The Rescue Mission, Saving a 2000 KX250 Part I

Part II
Part III

At EDM we have rescued several bikes from certain death by creating restoration projects out of them. As a rule, each of these bikes has required countless hours of work to restore, the trade off is the sense of accomplishment when they are finished is unsurpassed. And the satisfaction we get when they are on display is worth every minute. Check the KX125 we did HERE. We also did a YZ125/144 which can be seen HERE

I think there is something to be said for setting a goal and working toward it. Check my most recent Exhaust Note for more on this. In the following pages we will be taking you through the process of restoring a 2000 KX250 we picked up at a yard sale for a couple hundred dollars. It was not pretty when we started and some may say it is a waste of time and money. I disagree, because in the end, knowing all that went into the KX as it stands today, we have a bike we can respect and take pride in.

The 2000 model was a good year for the Kawasaki MX bike, while it had a few issues in the suspension dept., the motor was good and Ricky Carmichael, with a little help from Chad Watts of Watts Perfections – his mechanic at the time, took the outdoor top honors on board one. In capable hands, the bike had potential to be fast as well as look good. With this in mind we figured we could not let the opportunity pass.

The KX we bought was in a pretty sorry state of disrepair, which BTW is not unusual for a bike this age found at a yard sale in the middle of North Carolina. Most of what was wrong with it could be dealt with by simply washing it and replacing the beat plastics. This however, is merely the superficial and we were hoping to ride the bike when finished. Ultimately the drive train was shot, the fork seals blown, handle bar bent, levers wasted, cables frayed, tires cracked and bald. Basically we had the skeleton to work with.

They call this a “basket case”.

When doing a restoration project we typically break down the bike into sections and sub sections. For example wheels would be the main object with the hub being a sub section. It makes the task less daunting when you can break it down into smaller pieces.

When beginning a project like this we like to start with the motor as it is the heart of any bike. It can be the most costly part of a restoration and if the engine doesn’t work, it’s no good having snappy looking wheels and a freshly powder coated frame. With this in mind we set out to get the engine out of the frame and onto the bench to make a list of which parts will require replacement to get it going again and which parts might be salvageable and could be reused.

Our KX motor out of the frame, curious to what is inside.

As is fairly standard for a neglected 2 stroke dirt bike, the engine was caked with layers of mud stains and oil from a leaking exhaust, the piston was bad and the cylinder was its equal, needing to be bored and re-coated. We figured we might as well replace all of the seals as we had it open. And since we were splitting the cases we might as well replace the main bearings. Can you say can of worms? Turns out the clutch basket was looking as if it had been subjected to some serious thrashing, no surprise there with all the woods riding we have in this region and it would need to be replaced as well. It had deep divots cut into the fingers of the basket from the metal tabs on the friction plates so there was nothing to do but chuck it in the bin. The power valve and its linkage were in surprisingly fine shape under the spooge and carbon build up and would only need a good cleaning. Thankfully, the transmission was all good and could be used without any new parts, leaving us with a fairly strong start point for the motor portion of the KX250 project.

This is what we found underneath the stator assembly… Tasty!
OEM clutch baskets are notorious for this type of wear, it makes finding neutral difficult.
Old crank, new crank. Simple…

In an effort to ease the parts ordering process, we wanted to try to find a single source for everything if possible and a phone call to the fine people at Wiseco provided the simplicity we were seeking. They understood the process we were going through and offered some great suggestions regarding piston choice. A quick search on the Wiseco website displayed all the parts available through Wiseco for our KX motor, they had everything we needed. We ordered a piston kit, complete crank with bottom end bearings, a complete gasket/ oil seal set, and a complete clutch basket which included the pressure plates, springs and clutch plates.

Wiseco’s clutch basket makes lever pull almost effortless.

If you have never gotten a Wiseco Clutch hub into your hands, you need to, the new clutch has to be seen to be appreciated, it truly is a super slick work of art. Since it’s milled from a solid piece of aluminum all the edges are crisp, with no signs forging like the OEM basket. Additionally, in a moment of thoughtfulness, Wiseco anodizes it to minimize wear and create a buttery smooth pull at the clutch lever. Unfortunately all this gets hidden by the side cover. However, squeezing the clutch lever does hint at something going on inside the motor but it’s a shame it’s all hidden.

Matching the cylinder base to the cases is key to getting the most from a stock motor.

We feel blue printing a motor is the best way to get the most reliable power from it. This involves making sure no casting material is left on any of the passages and making certain all the parts go together without protrusions at the seams. With a bit of grinding we matched the two case halves to each other and with the base of the cylinder. The idea behind this effort was, we wanted to build a motor that would run fine on pump gas and even better on a 50/50 mixture of 100 and 93 octane with a 32:1 premix for extended main bearing life. We left the timing on the ports stock and didn’t make any changes to increase compression. We sent the cylinder out to Lancourt Performance Inc. in Auburn, Alabama for boring and re-plating.

Our cylinder fresh from Lancourt
Our cylinder fresh from Lancourt

We have worked with them on several other projects in the past with great success. They have a quick turn around and are very gracious when it comes to answering the multitude of questions we lay on them whenever we have them on the phone. If you are rebuilding a top end on any of motor requiring re-plating, give them a call.

Assembling the motor was handled by the folks at Gaston Motorcycle Werks in Gastonia, NC. They have helped us with past projects and we appreciate the quality or the work they do. They are painstakingly meticulous and pay close attention to the details that make a project like this shine. We brought them a box of parts and a truly beat motor and picked up what we consider to be a work of art. With our motor rocking and rolling it is now time to address the wheels and brakes. But for this you’ll have to wait for the second installment of the story…


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