Kawasaki 1500 SX-R tuned by R&D World Exclusive

Kawasaki SX-R tuned by R&D World Exclusive
After testing 3 different Kawasaki SX-Rs with a few bolt on parts we tested R&Ds SX-R and we were surprised by its phenomenal performance.


Words:Vasilis Moraitis
Test rider:Vasilis Moraitis

R&Ds development guru Bill Chapin started to work on the Kawasaki SX-R several months before the Mark Hahn 2017 race. Initially he developed and tested an R&D aftermarket air filter kit and additionally he started working on the new sophisticated SX-Rs ECU. The ECU of the new Kawasaki it is not just a revisit of the STX-15F ECU. The SX-R has a totally new format and has some new functions along with the magnetic key and the kill switch.


Bill Chapin also worked aggressively in the handling department and a new set of billet sponsons was initially tested with many different versions and variations of blades and settings. After 2 months of rigorous testing with several Top Name racers, and in many water conditions, R&D had arrived later with a magic backing plate and blade design. The intake grate concept also changed design and shape configurations many times before the final one was arrived as a favorite for close course and offshore use. Again, testing with several riders with great talent for positive feedback,  Chapin also worked seriously in the handling department and a new set of sponsons was tested with two optional R&D Sponson Blades, one that featured longer blade design was tested and raced in the Mark Hahn race. The aluminum intake grate changed shape many times before the final one was a favorite overall for close course and offshore use.


The new R&D front hood security hooks feature a really strong design which offers increased strength over the stock spot welded mounts. This increased strength secures the hood in place so it will not flex up and allow water to shoot past the hood seal. Constructed from billet aluminum and anodized, these trick looking mounts are guaranteed to never break. The R&D Handle Pole Spring Tensioner adds preload to the handle pole spring which reduces handle pole weight approximately 50%. The lighter handle pole reduces back, shoulder, and arm fatigue and offers more comfortable riding time. The billet aluminum and anodized design installs in a few seconds without tools.

R&D tuned SX-R featured:

R&D Sponsons
R&D Air filter kit
R&D Pro pitch impeller
R&D reprogrammed ECUs Offshore, and R3
R&D Aquavein Intake Grate
R&D Pole Spring Tensioner
R&D Turn plate

Testing the R&D tuned SX-R
While being in Lake Havasu for the Mark Hahn 300 race I had the unique opportunity to test ride in total four SX-Rs. I started with Gerry Wongs (C888), then I stepped on to Mike Klippensteins (212) and then I rode the one which was fully developed by R&D. Two days before I left for home, I also had the chance to ride Kopenhavers ski as well.

First of all the R&D tuned SX-R with the closed course settings felt more powerful than every single other SX-R that I had tested with big improvement in terms of acceleration and top speed as well. The R&D ski with the closed course version settings was pulling hard from low rpm with no hesitation and from midrange it was accelerating even harder up to the point that it was reaching its top speed. The later was recorded consistently between 63.5-64mph on 91 octane pump gasoline. At the buoy course of Body Beach the R&D powered SX-R was exiting faster from the buoy and it was very predictable on its handling set-up.


The R&D Sponsons and Aquavein Intake Grate play a big key role to its overall unique stability and good balance of the ski. The SX-R feels more secure and stable in the straight at high speed on choppy water as well as in rougher conditions with the added R&D parts. Also, the SX-R hooked up really nicely and it could not break loose at any lean angle. The R&D closed course Pro Blades (second version tested) of the R&D sponsons provided very good grip at all conditions.  R&D offers two blade configuration options, however, Most riders not of Pro Calibrepreferred the first version over the optional Pro Blade blade tested.

Last testing was done after Bill Chapin had done some work on the camshafts by changing the o.e.m. cams and cam timing and setting a new LSA set up also available from R&D as a Shop Service. Additionally Bill added finishing touches to the Air Idle Control Area with a R&D AIC Dampner Kit which allows the air idle control circuit to be reduced or diffused (softened) to reduce the slight Idle Rise. Most stand up racers are used to the conventional 2 Stroke engine tune feel compared to standard four stroke runabout type functions. Most Pro riders expressed that they wanted a quicker deceleration feel and were slightly uncomfortable with the stock format, and Bill used his experience with fuel injection tuning to reduce the effect of the AIC Valve to a setting that Most Top pros who tested it, liked the settings Bill came up with! This Kit also allows the Air Idle Screw to be tuned for both stock cams, as well as cam tuning. Hence the performance was enhanced and when I tested the ski there was a noticeable increase of power in bottom end and midrange. The ski was accelerating fastly from low rpm and it was pulling even harder at midrange making even more fun to ride. Bill had suggested that Most recreational riders would value the way Kawasaki has the settings as the power is more smooth and linear on acceleration and deceleration. Testing was done in rough water conditions as well as in the close course at Body Beach.

Overall the R&D tuned SX-R was very easy and huge fun to ride and makes the rider to feel used to it at once. The better and quicker engine response to the riders input via the throttle lever is a very important advantage. These modifications not only increase the overall performance but also improve the fun factor of the ski.

R&D is already working on many other areas on the SX-R and has been testing several other engine tune packages and updates already. Regardless the IJSBA rules and the classes that will be formed in order to accept the new SX-R to participate R&D will go all the way to boost up the performance of this new platform to any level of performance for the avid recreational rider, as well as Closed Course Open.


As Chapin stated I have always enjoyed the stand up classes as Thats where we started! Its awesome that Kawasaki has stepped up to the plate and delivered such a great machine, and one with SO MUCH potential!  Working on this new Kawasaki SX-R is a great challenge with an All New clean slate. I am having working with it, takes me back to 1992!  Super Fun!  I will work hard to give Botti and Maurin, a package to defend their Mark Hahn 300 #1 plate, as well as work to create great parts for our other riders or teams to try to take them down!. My target is to be able to do 250 miles next year! So stay tuned. The fun is just starting!

R&D Racing Products USA Inc.                            
12983 Los Nietos Rd.                                                

Santa Fe Springs. CA. 90670                                           

Web: www.rd-products.com                                             



R&D Air Filter

R&D Air Filter installed.

R&D hood hoockes.

R&D hood hooks installed.

R&D rear sponsons

R&D bigger blade design.

R&D Pole Spring Tensioner

R&D Aluminum bidlge pump bracket installed.