by Ryan Gauld, Chris Pomeroy and Mike McGil
Sometimes this job can wear on you; travel, long days and of course trying to please everyone by getting the info out ASAP. Well, this job does have its perks. Last week the perks outweighed any of the downs. Canadian Kawasaki Motors invited MXP (the lone Canadian media) to go down to Millville, Minnesota to ride the all new KX250F. Kawasaki US launched the new ride; let me just say they have hit a home run with this machine. They also hit a home run by the way they treated all the media and staff on hand. It was amazing to be a part of something so special to the company and feel like a rock star getting the factory treatment. So here are some thoughts from the boys and some pics on the two day trip to Millville. They are pretty generic as we are saving the good stuff for the next issue of MXP Magazine.
As we arrived at Spring Creek Raceway in Millville, MN for the official press launch of the brand new 2013 Kawasaki KX 250F, there was a deafening silence on the bus carrying all of the media. Everyone was so excited to ride at one of the most famous tracks in the world, that we had trouble speaking. We turned right off the main road and up the long driveway into the Spring Creek facility. With our faces pressed against the windows, we crossed a small bridge and then it all appeared.
First we saw the long set of sand whoops that have been made famous over the last 30 years. The next obstacle that was visible was the tabletop that Chad Reed had his huge fall from the sky on last year. They call it the “Chad-a-pult” now. To everyone that hadn’t been to Millville before, the track and facility appeared a lot smaller and tighter than it does on television; the up hills and drop-offs were also a lot steeper. Even though all of the media had different expectations of the 2013 KX 250f, we all knew that this was going to be a great two days of riding.
Although the Spring Creek track appeared smaller, the bright green 2013 KX 250Fs that we were about to ride all looked larger than life under the Kawasaki tent. At first glance the new bike is extremely eye catching. Right off the bat we could all tell that a lot of attention to detail had been invested into the 2013 model. Kawasaki really wanted to make the bike look and feel slimmer than past models. They felt that with a slimmer design and the added suspension adjustability that the 2013 has, the handling and rider comfort would be improved drastically.
As we all rode the Spring Creek track, the feedback started to roll in from all of the riders. The one point we all agreed on was that Kawasaki had accomplished everything they were trying to with the 2013 KX 250F. The power, the handling and the feel were all very strong with this bike. The motor, along with the “plug and play” adjustable ECU, allowed me to rev the bike or short shift the bike to stay in the lower RPMs. The 2013 KX 250F was just a pleasure to ride. With all of the quick adjustments that you can make both with the engine and the suspension, there is no doubt that this 2013 model will continue to rack up Championships all over the world.
It’s 6:00 PM on Tuesday, June 5th and day one of the 2013 Kawasaki 250F launch is officially in the books – the riding part of it any ways. My first impressions of the bike are definitely positive. Of course we all know that almost every brand new motocross bike is a wonderful thing and this bike was no exception. I must admit that my experience with 250Fs is fairly limited and my pre-conceived notions of this bike were that it would feel light and manoeuvrable but noticeably underpowered compared to my CRF450. As the beginning few riders started to file out onto the meticulously prepped Spring Creek MX Park track, the first thing that really struck me was the bark that these bikes were producing. These things didn’t sound like 250Fs to me. All the literature I had read leading up to the ride day had really emphasized the strength of the new engine. A new cylinder head housing a newly designed higher compression piston, which I was told by the Kawasaki engineers will still run perfectly on 91 octane pump gas, and a new pipe that looks very similar in design to a FMF or Pro Circuit system. The silencer is big and looks like it belongs on the 450 rather than the 250F.
When I got the chance to hit the track for the first time to start cutting some laps, I was immediately impressed by the power the bike produced all through its range. Spring Creek has some major elevation changes that you just can’t appreciate when you see them on television. The 250F pulled my 190lbs up these big, nasty hills with ease. The test riders all seemed to be saying pretty much the same thing by the end of the day. An already strong power plant has been made even better for 2013. The boys were all pumped about the bike and couldn’t wait to get back for more the next day.
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Wednesday, June 7th. The track workers at Spring Creek had obviously been busy overnight. Parts of the track had been tilled up very deeply and as the first few riders hit the track, even some top pros were paddling through some sections. It didn’t take long however for the circuit to start setting up so we geared up and prepared to hit it. Gauldy took our bike out first but pulled in fairly quickly. He felt that the front end was packing due to the softer conditions. He had our mechanic stiffen it up quite a bit and for him it seemed to work a lot better. It was too stiff for me however as I couldn’t get the thing to corner at all. Every time I would lay it into a rutted corner section it would pop right back out again. Our tech softened it a bit for me and it worked way better after that. I must admit, I felt really cool having a factory mechanic setting up a bike just the way I wanted it. Next we started to play around a bit with the new DFI Coupler Caps. The bike comes with three easy to change colour coded map selector couplers that are designed to deliver the rider optimum power delivery based on different track conditions. After trying all three, we settled on the more aggressive white coupler. And you really could feel a difference to the style of power delivery when changing a coupler. The track was even better than the day before and we put in a lot of laps. One thing I have to say though is that even while the new Kawasaki apparently has longer and softer grips than in previous years, they are still lethal. My hands, along with almost everyone else’s, were hamburger by the end of day two and some of these guys ride almost every day so you might want to think about throwing some aftermarket grips on; a small price to pay for a race ready rocket ship. Look for a full story on our trip to Millville in next month’s issue of MXP Magazine.
Look for MXPFilms from the two days later this week.