They Call It Kermit - The Fastest Frog On Two Wheels

Mar. 05, 2009 By Rick Sieman
It’s green, it’s weird, it’s Kermit!

At the first AVDRA race of the year held at Speedworld (near Phoenix), lots of cool old bikes were there. Heck, there were some of the most beautiful Bultacos you could find, a bunch of nifty Huskies from little 125s to the big bores, and some of the cleanest Elsinores around. Look a bit more and you would find plenty of Maicos of all kinds, a small bunch of English four strokes, and here and there, some one-off specials. Yep, neat stuff like four stroke Hondas in trick frames. The kind of bikes that you might spend 20 minutes walking around and examining things.

Then there was this one bike that defied description. At first, I thought it was a Kawasaki of some sort, being green and all that. But as it roared by, the sound was unmistakably a four-stroke. I got closer to the track to get another look as the bike came around for another lap. It looked like a 125 Honda four stroke … sort of. But the thing was fast, very fast.

Kermit’s owner, Joe Martin, sits astride Kermit between motos.

It went like one of those Bill Bell Long Beach Honda 350s that were so popular years ago, but it was obviously a much smaller engine. And what was this? Maico forks!

I wandered around the pits until I found this odd bike and its owner, Joe Martin. I asked Joe what size the engine was and he got a puzzled look on his face. “I think it’s around 200 ccs or so. I’m not really sure. It’s been modified so much that I’d have to measure it out.”

Kermit started out as a 1980 KX125 rolling chassis that Joe found on Craig's list for fifty bucks. The Maico forks and Yamaha front wheel are a fluke. Joe was in a hurry to get the bike ready for last years Duel In The Desert race and found that the KX front wheel was cracked at the seam. He had an incomplete Maico roller that he had picked up for a stillborn XL350 Honda project.

The motor is a Honda that specs out to about 200 ccs. Maybe.

The Yamaha wheel was already on the Maico. It was much easier to rework the spacers to fit the spacing of the KX triple clamps, than to lace up a new wheel. In the process, he got superior forks and a better front brake. Joe notes that it was absolute sheer luck on his part.

The engine started life as a small Honda four stroke (probably a 125) and a bunch of stuff was done to it. The head was ported by Bruce Sass, at Vickery motorsports in Denver, Colorado. Kibblewhite black diamond valves were used, with R/D springs incorporating titanium retainers. Lightened rocker arms and adjusters got the nod. A Megacycle cam with a 143-20 grind worked the valves and ride on needle bearings.

More goodies abound: a Wiseco piston rides in a CRF150 cylinder. The crankshaft has been modified by Powroll. It’s possible that the stroke has been changed. A 28mm Mikuni carb handles the breathing chores and spark is supplied by an XR200 CDI ignition system. To let the highly modified engine rev quicker, a lightened flywheel is used. The exhaust is a hand built unit with a modified XR's only megaphone at the exit.

Kermit started out life as a KX125, then evolved in to a green screamer.

How does it run? Joe ran a number of classes and his bike was competitive. From mid-range on up, his bike pulled even with many 250 bikes. It’s light, handles and the suspension is excellent.

But that’s not the end of the story. Joe let out with a grin: “What’s really scary, is that I'm working on another engine with a little bigger bore, a hotter cam and a bigger carb. One of two things are going to happen with this combination. It's going to go like hell, or it's going to be a hand grenade with the pin pulled. Time will tell!”

Yes, the mad scientist is up to his tricks again. Will we see Kermit Number Two?

Joe’s bike is surprisingly fast and can run with most 250s. Newsletter
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