Air cooled kx500's worth messing with?

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12/24/2018 8:39 AM

A friend of mine just picked up an 83 kx500. Kinda rough, will definitely need some work and $$ to get it rideable. Doesn't look like parts are very common, nor did they get decent reviews when they were new. Heck I can't even find a recent one for sale in any condition.

Are they worth investing some money in, or dump it and stick with water-cooled ones?

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12/24/2018 10:21 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/24/2018 10:28 AM

It depends exactly what your goal is, but I worked in Kawasaki's R ad D department during the 80's and did some of the development work on the 500's, and can tell you that if you are looking for a big bore bike for vintage racing in the 1980 and newer class for link and disc brake bikes, there are WAY better bikes than an 83 kx500. An 86 kx500 is one of them and it will rip your arms out of their sockets. An 81 yz465 or maico are also better even though they are older bilkes. I'm guessing that any honda would also be better even if it was from the 70's, lol.

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12/24/2018 10:44 AM

Yes.
Be different, every man and his dog runs a Honda or Maico with the odd RM500 or YZ490 thrown in.

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12/24/2018 10:53 AM

Achahoish wrote:

Yes.
Be different, every man and his dog runs a Honda or Maico with the odd RM500 or YZ490 thrown in.

ummm...that is only because they do not want to be LAST to the finish line, lol.

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12/24/2018 11:16 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/24/2018 11:29 AM

Here's a review of it from "The Top 10 Worst MX Bikes Ever Made" list. It's most redeeming quality is that it was not at the very top of the list. That special honor went to the 1971 Suzuki TM Cyclone.


4. The 1983 Kawasaki KX500

"This brings us to the subject at hand. Kawasaki’s all-new and fully two years in the making, 1983 KX500. You would perhaps be right in thinking that if a company takes a year off to regroup and comes out with an all new model, it should be better than the one that had caused them to quit in the first place. Well, in this case you would be wrong. In almost every way the ‘83 KX500 was actually worse than the much-maligned 420 had been. Kawasaki had taken a sow’s ear and instead of turning it into a silk purse, came back with a whole pig.

This bike was bad, so bad in fact none of the magazines could even test it in stock form. The 83 KX500 had a motor so poorly designed that it would blow itself to pieces in the matter of a few laps. The big 500 Kawasaki was saddled with a terminal case of the knocks and if left unchecked, it would literally beat itself to death in short order. Once the motor got a little hot it would start rattling like it had a box of marbles loose inside it. If you ignored the death rattle, the next sound you would hear was a very expensive bang, as big pieces of aluminum became little pieces of aluminum. This baby was a grenade with the pin pulled."

"This thing knocked worse than a diesel Chevette with water in the tank."

"If you revved out the big KX all you were greeted with was more death rattle and worse vibration than a Harley with loose motor mounts."

"As is fitting with any truly terrible bike the chassis was only mildly better than the motor."

"The ‘83 KX was a very tall bike. With a seat height of 39 inches it would be a sky scraper even today. This meant anyone fewer than six feet tall would find it virtually impossible to start the unruly beast without the help of a hill or milk crate."

"So you ask, was there anything actually good about the 1983 KX500? Oh yes, all was not lost. Here is a list of the excellent features of the 1983 Kawasaki KX500.

– Disk Brake"

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12/24/2018 12:17 PM

I have raced mx for 35 years, and my first race bike was an 83 kx500 got my first holeshot on it, won my first trophy on it went 1-1 first time ever on it
nowadays I still race and I like to find and restore bikes that have a special place in my heart
I will NEVER look for an 83 kx500

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12/24/2018 12:21 PM

The single best improvement you can make to an 83 KX500 is to sell it and buy a different bike.

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12/24/2018 3:36 PM

We know it's not a great bike haha.

We were more so wondering if there was any market for them. It's probably $150 away from being a running bike. I doubt he would restore it to a showroom piece. Catch is, he doesn't want to get too upside down in it with money.

There's no sentimental value to either of us. I can't find evidence of any 83 or 84's for sale online.

Basically trying to avoid putting $1000 into a $1000 bike.

I do love my 01 kx500 though.

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12/24/2018 5:45 PM
Edited Date/Time: 12/24/2018 5:53 PM

6bt wrote:

We know it's not a great bike haha.

We were more so wondering if there was any market for them. It's probably $150 away from being a running bike. I doubt he would restore it to a showroom piece. Catch is, he doesn't want to get too upside down in it with money.

There's no sentimental value to either of us. I can't find evidence of any 83 or 84's for sale online.

Basically trying to avoid putting $1000 into a $1000 bike.

I do love my 01 kx500 though.

"We were more so wondering if there was any market for them."

Yes, there is. I think the scrap yard will pay around $1.50 a ton.


"I doubt he would restore it to a showroom piece."

A museum would actually be the best and safest place for it.


"It's probably $150 away from being a running bike. Catch is, he doesn't want to get too upside down in it with money.

If he paid $150.00 for it and it was running he still might be upside down. I can buy a decent 82 yz490 that is close to me for $1000.00 and I'm not going to because it is not a great bike either but it is better than an 83 kx500.


"I can't find evidence of any 83 or 84's for sale online."

You probably can't find any online cuz they all (except for apparently one) got tossed into the trash bin back in 83 after the piston broke and destroyed the cases.

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12/24/2018 5:58 PM



oh wait...here's one for only $4000.00 that still has the original tires, probably cuz it is such a pos that he couldn't stand to ride it long enough to wear them out.

https://www.smartcycleguide.com/L47288403.

"Original, low hour first year KX500. This bike is a low hour bike with all the original running gear right down to the tires when I purchased it."

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12/25/2018 5:37 AM

barnett468 wrote:

It depends exactly what your goal is, but I worked in Kawasaki's R ad D department during the 80's and did some of the development work on the 500's, and can tell you that if you are looking for a big bore bike for vintage racing in the 1980 and newer class for link and disc brake bikes, there are WAY better bikes than an 83 kx500. An 86 kx500 is one of them and it will rip your arms out of their sockets. An 81 yz465 or maico are also better even though they are older bilkes. I'm guessing that any honda would also be better even if it was from the 70's, lol.

Just curious...after a scathing review of that p.o.s...... What was the next R&D meeting like ?...

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12/25/2018 6:33 AM

barnett468 wrote:

It depends exactly what your goal is, but I worked in Kawasaki's R ad D department during the 80's and did some of the development work on the 500's, and can tell you that if you are looking for a big bore bike for vintage racing in the 1980 and newer class for link and disc brake bikes, there are WAY better bikes than an 83 kx500. An 86 kx500 is one of them and it will rip your arms out of their sockets. An 81 yz465 or maico are also better even though they are older bilkes. I'm guessing that any honda would also be better even if it was from the 70's, lol.

If they were truly that bad I'm surprised you'd admit to being in on the development work . smile

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12/25/2018 6:42 AM

I went and looked at a used one back then . I was 17 and had never ridden a 500. He lived on a dirt road and I took it for a few runs and decided it was too powerful for me at that time. He was a racer and also had an 83 kx 250 in his garage but it wasn't for sale and I ended up getting a new leftover 82 kx 250 the next year and loved that bike. Guess I'm lucky that bike kind of intimidated me lol.

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12/25/2018 7:11 AM

So your saying Kawasaki’s marketing tagline should have been “It Will Blow Apart”?? ??
Photo

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12/25/2018 7:14 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/25/2018 8:29 AM

ATKpilot99 wrote:

If they were truly that bad I'm surprised you'd admit to being in on the development work . smile

lol, well it's obvious you don't know exactly how development works. Rome was not built in a day and neither was the SR71 or space shuttle etc. In general, it starts with an idea, then a design, then a test model which is then tested. The model is then improved upon as much as the prevailing knowledge of the particular designers and technology allows at the time. There are also sometimes time and financial constraints. Most, if not all of the factory works bikes of the time were far superior to the actual production bikes, but they cost many times more to build which was well beyond what consumers would pay for them, therefore, the manufacturers couldn't very well build those and try to sell them to the public.

In the case of the 83 KX500, it was already in existence when I first started at Kawasaki, so I certainly can't get any credit or blame for that gem, however, I was still at Kawasaki when the 85 and 86 KX500's were released, so I can get at least a small amount of the credit for those, and the 85 model was voted best bike in its class that year.


Here's a link to the article. The 1980 Honda CR450 was 3rd on the list, lol.

3. 1981 CR450

http://pulpmx.com/2012/03/28/worst-bikes-ever/

"The mighty 450 awaits another victim."

"The heart of any race machine is its motor and that is really where Honda shot itself in the foot. The CR450R’s motor was in a word, terrible. The powerband was razor thin and when combined with the hopelessly spaced four speed gearbox the bike was virtually impossible to ride."

The bike would headshake at speed like a wet dog getting out of a bath.

The Showa shock was too soft initially, and then it would hammer your spine when the rising rate linkage kicked in. The mismatched Kayaba forks would bottom out over anything bigger than a candy bar."

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12/25/2018 7:26 AM

Here is a brief history of the KX500.

https://dirtbikemagazine.com/kx500-the-one-bike-to-ride-before-you-die/

1985: This is the first of the great KX500s. It got a new motor with liquid-cooling and it was, for the first time in Kawasaki’s history, the best bike in its class. The Honda CR500R of the time was faster, but had terrible power delivery and wicked handling. The next year, Kawasaki gave the KX a feature that no other 500cc two-stroke had ever seen: a KIPS power valve.

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12/25/2018 8:54 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/25/2018 8:56 AM

barnett468 wrote:

It depends exactly what your goal is, but I worked in Kawasaki's R ad D department during the 80's and did some of the development work on the 500's, and can tell you that if you are looking for a big bore bike for vintage racing in the 1980 and newer class for link and disc brake bikes, there are WAY better bikes than an 83 kx500. An 86 kx500 is one of them and it will rip your arms out of their sockets. An 81 yz465 or maico are also better even though they are older bilkes. I'm guessing that any honda would also be better even if it was from the 70's, lol.

ATKpilot99 wrote:

If they were truly that bad I'm surprised you'd admit to being in on the development work . smile

barnett468 wrote:

lol, well it's obvious you don't know exactly how development works. Rome was not built in a day and neither was the SR71 or space shuttle etc. In general, it starts with an idea, then a design, then a test model which is then tested. The model is then improved upon as much as the prevailing knowledge of the particular designers and technology allows at the time. There are also sometimes time and financial constraints. Most, if not all of the factory works bikes of the time were far superior to the actual production bikes, but they cost many times more to build which was well beyond what consumers would pay for them, therefore, the manufacturers couldn't very well build those and try to sell them to the public.

In the case of the 83 KX500, it was already in existence when I first started at Kawasaki, so I certainly can't get any credit or blame for that gem, however, I was still at Kawasaki when the 85 and 86 KX500's were released, so I can get at least a small amount of the credit for those, and the 85 model was voted best bike in its class that year.


Here's a link to the article. The 1980 Honda CR450 was 3rd on the list, lol.

3. 1981 CR450

http://pulpmx.com/2012/03/28/worst-bikes-ever/

"The mighty 450 awaits another victim."

"The heart of any race machine is its motor and that is really where Honda shot itself in the foot. The CR450R’s motor was in a word, terrible. The powerband was razor thin and when combined with the hopelessly spaced four speed gearbox the bike was virtually impossible to ride."

The bike would headshake at speed like a wet dog getting out of a bath.

The Showa shock was too soft initially, and then it would hammer your spine when the rising rate linkage kicked in. The mismatched Kayaba forks would bottom out over anything bigger than a candy bar."

I was joking . Merry Christmas smile
Yeah the cr 450 is bad too but if I saw one for the right price I'd probably pick one up. I'm weird that way. The kx I'd stay away from though.

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12/25/2018 9:04 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/25/2018 9:05 AM

ATKpilot99 wrote:

If they were truly that bad I'm surprised you'd admit to being in on the development work . smile

barnett468 wrote:

lol, well it's obvious you don't know exactly how development works. Rome was not built in a day and neither was the SR71 or space shuttle etc. In general, it starts with an idea, then a design, then a test model which is then tested. The model is then improved upon as much as the prevailing knowledge of the particular designers and technology allows at the time. There are also sometimes time and financial constraints. Most, if not all of the factory works bikes of the time were far superior to the actual production bikes, but they cost many times more to build which was well beyond what consumers would pay for them, therefore, the manufacturers couldn't very well build those and try to sell them to the public.

In the case of the 83 KX500, it was already in existence when I first started at Kawasaki, so I certainly can't get any credit or blame for that gem, however, I was still at Kawasaki when the 85 and 86 KX500's were released, so I can get at least a small amount of the credit for those, and the 85 model was voted best bike in its class that year.


Here's a link to the article. The 1980 Honda CR450 was 3rd on the list, lol.

3. 1981 CR450

http://pulpmx.com/2012/03/28/worst-bikes-ever/

"The mighty 450 awaits another victim."

"The heart of any race machine is its motor and that is really where Honda shot itself in the foot. The CR450R’s motor was in a word, terrible. The powerband was razor thin and when combined with the hopelessly spaced four speed gearbox the bike was virtually impossible to ride."

The bike would headshake at speed like a wet dog getting out of a bath.

The Showa shock was too soft initially, and then it would hammer your spine when the rising rate linkage kicked in. The mismatched Kayaba forks would bottom out over anything bigger than a candy bar."

ATKpilot99 wrote:

I was joking . Merry Christmas smile
Yeah the cr 450 is bad too but if I saw one for the right price I'd probably pick one up. I'm weird that way. The kx I'd stay away from though.

lol, i figured you were but i just thought i would bust yer balls fer christmas, lol.

yeah, the cr is bad but i too would still probably get one of those over an 83 kx, and at least, it turns.

Happy Hollidays!

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12/25/2018 11:22 AM

Just sold this one, parts very difficult to get, cool to look at but never did ride it. 83 Honda CR480 was a blast to ride tho. All of these old air cooled open class bikes are getting good money, whether to race or add to a collection.

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12/25/2018 11:25 AM

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12/25/2018 11:30 AM
Edited Date/Time: 12/25/2018 11:31 AM

1981 490 Maico Mega 2

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12/25/2018 2:16 PM

I loved my '85 CR500.

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12/25/2018 2:39 PM

What was the problem that caused engine blowing up?
Detonation and crank out of balance?

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12/25/2018 3:02 PM
Edited Date/Time: 12/25/2018 3:05 PM

TTperra wrote:

What was the problem that caused engine blowing up?
Detonation and crank out of balance?

massive detonation. it was greatly reduced by decreasing the compression but then it killed the power. all single cylinder engines vibrate a fair amount unless they have a counter balancer. "balancing" a single cylinder engine basically just changes the rpm at which it vibrates at.

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12/25/2018 5:10 PM

mxracer106 wrote:

So your saying Kawasaki’s marketing tagline should have been “It Will Blow Apart”?? ??
Photo

Well the description in the ad is actually pretty accurate...for a maico.

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12/26/2018 4:40 PM

How about when a seller advertises it right...KX500, this thing is a animal! Future injury forces sale.!

Sometimes 'being different' requires Effort, Expense, and twisted thoughts to ignore sane sheep in the herd mantality..........but the humiliation you can do to the Hondas, Maicos, YZs you do beat maybe worth it!

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12/26/2018 4:46 PM

With a modern combustion chamber from Eric Gorr to elimiante detonation,,and Race tech mods to the suspension,,,and a balanced crank,,aluminum bars with vibration insulators in ends...it maybe 100% better....Back in that time period the magazines loved CRs, and Yamahas...I raced on KXs because they where fast in straight line in the sand. I actually loved the layout and prefer a slower steering bike in soft stuff.

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12/26/2018 8:28 PM

riv187 wrote:

How about when a seller advertises it right...KX500, this thing is a animal! Future injury forces sale.!

Sometimes 'being different' requires Effort, Expense, and twisted thoughts to ignore sane sheep in the herd mantality..........but the humiliation you can do to the Hondas, Maicos, YZs you do beat maybe worth it!

"How about when a seller advertises it right...KX500, this thing is a animal! Future injury forces sale.!"

OMG...I think I just peed my pants!

...Photo

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12/26/2018 8:33 PM
Edited Date/Time: 12/26/2018 8:40 PM

riv187 wrote:

With a modern combustion chamber from Eric Gorr to elimiante detonation,,and Race tech mods to the suspension,,,and a balanced crank,,aluminum bars with vibration insulators in ends...it maybe 100% better....Back in that time period the magazines loved CRs, and Yamahas...I raced on KXs because they where fast in straight line in the sand. I actually loved the layout and prefer a slower steering bike in soft stuff.

"With a modern combustion chamber from Eric Gorr to elimiante detonation,,and Race tech mods to the suspension,,,and a balanced crank,,aluminum bars with vibration insulators in ends...it maybe 100% better...."

This is definitely true, but unfortunately, even if one did spend a boatload of money to make the engine and suspension at least usable, there is still going to be a turn at the end of every straight in motocross.

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12/27/2018 7:27 AM

That's why there are berms and brakes...... brake slide and put it in a berm or rut. I was amazed when I saw Gary Lyle show up at our VMX race about 5 years ago,,,riding a KX420. Those where known for changing directions like a barge....He was FAST....he was like modern speed fast on the KX420...SO it can fly if ridden right and tweaked correctly. If the 6BT wants to fix and race something different...go for it. Boat loads of money also describes other vmx bikes I own and fixed..Have you ever priced Maico parts? $200 connecting rod!? $200 piston? Ohlins $1300? ,,,Jazzing up a 78-80 CR250 with foxs,swingarm,43 forks or real simons/forx, cone pipe,reed cage, new trick kicker,,carb,bling bling washers and bolts..?!?! You can spend mucho dinero by time ones done.. They turn like slow in my book and the original moto-x-fox test said it too.. Pick your poison. I hope the KX500 gets restored raced and lives again.

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