2011 Kawasaki KLX250S
The 2011 Kawasaki KLX250S is a truly state of the art, superb, superlative, exceptional dual purpose on and off road enduro style motorcycle. The performance is class leading, the agility and handling under a variety of conditions is second to none, and the bike even looks the part: every inch aggressive, motocrossy, big, bold, and mean green.
After that intro it might surprise you to learn that it's also by far the worst value of any similar motorcycle in showrooms today. Although it's chock full of every form of off road wizardry that the Kawasaki engineers could stuff into it, you pay for every tiny bit of it: The KLX250S is about fifteen hundred dollars more expensive than competing offerings from Yamaha and others.
Granted, the Yammy XT250 doesn't really hold a candle to the KLX250S's abilities or complexity. The XT250 has a 249cc air-cooled, SOHC two valve single motor while the KLX250S' mill is a 249cc liquid cooled, DOHC, four valve single. Huge difference. But the KLX250S also pays a "heavy" price for this level of innovation. Even though the level of materials and weight saving implementation is of extremely high caliber, the KLX250S still weighs in at almost 10 pounds more than the XT250.
This sort of weight disadvantage can lead you to wonder whether a dual purpose 250cc enduro really needs not one but two high-capacity Denso radiators plus an electric fan. Unless you're running a day long trials in Phoenix in July, the air cooled fins of the XT250 should more than suffice in keeping a 249cc cool enough to keep running.
However, if you are to accept that the considerable weight and financial penalties are worth it to straddle the off road rocketship that the KLX250S is, then just go out and enjoy it. You'll definitely find lots to enjoy. The KLX250S' rigid square section main frame and lightweight D shaped cross section aluminum swingarm combine with the extra short wheelbase of 56.3 inches to let you literally swivel on a dime. The horsepower generated from that 249 liquid cooled cubic centimeters are just a tiny bit short of what you would need to be competitive in motocross racing, but will absolutely clean the clocks of any competition in its enduro class.
Would the 2011 Kawasaki KLX250S have been a better motorcycle sans the liquid cooling and the millionaire toy price tag? Possibly yes. If the KLX250S could have been brought down to an air cooled 270 pounds and a $4,500 MSRP without losing its substantial edge, it would have been so far ahead in its class that it would take the others years to catch up. As it is, it's really great, but really heavy, and really expensive.
2011 Kawasaki KLX250S At A Glance
Base MSRP: $6,699
Engine Displacement: 249 cc
Engine Type: 4-stroke, Single
Bore & Stroke: 72.0 x 61.2 mm
Ignition Type: Digital DC-CDI
Compression Ratio: 11.0:1
Valve Train Type: DOHC, 4 valves
Transmission Type: 6-speed, return
Final Drive Type: Gear
Front Tire: 110/70-17 (54S)
Rear Tire: 130/70-17 (62S)
Wheelbase: 1,420 mm
Saddle Height: 860 mm
Curb Dry Weight: 137 kg
Fuel Capacity (US): 7.7 litres
* Specs/pix apply to 2010 model, updates as released