The return of the boss

by Andy Bryenton

On the street, you want a bike to be noticed. On the racetrack, you want it to come first. On the dirt — and in the air — off-road, you want ground clearance and confidence-inspiring torque. However, what the farmer wants in his two-wheeler is simple. It should start every time and work every day without drama, fuss or a massive upkeep bill.

Now, it’s easy enough to shoehorn the word ‘just’ into that sentence. Nonetheless, making it so requires a whole lot of research on just how tough farming conditions really are, and what the farming customer wants in a two-wheeler when it comes to specifics. Making an engine, which will scream around the Isle of Man — once — is easy compared to making a reliable and gutsy four-stroke, which will handle mud, hills, slow-speed, clutch-heavy riding behind the herd and then more mud. Every day.

In all seasons. Forever.

Kawasaki struck a nice formula with their Stockman 250, and that extra 50 is one of the meatier ingredients in the mix. With an extra bit of displacement to play with, the engineers at Kawasaki were able to wring more grunt from their ultra-bulletproof four-stroke, single-cylinder air-cooled engine, delivering not just a handy burst of speed up the farm races, but also delivering 20 Nm of torque.

That may not seem much compared to what lurks under the bonnet of your diesel ute, but on a bike, which weighs less than previous models due to improved materials tech, it’s something you can feel through all six gears. 

Little additional tweaks such as twin kickstands with big mud-friendly ‘feet’, a powerful headlamp, nigh indestructible plastics and even a special valve system to make start-ups easier show that this bike was designed after talking to real farmers. One can’t help but appreciate the lower centre of gravity afforded by the rear uni-trak suspension, granting added stability in the rough stuff, or overlook the difference a bit of extra oomph makes during a long day in the saddle.

As the Kawasaki brand gears up for a big National Field Days in June, it’s a prime time to see why they call this one ‘the boss’ bike’. Unlike smaller displacement models on the market, this green machine feels utterly in control, with power to spare to get clear of sticky situations.