This is undoubtedly the best example of the Kawasaki KXT250 Tecate we’ve seen come up for sale in recent memory, it’s been through a careful restoration and now looks just as it did on the dealer’s showroom floor back in 1986.

Kawasaki built the KXT250 as an answer to the dominant Honda ATC250R. In the early-to-mid-1980s the ATC250R was the king of three wheeler racing across the USA and around the world and Kawasaki wanted to knock them off their perch.

Fast Facts – The Kawasaki KXT250 Tecate

  • The Kawasaki KXT250 Tecate was released in 1983 as an answer to the all-conquering Honda ATC250R – a racing three wheeler that dominated competition across the country.
  • The new Kawasaki shared more than a passing resemblance with the Honda and it had clearly been developed side-by-side with the competing three wheeler to ensure it would be faster.
  • The 1980s would be the era when the three wheel industry peaked, but also the decade when the industry essentially shut itself down in 1988 due to the sheer number of injuries and deaths caused by inexperienced three wheeler riders having accidents.
  • The Kawasaki KXT250 is powered by a liquid-cooled two-stroke engine with a displacement of 249cc, power is sent back to the rear wheels via a 5-speed transmission and the trike rides on Uni-Trak suspension.

How To Beat Honda

The Honda ATC250R had been released in 1981 and it quickly rose to become the most successful off-road racing three-wheeler of the age. Compared to the other three wheelers of the time it was the equivalent of an F16 dogfighting with a Tiger Moth.

Kawasaki KXT250 Tecate Specifications

Image DescriptionThis is from the brochure for the later Kawasaki KXT250 models, like the one shown in this article.

The other manufacturers were quick to respond, first Yamaha with the Tri-Z TYZ250 then Kawasaki with the KXT250 Tecate. All three bikes were high-performance two-strokes with the best chassis and suspension their respective manufacturers could create – all were aimed squarely at that top step on the podium. And hopefully the other two steps to boot.

This period of the 1980s would see the rise of what was essentially a three-wheeled arms race between the Japanese manufacturers. Although they didn’t know it yet, the entire three wheeler industry would shut down in 1988, so it was also their last hurrah.

The Release Of The Kawasaki KXT250

The extensive testing and development that had been done on the Kawasaki KXT250 Tecate resulted in it being the last of the three major competitors to be released, but according to a period review of Dirt Bike magazine it was also the fastest.

Kawasaki KXT250 Tecate 1

Image DescriptionThe Kawasaki KXT250 was arguably the main rival of the formerly all-conquering Honda ATC250R.

The Kawasaki KXT250 was powered by a high-performance, liquid-cooled, two-stroke, single-cylinder engine sending power back through a 5-speed gearbox to the rear wheels.

It was fitted with race-capable suspension with 36mm telescopic forks up front providing 8.7 inches of travel, and Uni-Trak rear suspension with 8.3 inches of travel. The suspension was upgraded over time, with later models getting 41mm forks and 9.8 inches of front travel.

The Dirt Bike magazine review did note a few drawbacks with the Kawasaki – when it was first released it had a front drum brake and a disc rear instead of discs on both ends, it also had the radiator mounted up under the headlight which was ugly (though probably great for cooling).

Kawasaki would update the KXT250 later in the 1980s to address all of these concerns, adding a disc on the front, putting the radiator in a more aesthetically pleasing position, and further improving the engine and suspension.

The 1986 Kawasaki KXT250 Tecate Shown Here

The 1986 Kawasaki KXT250 Tecate benefits from having been produced later in the model’s production run.

Kawasaki KXT250 Tecate 11

Image DescriptionThis is likely as close as any of us will get to being able to buy a brand new Tecate off the showroom floor.

As a result of it being a later model it has front and rear disc brakes and a slew of other improvements that made it one of the best (and fastest) three-wheelers of all time – an achievement that will almost certainly never be challenged due to three wheelers having been long ago abandoned and no longer produced.

This KXT250 had a restoration that was completed in 2021 which included new bodywork and graphics, an engine rebuild, overhauled suspension, and a new seat. The three wheeler now looks showroom new and it’s being offered for sale by the current owner out of Fort Myers, Florida.

If you’d like to read more about this unusual 80s icon or register to bid you can visit the listing here on Bring a Trailer.

Kawasaki KXT250 Tecate 10 Kawasaki KXT250 Tecate 9 Kawasaki KXT250 Tecate 8 Kawasaki KXT250 Tecate 7 Kawasaki KXT250 Tecate 6 Kawasaki KXT250 Tecate 4 Kawasaki KXT250 Tecate 3 Kawasaki KXT250 Tecate 2 Kawasaki KXT250 Tecate 14 Kawasaki KXT250 Tecate 13

Images courtesy of Bring a Trailer.


Published by Ben Branch -