top of page

Bike of the Month
November 2023
1974 Kawasaki KX 125
By Rodd Lighthouse

My father was a Honda and Yamaha dealer in Winnemucca from 1968 to 1972. During those years, Honda and Yamaha did not offer a full-blown motocross bike. Yamaha made a 125 MX, AT-1 MX, one year, but it was basically an enduro model with a few performance parts added. Motocross was still a fairly new sport in the US during that period and competitors basically modified their street legal machines to compete in MX.


By 1974, all the major Japanese manufacturers (Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha) were producing motorcycles made for MX competition in the 125cc displacement category, including several European firms such as Bultaco, CZ, and Husqvarna to name a few. It was this same year that a small automotive repair shop in Winnemucca, Ron’s Auto Clinic, began selling Kawasaki motorcycles including the Kawasaki KX motocrossers. I remember all the scuttle about how fast the new Kawasaki’s were when they first arrived in town, it was an exciting time.


During this era, MX technology was taking place at a rapid rate. As time went on, I started racing motorcycles and you had to purchase a new bike every year or two just to keep up with your competitors. The old bikes were sold to help fund the new bikes and they were never to be found again. That is unless you did not race.


This KX was originally purchased by a friend of mine, Jim Ayer, who was a grade ahead of me. Jim was not a racer and consequently did not need to sell the KX to purchase a new bike to keep up with his competitors. He could have fun on his little bike without worrying about the competition which he continued to do until it finally quit running. When the little KX finally took its last breath, Jim parked it outside and left it to the elements.


Around 2014, I was thinking about my time growing up in Winnemucca and all the fun we had racing around the nearby hills and trails and wondered if Jim still had the KX. A quick drive through the Winnemucca Indian Colony with Dad confirmed that he did, the KX was spotted leaning against the side of a barn. At that time, I decided to knock on Jim’s door and the rest is history. I purchased the weather beaten, original and complete KX for $200.


After sitting in my backyard for another five years, in 2019 I decided to restore the KX to its former glory. The bike was completely dismantled, cleaned, repaired, polished, painted, plated and reassembled with the exception of the gas tank. Many NOS and aftermarket parts were sourced from eBay (seals, gaskets, bearings, connecting rod kit, piston and rings, cables, levers, sprockets, fuel cock, chain tensioner, gas cap, brake shoes, hardware and other odds and ends). Tires and tubes were purchased locally from Dynareno. Shock were sourced from Noleen, stainless steel spokes from Buchanan, and fenders and number plates from Nightmare Racing. Cylinder plating was performed by U.S. Chrome of Wisconsin, chrome plating by ABC Plating, zinc plating by All Metals Processing, powder coating by Altizer Powder Coating, pipe dent removal by Reno KTM, and upholstery by Audie’s Quality Upholstery.


To date, the KX has not been started, but I am hopeful to make it to a vintage race in the upcoming year to get the KX on the track where it should have been from the beginning. I am looking forward to seeing her compete in her first race.

bottom of page