KAWASAKI 1989 KDX 200
Dedicated to the memory of John Pierson
One of my favorite motorcycles, the KDX 200. The model years from 1989 to 1994 were based on the 1988 KX 125s. They had a wide ratio gear box, heavier flywheel, lighting coil, larger fuel tank, bigger bore and longer stroke engine, kick stand, and lower grade components such as suspension, swingarm, etc. When the 89 models came out I tried to buy one and couldn’t get it, they were very popular. The KDX was sold as a trailbike but they proved much more than that. Jeff Fredette won many ISDT medals riding KDXs. They were known for being very reliable. During the 2020 Tennessee Knockout a KDX was ridden to a top 15 overall event in the pro class.
When some friends and I decided to race the Glen Helen 24 Hour race we didn’t want to get too serious, just have some fun. I volunteered a KDX basket case I had bought in 2010. Ken and Chris Flynn brought it back to life. They did an awesome job. The bike was based on a KDX I had built years earlier. The front forks and front brake came off a 1987 CR250 (Cartridge forks). The cylinder was done by Jeff Fredette. We used a PSI Pipe and Pro Circuit Silencer. Ken and Chris installed an LED headlight along with bar risers and over size handle bars. It also has a Works Team Green Rear disc guard.
We decided to race the 125 class with a goal to win the class and get a picture in Dirt Bike magazine. Our team ranged in ages from 14-52. All riders were expert level. There were two father son combos and one active duty Air Force Master Sergeant. I suggested to the team (mainly the two younger riders with heavy right wrists and twitchy clutch hands) to be easy on the bike, 24 hours is a long time for a vintage bike to run. We agreed to ride two laps each between rider exchanges. The laps were around ten miles each. We inspected the bike at each exchange. Several hours into the race we discovered the lower header pipe was smashed. Halfway thru the race while changing the gearbox oil we found several small pieces of metal in the oil. We figured out the Power-valve linkage had sheered. With a smashed header pipe and INOP Power valve the bike wasn’t making much power. To make matters worse the new Barnett clutch pack got hot and swelled up. The lever pull was so hard that we couldn’t use the clutch much. Before the race, I had suggested to run a 125 two-stroke size rear tire, this was a mistake. As the day turned into night and the course became more rutted and chewed up, it was tough to get up some of the hills. The small tire wasn’t hooking up either.
Overall it was a lot of fun and the bike finished. We won the class but didn’t get a picture in Dirt Bike magazine. As a note this would be John Pierson's last race. He passed away several years later.
To see this KDX build and race check out the video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/wisNIQC7zoc