||KAWASAKI F11M 250cc - 1973
By 1973 the Japanese were realizing that a warmed over trailbike wouldn't satisfy the growing motocross market in America and around the world. Though Kawasaki had been one of the first to introduce a 250cc class motocrosser - the F21M 238cc Scrambler in 1968, the machine was best suited to the smoother scrambles tracks in America at the time. Kawasaki followed in 1971 with the Big Horn Scrambler, a physically larger and much heavier machine that would prove to be a dust collector in the dealer showrooms.
Motocross was also becoming popular in Japan and the Japanese 250cc National Championships were becoming an important venue to compete with the latest and greatest machines from the other Japanese manufactures. In America, Kawasaki had hired Brad Lackey to compete in the 500cc National Championships aboard a factory works bike and he rewarded them with the 1972 500cc National Championship.
In preparation for the 1973 season, the factory initiated production of a semi-production machine (just 200 units) that was dubbed the F11-M. Most of these remained in Japan as the smaller Japanese riders didn't have the size and strength to handle the open class machines that were so popular in America.
Bryon Farnsworth - Kawasaki R&D Manager in America recalls testing the early F11M prototypes coming from Japan. We used Peter Lamppu and Jim Cook as test riders and Kawasaki Japan contracted Thorlief Hansen! Our riders were impressed with the power, the finish was good, but suspension and handling still left something to be desired! Bryon goes on to say, The Japanese focused on the 250's as their test riders were smaller and we (Kawasaki R&D in America) focused on developing the 450 identified as the F-12MX! Heck, the Japanese test riders couldn't even start the 450's
..we had to do it for them!
By 1974, Kawasaki introduced the KX line of motocross bikes and later hired Jeff Ward, Gary Semics, and Jimmy Weinert to pilot the factory machines. Weinert rewarded them with a 500cc National title in 1975 and a 250cc Supercross title in 1976.