Stratigic 3 Kawasaki KX250: The Privateer Pistol

By Michael Young

In a sport filled with exotic one-off factory bikes and million-dollar race budgets, building a race bike utilizing only off-the-shelf aftermarket accessories and expecting to finish inside the top 10 in the EA Sports Supercross Series seems like one helluva long shot. Yeah, we said “long shot,” just like building a similar bike and expecting to win the U.S. Open of Supercross would be.

Jeff Emig knows what it takes to win races and championships, and he also knows what demands are placed upon the machinery. When it came time to assemble his race team for the 2001 season, Fro had hoped to gain support for his team in the way of factory bikes and parts. Though Kawasaki stepped up to the plate and provided bikes and a parts allowance, Emig and his partners Tony Strangio and Tim Dixon were left to fend for themselves when it came time for high-performance products. With promises of big financial backing from The, Fro and Co. moved forward and assembled an impressive race team. Riders Michael Byrne and Casey Johnson were signed to compete out of the impressive semi transporter, and the future seemed bright.

While Johnson struggled early on, Byrne slipped right into an impressive pace and was often one of the top privateer racers, finishing ahead of than more than one factory-backed rider on several occasions. In the twilight hours of the 16-race series, however, things went sour for the team┬┐finances were lacking because The had failed to provide the financial backing it had originally promised. Emig, Strangio and Dixon were forced to make a tough decision and released all of the team’s employees just before the Dallas round of the series. While Johnson quickly began to negotiate with several Canadian teams to contest the Canadian Nationals, Byrne wanted to complete the SX Series in which he had a great shot at finishing inside the top 10.

“I made a commitment to Michael Byrne to bring him to the United States to race Supercross, and I wanted to fulfill that obligation,” said Emig of his Australian rider. Emig personally financed Byrne’s race effort for the remaining three events. At the end of the series, Byrne finished ninth overall, as top privateer and among the sport’s elite. Not bad for his first full-time series in America, aboard an easily obtainable “off-the-shelf” bike!

Just prior to the fiasco, TransWorld Motocross had arranged to test Byrne’s outdoor National race bike. Sadly, Byrne returned to Australia following the Las Vegas SX season finale with hopes of returning in ’02.

“Basically, we were left with a fully built, brand new race bike sitting in our shop,” said Dixon. “Our deal with Kawasaki allowed us to either return the bikes at the end of the season, or purchase them and try to resell them ourselves. It was a shame to return a brand new race bike, so we bought it.”

A bike as trick as Burner’s is not cheap. Decked out with almost every imaginable aftermarket accessory and high-performance modification, the bright-green KX250 has a street value of nearly $15,000 and finding a buyer with that much money to spend would be tough.

Enter DC Shoe Co. business tycoon and hard-core motocross enthusiast Ken Block, a close friend and long-time personal sponsor of Emig’s. Well-known for his addiction to all things moto, Block jumped at the chance to own his own Strategic 3 race bike. On the day Block took delivery of his brand new bike, Emig invited us to tag along for a test ride. Take one look at the parts and modification sidebar list, and it becomes quite apparent that no corners were cut while building Byrne’s (Block’s) race bike. Almost nothing was left in stock condition, including the frame color and plastic bodywork! Visually stunning, the bike is equally impressive on the track. We brought our resident pro tester, Michael Young, along for the ride. Last year, Young also had the pleasure of testing Ricky Carmichael’s 2000 KX250 wks bike for the inaugural issue of TWMX, and we were curious to see how he felt this bike compared. Here’s what “Nuts” had to say about the Emig Racing Kawasaki KX250:

“First of all, I have to admit that I am not the world’s biggest Kawasaki fan. KXs feel too small and cramped to me, and I’d never really felt at home on a KX250 until I rode Carmichael’s bike last year. This Emig Racing bike is pretty impressive, though! “The motor is quite possibly the snappiest 250cc I have ever tested. The thing is so crisp, I was almost worried that it would seize up. It never did, though, and I was completely impressed with the motor. Was it as good as RC’s works motor? Well, no, but it is definitely the best “available” KX250 motor I have ever ridden with. Low-end power is its only weakness, as bottom-end torque was lacking a bit. The power in the middle of the powerband was incredible and the bike hits really hard once the rpms begin to rise. The power never falls flat, and top-end power is unreal. This is definitely one potent bike for outdoor use, but if I were to race it in a Supercross I would want a little more low-end hit. If Pro Circuit will really build any customer’s motor like this, then anyone who owns a KX250 should box up their motor and send it to Mitch right now. This bike rips! I expected the suspension to be too stiff for me since Ken Block is a bigger guy, but I actually felt very comfortable on the bike. The external canisters on the front fork look really trick, but they do more than look good. On slap-down landings and under hard braking in choppy corners, the forks gobble up the bumps and ask for more. These are some of the best forks I have ever tested, next to RC’s works Kayabas. The rear suspension is very well matched to the front, and the KX handles very predictably. I grew to trust the bike within a matter of laps. The rest of the bike was put together so well that it made me jealous! My personal race bikes are pretty dialed in, but this thing was immaculate! All of the special trick carbon fiber parts give the bike an extra-cool feeling. Parts like this may not equal lower lap times, but when you are pumped on your bike you definitely ride a little better. The Braking brake parts work miles better than stock. I wasn’t sure at first about the Wave rotor’s strange shape, but the front brake felt great. I can see why Michael Byrne was able to finish so well as a privateer when he had a great bike like this to ride. Even though the factory boys have the extra trick stuff, there’s no denying the overall quality of this package. Have fun with the bike, Ken!- Michael Young


Take a long, hard look at the lead shot of the Emig Racing bike, and chances are good that your mouth will begin to water. Here’s the breakdown of what it took to build the bike, down to the last carbon fiber chi chi.

Pro Circuit cylinder and head modifications
Enzo Racing modified front fork with 80cc air sub chambers
Enzo Racing modified rear shock
Radiators rewelded and gusseted
Hinson Racing Akadizing on standard clutch pressure plate and clutch hubFrame rewelded, gusseted and powder-coated gunmetal grey
Subframe stripped and rewelded for strength
Swingarm stripped of paint

Acerbis flourescent green plastic
Berg Racing carbon fiber airbox guards
Braking oversized rear rotor
Braking 270mm Wave front brake rotor
Braking brake pads
Bridgestone tires
D.I.D ERT gold chain
DSP clutch and ignition covers
DSP Seat Stiffener Plate
DSP brake hose guard
DSP Racing carbon fiber frame guards
DSP Racing carbon fiber skid plate
DSP Racing carbon fiber chain guide
Emig Racing Triple Clamp and bar mounts (standard offset)
Excel Rims with Bulldog Spokes by White Bros.
Hinson Racing clutch basket
IMS Titanium foot pegs
Motion Pro T-2 cables
N-Style Team graphics
N-Style seat cover and foam
Pro Circuit Works Pipe and Factory Sound Silencer
Pro Circuit Quick Adjust Clutch Perch
Pro Circuit chain adjuster blocks
Renthal TwinWall Handlebar (Emig Bend)
Renthal Medium _ Waffle Grips
Renthal sprockets (14/51 combo)
Talon Hubs (nickel-plated)
White Power filterory Sound Silencer
Pro Circuit Quick Adjust Clutch Perch
Pro Circuit chain adjuster blocks
Renthal TwinWall Handlebar (Emig Bend)
Renthal Medium _ Waffle Grips
Renthal sprockets (14/51 combo)
Talon Hubs (nickel-plated)
White Power filter