Dan had the epic opportunity to ride all of the 2023 Empire Kawasaki ProMX and Enduro machines! Check out what he thought of the factory backed bikes.... Pics: Kane O’Rourke.

The Empire Kawasaki Team Launch day started off with an introduction to the entire team including the riders and all other members who complete the factory team. After a small lunch break, it was time to get on the bikes… What spectacular machines these are. 

We attended the launch of the 2023 Empire Kawasaki team and the new KX450!

Dan attended the launch of the 2023 Empire Kawasaki Team and the KX250, where he got a chance to try out the updated stock bike and factory backed team motocross machines!


Check out Dan’s review on the 2023 KX250 here


First up I jump on the stock 2023 KX250, to really give myself a benchmark to compare the rest of the team bikes. Straight away I notice the amount of torque and bottom end power the 2023 KX250 has compared to the previous 2022 KX250, which I ride on a regular basis at CityMX. That, along with the smooth delivery throughout the entire rev range, make the bike feel noticeably more powerful.

Kawasaki have made a machine that you can jump on and race without plunging 10s of thousands into it.

Kawasaki have made a machine that you can jump on and race without plunging thousands into it.

The 2023 KX250 feels very stable and manoeuvrable giving an amazing feeling bike straight out of the box. Overall, I’m surprised that the stock KX250, without any modifications or aftermarket parts, feels and handles as well as it does. You can read my full test on the bike by clicking the link above…



After riding the stock bike, I started to get very excited as this was the first time I have had the opportunity to ride a factory team bike. But, not only one but all of the Empire Motorsport team bikes, to see how they stack up to the stock 2023 KX250.

The first bike Dan threw a leg over was Haruki Yokoyama's KX250F. What a rocketship!

The first bike Dan threw a leg over was Haruki Yokoyama’s KX250. What a rocketship!

The first team bike I get to throw a leg over is Haruki Yokoyama’s 2022 KX250. This bike has all the bells and whistles as it was the bike that Haruki was racing in his previous ProMX season. Plenty of race parts have been added to improve its overall performance. This includes a Pro Circuit TI-6 exhaust, Showa A Kit suspension with xTrig triple-clamps.



Also packed with engine work and a Vortex ECU Haruki’s bike was pushing a lot more power than a standard 250. Haruki not only had performance aftermarket parts but also some personal modifications. These were very apparent as soon as I sat on Haruki’s bike.

Yokoyama's bike took a bit of getting used to for Dan due to the height difference.

Yokoyama’s bike took a bit of getting used to for Dan due to the height difference.

Due to Haruki’s smaller frame, he has footpegs that are 20mm taller than stock, a custom lowered sub-frame to bring the size of the back end down and a lower seat. This made the bike feel quite small compared to the stock 2023 KX250.


“With all the engine and ECU work, Haruki’s bike delivered an endless amount of power throughout the rev range making the bike feel more like a 300 or 350…”


After taking a couple of laps to get used to the smaller bike and adjusting my body position to suit, I was able to open the bike up and feel that ‘Factory Bike’ power and it did not disappoint. With all the engine and ECU work, Haruki’s bike delivered an endless amount of power throughout the rev range making the bike feel more like a 300 or 350. The power of the bike, along with the Showa A Kit suspension and xTrig triple-clamp combination made the bike handle perfectly. Making any corner, jump or braking bump seem effortless.

Moving onto a slightly larger and new setup, Dan moved on to Campbell Williams’ 2023 KX250F.

Moving onto a slightly larger and new setup, Dan moved on to Campbell Williams’ 2023 Empire Kawasaki KX250.

After having a blast on Haruki’s 2022 KX250, I jump on Campbell Williams’ 2023 KX250. Taking off on Campbell’s bike I quickly realised that I could go back to my usual body positioning, after being on Haruki’s smaller set up bike. The 2023 machine, with it’s On Point suspension and Akrapovic exhaust system definitely doesn’t disappoint.



The On Point tuned suspension made Campbell’s bike handle amazingly and tackle the loamy conditions of the Mornington Peninsula Motorcycle Club with ease. The Akrapovic exhaust system gives the already powerful 2023 KX250 even more bottom-end power making it easier to hold a higher gear on those tight turns.

"The On Point tuned suspension made Campbell’s bike handle amazingly and tackle the loamy conditions of the Mornington Peninsula Motorcycle Club with ease."

“The On Point tuned suspension made Campbell’s bike handle amazingly and tackle the loamy conditions of the Mornington Peninsula Motorcycle Club with ease.”

I did find that Campbell liked to run his rear brake pedal a little higher than usual, which I found a little tricky at first but quickly got used to during my few laps on the bike.

The stock 2023 KX250F already has an increase in power over last years model, which is taken even further in race trim.

The stock 2023 KX250 already has an increase in power over last year, which is taken even further in race trim.

Next is Taylah McCutcheon’s bike. The first thing I notice is that Taylah runs her rear brake in a position similar to mine, this was nice after riding Campbell’s bike. Taylah’s bike is also kitted with an Akrapovic Exhaust system like Campbell’s, and had the same feeling power delivery, making the bike feel more like a 350 than a 250.

We had Dan Thomerson out there testing the new 2023 Kawasaki KX250F, he also scored a ride on all of the Empire Kawasaki machines! Keep an eye out for his launch report.

“The suspension worked by On Point and set to Taylah’s weight is a little soft for me but didn’t change the feel of the bike at all. The bike still feels like an absolute animal and handled the track with ease.”

The suspension worked by On Point and set to Taylah’s weight is a little soft for me but didn’t change the feel of the bike at all. The bike still feels like an absolute animal and handled the track with ease.



Once I finished on Taylah’s bike, I had my sights set on Jai Constantinou’s bike. I was looking forward to trying out Jai’s bike all day as I noticed the bike is fitted with a brand-new set of factory Dunlop tyres. Along with a factory set of tyres, Jai’s bike also has a full Pro Circuit Exhaust system and KYB A Kit suspension.

The number 44 machine is dressed in a few more parts over the others in the team.

The number 44 Empire Kawasaki machine is dressed in a few more parts over the others in the team.

While out on the track I quickly notice the factory Dunlop tyres provide an outstanding amount of grip compared to standard tyres. Matched with the KYB A Kit suspension, the bike feels very well grounded and finds traction in even the softest parts of the sandy track.



Similar to Campbell, Jai runs his rear brake pedal a little higher. After feeling it on the two bikes I asked the riders why they run the rear brake higher. Their response was that they ride the rear brake, which adds to the feel and handling of the bike through corners.


McLeods

The last bike to test out is Will Price’s enduro setup bike. The Enduro machine did still have a similar bike setup to the MX side of the team. The main difference I notice is that Will had his On Point suspension set a little softer to make the bike handle and feel better over the course of a longer race. As well as having a set of hand guards to protect the knuckles. The bike is still geared the same as a stock 2023 KX250 has all the power it needs to put Will in the top of the Off Road racing field.



Being the last bike I got to ride for the day I had a couple extra laps and thoroughly enjoyed the softer feeling suspension after a day of testing numerous bikes.

Dan had a tonne of fun getting to experience bikes that the general public could only dream about riding.

Dan had a tonne of fun getting to experience bikes that the general public could only dream about riding.

After riding all five bikes I realise that each bike is set up specifically to it’s rider. With the KX250’s extensive amount of tunability, they offer the riders the feel they prefer. This tunability allows them to perform at the top of their game.



A massive thanks to Empire Kawasaki and Kawasaki Motors Australia for putting on an amazing day and letting me try out the team bikes. Check out the write up on the Empire 2023 rider signing here!


Editor’s Note: If you are reading this article on any website other than BikeReview.com.au, please report it to BikeReview via our contact page, as it has been stolen or re-published without authority.


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