Yesterday’s offline browsing led to a short piece in Cycle World about Bill Werner, the top tuner for Grand National champions, who built a Kawasaki Ninja 650 based flat tracker. That reminded me of a comment here on The Kneeslider and after doing some digging I found it along with a link to a photo. (Shown above)
Remember the story about motocross bikes converted to road race bikes for an entry level class? This idea does a similar cross purpose conversion by taking a street sportbike, a Kawasaki Ninja 650 twin, and making a flat track racer.
The AMA has a new class, Basic Expert Twins for rookies moving up from 450s so they don’t have to run the main event with the high dollar pros. The class allows restricted XR750s and restricted Aprilia and Suzuki 1000s and the like to run against the production based 650s. Bill Werner took an old Ninja bought on eBay, swapped the fork and swingarm with flat track pieces along with 19 inch wheels and a Kawasaki road racing tail section. He got a local expert, Jesse Janisch, for riding duties and went to Monticello, New York.
Kenny Coolbeth won the main event on an unrestricted Harley Davidson XR with a fastest lap of 24.23 seconds on the half mile track. In the Basic Expert Twins race, Janisch placed third behind 2 restricted XRs, while turning in a best time of 24.36 seconds on his 650. Notice those numbers? The new class is running as fast as the big boys and the 650 Ninja with all of the modifications any racer could duplicate will run about $6,000 total for the bike and conversion. A competitive XR is at least $20,000. Very cool!
Repurposed bikes like this really expand the opportunities for racers to begin on a lower budget. It also shows what a little creative thinking can do, taking bikes designed for one environment, completely changing their appearance and capabilities and coming up with a winner. Looks like flat track racing just opened up to a lot more racers.