By Tom White
By 1973, the Japanese manufacturers realized that warmed-over trail bikes wouldn’t cut it in the growing American motocross market. Though Kawasaki had been one of the first to introduce a 250cc motocrosser (the F21M 238cc Scrambler in 1968) it was best suited to smooth scrambles tracks. So, in 1971, Kawasaki followed it up with the 350cc Big Horn Scrambler, a physically larger and much heavier machine that would prove to be a “dust collector” in dealer showrooms. In America, Kawasaki hired Brad Lackey to compete in the 500cc National Championships aboard a factory works bike. Brad rewarded them with the 1972 500cc National Championship.
So, in preparation for the 1973 season, the factory built a semi-production run of 200 F11M 250s—somewhat based on the works bikes. Bryon Farnsworth, Kawasaki’s American R&D Manager at the time, said, “We used Peter Lamppu and Jim Cook as test riders, and Kawasaki Japan contracted Thorlief Hansen! Our riders were impressed with the power, and the finish was good, but the suspension and handling still left something to be desired. The Japanese focused on the 250s, as their test riders were smaller, and in America we focused on developing the F-12MX 450. Heck, the Japanese test riders couldn’t even start the 450. We had to do it for them!”
By 1974, Kawasaki introduced the KX line of motocross bikes and later hired Gary Semics and Jimmy Weinert to pilot the factory machines. Weinert rewarded Kawasaki with a 500cc National title in 1975 and a 250cc Supercross title in 1976.
1973 KAWASAKI F11M 250 FACTS
WHAT THEY COST
Nobody seems to know for sure what the F11M 250 sold for because of the limited production run. A year later, the KX250 retailed for $1150. The Early Years of Motocross Museum found this example in West Virginia after a five-year search. The museum paid a non-negotiable $6500 for a nice example that needed restoration. Most restorers charge around $5000, so do you think the 1973 Kawasaki F11M is worth $12,000? Only if you really want one.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
The F11M has a very unique, stamped, low-expansion-chamber exhaust with a welded-on, cone-shaped muffler. The plastic parts are impossible to find—green gas tank, black plastic airbox, black rear fender and black front fender with the Kawasaki “K” molded in. The bike is rare, but very few collectors are looking for one. This bike is strictly for Kawasaki fans.
We are not aware of any sources for parts for this very rare and unique semi-production model.
For more info on classic bikes go to www.earlyyearsofmx.com