Fashioned after its smaller-displacement sibling, the Kawasaki Bayou 250 is more than just a revamped 220 model. It was one of Team Green’s evolutionary vehicles, as the company learned the ropes of creating formidable four-wheelers. More than being practical and irresistibly charming off-road, this mini quad was instrumental to strengthening one of Kawasaki’s longest best-selling lineups – as you will later learn in this article.
The Kawasaki Bayou 250 is a recreation-utility vehicle released in the market from 2003 to 2011. Featuring a low-maintenance air-cooled engine, reliable Mikuni VM24SS carb, protective front bumper, and easy-to-operate controls and switches, this 4×4 was the ideal quad for work or play.
Modest styling, ease of operation, and a semi-automatic transmission are among the Kawasaki Bayou 250’s key selling points. But these are not all this vehicle has to offer. Continue reading and discover more about one of Kawasaki’s more economical ATV models.
About the Kawasaki Bayou 250
One could say that the Kawasaki Bayou 250 catered to off-road enthusiasts and riders who preferred old-school styling and straightforward functionality over fancy tech add-ons and 4WD. Others may disagree with this statement. But with the 250 models being released only 15 years after the Bayou 220 with little to no alterations, I would say this statement perfectly makes sense.
Very minimal differences can be spotted between the Kawasaki Bayou 250 and its smaller-displacement predecessor. These changes include a more aggressive front-end aesthetic, a new bumper, molded-pin accessory connector (for hooking up electrical accessories), and larger front and rear cargo racks made of sturdier steel tubing.
The 4×4 also had slightly larger dimensions than the 220 version but surprisingly retained its dry weight and load/trailer capacities. This applies to all Bayou 250 model years (you can determine the model year you have by locating the VIN on the left side of your quad’s frame, right in front of the footpeg).
Here is a video by SuperFastRC & ATV giving a brief walkaround of the machine’s features and taking it out for a test drive:
What is also interesting is that the 300-cc Bayou versions preceded the 250. These earlier models held more tech advancements than what the Bayou 250 and 220 both had combined.
Naturally, the 250 model should have been released first. But because it was delayed for another decade, it leads people to speculate that it may have been a vehicle meant to test the market’s inclination.
The Bayou 250 seemed to have done this role successfully, as evident with the cease of its production in 2011. By the time Kawasaki stopped making the 250 model, it was crystal clear that the entire ATV industry and its consumers had shifted their interests to mid-size and big-bore behemoths.
Around the same period, manufacturers had also clearly defined ATV sub-segments and their respective flagship vehicles for each.
Kawasaki Bayou 250 Specs & Features
It has a slightly larger displacement and is more powerful than its 200-class predecessor. Fuel tank capacity is sizeable and lends to the vehicle’s decent fuel consumption. Many Kawi enthusiasts think that this quad has the same capacity as the Mojave 250 to accommodate a larger Kawasaki Bayou 250 carburetor – however, it does not. Upgrading your wheeler in this manner may be more detrimental than helpful.
|Engine Brand Name||Mikuni|
|Engine Type||4-Stroke SOHC|
|Cylinder Arrangement||Single cylinder|
|Carburetion System||Mikuni VM24SS|
|Engine Cooling||Air cooling|
|Engine Fuel||Unleaded gasoline of at least Antiknock Index/PON 87 or RON 91, containing < 15% MTBE (Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether)/TAME/ETBE, < 10% ethanol, or < 5% methanol w/ cosolvents & corrosion inhibitors|
|Fuel Capacity||10 L/2.6 US gal (reserve – 2 L/0.53 US gal)|
|Bore x Stroke Ratio||69×61 mm (2.72×2.4 in)|
|Displacement||228 cm³ / 13.9 in³|
|Maximum Power||16.8 hp/17 PS (12.5 kW, estimated) @ 7,000 RPM|
|Maximum Torque||17.9 Nm (1.83 kgf-m, 13.2 ft-lb) @ 5,500 RPM|
|Top Speed||45-54 mph (72.4-86.9 km/h) – owners’ claim|
|Lubrication||Forced lubrication (wet sump)|
|Engine Oil & Quantity||2 L (2.1 US quarts) w/ filter|
2.1 L (2.2 US quarts) w/out filter
API grade of at least SJ meeting JASO T903 MA
SAE 5W-30, 10W-40, 10W-50, 20W-40, 20W-50 – depending on ambient temperature
A 5-speed transmission and automatic clutch and a Cardan shaft drive transfer powers to the wheels and lend to the vehicle’s low-end grunt. All switches and levers are mounted on either side of the handlebars, allowing riders of all skill levels to control the quad with ease. A two-way key-operated ignition switch is on the right side of the body panel, while a reverse knob can be seen on the left.
|Clutch||Wet shoe, automatic, centrifugal type (primary)|
Wet, automatic, multi-disc type (secondary)
|Transmission Type||5-speed constant mesh w/ reverse, return shift|
|Drive System||Shaft drive|
|Primary Ratio||3.450 (69/20)|
|Final Drive Ratio||4.680 (18/15 x 39/10)|
|Overall Drive Ratio||12.686 (top gear)|
|Transmission Gear Ratio||1st – 2.923 (38/13)|
2nd – 1.684 (32/19)
3rd – 1.173 (27/23)
4th – 0.923 (24/26)
5th – 0.785 (22/28)
Reverse – 3.115 (27/13 x 33/22)
The charging system of this vehicle is quite finicky. So, as a best practice, never use a high-rate battery charger unless you can reduce its charging rate to manufacturer specifications. Otherwise, internal shorting will happen, which will end up ruining your Kawasaki Bayou 250 battery.
|Ignition||CDI (Capacitor Discharge Ignition)|
|Ignition Timing||10° BTDC @ 1,800 RPM – 35° BTDC @ 4,600 RPM|
|Spark Plug||NGK D8ES (gap – 0.6-0.7 mm, 0.024-0.028 in)|
|Alternator Type||Three-phase AC|
|Alternator Rated Output||13A, 14V @ 8,000 RPM|
|Fuse||20 Amp; 10 Amp or less (auxiliary light circuit)|
|Battery||12V 11 Ah, YTX14AH-BS battery format|
|Battery Dimensions (L x W x H)||5.2 x 3.5 x 6.5 in (132 x 89 x 165 mm) OR|
5.31×3.50 x 6.56 in (134 x 89 x 166 mm)
Tires & Brakes
Despite the larger engine displacement, Kawasaki kept this machine’s tire size unchanged. Steel wheels are equipped with Dunlop® tires, which can be replaced with Carlisle All Trail ATV Tires (view on Amazon) if you need knobbies with better grip and terrainability. The Bayou 250 also comes with a K-EBC™ engine braking system, which provides the quad additional stopping power.
|Front Tire, off-road/road air pressure||Dunlop KT856 AT21 x 8-9, tubeless|
Tire Pressure: 20.68 kPa (0.21 kgf/cm2, 3 psi)
|Rear Tire, off-road/road air pressure||Dunlop KT857 AT22 x 10-10, tubeless|
Tire Pressure: 20.68 kPa (0.21 kgf/cm2, 3 psi)
|Front Brake Type||Expanding drum brake|
|Rear Brake Type||Expanding drum brake|
The four-wheeler front and rear suspensions are not fully-independent and provide less than 5.0 inches of wheel travel. But for a dirt bike of its stature, the wheel travel is sufficient and lends to its superior handling.
|Frame Type||Tubular, double-cradle|
|Caster, Trail||4°, 17 mm (0.67 in)|
|Turning Radius||2.7 m (8.9 ft)|
|Front Suspension Type, Travel||Single A-arms w/ dual shocks, 114 mm (4.5 in)|
|Rear Suspension Type, Travel||Semi-independent Quad-Link system w/ dual shocks, 124.5 mm (4.9 in)|
The vehicle’s overall dimensions are slightly larger than the Bayou 220. The seat height is a bit of an upset for some, as it is not high enough to cater to taller riders. The combined rack capacity is quite handy but has room for improvement, as more and more consumers are gravitating towards predominant utility vehicles.
|Length||1,780 mm (70.1 in)|
|Width||1,020 mm (40.2 in)|
|Height||1,040 mm (40.9 in)|
|Seat Height (Unloaded)||730 mm (28.7 in)|
|Ground Clearance||155 mm (6.1 in) – rear axle|
190.5 mm (7.5 in)- center of chassis
|Wheelbase||1,115 mm (43.9 in)|
|Track (F/R)||764 mm (30.1 in) / 776 mm (30.6 in)|
|Dry Weight||183 Kg (404 lbs); 194 Kg (427.8 lbs – curb)|
|Carrier Capacity (F/R)||20 Kg (44 lbs) / 30 Kg (66 lbs)|
|Vehicle Load Capacity Limit||130 Kg (285 lbs)|
|Hitch Tongue Weight||14 Kg (30 lbs)|
|Trailer Weight (including cargo)||204 Kg (450 lbs)|
|Colors||Smoky Blue, Dark Royal Red, Woodsman Green, Sunbeam Red, Polar White|
The Kawasaki Bayou 250 has a tubular steel frame and plastic body panel in various color options. It also comes standard with utility racks, a front bumper, full floorboards, and a vinyl saddle seat. Instrumentation is still conservative – only a fuel gauge a 12V accessory connector. A Multi-Function GPS Kit (view on Amazon) and a weatherproof ATV cover are must-haves for your quad.
|Engine Stop Switch||Standard|
|Oil Temperature Switch||N/A|
|Headlight||12V 25W/25W x 2|
|Brake Light/Taillight||12V 27W/8W x 2|
|Indicator Lights||(reverse, neutral)|
Kawasaki Bayou 250 Top Speed
The Bayou 250 is not known for its speed. But if you want to improve your top-end and power output, port/polish the cylinder head and change the stock filter to a K&N air filter. A good valve adjustment, proper jetting of the stock carb, and getting a new spark plug are things you can do, too.
Beyond these suggestions, you might as well toss money out the window. Changing to a 34-mm carb may sound like a good idea. However, your four-wheeler’s cam profile, timing, and valve design cannot accommodate a larger carburetor. Insisting on this mod will only make your fuel economy worse, in addition to having hard starting problems and tuning headaches.
Taller tires are not a go-to solution either. I would not recommend monster-truck, oversized tires for the Bayou 250 due to its front suspension. They tend to throw the vehicle around and make it wobbly, as the tires do not maintain a neutral camber when the front shocks (view on Amazon) flex.
You may find yourself struggling to dodge around following high ground and tree roots at speeds over 20 mph – definitely bad news, especially for inexperienced riders.
Cost of the Bayou KLF250
Below is a consolidation of all Kawasaki Bayou 250 list prices and retail values (Source: Nada Guides):
|Year – Trim – Model Number||List Price||Retail/Trade-In Values|
|2003 Kawasaki Bayou 250 – KLF250A1||$3,299||$770 – $1,015|
|2004 Kawasaki Bayou 250 – KLF250A2||$2,999||$790 – $1,040|
|2005 Kawasaki Bayou 250 – KLF250A3||$2,999||$830 – $1,090|
|2006 Kawasaki Bayou 250 – KLF250A6F||$2,999||$840 – $1,105|
|2007 Kawasaki Bayou 250 – KLF250A5||$2,999||$925 – $1,220|
|2008 Kawasaki Bayou 250 – KLF250A6||$2,999||$1,255 – $1,650|
|2009 Kawasaki Bayou 250 – KLF250A||$3,099||$1,320 – $1,740|
|2010 Kawasaki Bayou 250 – KLF250AAE||$3,799||$1,580 – $2,080|
|2011 Kawasaki Bayou 250 – KLF250ABF||$3,599||$1,700 – $2,235|
Secondhand models would range from $325 to $1,750 tops. Pre-loved units valued at $1,000 or higher are often in good condition with minor cosmetic damage and little to no repairs needed. However, be wary of units sold for $500 or less. Some of these quads may be abandoned by previous owners, with unknown mileage/hours and running conditions.
Others may even have electrical or starting problems. Although the Kawasaki Bayou 250 is the least problematic of all displacements in the series, it would be much better if you could score a deal that does not require you to spend incessantly.
Below is a perfect example of some of the best resale units out there, as highlighted by Mainland Cycle Center:
Mini Quad Problems
If you encounter losing fire or your engine dying every 15 minutes or so, you may have an improper or restricted fuel flow. Check your fuel lines, filters, and vacuum mechanism.
While you are at it, examine your vehicle’s valve clearance, timing chain, and gas in the fuel tank (best to flush this out and replace it with new fuel). If they check out, start looking into electrical components.
Most Kawasaki Bayou 250 models are known to eat their spark plugs out. If so, getting a new spark plug is probably one of the first things you will have to do.
In most cases, the culprit behind stalling issues is a bad CDI or stator. At other times, electrical plugs come undone or get disconnected. Turning the handlebars left or right when riding can easily pull the plug due to a lack of slack. 4x4s that have sat for long periods in the garage or out in the yard also tend to stall more than those used frequently.
Some tell-tale signs that you have a defective CDI or stator are visibility of surface rust on the connections and overheating episodes. The inverse is true for electrical plugs, as physical inspection of the connections is required. You will need to remove some of the front plastic to access the electrical plugs found under the handlebars and in front of the gas tank.
A DIY fix is securing the plug/connection with a cable tie or electrical tape. While this solution may not be the best way to prevent the plugs from getting disconnected, it has done the trick for many Kawi riders.
Owners of ’94 and ’97 Bayou 250 models say that the engine noise seems to correspond with the RPMs’ speed. The machine works perfectly fine in low range, but the ticking sound happens once the gear goes up. Some of them end up ignoring the noise as it eventually goes away a few shifts later and, more importantly, does not affect how the machine runs. Personally, I would never consider dismissing engine noise as an option.
A bad rectifier/regulator in its pre-detonation stage usually results in ticking sounds. But other Kawasaki Bayou 250 parts could cause this sound as well. If the noise is coming from the top, you may have a worn cam lobe and rocker arm surface (including cam bearings and rocker pins) or damaged valve clearance. If it is from the bottom center, you may have a bad rod bearing. If the sound is coming from the bottom right, your cam chain tensioner (view on Amazon) or clutch hub may be to blame.
Here is a tutorial video by Cyclepedia Service Manuals that talks about how to inspect manual chain tensioners. It also briefly covers what causes a piston slap at 1:10 minutes into the video:
The cam chain should tighten automatically with Bayou 250s. Otherwise, you could have an over-stretched or dysfunctional tensioner. You may need to loosen the bolt and let the spring push the tensioner out before tightening the bolt back in on older machines.
Boring the machine may also be required if you have determined any of these problems – a broken oil pump, scratched-up jug, noise issue accompanied by smoke, or a piston slap.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. is the manufacturer of Kawasaki Bayou 250. Founded in 1878, the company traces its roots to when Shozo Kawasaki established his first shipyard alongside the Sumidagawa River in Tokyo. What then started as a parts supplier for shipbuilding businesses has grown into massive production of hydraulic machinery, transit, aerospace and energy systems, motorcycles, watercraft, and off-road vehicles. The technical savvy Kawasaki has obtained from developing and manufacturing aircraft engines and creating new technologies continue to reflect the engineering and design of its signature product offerings.
Conclusion – Kawasaki Bayou 250 Review
There is an excellent reason behind the Kawasaki Bayou 250 being one of the longest best-selling units ever produced by Kawasaki. This 4×4 is an inexpensive, remarkable machine that performs well in the ranch or off-pavement.
It is a rock-solid machine with tons of power and unquestionable durability, built to last for many years given proper care and consistent maintenance. Whether you own a hand-me-down gem or a barn find, the Kawasaki Bayou 250 is proof that you do not need a highly sophisticated four-wheeler to explore the outdoors and have fun.