Kawasaki made a belated “Spring” model announcement of KX line models. There is plenty of news with an all-new 250cc machine and the addition of XC-branded KX racers outfitted with off-road parts for those with more than just motocross and supercross tracks in their riding future.
Some speculated that there would be a new KLR650 replacement announced but maybe thay will have to wait for the “Summer” news in the Fall. Or a bigger or changed Verses-X? Additionally Kawasaki made some naming changes to the KLX line adding an “R” to the model designation.
So for off-road certainly the KX250 XC is big news and all-new. Especially since the bike it is derived from, the motocrosser KX250 gets so many revisions, Team Green is also calling it an all-new model. The biggest was the almost-overlooked electric-starting–a feature almost overlooked since it is so common. Just late to arrive on this model. Yet they are still looking for more and more power out of this bike so a new cylinder head design matched to a flat-top piston and connected to a longer connecting rod on a cylinder that sits higher on the cases. This is for claimed increased durability from the higher power putting less stress on the rod as it is angled while rotating. The exhaust valve’s outer spring is stiffer and the rev ceiling has gone up a claimed 350 RPM. Inside the crankcase Kawasaki is now using a reed valve to keep the oil out of the crankcase and “balance” the pressures inside the engine. A hydraulic clutch is also added to the features list and further inside the use of a diaphragm spring is said to lighten up the clutch pull, especially as it is collapsed where the “friction zone” is.
The frame is all-new, unless you know it is the same as found on the KX450, differing in engine hanger design and some alterations to the rear shock tower portion. The swingarm is shared between 250 and 450. With that goes the 450s plastic and its longer tank shroud and flatter profile. The handlebar is the 1-⅛-inch Renthal Fatbar and the position of the bar in the clamp is still adjustable. As are the footpeg mount position in the frame. The brakes have grown to a 270mm oversized front on both KX and KX XC with the larger rear rotor from the 450 is sized back down to the smaller 245mm dimension with the rotors manufactured by Braking.
KYB suspension is also standard as it has been–differing from the KX450, a 48 mm KYB inverted coil-spring front fork is paired with a dual-compression adjustable rear shock. The valving is all new as is the linkage ratio for 2021.
The XC differs in a few specific areas but the core of the bike is truly a KX. The obvious 18-inch rear wheel, a kickstand, softer front fork springs (shock and fork internal valving are said to be identical between KX and KX XC), and a skid plate standard, the bike is delivered with the black, or less aggressive coupler installed. So from the air filter to the tip of the exhaust the KX250 and KX250 XC are identical. No altered transmission ratios, no altered ECU mapping (although Kawasaki has a handheld tuner that can do that for you), identical exhaust systems and intake tracts, Kawasaki has left the racer inside the machine. The final drive of the KX XC is 13/51, a shorter spread.
Onto the 450cc KX and KX XC and the changes between the larger displacement bikes are identical motocrosser to off-roader except for one small thing. The KX450 XC has a softer rear shock spring to go along with the softer fork springs on the Showa suspension. The XC is on pace with updates to the KX line, the biggest change in 2021 for the 450cc bike being the increased size of the clutch basket and plate diameter and a switch from conventional springs to a diaphragm spring design in the hydraulic clutch. A piston with a friction-reducing coating is now standard. The rest of the bike carries over the 2020 model’s success.
So if you were looking for a new KLR650, you might be disappointed in the info we’ve received from Kawasaki so far this year. But if you were looking to race a KX off-road (and likely could care less about a KLR and more about the revised Kawasaki Team Green Racer Rewards) then you may be pretty stoked. We hope to be riding the new bikes as early as a few weeks out and the 450’s will be in dealers as quickly. The 250s are just a little bit behind.
Prices for the bikes are: KX450 $9399.00 KX450 XC $9599.00 KX 250 $8299.00 KX250 XC $8399.00
For all the specs and info see:www.kawasaki.com