News

2 stroke fun: My Kawasaki KB100 motorcycle

One big standout point which the KB100 had over its competitors is that of features. It had so many stand out features when compared to all of its competitors.

BHPian TorqueMonster recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

The automotive industry, especially bikes have gone through a massive change from the time of Independence. Bikes like the Chetak put the masses on wheels for the first time, while there was the RDs, Jawas and the ever-present Enfields to pull the heartstrings of the enthusiasts. But one of the most pivotal moments of Indian biking history would be the Japanese 2 Stroke onslaught, I would say that it was a moment where fun bikes were democratized, bikes meant for the masses is extremely possible.

This era has seen almost all Japanese companies try their hand, some bikes coming under almost legendary status, and some others being massively overshadowed. The RX series bikes, be it the RX100, 135 or the Z now have cult status, with people paying almost 80 - 1 Lakh for pristine examples of these bikes. The Shogun and Samurai are the other two giants of this segment, which also now have started to command the respect that they deserve.

But other than these bikes, there was another competitor, brought to India in collaboration with Bajaj, the Kawasaki KB100. This is easily one of the most underrated bikes in India which was sold.

One big standout point which the KB100 had over its competitors is that of features. It had so many stand out features when compared to all of its competitors. We may be used to seeing these features as standard even on the most basic commuters, but for almost 30 years ago, features such as that of an engine kill switch, and RPM Meter with fuel gauge, bike having the highest wheelbase are all impressive.

When we look into the engine, we see how there are 2 other distinguishing features. One is on how instead of having a reed valve, it uses a centrifugal valve, and the one feature for which the KB100 is well known, the carburetor being inside the engine case. For a 30 + year old bike, these features are extremely impressive.

And these features are the exact reason why this bike was bought 30 years ago. My father owns this bike, and the reason for this bike was bought way back in 1990. He wanted a bike that was fast, yet distinct from the sea of RX's which almost everyone owned. The added technology was the cherry on the top. This led to a black coloured KB100 entering our garage.

This bike has traveled over 40k kilometres in its 30 years, with most of it being spent either in Kerala or on the streets of Delhi. One of my earlier automobile memories comes from this bike. Every time my family used to go out, we would go on the bike, with me sitting on the fuel tank, enjoying the breeze as the bike cruises through Delhi streets, back when Delhi was a much cleaner place than what is today, almost 14 - 15 years ago. It is also the first bike I learnt to ride on, making it extra special for me.

The bike was generally reliable before it eventually suffered a problem related to its accelerator which could not be fixed for months. As time passed, I forgot about the bike, something which is still one of the biggest mistakes I had done. The pandemic meant that I was not even stepping outside my house, so for a period of almost 1 1/2 years, the bike was sitting static at my earlier mechanic's place. It was now a shell of a vehicle, not even starting properly.

As the pandemic life started to become our new normal, I decided to start restoring the bike, with the help of my father. My previous mechanic managed to get the bike running, but certainly did not do a good job at it, with the vehicle having frequent power losses and abruptly stopping and never starting at the oddest of times.

But fate works in odd ways. Not even a day after my bike lets me down and me almost contemplating selling it, I get in touch with the mechanic who fixed this exact bike 30 years ago, till the time the bike left Kerala. He sees my bike and helps me fix it. The bike at this stage was not even in the best of condition but was way better than the mess which my previous mechanic made.

This is how the bike looked like after almost a year and a half without any use. The bike, since it was not being used for a long time was kept indoors, so surprisingly did not suffer any rusting, but still was not in a rideable condition. This was taken during a time where its centrifugal valve was not available. I may have gone to almost all scrapyards in the city in an attempt to get this part, or if possible even the entire engine, as a lot of parts were required. A chance stop in the outskirts, at a scrapyard months later led to me finally getting the part.

This was the condition of the bike after I had managed to get the bike running. The bike at that time had a massive power loss, with even my humble Platina running laps around this bike easily. It was so underpowered, that I could not even climb a slightly sloped area at 1st gear without chances of stalling.

Another view of the bike, this time from the front. A timeless, retro square headlight with yellow light bulbs, wrong indicators (Could not find a replacement, will be replaced with the original square ones if cash is in hand), and a chrome mudguard, which still shines well with zero rust, despite being in a coastal area (Only if RE could have the same chrome quality in their bikes, I would not have to see the T - Bird be such a rust bucket).

After handing this bike over to my new mechanic, life has been much easier. Except for one major stalling issue, which was fixed within a week (Would have been earlier but parts availability is awful for this bike), the bike has now been running smoothly. It is a rev-happy vehicle, with an excellent exhaust note. The bike easily pulls till 60, beyond which I am not pushing for now till at least a few kilometres are complete. The bike is certainly noisier than the RXs, except for performance reasons, even an exhaust chamber may not be required, since it is already loud in stock format.

As for the effort put in restoring this, it has been a lot of effort. I have spent my free time scavenging scrapyard like a 2 - stroke consuming automotive vulture, spent time searching and ordering parts online but of no use (Ordered a CDI unit and ended up getting something else), and constant wait to get bike parts from Marthandam or Coimbatore, even having to ask my dad to search Karol Bagh for parts whenever he was in Delhi. It has been a slightly rough ride with the bike so far, but all of this in the hopes of having a proper 2 - Stroke Experience is worth it.

The riding experience can be described into a few pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Extremely high acceleration, the bike easily picks up speed. 0 - 50 comes up without breaking a sweat, provided there is no pillion.
  • Timeless looks, the bike looks straight out of the early '90s 2 - stroke era.
  • Technologically advanced, has more features than RX's and Suzuki's of the time. Most of these features are usable and are not mere gimmicks, which are also very good.
  • The bike has extremely high quality, as 90% of the parts on the bike are stock, except for the engine. There has been zero rust despite almost 2 decades on the coast, and even the paint held up with zero issues for almost 25 years. The quality of the chrome used in some areas is exceptional, the mudguard and the rear grabrail have 30-year-old chrome on it that still shines better than the Chrome on my Enfield, which rusted within a few years.
  • This bike is extremely loud, even in its stock format. The Exhaust Note is sweet and excellent to hear too but on the slightly louder side.

Cons:

  • Parts availability is pathetic. Finding parts for a 30-year-old bike with average sales is pretty difficult. I'm sure getting parts for a superbike would be easier than finding parts for this bike. Every 2 stroke bike, be it the Yamaha's, Suzuki's and even the rarer bikes such as the older Yezdi/Jawa have greater spare availability than this bike.
  • The clutch and gearing of this bike is its biggest Achilles heel. The bike on paper can easily catch up, if not beat the RX. But in reality, the RX will leave this bike to dust. The gearing is clunky, and the clutch is awful to use too. This is one problem I would certainly rectify if possible.
  • Lack of a 5th Gear is also a major con. I have not pushed the bike beyond 60 regularly since the engine was just recently fixed, but the one time I did, the bike felt extremely out of steam post 65. The bike is still revving, it still has the capacity to go to a higher speed, but it is not able to, just because of a lack of gear. The KH125, the bike on which this bike is based, has a 5-speed gear, but we got 4 gears due to the bike being Indianized.
  • Currently, the bike has newer number plates put on it and is awaiting a paint job. So far, you all have seen the bike in what is essentially a WIP state. With this thread, I will be going through all the aspects of restoration, starting from painting the vehicle and other aesthetic mods, to possible even performance mods if the money allows for it.

Current Pending Mods Include:

  • New paintjob (Black color itself, existing paint has been peeling so a new coat of paint is needed).
  • Tyres: This bike has been on its stock tires for the past 30 years, and I certainly did not want to continue on the same set of tyres, this is a change that will be made ASAP.
  • Stickering and badging of the bike: I may upset the purists here since I am not going for the stock sticker set, instead I am deciding to go for the classic 70's Kawasaki bike style stickers, for me, it personally looks better than stock.
  • Changing of rims: The bike currently runs on spoke wheels with drums on both front and rear. My immediate plan is to replace the rear rim with a fatter Yezdi rim (Seen this on other 2 stroke bikes such as the RX and Shogun, even on a KB online), and if money permits, a set of spoke and discs from the 1st gen Pulsar.

These are the pending set of mods that are to be made, and each change that will be made will be recorded here. I am hoping to update the thread soon with the fully painted and badged bike, in its full glory, complemented with excellent pictures, and even an exhaust note video. All of these will be added to the thread soon as this resto-mod project proceeds.

Here's what BHPian Axe77 had to say on the matter:

Oh what a rush of memories this brings. The KB 100 RTZ in black was my first two wheeler - bought in 1995 when I just turned 18, from Kawasaki’s company showroom at Wakdewadi Pune. At the time, I used to love the odometer in particular which seemed a distinct step up from all the other competition at the time. So glad I got to experience the two stroke bike era when I had the chance.


I owned it till about 2002 when it got flipped for a Yamaha Enticer which was an absolutely rubbish bike in contrast. One of the worst decisions I have made.

Next to us selling our family 800, selling this bike was a decision I regret as well. Would have loved to hold on to it for nostalgia sake.

Good luck with holding on to this for many more years. I do hope to see more pics of the bike. I will try to find some age old pics I might have and upload it here on this thread.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

 
A helmet will save your life