a headlight and mirrors and call it street legal. The MSRP of $6,490 sets this bike up against the Suzuki DR-Z400SM rather than the Kawasaki and Honda models.
Among the above mentioned, the all-new Kawasaki KLX250SF qualifies for the best looking quarter-liter supermoto from two simple reasons: it features a low seat without sacrificing the overall compact look and those aggressive KLX250S lines. Ok, those are three reasons, but it’s even better.
The 17-inch standard spoked wheels with petal-style discs–300mm up front and a 240mm rear one – ensure that the bike is easily distinguished as being an SF while the mudguards, that sharp front fenders, angular headlight and instruments housing are all stating that this bike means serious business.
Like in the case of most supermoto bikes, that single-cylinder engine is there for everyone to see as the side panels only cover part of the narrow gas tank and the two radiators. The seat is also narrow, which isn’t that much of an advantage if planning to spend a great deal of time on it, but it does the job.
The side number plates are black, 2010’s only color is Oriental Blue and the decals make sure to remind us both the manufacturer and the model name. Fair enough.
"The engine is a water-cooled 250cc single transplanted directly from the dual sport version, with taller final drive gearing to make it more suitable for the higher sustained speeds on the street. This makes acceleration softer, but it also means the engine isn’t topped out at sane street speeds." – motorcycledaily
"The SF’s modest displacement doesn’t relegate it to the slow lane on the freeway. It’s perfectly happy to move along at 70 mph, and the gear-driven counterbalancer does a commendable job of stifling vibrations." – motorcyclistonline
"Twist the throttle and the KLX spins up to speed with ease, but there’s no grunt and if you’re a power junkie, in stock form this bike will disappoint." – bikeland
"Feather-light steering and exemplary fuel economy also tread’s lightly on your wallet with an advertised 70-mpg. Our initial testing showed just 45 mpg, but we barely let the little piston dip below the horsepower peak of 8,500 rpm (an indicated 80 mph) with a 200 lb rider aboard." – motorcycle
"Steering effort is equally effortless, as the mere thought of applying input to the wide motocross-style handlebar initiates a turn. Straight-line stability at freeway speeds is decent, although there’s a slight tendency for the front tire to track rain grooves, resulting in a familiar shimmy typical of dirt-based streetbikes." – cycleworld
For what we’ve come to find, the Honda CRF230M is this Kawi’s strongest competitor and while that has a $5,399 MSRP, the KLX250SF starts at $5,699. For the money, you get a heavier, but more powerful Kawasaki with a slightly higher seat. But hey, at least it is a 2010 model year.
Overall, as its dual sport sibling, the 2010 Kawasaki KLX250SF is a good bang for the buck, a supermoto choice which will most likely prove effective long after riders learn how to ride and which will prove a money saver thanks to the low fuel consumption and cheap maintenance costs. As we’ve seen, alternatives exist, but not quite as tempting as this one.
Engine and Transmission
- Engine: Four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-valve single
- Displacement: 249cc
- Bore x stroke: 72.0 x 61.2mm
- Compression ratio: 11.0:1
- Cooling: Liquid
- Carburetion: Keihin CVK34
- Ignition: Digital CDI
- Transmission: Six-speed
- Final drive: Chain
Chassis and Dimensions
- Frame: Semi-double cradle, high-tensile steel
- Rake / trail: 25.5 degrees / 2.9 in.
- Front suspension / wheel travel: 43mm Inverted Cartridge Fork with 16-Way Compression and Rebound Damping Adjustment / 9.1 in.
- Rear suspension / wheel travel: UNI-TRAK with Adjustable Preload, 16-Way Compression and Rebound Damping Adjustment / 8.1 in.
- Front tire: 110/70x17
- Rear tire: 130/70x17
- Front brake: 300mm semi-floating petal disc with two-piston hydraulic caliper
- Rear brake: 240mm petal disc with single-piston hydraulic caliper
- Overall length: 83.9 in.
- Overall width: 31.3 in.
- Overall height: 44.9 in.
- Ground clearance: 8.9 in.
- Seat height: 33.9 in.
- Curb weight: 302.1 lbs.
- Fuel capacity: 2.0 gal.
- Wheelbase: 55.9 in.
Features & Benefits
Single-cylinder 249cc DOHC Engine
- Compact engine design is lightweight and high revving, with a broad torque curve
- Good mass centralization for superior handling
- Flat-top piston and pentroof combustion chamber deliver an 11:1 compression ratio
- Lightweight piston, piston pin and connecting rod enable higher revs for maximum power
- Aluminum cylinder features electrofusion coating, which allows a tight piston-cylinder clearance for greater horsepower and offers increased engine life thanks to superior heat transfer and lubrication retention properties
- A gear-driven engine balancer provides smooth power delivery from idle to redline
- 34mm semi-flat slide Keihin CVK carburetor delivers the optimum amount of fuel at all rpm, contributing to quick response and healthy power, as well as good fuel economy
- Dual high-capacity, vertical-flow Denso radiators provide reliable and efficient engine cooling
- Radiators feature tightly packed cores and a fin design for excellent heat dispersion
- More consistent engine temperatures allow tighter engine clearances for quieter running and sustained power, while promoting longer engine life
- Cooling fan is powered by a shallow-footprint electric motor
Four Valve Cylinder Head
- Provides maximum valve area for optimum flow to for low end torque and efficient high-rpm breathing for more power
- Quick and easy push-button starting
- Kawasaki Automatic Compression Release (KACR) automatically lifts one of the exhaust valves at cranking rpm, for reduced starting effort
- An evaporative emissions system that meets strict CARB regulations means the KLX250SF is available in California too
- Secondary air system helps provide clean emissions
- Allows engine’s full potential to be used
- Provides excellent acceleration as well as relaxed highway cruising
- Matched to a 14/39 final gearing to enhance its open road performance
Inverted Front Fork
- 43mm inverted cartridge fork offers excellent rigidity and consistent damping performance
- 9.1-inch wheel travel for increased straight-line stability, more-consistent handling in corners and a low seat height
- 16-way compression and rebound damping adjustment allows tuning for differences in rider weight or various terrain profiles
UNI-TRAK Rear Suspension
- Linkage and damping settings fine-tuned for optimum street performance and reduced front-rear pitching motion compared to the KLX250S
- 8.1-inch rear-wheel travel for enhanced straight-line stability, handling in corners and a low seat height
- Progressive linkage rate provides a smooth ride and excellent bottoming resistance
- The gas-charged shock features 16-way adjustable compression and rebound damping and remote reservoir
- Lightweight, aluminum D-section swingarm is highly rigid and reduces unsprung weight
- KX racing-type chain adjusters allow precise adjustment to minimize drivetrain power losses
- Lightweight, high-tensile steel for amazing rigidity
- Handlebar offers a relaxed position and effortless control
- Footpegs are positioned close to the bike’s centerline
- Seat shape and stiff urethane makes it easier to change seating position
- Headlight and front fender design contribute to the aggressive look
- Two-piece radiator shrouds
- Rear fender is a two-piece unit featuring a sharp tail light design that offers increased visibility and further contributes to the KLX’s aggressive styling
Narrow Fuel Tank
- Narrow tank design gives riders maximum comfort and control without sacrificing capacity
- All-digital instrument console gives at-a-glance information that includes a digital bar-graph tachometer, digital speedometer, clock, and dual trip meters
Petal disc brakes
- Front and rear disc brakes offer impressive stopping performance
- Twin-piston caliper grips a 300 mm petal disc up front and a single-piston caliper grips the rear 240mm petal disc
- Features 17-inch wheels like its larger supersport brothers, for excellent road handling and plenty of tire options
- Low-profile sportbike tires on wide rims contribute to its easy, neutral handling at low speeds