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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Where is Kawasaki’s MX Thumper?

With all the news floating around about Honda’s four-stroke motocrosser, and rumors it will be raced in the AMA Outdoor Nationals beginning in San Bernardino next month, what about Kawasaki?

We’ve read reports that Kawasaki is working hard on the bike, but has encountered some development problems. Aside from development problems, Kawasaki may be concerned that the AMA will place a displacement limit on four-strokes racing against 250s below 500cc. Do we build a 550 or a 400? Maybe the AMA will have some say in this.

The displacement question must be answered before the chassis is finalized, obviously. A bigger, heavier motor requires a correspondingly stronger (and heavier) chassis. Isn’t Honda facing the same issues? Apparently, Honda is going ahead with a bike displacing approximately 500cc (according to most reports we have seen). If the AMA changes its rules, Honda can change its displacement.

Kawasaki’s thumper will be good, we expect, when it does show up. Its KLX300, although underpowered (due to lack of displacement) for motocross racing, is a sweet-handling bike. Kawasaki also knows a thing or two about making horsepower (look at its sportbikes).

We suspect Kawasaki is using Larry Roeseler, its former off-road (multi-time Baja winner, among other things) champion as a resource and tester for its new bike. Roeseler is still very close with Kawasaki, and he has become a four-stroke nut (he owns Stroker Four-Stroke Speed Equipment Company). Roeseler knows how to build and tune fast four-stroke dirt bikes — he’s a pro at tuning Yamaha’s own YZ426, for example. With Roeseler involved, Kawasaki has a big advantage.

As always, we’ll keep you posted if we hear more.