2003 KX500

I have a 1994 KX500 and a 2001 YZ426. I'm a bigger guy, 210 pounds or so, and it seems like I do the same at our local races no matter which bike I ride. On the KX500 I get a great start and work my way towards the back, and on the 426 I get a lousy start and work my way up. The 426 is easier to ride, but I don't think I am really any faster on it in our 12 minute Sr. B motos. I am starting to think that I like the KX500 better - it is nice to have that extra power on tap! It is slower in the corners and harder to turn, but once ya have it lined up for the straightaway, pull the trigger and hang on!

And besides, it is pretty quiet when compared to the 4-strokes, and noise is a concern at a couple of my practice tracks.

As I tell my friends, it is old technology but proven technology.

Also, I'll be ready when the 500 Nationals make a comeback! :-)

Ben Atkinson

Western NY Motocross Association


2001 Yamaha YZ426

1994 Kawasaki KX500

1979 Yamaha YZ400

I ride my YZ426 almost exclusivley now, but every now and then Ill take my CR500 off the stand and go scare the living SH!T outa myself with it. The last post was right on the money, they dont turn as well, but once you get the thing pointed, pull the trigger and hang your A$$ on! My 500 has been ported, had the head milled, the carb bored, pro circuit pipe, and a couple other goodies too. No man on earth needs that much horsepower on a dirtbike. A hill climber maybe, but a trail bike, no way. When I rode moto with it, Id wave people by in the corners only to literally fly past them on the straight and shower them in a death roost. On a side note, you aint been roosted until youve been roosted by an open class twostroke with a paddle tire. Its what nightmares are made of.

If someone is catching a 500 twostroke in a drag, the 500 has stock gearing. The open two strokes are usually undergeared. I geared mine 15-45. Flat out, thats over 110 mph. Why? Because it'll pull it :)

Honda Australia advertised the CR 500 in 2001 as the final year of production, stating "get it before they go altogether."

This year they released it with a headlight, indicators, chainguard, sidestand and longer muffler etc so u can legally register it!

Thats right, you can now fly down to the local shops in Australia to get the groceries on your street legal CR 500. Yamaha did a similar thing with the YZ 250.

It is funny that this post has started--I am expecting a 2003 KX 500 to be delivered In about 2 weeks. I used to moto, hill climb, x-country, etc. on a 500 in my youth because I could only afford one bike that could do well in all. I had extensions, paddle wheels (yes, aluminum paddles welded to a spare rim--you talk about ROOST!), etc. for it. I kicked butt in all aspects and with less maintenance. You don't have to feather the clutch or change the top end nearly as often. In fact, a top each season yielded minimal wear. Great bike. There is something to be said about starting a race in 3rd gear and never touching the gear shift until the end of the moto. Pure delight. When I got back into the game, I originally wanted a KX 500, but was told misinformation about it already being off of the market, therefore I bought a 426. After stalling and losing places trying to get it going again, I decided I was going back. Therefore, I am selling my 426 and going back to old reliable. The low price goes a long way towards putting Ohlins front and rear--making it a lot more competitive. If you have never had the sheer delight of riding one, you owe it to yourself. They are a real treat. I can't wait to get back on it.

ive never ridden a cr/kx500 but heres why i would never buy a kx500. 1 i just dont trust kawasaki's machines 2 their cylinders really suck and they flake and destroy them selves forcing a sleeve or replate on a cr500 they have borable cylinders. 3 ive herd they blow headgaskets alot and lastly they look bad. the style dosnt meen much but they look like a bike my father rode as a kid.also they have less power stock even w/ a powervalve when a cr500 dosnt. not ragging on the kx it probly is a nice bike but i wouldnt buy one.

[ July 25, 2002: Message edited by: bodge ]

This may be a bad analogy but to me it seems like its in the same boat as the camaro/firebirds of the 70's. --Too much power for its handling characteristics.-- I have never rode one but I cant imagine having double the cc's of the 250 and being able to control the hit, or limit wheelspin. Unless you are a Pro or Vet I'll bet its nearly unridable in a tight woods situation.

But then again, I havent rode one. I dont know. I do know that even on my 426 I have trouble controlling wheelspin, and tight woods is a handful, and the 426 is mild in comparison.

230 lbs of compression? my friend says it runs at 150psi?

Believe it or not, my CR500 with all its mods, is a great trail bike. Its light, and flickable. But the whole "holy crap" issue starts when ya get that thottle opened up past about 1/3rd. The first 30% of the power is pretty mello, its after that, ya gotta watch what the heck your doing, make sure its pointed where you want it go when ya pull the trigger. When it hooks up, the acceleration can be breath taking. Starting can be a rigours deal. Most two strokes dont have drill, and if your Arnold Swartenegger it doesnt either, but most mortals gotta do the drill, to light my CR. At 230lbs of compression, ya dont just whip out the kicker and wack at it. It will either break off, or not move.

Originally posted by bodge:

ive never ridden a cr/kx500 but heres why i would never buy a kx500. 1 i just dont trust kawasaki's machines 2 their cylinders really suck and they flake and destroy them selves forcing a sleeve or replate on a cr500 they have borable cylinders. 3 ive herd they blow headgaskets alot and lastly they look bad. also they have less power stock even w/ a powervalve when a cr500 dosnt.

Their cylinders really suck? You should have told me that before I bought my ’95. And my ’97. And my ’92. And my ’99. Where were ya when I needed ya bodge???

The KX motor should last much longer as it is Nikasil plated. Anybody that has to resort to boring a 500 is either an idiot, raced Baja, or very unlucky.

Yes they are ugly. Just don’t look at it. Try riding it instead.

The Honda is truly old-school in the motor dept, the KX in the ergos. Pick yer poison.

As for having less power than a CR, you are mistaken. I’ve ridden a ’99 CR many times and owned a ’99 KX. The power is comparable, the KX is understandably more tractable due to the power valve but they both have good mid and top. Overall I like the way the CR turns, but prefer the suspension, esp. the forks, as well as the motor on the KX.

IMO the bike pictured above is a very good alternative to shelling out seven grand or so for an AF CR (but my ’95 KX 250 didn’t turn either :) ).

As far as this cr kx thing goes,ive owned a few of each and a maico 1986 gm 500 and loved all of them,they made great fun off road bikes and were all as reliable as a rock! the kx is a sweet bike as the suspension soaks up all the trail trash and the seat really comfy for those all day rides.anyone who owns one should keep it in good condition as they are going to get rare.nothing like the instant power no cough and stall like the four stroke and run cool too.ok so they kill a few mosquitos on tight trails,jet it right and its amazing! clutch lives forever too!!

kx500 saved my @ss this week.if it was for my buddies kx500 id still be walking back from crashing my bike.his kx500 looked like pack mule with tools and supplies bungied all over as we rode doubles back and forth to my bike.if you want full story chk."scare of a lifetime"

I have a 98 YZ 400 and a 92 KX 500. My KX puts out 62 hp at the rear wheel. My YZ only puts out 44. The KX only weighs in at 230 lbs. I don't even know what my YZ weighs. Sure the KX technology is older, but you can't beat that horsepower. I just don't like the gas mileage of the KX. My KX is wired to power more lights than you could ever want to put on it also. It is great for the night rides, but I havn't gotten around to rewinding my YZ.

The 500 is really great in the trees and deadly on the straights. It lugs well and responds to any twist of the throttle--no need to constantly feather the clutch.

Ya 230#. Mine stock was 150-160 too. Its been worked on pretty good. CT racing did a pretty serious number on it. I pulls on the bottom like a tractor. And its race gas only. It doesnt rev the way it used to, but it pulls the gearing (15/45) with no problem.

So how much power does a totally built 500 put out? Ive heard around 70hp.

The Kawa brochure says 67 HP stock. Add a pipe,reeds, filter, etc. and 70 HP would be very achievable.

I mean at the rear wheel. 67 is at the crank. Its about 56 at the rear wheel stock.

This is great how long this artical has gone on. It just shows how great of a bike the KX was and still is. Someday maybe soon the 4 strokes will have as much power as the KX has. That will be awesome.

I have to sell my KX and it really hearts to see it go. Need the money. Selling for $3100. I wish I would of known about that custom frame written above before I bought my YZ cause I would of done that with my KX.

The KX did not like turns very well though. But you could go like 100 mph over woops. The suspension was really plush and it tracked perfectely straight. It would also climb any hill. Where the YZ seems like its going to run out of power or it stalls at the top or right before the top. Boy do I hate when the YZ stalls at the top or right before the top of a really nasty Arizona hill.

I won the new riders race/my first motorcross on the KX500.

Here is a email that I sent to Kawasaki on the 500:

I am anxiously awaiting delivery of a new 2002 KX500. I have owned two KX 500's and believe that they have been the best bike I have ever owned. I got away from the sport in 1990 and returned this year. I initially saught out a KX500 and was told a myriad of misinformation about it being discontinued, impossible to get, etc. FROM YOUR DEALERS. Therefore, I bought a 2002 Yamaha YZ426F. Well, I found out that not only are they still out there, but available. I have since sold my 426 and am ready for the 500. I really did like the Yamaha, but once you have been exposed to the type of power that exists in the 500 you are ruined for life--you always lust for it. If I were made of money, I would have 2 bikes--the Yamaha and the 500. The real reason for this email is that there is still a warm following out there for the bike. I believe that with minimal modernization and marketing, the bike could really be a hit. A change to the rear fender, seat/fuel tank interface would go a long way with minimal expense. People dog the bike until they ride it! In the era of constant change each year to keep ahead of the Jones's, it is a real testament to the design to see such an old design still be quite rideable and competitive.

I am enclosing a hyperlink that I hope someone in authority can view. It is a post on a forum dedicated to 4 STROKE BIKES! As you can see it is a very active discussion that shows a hearty respect for the bike in a audience with little regard for 2 strokes. The forum is called Thumpertalk.com and here is the hyperlink:


Thank you,

Tyler Guidice


Q) Will the different properties of chrome moly, when compared to the stock 250 frame material, result in a chassis with different handling characteristics? Can you convince me that this bike will handle, say, 75% the same as a KX 250?

A) The different properties of chrome moly affect handling to a lesser degree than the added horsepower and mass of the 500 engine. Chrome moly is stiffer, coupled with the torsional rigidity of round tube as opposed to the stock rectangular tube, seems to make the bike track straighter in the rough and whoops and hold a line more precisely. Mark Lundgren, a expert level desert racer who has race KX's for years (both 250 and 500) did a large portion of the testing for me. He is probably one of the fastest guys in Utah. He was very skeptical that a bike with 500 suspension could be any different from a stock 500. At the end of the day he gave me a deposite for a kit and his brother did so the nest day. You can contact him at Dirt Works after noon or at ATK in the morning for a first hand report. The added weight of the 500 engine made the bike more stable than the 250 at speed. I think that you would be pleasantly surprised at the way the bike feels and turns. The input I've gotten so far is that it is superior to a 250 with 500 power.

Mark L and his bro Jeff are friends of mine and run the club I belong to. Jeff's bike is the one I was talking about with blue plastics and Yellow frame.

Pretty harsh bike though.

Jeff is still having trouble w/suspension but Mark , I believe, has switched over to a 250shock and linkage.

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