MotoFocus: a custom Kawasaki KZ400 and a Yamaha YZ250

Go Kart Track Star & Womprat Kawasaki
If you follow Bike EXIF on social media, you might have noticed that we launched a new Facebook group recently. It’s a place for you, our readers, to engage with each other, share what you think is cool, and, most importantly, show off your own custom motorcycles.

From time to time, we’ll pick out bikes shared on the group that deserve to be shown off to a wider audience. We’re calling it MotoFocus, and this is the first edition.

Yamaha YZ250 by Anton Bongaerts Anton Bongaerts races motorcycles on tracks…go-kart tracks, that is. The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Stevelot, Belgium, or Spa as locals and regulars refer to it, is a just over 7-kilometer (4.35 mile) Formula 1 Grand Prix track that will let you run the tight and swoopy inner go-kart track for just €50 a day on a bike.

So yeah, why not?

Anton Bongaerts with his go kart track racing bike
The tight bends of the go-kart track make bigger bikes feel a bit cumbersome and, well, slower. Twenty years ago Anton built, raced, and even won a local championship riding a home-built bike with a Minarelli 70cc engine on the tiny tracks.

He graduated to supermotos, but decided they were too big and heavy to really have fun. So, in 2018, he bought this “beaten up” 2001 Yamaha YZ250 two-stroke dirt bike, rebuilt the engine, and then shrunk it to Moto3 specs for go-kart track racing duty.

The two-wheeled kart track star has OZ Racing wheels wrapped in track slicks, with trick 296 mm disks clamped by Beringer calipers. The subframe was built from repurposed Honda CBR600RR tubes. The radiator core was sourced from a Kawasaki KLX650R, the carb is a Lectron Billertron, and Anton hand hammered the tank.

Swooping down under the frame, the expansion chamber resembles a python that just snacked on an opossum, which Anton also crafted himself. The stout homemade swingarm was fabricated from 6082 T6 aluminum, and complements the chiseled design of the fuel tank.

When it was finished, Anton submitted it to Roland Sands Design’s #dreambuildoff competition, where it came in second in the under-750cc class. If you’re in the area, expect to hear this little zinger out terrorizing local kart tracks around Belgium this summer. [Anton Bongaerts Instagram]

Custom Kawasaki KZ400 'Womp Rat'
Kawasaki KZ400 ‘Womp Rat’ by Chris Elliot “This bike has been through a lot,” says Chris Elliott. It was a survivor, pulled from a garage barely running for the tidy sum of $300.

Chris wheeled it out and stuffed it into a station wagon, literally. It even survived a garage fire. Now, after a complete rebuild, it sees plenty of hard riding around Phoenix, Arizona.

Custom Kawasaki KZ400 'Womp Rat'
Like the pests that Luke Skywalker would bullseye on Tatoonie from his T-16 speeder, this Womp Rat keeps on going. “I came across the bike and it was already kind of hacked up, but in running condition. I’m a huge fan of ‘Star Wars,’ and a lot of the bikes I build, they’re for sand dunes and stuff. That’s where the name came from,” says Chris.

“I built it because that’s what I wanted to build. I build bikes according to my whims.”

Custom Kawasaki KZ400 'Womp Rat'
The Womp Rat is mostly a 1978 KZ400 with some mods done for desert running around Phoenix. Chris tried to use as many OEM parts as he could, but “rearranged” them for a custom look, working at the communal Eleven 10 shop in Phoenix. “A lot of people are drawn to Honda, but a lot of the Kawasakis were outperforming everyone at the time,” he said. “This one runs good,” and looks even better.

His use of stock parts gives the ‘Rat a simple but effective style. Combined with the rodent name and catchy graphics, this Kawi demonstrates that even the simplest bikes drug from the back end of a station wagon can make awesome bugout machines. [Chris Elliot Instagram]

Custom Kawasaki KZ400 'Womp Rat'