Who makes the swap easier; a 250F rider to 450F or a 450F rider squeezing onto a 250F? ADB Tech Editor Mat Boyd and Wes Mills find out.
The last time Wes Mills and I went riding, we ended up going in opposite directions and having a head-on. This left Wes with a broken hand and me with a twisted spine that required many hours of physiotherapy. It’s one of those things that we’ll never live down.
Here we were back together to test the 2018 Kawasaki KX450F and 250F. With the bikes remaining largely unchanged we wanted to see how Millsy, who is currently swinging off a hotted-up Honda CR125 (ADB #454) would handle Kawasaki’s MX1 bike and I wanted to see how the latest KX250F went compared with our recently departed 2017 long-termer.
The 250 demands you ride it hard and always have the engine revving. I find this way of riding more demanding and more physical, leaving me more fatigued. On a 450 you can afford to be lazy and use the power of the bike to get you around the track but on a 250 your line and gear selection has to be perfect or the bike just stops pulling.
Jumping the 250 was a challenge. It’s been a while since I have been hitting 80-foot plus jumps on a 250 and I had forgotten how much more speed you need. On a 450 you don’t need to carry as much velocity into the jump and you can use the torque and power to launch the bike off the up-ramp.
On the 250 you need to carry extra speed into the up-ramp and over the jump because the bike doesn’t have the power or the torque for you to be able to twist the throttle and launch the bike. Once I got used to this I was fine and was launching all the jumps. The problem came when I jumped back on the 450 and sailed clean over all the down ramps and realised I needed to back it down a little.
Not only is jumping different on each capacity but cornering as well. The 450 has extra power so you can square up corners, use bad lines or totally blow the corner and still throttle your way out but line selection is crucial on the 250. You don’t want to go too wide and lose time but running the corner too tight could cost you speed. You want to choose lines on the 250 that allow you to carry as much speed through the corner as possible.
When it comes to who can transfer from one capacity to the other, I think we proved that Wes was able to jump on the 450 and go more easily than me. We both got on and got going around the track and got comfortable but when it came to swapping bikes I had to pry the 450 away from Wes while he was kicking and screaming. If I stopped for a break he would be straight on the 450 and gone again before I could stop him. We both enjoyed the 250 but we could both agree that the 450 was a much easier and more comfortable bike to ride.
Photos: Mitch Lees
Read the full test in ADB Issue #458 – On Sale Now!