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Kawasaki KLX 250 – Off Road Trails Bike That Can Also Handle City Streets

The Kawasaki KLX 250 was replaced a few years ago by the KLX 300 but there are plenty to be found at great prices if you shop around. If you’re looking for the ultimate dual purpose companion and you’re on a tight budget, read on.

Kawasaki took a different approach to Honda and Yamaha with their dual sport offerings who made their bikes suitable for the road first, dirt second and beginner friendly.

 Beginner friendly it might be, however the Kawasaki KLX 250 is more designed for off road riding performance with all the necessary street legal hardware thrown in for good measure.

Although it lacks the same versatility as the likes of the current 4 Honda dual purpose motorcycles when it comes to riding on the road, it excels at what it is intended to achieve.

Aimed at both novice and expert riders, it effortlessly navigates off road trails and is incredibly agile with low gearing to thrive on hill climbs and ruts.

Make no mistake, it can be driven on the street and is enjoyable for short bursts through city streets, it’s just that the Kawasaki KLX 250 falls a little short when you want to travel far.

Kawasaki KLX 250 Review

Kawasaki 250 dual sport bike

As a 246-cc air-cooled thumper, the first generation Kawasaki KLX 250 made its debut in 1979 with the first water-cooled variant hitting the dirt in 1994.

The KLX 300 shortly followed in 1997. The Kawasaki KLX 300 came with an increased displacement and more power, a larger fuel tank and a few other minor modifications.

These represented a technological leap forward in dirt bike design, a compact DOHC, four-valve, liquid-cooled four-stroke engine with perimeter frame and where it still struggled to keep up with the dominant two-strokes it gave the off-road world a new concept to consider.

Fast forward a few decades and the Kawasaki KLX 250 follows the same formula as the original. A dual sport dirt bike with more bias towards off road performance than on. A dual sport bike that leans more toward off-road riding than on-road.

Its DOHC 249-cc liquid-cooled single cylinder engine produces a modest 21.5 horsepower and 25.1 Nm torque (now with fuel injection), which may not sound like much but will be plenty while you’re working hard in difficult terrain.

Its major rival, the Honda CRF250L, offers greater power from a similar-sized engine, 24.4 bhp and 22.6 Nm respectively. However, the power of the Honda is more noticeable on the road due to its 6 kg curb weight gain over the KLX, which dampens some of that extra power when on the rough stuff.

Being slightly down on power the Kawasaki KLX 250 needs to be revved all the way to the red line to get the maximum amount of pull from its single piston. This lack of low-end torque doesn’t really come into focus unless your on challenging off road terrain and trying to get the front tire up and over obstacles.

Overall, the engine provides smooth acceleration, responsive power and great traction. This makes it especially good in slippery conditions and hill climbs.

The 249-cc engine is paired to a 6-speed manual gearbox with the small KLX’s stock ratio being distributed equally. The bike can ride at 70 mph all day long, but demand more of it or subject it to hills, and it will soon struggle. Even when you’re thrashing it off road, the shifting mechanism is rather smooth for a budget thumper and doesn’t require much effort.

While the engine isn’t particularly impressive, the rest of the bike performs admirably—and not just for a budget dual sport bike; it also outperforms several far more expensive models.

The suspension of the Kawasaki KLX 250 is composed of a rear Uni-Trak monoshock with full adjustment and a front pair of 43mm USD forks with adjustable compression. These components are both produced in-house by Kawasaki and provide 231 mm and 254 mm of travel, respectively.

On and off-road, the front and rear wheels provide a very smooth ride. If you decide to push the vehicle to its absolute limit, it will likely bottom out, but it will always maintain its incredible stability.

A few people have complained that the ground clearance isn’t enough however I beg to differ, with its full size wheels you get 285 mm which should be plenty enough to ride on the back roads and off road trails.

The brake system on the little Kawasaki may also be praised for its effectiveness. The 250 mm front disc is squeezed by the single caliper brake in the front, which has a considerable amount of pressure. The rear brake is not as powerful, but when both brakes are engaged, you can really push the bike with confidence, especially when on technical trails.

One overlooked issue with the braking system is that the front brake line has to be redirected. If left in its original location, when you brake forcefully, the brake line kinks and the front brake locks up entirely. It’s an error from Kawasaki that you don’t want to discover the hard way, but fortunately, fixing it won’t take much work.

The 2020 Kawasaki KLX 250 was replaced in 2021 with the Kawasaki KLX 300.

 Kawasaki KLX 250 Specifications

KLX 250
  • Engine:                 Liquid-cooled, 4 valve, DOHC, single
  • Capacity:              249 cc
  • Max Power:        21.5 bhp / 15.7 kW @ 7,500 rpm
  • Max Torque:      25.1 Nm / 18.5 lb ft @ 7,500 rpm
  • Gearbox:             6-speed manual
  • Top speed:         85 mph / 137 kph
  • Fuel capacity:     7.7 L / 2 US Gal
  • Seat height:        890 mm / 35 inches
  • Wet weight:       138 kg / 304 lb

 Finding a Kawasaki KLX 250 For Sale

The KLX 250 was dropped in 2020 and replaced by the slightly more powerful KLR 300.

Brand new, the 2020 Kawasaki KLX 250 was available from £4,199 / $5,399.

Below are some details of a few of the KLX 250’s I found for sale on eBay in both North America and the UK.
Kawasaki KLX 250 For Sale
From $4000

At the time of writing there are 4 KLX 250 bikes on eBay including a 2020 model that has covered just 2686 miles for $4,485 and a 2018 model with only 707 miles with an asking price of $4,800.

Click the "more info" button to see the latest KLX 250's listed for sale

More info

On eBay UK there are plenty of KLX 250's for sale ranging from a 1993 model for £1300 to this mint condition 2010 shown here with just 44 miles on the clock priced at £2995

Click the "more info" button

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Kawasaki KLX 250 Vs Honda CRF250L

When compared to its main competitor the Honda CRF250L it is challenging to draw a firm distinction between the two and declare which is better.

Both are capable mid size motorcycles, they are both 250 cc fuel injection dual sport machines made in Japan, but the makers of each have positioned their bikes significantly differently in the dual purpose category.

Despite having less power than the Honda, the KLX 250 with its light curb weight, 10″ of suspension travel and high ground clearance has been engineered to be superior in an off-road capacity, whereas the Honda, with a larger curb weight than the Kawasaki and while remaining quite good off-road, would fall short in rugged terrain but make up for it when they got back on the tarmac.

Honestly the differences are miniscule, and anyone new to dual sport riding wouldn’t really notice the differences between the two bikes.


 The 2020 Kawasaki KLX 250 is more versatile than most would think. 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 and it’s possible to spend hours riding the Kawasaki KLX 250 at a leisurely speed.

Comfortable seating, supple suspension and an almost vibration-free engine all contribute to a comfortable riding position. Though it isn’t very quick, it isn’t required to be. It can navigate heavy traffic on motorways, dodge and escape city gridlock with its strong torque, climb gentle hills, and move through rugged terrain on its own.

If I didn’t have and love my CRF250L I would consider the KLX 250. It’s rugged, simple, is good off-road with ample ground clearance and is a jack-of-all-trades, master of none, a classic all-rounder budget bike for all skill levels.

However rather than the KLX 250 I think I’d cough up a bit more and go for the new KLX 300, same great bike but with a bit more oomph!

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