Basically, the combined population of China, India and
Pakistan must have felt very passionate about the YZ490.
Funny. I thought it was a crummy bike. As I remember, it
was the only bike that was harder to start than a KX500.
I know it vibrated more than a KX500 and was harder to
ride. And, didn’t they sound just terrible? Didn’t they make
a cacophony of detonation and ringing sounds that only
could create? This is
yet another instance
where my taste is
bad or my memory is
flawed. The ground-
swell of fondness for
the famous Airhammer is so overwhelming, I simply have to
search one out. I’m no motorcycle collector, but I don’t see
anything wrong with having a corner with a few bikes that
were this important to me. A YZ490? Sure. Great motor-
cycle. Sounded great too. Ask anyone.
I’m confused about how I’m supposed to feel about four-strokes too. They win races—sure, sure—but they aren’t
exactly like magnets. Post a photo of Ryan Dungey’s works
KTM 450 and it might attract a random response or two,
but I think any picture of a used Honda 250 two-stroke will
do better. Do I really like 15-year-old two-strokes better
than modern, state-of-the-art four-strokes? Yes, I do. At
least, that’s what my FBI report says. ❑
I was wrong. In the ’90s, the Kawasaki KX500 didn’t impress me. It was hard to start, it was heavy, it vibrated
like a blender full of rocks and it made you feel like you
forgot to go to the gym for 63 weeks in a row. Granted,
I occasionally rode them in the desert, but only when I
teamed up with guys like Paul Krause and Garth Sweetland.
I still thought I didn’t like them. So wrong. I just liked an
Instagram photo of Ty Davis riding one from 1999. Last
week I shared a Facebook post of Brandon Krause working
on his, and I retweeted something about Sean Collier racing
one at Glen Helen. Apparently, I love KX500s. Or, more to
the point, I’m a serial KX500 liker. If the FBI were to inves-
tigate me based on internet evidence, the report would say
only a few things—and “had a thing for KX500s” would be
at the top of the list. I guess this means I have to find one,
restore it and ride it. [Shudder.]
I was wrong about liking certain bikes as well. Last year
I brought a 1988 Kawasaki KDX200 back from the grave. I
loved that bike so much back in ’ 88 that I could hardly wait
to finish the project just so I could ride it. Imagine the looks
on the faces of all those modern KTM 350 guys when I ride
past on my 29-year-old girlie bike!
The process of transforming it from a worn-and-wasted
Craigslist find to a like-new Fredette replica took me about
a year. When I was done, I proudly posted a photo and
waited for the reaction. Facebook wasn’t impressed. There
were a few likes, one share and several mixed comments,
mostly in Spanish. Apparently, the bike wasn’t that good
after all. I reposted it a few more times, and the comments
“LOL. Bet my TT-R125 would wax this thang!”
“Didn’t know Kawasaki made mopeds”
“Worst rear suspension ever”
Huh? I guess the brakes aren’t that good. It is kinda slow.
Suspension? Did that matter in 1988? Come to think of it,
I didn’t ride a KDX
that often back then.
I might have actually
disliked the bike. I
should probably sell
mine to make room
for something better.
My taste in motorcycles might even be the real problem.
I have a confession that I haven’t made public in years: I
owned a 1981 Honda CR450R. Those who are over the age
of 50 are recoiling in shock right now. Some might even
stop reading. For younger readers, the ’ 81 Honda CR450R
is included on almost every “10 Worst Motorcycles” list
ever published. Almost all of those stories were written after
the fact by people who didn’t know the bike half as well as
I did. Here’s the really bad part—I kinda liked it…back then.
Not now, of course. Terrible bike. I know that now. Post a
photo of one; you’ll see.
Recently, I saw a post of Broc Glover riding a Yamaha
YZ490 at the Carlsbad USGP that got a bunch of likes.
“Apparently, I love KX500s. Or, more to the point, I’m a serial KX500 liker.”
By Ron Lawson