Little Stinker in My Office

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Recently divorced guys usually go out and get themselves a young girlfriend. I decided to do something different.

I brought Little Stinker into my office.

Little Stinker is my 1975 Kawasaki S1 250C. It is a type of bike that has not been made in decades for reasons of environmental incorrectness – it’s a two stroke and so burns oil on purpose, along with gas – and which was – at the time it was made – highly unusual because of the strange fact that it was only a 250 but had three cylinders.

It is the smallest displacement triple cylinder motorcycle ever mass-produced and has the power curve of a chainsaw. You have to slip the clutch and use your feet to “walk it out.” The plugs will foul quickly if you don’t keep the revs up.

Below 4,000 RPM not much happens except noise and smoke, both pulsing individually from each of the bike’s three pipes like a land-bound V1 Buzzbomb. At about 6,000 RPM, the bike’s powerband spikes all at once – and even though it is “only” a 250 – the front wheels will get air under them and your sphincter will clench if you’re not ready for it.

The 250 S1 is after all a downsized version of Kawasaki’s notorious H2 750, aka the Widowmaker. Same layout, but three times the displacement and that bike was a sick and evil death trap which hurt the unready and unable. Two-stroke triples were the Hemi ‘Cudas of their time. All engine, no warning – and not much in the way of brakes. It was easy to get in over your head before you even knew it was happening, by which time of course it was already too late.

The S1 was more manageable but only because it had a bit less engine. The brakes were hilariously hopeless mechanically activated drums on both wheels. The polished steel hubs and spoked wheels looked great, though.

And the sound.

Nothing ever made sounds like a Kaw triple. No one else ever dared to make a 250 cc two-stroke triple. Singles and doubles abound. But it’s not the same. A triple has its own odd-ball firing order – and ports instead of valves and thus twice the number of power pulses per cylinder vs. a four stroke (because that’s what two-stroke engines do) you have a bike engine that sounds like three chainsaws wailing away together.

Back off the throttle and the reverbs reverse, the engine spits and pops. Roll on the throttle and the pitch rises to a shrieking banshee fury that can be heard miles away. A Kaw triple fitted with chambered pipes is the only motorcycle than can effortless drown out the sound of a 707 on its take-off roll.

It smokes as much as a 707 on its take-off roll, too. Hence Little Stinker. Hence it and those like it (including the 707, with its four keening turbojets) having been outlawed by environmental fatwa. You don’t see any of them anymore, except maybe at shows – ghosts from another time.

My particular bike was raised from the dead – by me – over the course of about two years, prior to my divorce. When I acquired it, Little Stinker was not running and hadn’t been running since 1983.

It had slept in a barn the next 30, among a bunch of antique Hondas owned by a friend of mine who is queer for them and felt no particular affection for the solitary old Kaw that he had somehow acquired along the way.    

Both wheels were locked – but the engine was not, which meant it could live again. The main thing with old two-strokes is that the engine isn’t seized up from lack of oil in the pre-mix or because the oil injector system stopped working – which you’d get no warning of via light or otherwise in time to save the thing. Instead, the engine would just melt into a single fused block of scrap aluminum.

But this S1’s engine could be turned over. It would live again.

He said fifty bucks.

I said yes.

Over the next several years, I went over everything. I had the bike disassembled on the floor of my garage like Richard Leaky’s Lucy, each part meticulously ID’d and documented prior to a just-as-meticulous restoration to as-new. Including, of course, the correct Halibut Blue factory paint job and decals. Completed, it was mechanical porn, sure to get a rise out of any man still in possession of a pulse.

Obviously it deserved a place indoors. Inside the house.

This was not possible when married. Most women do not appreciate a motorcycle in the house any more than they appreciate another woman in the bed. Particularly, a fully operational motorcycle – with a full tank of gas and a full tank of two-stroke oil, too.

But when divorced certain doors do open.

Including the front door.

The pursuit of young girlfriends has its pleasures, I suppose. But they are not as gratifying as figuring out a way to get a restored Kawasaki triple up three flights of steep stairs, in one piece, without toppling it over and scuffing the chrome.

And having managed that, the pleasure of seeing it just feet away from your work station, key in the switch, happy in the knowledge that at any moment you please, you could get up, walk over there, kick the beast to life and banzai! it right out the front door.

Divorce isn’t for everyone – but it does have its perks.

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  1. Eric,

    After I started riding and cutting my teeth on a Yamaha XS400, I started looking for something bigger. I checked out a Kawi H2 750 triple; it was positively wicked! Seriously, that machine scared me. No matter what gear I was in (it had 4, IIRC), it lifted the front wheel. The brakes weren’t substantial, and the frame wasn’t either. I heard it said about that bike that it had a 100 mph motor with 80 mph brakes and a 50 mph frame. Or was it 100 mph motor, 80 mph frame, and 50 mph brakes? And man, the vibration was out of this world; I thought my old Yamaha 400 was bad! Anyway, that machine was EVIL! Needless to say, I didn’t buy it…

    • Hi Mark!

      The 750 was known as the “widowmaker”… for the reasons you list – and it would got a lot faster than 100 MPH. In fact, it was about as quick – and as fast – as the fastest production motorcycle bike of the early-mid 1970s – which was also a Kawasaki – the Z1900.

      The difference between the two was that Z1900 (four stroke, DOHC) didn’t have an adrenalin spike powerband – either On or Off. The 750 triple had nothing on the low end… but when the tach hit about 4,000, the thing would go vertical like a German rocket interceptor. If you weren’t ready… well….

        • Hi Mark!

          The Z1 (and Kz900/1000) is also the first reliable high-powered bike. Much as I love the look/attitude and sound of the triple two-stroke Kaws, they were not for road trips or even for getting into town and back, assuming you needed to get there and back without pitting for half an hour (or more) to replace the plugs or make some other adjustment. They also drank gas at a shocking rate for a motorcycle.

          The Z1, on the other hand, was light-years advanced in its time. So much so that it feels very modern today, almost 50 years after it was launched. You can (and I do) ride this bike anywhere – even if “anywhere” is two states down the road. They are rock solid reliable. The DOCH/four valve engine was overbuilt by Kawasaki. They are extremely difficult to hurt and will run almost forever, even when not treated well.

          The Kaw’s brakes and rigid steel frame are the only areas where it shows its age, but so long as you don’t try to knee drag it like a new sport bike, you will find it to be as fun to ride (and as easy to ride) as it was back in 1973!

  2. Great stuff Eric. Not too much better than that.
    I kept a 90’s FZR1000 in my living room for a while (single) cause I couldn’t leave it outside in the bad part of town I lived in at the time. Would have been gone in one night.
    Had a now-rare 70’s CB400F ruined by some hooligans outside my dorm at college in Phiily, in the 80’s.

  3. A descendant of the 500cc Mach 3 that first came out in 1968. A fast bike with several firsts. First production bike with a pointless capacitor discharge ignition and first motorcycle engine in the modern era to have horizontally split crankcase (and gearbox) The old Ariel Square Four had a horizontally split case. Try getting your hands on one of those, Eric! The shortcoming of the engine was that it used a one piece forged crankshaft meaning it had to turn on plain bearings along with the big end of the connecting rods. Therein lay the rub. Two stroke lubrication doesn’t work well with roller or ball bearings and works less well with plain bearings. It was a trial to reassemble those engines as it was difficult to line up the three shifter forks while getting the bottom half back on.

  4. HA! This certainly brings back fond memories of when life was young and I was having fun. My very first motorcycle was a Kawasaki 500 triple 2 stroke. Man, what a ride!

  5. OK,
    So I need to get the X6 fueled and running so we can go stink up the Parkway before it gets too cold. I have still not done my Silverwing stator, btw. I miss being 19, a time when when I made love to my bikes (figuratively speaking) 24-7. But despite my recent neglect, not one of them has threatened to leave or find another lover, go figure!

  6. My younger sister by 10 years married a motorbike bloke, he kept his motorbike in the house in winter, and the bike saw plenty of action. All the while being in the same spot!

  7. I’ve got a 5-speed transaxle sitting on my kitchen counter next to the sink, ready to go into my old Volvo. Got a dining room table covered in miscellaneous swap parts.

    Also have all the salvageable pieces from an ’01 CBR600 scattered all over the place, ready to clean. Winter project I’m getting a head start on.

    I gave up on the idea of getting married a long time ago – feminists ran women into the ground harder than my CBR’s douchebag former owner did to the bike and I don’t trust any of them.

    Vehicles, at least, don’t betray you in the name of “not being happy,” to say nothing of the fact that you can rebuild a car when it gets old and worn.

    • Morning, Ice Age!

      The bike is inspirational – and it’s nice to be able to wipe it down, polish the stainless parts, etc., indoors, especially with winter coming.

      The “not being happy” thing is cancer. No one’s happy, not all the time. Believe that you should be happy at all times and you will be miserable all the time. Looking at marriage in the rearview, I realize that a problem is that people enter into it with the expectation of perpetual bliss. This is unreality. I’ve spoken with a number of long-time married couples and they freely admit that there were bad times – and bad years. Often, several. But they were committed to their marriage; divorce was not on the table. They toughed it out – and remain married. And that some of commitment, I think, deepens love/attachment over time. To know this person will always be there, no matter what – even if at this particular moment, you’re not especially “happy” with things.

      That is the necessary ingredient for a marriage to work. But it is an ingredient that has been taken out of the recipe by a society/culture that tells people they must be “happy” all the time, that commitments are fungible, that the grass is always greener…

      And it’s sad all around.

      For them and for us.

      • I’ve been married to the same woman since 1975. Do she and I see things eye to eye? Nope. I’m an anarchist and she’s a hard to explain. On some things she is socialist. On some she is liberty minded. The key in my opinion is to ignore the statist crap and encourage/support any liberty minded statement she may make.

        we both so however love each other enough to overlook the other’s faults, of which we both have many.

        If she were to die, I doubt I’d try to engage any other female. They are all poisoned fruit of the vine in the age of Marxist indoctrination.

    • I am still trying to figure out where this idea that a man should do or put up with whatever it takes for reproduction or any relationship with a woman as if he were one of the animals depicted on “Wild Kingdom” comes from. It’s as if people in general do not understand that the more inequitable a deal becomes the fewer men are willing to undertake it. Perhaps the social engineers do understand it and are striving for the obvious result. Or maybe it is just the result of women having political power, leveraging it for the greatest short term gain.


    • Hi Aljer,

      Some parts are hard to find. But there is a lot of support for the old Kaw triples – especially in the UK. They love them over there! The big issue with these bikes – with their engines – is the crank seals. It takes a skilled hand to redo the cranks. The rest is easy!

  8. Claim the house. Women may ask “why would you put a motorcycle in the living room?” Men won’t ask because we know why.

    Same reason Steve Jobs didn’t have any furniture until he got married. (not comparing myself to Steve, but) Same reason my dining room table is covered in projects and I eat on the couch, or in front of the computer, or over the sink.


  9. Gee howdy that’s a beautiful sight. I hope it catches on and becomes the new normal. Reminds me of all the times I left my old lady of the moment, and that fleeting feeling of freedom I felt, before running into my next one while out on the road.

    Rain dripping off the brim of my hat.
    It sure is cold today.
    And here I am’a walking down sixty-six.
    Wish she hadn’t done me that way.

    Sleeping under a table at a road side park. A man could wake up dead. But it sure seems warmer than it did.
    Sleepin in our king size bed.

    Is anybody goin to San Antone. Or Pheonix Arizona. Anyplace is alright as long as I. Can forget I’ve ever known her.

    Wind whipping down the neck of my shirt. Like I ain’t got nothing on. But I’d rather fight the wind and rain.
    Than what I’ve been fighting at home.

    Yonder comes a truck with the US mail. People writing letters back home. Tomorrow she’ll probably want me back. But I’ll still be just as gone.

    Texas Tornados – Anybody going to San Antone?

  10. Congrats on bringing a great old bike back to life. Hopefully it’s still street legal so you can give a big FU to the enviro-nazis in their self righteous Priuses as you ride by.

    • “Hopefully it’s still street legal…”

      Here we really don’t give a rat’s ass about that. As long as it runs and looks good, who cares what some coward cop thinks.


  11. re: this “Obviously it deserved a place indoors. Inside the house.”

    Setting up a house as a museum piece, or “honey, I’m staging it for a male buyer” – that takes solid sales technique to get her to go along. A boatload of objection management.

    That Kaw trip powerband — nothing then everything — gotta be a noob engineer who’d design that and think, “hey, a good day’s work! good to go, boss!”

  12. Minor correction Suzuki also made 2 stroke triples.
    A 380, a 550 and a water cooled 750.

    My 500 Kaw had hinge installed somewhere in the frame
    for extra excitement in fast curves.

  13. Ummmmmm, your 3-stair front stoop is not “3 flights of stairs”, but it does sound manlier! Especially if your going to launch it out the door, from 3 stories up, lol! Got that drag-chute ready?

  14. Cool! I didn’t know they made a 250 triple. Back in the early 80’s I had free use of my buddy’s 500 Kawi triple . It had K&N air filters and tuned expansion chambers . Loved the sound! Like a hot snowmobile , but much better because you had the sound of going through the gears.


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