Ben Schenk’s 1966 Kawasaki 85 J1TR

Reader Contribution by Ben Schenk
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I was very pleased to read the latestUnder the Radarcolumn in the September/October 2017 issue of the magazine. The story featured the Honda S90, but also gives “Contender” status to two other bikes: The Suzuki K11 Sport 80 and the Kawasaki 85 J1.

I will soon be working on a 1966 Kawasaki 85 J1TR, which is the trail bike version of the J1. I think that was a very good choice for a bit of focus. It is a somewhat rare little bike, as it was the first year that Kawasaki imported motorcycles into the U.S. as their own company. The J1TR was manufactured in 1966, using premix oil/gasoline. In 1967, this bike was replaced by the J1TRL, which was the same bike, but with “Superlube” oil injection. The 1966 version also utilized an all-chrome tank with painted accents while the 1967 featured chrome side panels on each side of the tank. The 1966 model was painted a root beer-like brown color, while the 1967 TRL was painted a vivid bright red color.

The photo shows the 1966 Kawasaki 85 J1TR bike I have in the shop. This is obviously a “before” photo. It is “as discovered” in a garage in Sumner, Washington. I purchased this bike from a relative of its original owner. The bike is complete. Following a major parts hunt, I have all the remaining chassis parts in storage waiting for overall restoration. Just too much other work in the shop right now. Keep up the great work with the magazine. I am an original subscriber.

Ben Schenk, Schenk Racing Enterprises/Eatonville, Washington

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