Alistair Maclean's Web Site
The Old 250

The Kawasaki Z250A

This was the motorcycle I learned to ride on, I learned how to strip down motors using it, too. For such a small displacement the machine could be made to go quite fast, it handled well, and proved to be both economical and fun.


The Kawasaki Z 250 A1...
  • Is a 2 cylinder 4 stroke motorcycle
  • Displaces 247cc
  • Has a single disc brake up front, and one at the rear
  • Electric's made of rustomatic copper
  • Engine parts made of Kawasakium, a rare form of Aluminium
  • Handles well
  • Has a comfortable seat
  • Has a 2.7 gallon (Imperial) fuel tank
  • Gave between 50 and 90 mpg
  • Went 100mph, though 85 was a more normal maximum
  • Could cruise at 70mph all day
  • Could be leant over to the point the world went horizontal
  • Stopped well, accelerated less forcefully
  • Not to be confused with the Z250C Single, a much less potent machine
  • Introduced in 1979, kept in production with the GPz305 till the 90's


The bike was mostly reliable, especially given the abuse I heaped on it. But it had its failings.

The brakes would bind without lots of attention

The Exhaust rotted to bits in less time than it took to order a new one

Honda invented Fade Very Quickly (FVQ) shocks, Kawasaki perfected them. Koni's were the ace replacement

The valves would back into the head, but were easy to adjust.

The camchain needs replacement, think 20,000 miles, get away with 30,000 miles, pray at 40K miles. A broken camchain bent 2 valves and dented both pistons. The rebuild made for a much quicker bike, oddly enough, though one that became a lot more finicky.

The bike hated light bulbs, went around smashing them at night I think. A Cibie headlight improved matters at the front, but the tail light was a regular no show.

The bike needed copious quantities of WD40 before it would run in the rain. And constant treatment there after


This machine would run on the cheapest gas imaginable (certainly by today's standards in the UK, a quid a gallon is unimaginable!), and returned astounding fuel consumption figures (being this was my first bike I kept a log of all purchases and the log regularly showed over 70mpg for sustained periods.)

The gentle nature of the power made for a bike that was easy to learn on, yet had sufficient ponies to provide the get up and go the an intermediate rider needs to expand their horizons

The bike handled like a champ. It could be turned over onto its foot pegs and held there reliably. Years later, riding significantly more potent stead's, I was always amazed at how fast I must have gone on that 250 as I was pushing hard to make up the speed in corners that the 250 made easily. Maybe age has something to do with this!

Tried and Tested


The original fitment were Japlops, that functioned Ok, but were better rim protectors than grippers. I tried Avon RoadRunners which had the dubious distinction of being the only tyres I have ever wheel spun to death; they were not going to grip and they were not going to wear out, and they nearly killed me on too many occasions.

THE ONLY TYRE for the 250 was the Dunlop TT100 K181. I must have put 4 or 5 sets of these one the bike, the provided safe wet weather riding, great dry grip and wore out like tyres should; slowly and predictably


Ha! Sorry.

The standard exhaust, which I did replace with a factory unit the first time, would dissolve so fast that the chrome never had time to fall off. If someone wants to create a concours version in the future they are going to have great difficulty putting on a genuine K exhaust.

I fitted the bike with a Motad 2-into-1 pipe that worked very well. It was quiet, tucked out of harms way, and never rusted.


No significant qualms. The foam did deteriorate, but what's new?



Oil and other consumables

I replaced the oil regularly at about 3000 mile intervals. I always replaced oil and oil filter at the same time. I always used a Kawasaki filter. These twins need to have the oil changed before it turns into liquid carbon, or the camshafts turn into chopsticks with slight lumps on the side.


The brakes on the 250 were odd. The initial factory pads were asbestos based, and their wet weather performance was heart stopping. I used Ferodo pads later on when they became available. I also had problems with the calipers binding. A pair of bolts served double duty to secure the calipers and to allow the calipers to float on the fixed disks. This action was maintained by grease held in place behind a couple of rubber gaskets. These gaskets never seemed to be broken, but on the rear brake, in particular, the grease was always disappearing and the calipers seizing. I tried using silicon grease, this helped but was not the cure I really wanted.


I replaced the fork oil on several occasions, settling with a 20 to 30 weight oil. At the rear I replaced the shocks with Koni's.

To Round Up

I did over 55,000 miles on this bike before moving onto a 550. It proved to be a courageous little bike, one with a stout heart, able legs and an appetite for adventure.

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