There is a tale of a woman who was given a beautiful bouquet of flowers for her birthday. She put the flowers in a vase on her dining room table and the flowers were so beautiful and colorful they brightened up the entire room. Unfortunately the elegance of these flowers made her table look ordinary, so she replaced the table with a new one. The flowers and table looked great together, however, the new table made the chairs look past their prime, so she replaced them and the new table and chairs looked so nice they made the paint look dingy so she had the room repainted and so on. You get the idea, she wound up completely redoing her entire dining room because of these flowers. The obvious point of the story is if you put something new next to something old and worn, the old item is going to look really rough. The not so obvious point is that once you get a ball rolling it can be difficult to stop. But that’s the fun with these projects, right? While a fresh motor sitting in a less than stellar frame can look fine, that same fresh motor next to dull, scratched, wobbly rims, well, not so much. We have done several of these rebuild projects and each of them has been transformed to the next level with a wheel revamp. Lacing a set of wheels, while not exactly easy, can be done by nearly anyone, all it requires is a few tools, a bit of patience, and some free time. Check our wheel build how to HERE. When you do a project like this, there a few improvements that will have as great an impact visually as new rims, spokes, and tires.
On past rebuild projects we have chosen to get rims and spokes from Warp 9 Racing. The finish quality of their rims is outstanding, they stand behind their product, and their prices can’t be beat. What more could you ask for in a product? Ordering is simple, just give a call, tell them what year/make/model you have and tell them what you are looking for. They’ll do the rest. They also have complete wheel sets that come with brake discs and a rear sprocket if you choose to go that route. We have thoroughly tested their rims and they have proven to stand up strong to the rigors of off-road motorcycling. Like our KX125 rebuild, for our KX250 we wanted the contrast a set of black rims would provide to the Kawasaki green. Not only would these new rims be replacing the old beat ones but we were going for a superior visual impact as well.
While we had the wheels off the bike we checked the hub bearings to see what kind of condition they were in. Turns out they were fine but needed grease so we repacked them and moved into removing the spokes. One of the benefits of getting new spokes is you don’t have to worry about saving the old ones. Since these project bikes are usually pretty neglected, the spokes and spoke nipples have typically become fused and there’s little chance they will come apart even with several days of soaking in penetrating fluid. They frequently will have to be cut. This can be done with a grinding wheel or a torch. We go the torch route as it is much faster and less messy. If you need to cut the spokes from your wheels be sure to cut them in a crisscross pattern (similar to torquing a head) to relieve the tension evenly so you don’t place any undue stress on the hub flanges.
While we had the hubs free from the rims we taped off the bearings and ran them through the sand blaster to clean them up. Fourteen years of mud and muck had stained the aluminum to the point where no amount of soap was going to get them clean again. With clean hubs, bright shiny new spokes, and black rims it was time to mount tires. We had a set of MotOz Traculas that were looking for a good home and our 250KX was just the place, these tires are an excellent choice for the trails and tracks in our area. The dirt in North Carolina can be amazing but most of the time it’s really crap, hard packed clay, more like concrete than dirt, the wide knobs and 100% natural rubber compound makes the MotOz quite durable when it comes to putting the power of a 250 2 stroke to the ground.
With basically brand spanking new wheels on our hands the next thing to address was the drive train. Nasty is about the only word we can use here to describe the condition of the existing chain and sprockets on our KX250. Whoever the previous owner was, he clearly didn’t give a crap about this bike and simply rode it until it was so broken down and thrashed it would just no longer move forward. Motors break, it’s awful when it happens, but it does. Even the cleanest bike can have a motor go bad. But, there is no excuse for the neglect this bike saw. Utter disrespect was written all over this poor thing. Check our Editor in Chief’s latest exhaust note (link) for more on this. Sorry for the digression. The good thing about machines is that they are a complex conglomeration of parts and parts can be replaced. At their suggestion a Renthal Twin Ring 50t rear sprocket, 14t front sprocket and R3 O-ring chain replaced the nastiness and our Editor in Chief was happy again. While we were at it we replaced the handle bar with a Blah blah bend Renthal Fatbar.
With new sneaks and a fresh motor on our green machine it was time to take her out for a little spin. We have a local riding area where we do some play riding in Shelby, SC called Shelby Motocross Express. It’s a low key place and a perfect place to work out the kinks when fine tuning a project bike like this. It didn’t take long for the first of several to show its ugly head. The brakes absolutely stunk and there was nothing we could do about it short of replacing both brake rotors. Big surprise, take a look at the photo above… While we were at it we yanked both stock brake lines as well as whatever pads were in the calipers. A call to the folks at Galfer USA got us heading in the right direction again. With a fresh set of Wave rotors – 270mm oversized for the front with steel braided lines, and semi-metallic pads, the rear brake also got semi-metallic, we were back in business. KX’s of this time period had notoriously bunk front brakes but with the Galfer system, feedback and modulation is fantastic plus one finger is all that’s needed to lift the rear wheel off the ground.
The next issue was in the carburetor, the jetting wasn’t even close and the KX sputtered along. The jetting that was in the bike was what FMF specifies for their pipe but we found it to be extremely rich, it could be the humidity here in NC this time of year. After a few attempts we finally wound up with a 148 main – FMF spec is 160, a 48 pilot – FMF spec is 52, and the OEM needle 1 from the top. The plug looks good and throttle response is now crisp.
For part III we have a few small fine tuning details to add and we will be taking our KX250 out for some woods riding and a bit of MX to see how it performs in real world situations.