Kawasaki Off Road Motorcycles
If I may paraphrase everyone’s favorite writer Peter Egan, he once wrote that a finicky, high-strung, fragile, needy vehicle is only worthwhile if you don’t have to count on it. His exact wording is lost in my brain, but the basic message stuck: Don’t plan to commute on your trick stuff or you will begin to hate it. Have a push-button bike that never fails for the daily grind and the I-can’t-miss-this-meeting sorts of days.
So I have a 2006 Yamaha FZ1. Penske shock, Ivan’s Performance ECU reflash, and a Dynojet PCV with the quick-shifter (of course). It runs on Dunlop Q3s and has an awesome support group at www.yamahafz1oa.com. FZ1s serve as the instructor bikes at the Yamaha Champions Riding School and we have failed to break one yet. We love them; ask Scott Russell. Chris Peris is looking for a used one right now. Shane Turpin bought one. So I bought an ‘06 and do everything on it—commute, tour, and track days. Push the button and it runs. Done deal.
Now a beast of burden, yesterday a track bike, tomorrow a ride my brother can borrow—that’s the Yamaha FZ1. This is the “faster red version” made in 2006 (inside joke on www.yamahafz1oa.com).
But on the crazy/finicky side sits my 1991 KX500 supermotard. It needs attention before and after every ride. Things fall off because it buzzes. Things wear out because they’re overstressed. Things leak because the bike’s 24 years old. But because of the FZ1, the KX can get run and then parked until time and money are sourced for a re-prep.
One of these bikes is a sweet, wonderful, I’ll-take-care-of-you kind of motorcycle. The other is a KX500. This bike’s motocross and desert-racing history includes names like Goat Breker, Stever Stackable, Jeff Ward, Mike Kiedrowski, Mike LaRocco, Ron Lechien, Danny Hamel, Destry Abbott. When men were men and open bikes were two-strokers. I’m not in their league, but I love their bike.
It goes out for short, intense blasts. My dirtbike/supermoto skills can be compared to a kitten’s hunting skills: We both go through the motions but nobody feels threatened. However, the bike itself encourages brave attempts at being Jeff Ward. What Ward makes look easy at huge speeds I attempt in my own kitten-like fashion at a more sedate pace.
I live surrounded by dirt roads. Some well kept, some not. The KX doesn’t care; it just wants to spin the tire all the time, everywhere and for as long as I can handle it. If a person wanted to perfect throttle control, they would ride this bike on gravel roads because 1/32 of throttle turn that isn’t preconsidered with rapt attention and feverish focus has the ass going south while the bike heads east. I haven’t crashed it yet but we’ve been in the ditch more than a few times. I wear a lot of protective gear when I ride this bike.
“Yes, I’m a little crazy. Now get on.” For my last birthday I got a ProMoto billet sidestand that I cut down to fit the lowered Kawi. The headlight? From the local tractor-supply store.
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