Kawasaki Stockman KL250
The Stockman is a farm bike built for the serious farmer who puts a premium on quality and technical superiority. Designed especially for the Australasian farm market, the Stockman delivers 250cc four stroke torque and high quality construction. Features like dual kick stands, large carriers, and a low seat height are just some reasons why this is the world’s best farm bike.
Engine and transmission
The Stockman is powered by a brisk, reliable air-cooled four-stroke, single-cylinder engine, which delivers a smooth spread of responsive power right through the rev range and has plenty of on-call, get-up-and-go to race to the front of a herd of cattle or power up steep hills. This was the first thing everyone on the test day commented on. The amount of power it supplied for a bike of its size was impressive; it never seemed to struggle on even the steepest hills.
The engine is matched to a relatively smooth six-speed transmission that will allow riders to be in the right gear at the right time. Although the bike we tested never had any problems tackling the hills, it was probably geared a little too high for following along behind stock unless you’re prepared to use the clutch regularly. However, Kawasaki is more than happy to change the sprockets and gear the bikes to match the customer’s requirements when they are sold.
The engine uses an electric starter, and the Kawasaki Automatic Compression Release, which essentially opens a valve on the exhaust to lower compression enabling easier starting. The exhaust system on the bike is built from high grade stainless steel which is another great idea on the bike that will ensure a longer life in tough New Zealand conditions. Something I believe that is missing from the bike is a backup kick-start. Sooner or later you’ll end up with a flat battery through human error and it’s never at a convenient time or place.
Chassis and suspension
The bike is held in a semi double cradle frame which is built out of round high-tensile tube steel to provide a strong yet lightweight frame. There are steel guards on the front of the engine to protect it from rocks and stumps, and also aluminium guards on the handle bars to protect your hands and the levers from damage. The sturdy rack on the back can carry up to 20kg and gives protection to the brake light, a rack at the front of the bike is ideal for smaller items with a clip to secure them and provides some protection to the front headlight.
The Stockman uses Uni-Trak suspension at the rear which lowers the centre of gravity for better handling and a smoother, more controlled ride. This uses a single adjustable shock absorber that can be set to the load and riding conditions. At the front there are sturdy twin telescopic long travel forks.
A simplistic design for the brakes means that they are extremely low maintenance and will offer an exceptionally long wear-life. A dual-piston disc up front and single-piston disc at the rear are used to take care of braking and controlled stops on the Stockman.
Practicality and comfort
The attention to weight reduction and distribution that Kawasaki has shown gives the Stockman superb lightweight manoeuvrability and easy handling, meaning you can ride this bike all day on the farm without feeling beaten up and is very nimble whether going straight up or cutting across the side of a hill.
The carriers are positioned carefully to insure that even with a load on it, the bike still remains well balanced. Aluminium has also been used for the wheel rims and some of the guards to keep the weight down. The fuel tank has also been kept low and smaller to keep the balance right, although fuel capacity is about three to four litres less than other bikes this size, Kawasaki believes it is adequate to keep this bike on the move.
It was good to see dual side stands, something that should be included on any two-wheeler ever built in my opinion, and the lock on the clutch lever which is another tried and tested farm bike idea, that saves shifting down to neutral when jumping off to open gates. There is a digital display up on the centre of the handle bars that displays the speedo with a odometer, trip meter and a handy clock. Lights the display the Indicators, headlights and when the bike is in neutral are next to the speedo.
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