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Basem Wasef

Are Kawasaki Ninja 250R and Harley-Davidson XR1200 Spec Classes Coming to AMA Racing?

By September 20, 2009

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Harley Davidson XR1200 Honda's official departure from AMA racing shook the motorcycle world this past Friday, and there's even more intrigue brewing behind the scenes. In Cycle News article published yesterday, AMA president Roger Edmondson says he's actively pursuing adding two spec classes, the forerunners of which are the venerable Kawasaki Ninja 250R and the dirt track-derived Harley-Davidson XR1200.

Kawasaki Ninja 250R According to the article, the Ninja class would be geared towards 12-15 year-old riders and incorporate a 450cc engine conversion*, while the XR1200 class would undoubtedly bring even more controversy to the organization already accused of favoring domestic bikes. "The Harley category is quite clearly because we think it's ludicrous that that the largest selling brand in this country and the largest body of motorcyclists in this country are totally ignored when it comes to road racing," explains Edmondson. "Those folks need a reason to buy tickets and help support our events."

The article cites Edmondson's meetings with Japanese manufacturers earlier in the week, and the proposed spec classes might have a whole new meaning if bike builders decide to follow suit with Honda's departure. Ninjas and XR1200s could offer exciting racing, but the political tumult draws attention from bikes and riders, begging the question as to how many more twists and turns are in store for the embattled world of AMA racing.

Source: Cycle News


* An earlier version of this post suggested that the Ninja class might involve a 450cc engine swap. That information was incorrect (as pointed out by commenter Mick); the possible 450cc racer is a different bike.

Photos Harley-Davidson, Kawasaki; click for bike reviews

September 21, 2009 at 9:25 am
(1) Nick says:

Ninja 250′s with 450 cc engines? Why not race the 250cc engine? Why not sell the 450cc engine?

I either don’t understand how displacement works, or I don’t understand the AMA.

September 21, 2009 at 5:47 pm
(2) Pete says:

Racing XR1200′s…OMG … break out the Seismometers!! Oh well…at least they’ll be legal in the 250 Kawasaki class.
So how much $$ greased Roger’s palms for this to happen? Probably more than his monthly ‘envelope’ to keep Buell on the podium.
What’s next? Kenworths & GMC’s?
Nick…don’t worry – no one else understands it either.
Thank God for MC racing in any other country in the world!

September 21, 2009 at 11:25 pm
(3) Kevin from Bellingham says:

I have to agree with Nick. Why bother running a Ninja 250 class and then run a 450 conversion? Why not just run a Ninja 500 class? I personally think the racing in the 250 class would be great! And why limit it to teens only (other than the obvious attempt to feed the bigger classes with racers in the future)? Open it up to anybody who wants to race. I can see it being one of the more fun classes. If the mfg’s want to make it race on Sunday, sell on Monday, then they’ll make it the stock bike you can buy at the shop. Maybe it will also finally nudge Kawa to finally update the Ninja 500 which isn’t just getting long in the tooth…it is in dire need of dentures at this point.

September 23, 2009 at 12:32 am
(4) TEvo says:

On many levels, this is laughable. On some, it’s downright sad.

Bite the hand that feeds you and then scurry about trying to salvage what’s left of American roadracing.

At this rate, the up and coming young guns of American roadracing may well be better served if they moved to Europe as soon as they were able and race in a national series over there… If they have any ambitions for racing MotoGP or World Superbike.

As for the venerable EX500, not sure if it’s feasible for Kawasaki to update that motor. Don’t think it is capable of meeting the latest emissions requirements and its too close to the new 650s (Ninja 650, ER-6n, Versys).

September 28, 2009 at 2:13 pm
(5) Mick says:

With all due respect, Basem, I believe you are misreading/misinterpreting the article. There is no correlation between the Ninja 250 class and the 450 conversion class. The “450″ class is a super single class based off of two-stroke single cylinder 450cc dirt bikes. The “conversion” is turning these bikes into road racing bikes with new wheels/tires, bodywork, and reworking the suspensions. Examples of these bikes have been seen in almost every major motorcycle publication over the past two years, and the online resources have done numerous articles on them already. They’re controversial (as the article you linked implies), because the factories don’t believe the designs are feasible, and the investment isn’t worth it…two-stroke motocross engines aren’t designed for the constant high-rpm wear and tear that road racing engines are built for.

September 28, 2009 at 4:18 pm
(6) Basem Wasef - Motorcycles Guide says:


Thanks for catching that… you’re absolutely right. Of course the 450cc conversion class is different. Edit has been noted in text.


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