I rebuilt the motor, Race Tech rebuilt the suspension,
and most of the bearings, seals, gaskets and clutch parts
were all available through Pro-X. The first time I tried to
ride the bike was at the Adelanto GP. There’s a class in all
the Big Six races for old bikes.
It seized on the first lap. I was devastated! Even now, I
still don’t know why; it had the stock jetting and the stock
pipe at the time. Whatever; the cylinder was destroyed,
and I had to start all over. Bud Matto and the guys at
Performance Machine re-plated the barrel while I took
everything apart again. They say that all old bikes have air
leaks; it’s just a matter of how bad. I sealed everything and
went to DG for a whole new carburetor. I should have done
that from the start. The 35mm Keihin PWK was a brand-new carb back in the late ’80s, and it was amazing. When
they sit for 30 years, however, they’re not so good. There
were certain problems—the carb I got from DG had the
choke and idle adjuster on the left, where they were almost
inaccessible with the KDX’s airbox in the way. So it goes.
DG also supplied the pipe. I modified it by adding 10mm
to the head pipe for more low-end. The stock muffler was
used because it was reasonably quiet.
On the second rebuild, the bike also got a real gift: new
wheels. Actually, they were better than new. Dubya rebuilt
them with new stainless spokes and the company’s own
rims, which were much higher quality than the originals.
I even got black rims—not period authentic, but they
look awesome and I don’t apologize. San Diego Powder
Coating made the frame look perfect (with minimal prep
work on my end). The crowning touch was new foam and
seat cover from Seat Concepts and graphics from ZLT.
Everything in the restoration process is slow. While the
various build and rebuild jobs were going on, the whole
ISDE concept was falling apart. The promoter of the
Spanish ISDE was going ahead with a vintage class, but it
would be an invitational, and the AMA didn’t want to support it. The word eventually trickled down that there would
be no vintage class in the U.S. qualifiers and no room for
vintage bikes in the official Team USA container bound for
Europe. Every few months I called Jeff Fredette to discuss
the whole plan. He loved the fact that I was showering his
favorite bike with so much attention, but was skeptical
about getting it into the race. I eventually stopped pursuing
the idea. Since then, I hear that Fred Hoess actually got
on board with a 1986 Husky WR250. He will be the only
American in the vintage class.
It doesn’t matter that much. I now have a finished
KDX200 ready and waiting for next year. The bike is a gas
to ride. It’s a mixture of modern tech and old-school thinking. It’s torquey and smooth, with reasonable suspension
and just as sweet as it was in the old days. To be honest,
there are some things that weren’t as I remembered them.
Who knew that drum rear brakes were so weak? Did they
really ride with footpegs that narrow? I had to install IMS
Pro Series pegs; I owed it to my arches.
I’ll use the next year to work out some other issues too.
I have no idea why it blows out headlight bulbs so quickly.
I wish the odometer worked. And, someday, I hope to find
tank stickers that stay on for a full day of riding. Come to
think of it, I better hustle. The 2017 ISDE is only a year
Seat Concepts re-sculpted
the seat foam and gave it
a Super Grip cover, which
had to be custom-made.
The Kawasaki KDX of 1986
to 1988 was the last of
the air-cooled two-stroke
enduro bikes from Japan
and has ergonomics that
feel more or less modern.
Race Tech is one of the few
existing suspension companies
that actually worked on bikes like
the 1988 KDX when it was new.
The most modern and high-end part on
the KDX are the Dubya wheels. The guys
down there actually can bend their own
spokes to fit almost anything.
Race Tech is one of the few