Ring-a-ding-doo! Does this ring a bell!
This is the nickname Steve McQueen and Von Dutch (prolific filming partners from the 1970’s) gave one of the six Kawasaki 1970 Centurion G31M given to Steve by the Japanese manufacturer Kawasaki for the filming of his motion picture film; Le Mans.
Kawasaki had just started it’s mass production of this most loved track racer and this was one of their way of marketing the motorcycle. Apart form it’s standard green color paint on the tank and the light weight that earned it it’s iconic name Baby Green Streak, the 100 Centurion G31M motorcycle had other features incomparable with any other 100cc in it’s class. While it is general to know that centurion G31M had a 99cc rotary-valve two-stoke engine, it is not ubiquitous that this small engine claimed 18.5 horsepower at 10,250 rpm. Power that helped it grade on reputation of top scrambler track racing bikes of it’s time. With it’s rabid performance and the gravelly sound produced by the stringer in it’s combustion chamber, this Japanese machine best fit the $560 that each single piece went for.
Left to Kawasaki competitors the argument would be that this was so far the best and only perfection of the imperfect street bikes that gave ideas to the design and manufacture of the Kawasaki 1970 100 centurion G31M motorcycle. However, it is notably evident that baby green streak wasn’t the first but among inimitable engineering greatness as seen in earlier series of motorcycles debuted by Kawasaki from the 1969 500 Mach III H1 to 1968 F21M scrambler, 1967 Avenger A7 and the 1966 Samurai A1. While all these other series were more of trail bikes, Kawasaki 1970 100 Centurion G31M – Motorcycle was marketed as a dirt racer calling for race beginners to join the dirt track race events. As a matter of fact almost all flat track events and even the most coveted Tourist Trophy in the beginners category were topped by Kawasaki 1970 100 centurion G31M in the years 1970-1971.
In the present day baby green streak is facing threat of fading into oblivion as it’s production and relevance seems to have been overtaken by the technological advancements and more recent series of racer bikes. As such, collectors appreciate a lot if they find any of the Centurion G31M versions to ensure that these great machines don’t become a Japanese legendary enigma in later generations.
Much as Kawasaki 1970 100 Centurion G31M – Motorcycle still remains every racing beginner’s wish and desire to own, ride and keep Kawasaki’s heritage, it would be nice to be informed that the high power engine that run this machine was so vulnerable that it needed fuel additives to keep lubricated. Often, bean oil was used. The high rpm also lessened the engine’s lifespan. If there is any other advantageous thing to note though, it would be the smooth Dunlop 70 3.25-18 tires front and rear. Mistake that for a trail bike? I insist that it is a track bike.
To keep the heritage and and maintain the indelible status of the team green racers, Kawasaki through it’s rider engineers and notably one of it’s former rider and employee Norm Bigelow helped modified the Kawasaki 1970 100 Centurion G31M for motocross. The end result as seen, a motorcycle with mildly potted G4TR cylinder made of CZ plastic tank and fenders. This was the beginning of the 125 era and hopefully the continuation of a rather beautifully husky dirt ride into greater generations to come.
Still going strong 50-years later
It’s almost half a century later and Kawasaki have come up with the 2016 KX100 motocross motorcycle, a carrier of the Kawasaki 1970 100 Centurion G31M – motorbike’ DNA and with every intention targeting the youth market and continuing the legacy of the baby green streak. With the future looking bright, every racer can expect to see new innovations and technology driven racer bikes with the perfection of Centurion in the future. However, it goes without mentioning that dirt racing bike which rekindles memories of such best innovative biking ideas, winning consistency, beauty and admiration is the Kawasaki 1970 100 centurion G31M – Motorbike. As it is, we were impressed by the samurai A1, the Avenger A7 influenced us into loving the future of Kawasaki, F21M scrambler embossed it’s existence as an avid trail bike, 500 Mach III F1 stir greatness then welcomed baby green streak to live. Long live Kawasaki 1970 100 Centurion G31M – Motorbike.