Texas young gun builds a track toy…
The liquid-cooled, 27-hp Kawasaki KLX250, introduced in 2006, is the successor to the old air-cooled KLR250 — a lightweight dual-sport used by everyone from daily commuters to the U.S. Army Rangers to the Air Force Special Operations Command to the Carabineros de Chile — Chilean national police. In ’09, Kawasaki followed with the KLX250SF, a supermoto version with 17-inch wheels, bigger brakes, and lowered suspension. Says Cycle World:
“In town or on tight backroads is where the KLX shines, exhibiting lightness and an almost uncanny handling ease.”
Enter one of our favorite young builders, Colt Wrangler Lyons of Texas-based Colt Wrangler Motorcycles, whose work you’ve seen before on the blog, including his stunning electric street tracker we featured last year. Now Colt is back with a rare personal project. While 99% of his work is for paying clients, he spotted a stripped-down ’09 KLX250SF at another shop and couldn’t pass up the deal. Like many of us, he’s been itching to get into flat track, and the 250cc single was the perfect candidate:
“I had been wanting to build a good starter bike to get my feet wet on the track. Something that was affordable and light. This KLX was the perfect base.”
Colt was short on time and money for the project, but once he dug into the bike, he couldn’t help himself from turning the bike into something unique. Replacement plastics were expensive, so he shaped his own using metal shears and a table edge:
“The nice thing about these panels is that there was no annealing, shaping or welding so they could be made quickly and easily with hardly any tools. This is also convenient if you tear them up on the track and need to make replacements.”
A set of 19-inch tracker wheels was also out of the budget, so Colt drew inspiration from some of the Spanish flat trackers that run 17-inch wheels, mounting Shinko Jr flat track rubber on the stock 17’s. He made the coolant overflow tank from a turkey baster and lowering links for the rear. All in all, this is a perfect track toy that’s sure to turn heads on the red dirt of Texas.
KLX250SF Tracker: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My name is Colt Wrangler Lyons, I am 27 years old and I started my custom motorcycle shop “Colt Wrangler Motorcycles” in 2015.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
Kawasaki KLX 250SF 2009
• Why was this bike built?
Although 99% of my work is for customers, this bike was an unplanned personal project. I was searching for parts at a another shop when I came across this KLX that was stripped down and sitting in a corner surrounded by other project bikes. The price was right and I just couldn’t pass it up.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
With the growing popularity of flat track racing, I had been wanting to build a good starter bike to get my feet wet on the track. Something that was affordable and light. This KLX was the perfect base. I had no design direction going into it and didn’t even really plan on making it something that looked unique. I just wanted something to ride. But the more I dug into it the more I couldn’t keep myself from styling it. Being the supermoto model with 17” wheels and not having the budget to build a set of 19” wheels I started to draw influence from some of the flat track bikes in Spain that run 17” wheels.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Being tight on time and money I decided not to get too deep into fabrication. I needed to build this bike back up quickly and efficiently. I purchased a used replacement seat and rear fender online. The bars, risers, levers, front number plate, and front fender were eBay specials.
I had priced replacement plastics for the bike but they were far too expensive and I didn’t like the look of them, so I decided to make my own. I played around with different designs using paper templates for awhile before I came up with something I liked. The nice thing about these panels is that there was no annealing, shaping or welding so they could be made quickly and easily with hardly any tools. This is also convenient if you tear them up on the track and need to make replacements. All you need to make them are metal shears and a table edge to make the straight bends. I lowered the forks 3” internally and made lowering links for the rear shocks. I purchased a used Two Brothers Racing exhaust, made a coolant overflow out of a turkey baster and threw on some Shinko Jr flat track tires and I was ready to hit the track.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
• How would you classify this bike? (Cafe racer, street tracker, scrambler, brat, bobber, streetfighter, restomod, etc.)
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I was really happy with how the aluminum panels turned out. I wasn’t sure how well it would look at first.
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