VILLOPOTO’S KAWASAKI SR250
Years down the road people are going to look back and call Ryan Villopoto a legend of the sport. There is no doubt that Ryan’s 10 motocross and Supercross
championships, combined with his 73 AMA overall wins,
will be something riders respect and people talk about for
decades to come. Ryan was a racer loyal to his sponsors. His
entire racing career, even in the Amateur ranks, Ryan raced
Kawasakis and wore Thor Racing gear. After his retirement
in 2015 at 26 years old, Ryan fell off the industry map for
a few years. Ryan mentioned his time away as “needing to
recharge the batteries.” He and his family packed their bags
in their SoCal abode and moved back to Washington where
he grew up. It didn’t take long before Ryan realized his roots
were deeper within the industry than where he lived.
So, Ryan, his wife Kristen and his young twin boys decided it was time to move back to California and become part
of the industry once again. But this time, Ryan would play a
different role. Being a championship racer is a stressful life
to lead to say the least. Ryan wanted to be involved in the
industry, but on his own terms so that he could keep it fun
and enjoyable. The once racer is now on the consumer side
of things as a spokesperson for companies he believes in
and a role model to young riders.
In this transition Ryan partnered with Answer Racing as
their brand ambassador. For Ryan to make a big bang back
into the industry, he decided to race his 2005 Kawasaki
SR250 at the Red Bull Straight Rhythm. The bike was a
gift from Kawasaki. Although it wasn’t as easy as it sounds
to race a 13-year-old two-stroke. The bike had been sitting
for several years up in Washington without being started.
It had outdoor suspension and needed some serious TLC.
Ryan called Mitch Payton to see if Pro Circuit could get the
bike turned around and ready in time to race the Straight
The hardest part about getting this bike ready to race was
finding suspension parts for works components that technically didn’t exist. It’s easier to get new works forks than the
pieces needed to bring a decade-old works forks up to snuff.
The factory Kayaba forks on the SR250 were only made for
Kawasaki’s factory riders back in 2005. That meant that only
James Stewart’s and Michael Byrne’s factory SR250s had
these forks on them. Like most factory bikes, after factory
parts get antiquated, they are usually crushed.
This led Pro Circuit’s Bones Bacon on a treasure hunt to
get the pieces needed to make these large-diameter Kayaba
forks Supercross-stiff. After a few calls to Kayaba, Bones
was able to scrounge up the parts to make them work.
SR stands for “Special Racer” in Kawasaki alphabetized
lingo. What makes this bike so special? Factory parts. And
lots of them. Ryan’s SR250 is littered with one-off factory
parts. Mitch told us that the engine came directly out of
James Stewart’s SR250 from the 2005 season. That got
us thinking. MXA tested James Stewart’s 2005 SR250.
James had broken his arm just seven days before the 2005
Supercross season started and his SR250 was sitting idle.
We asked Kawasaki to give it to us, and they did. Looking
back at James’ and Ryan’s SR250s, we couldn’t help but
notice how many of the parts were identical. Could this be