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CR250/CR125 PWK Air Striker Carb Upgrade [Why & How]

Tired of having to re-jet your Mikuni TMX carb after fouling plugs over and over again? The Keihin PWK air striker carb conversion is a great way to make save you time and hassle of fiddling with the jetting.

It’s no secret that Honda’s Mikuni carbs on their CR two-strokes in the 2000 era are poorly jetted from the factory. Not only are they jetted pig rich, but they are finicky when there’s a temperature or altitude change.

Why get rid of the Mikuni carb?

In the morning you may have a 45 pilot and the needle at the third clip, but in the afternoon you may have to put in a 40 pilot jet with the clip in the second position, otherwise it will cough and blubber.

The new popular mod for 2000 and newer CR125’s and 2001+ CR250’s is swapping out the TMX carburetor for a Keihin PWK Air Striker carb (Amazon) from another bike. These carbs are relatively easy to find new or used, as many other bikes had them.

2001 Honda CR125 with a Keihin PWK air striker carb swap
My cheap ’01 CR125 build with a PWK carb

The good news is that they are cheaper than most bolt-on aftermarket parts. Even a brand new one can cost you under 200 bucks.

For the difference it will make, many late model CR owners says it’s night and day better. The bad news is that not all of them are the same as far as fitment goes. Read on to find out which will fit your dirt bike.

What Makes The PWK A/S Carb Better?

To simply put it, the PWK Air Striker is just a better overall carburetor compared to the stock TMX, or even the older Keihin PJ. It has the same bore as the previous models, but it’s not the same carb. The Air Striker has quad vents, as well as two fins on the inlet side.

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B00C178JY4&Format= SL250 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=US&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=pwk carb swap honda 20&language=en US CR250/CR125 PWK Air Striker Carb Upgrade [Why & How]ir?t=pwk carb swap honda 20&language=en US&l=li3&o=1&a=B00C178JY4 CR250/CR125 PWK Air Striker Carb Upgrade [Why & How]

There are some other minor differences, but those two are the major ones. It’s designed to prevent bogging when the bike goes over whoops or jumps.

The throttle-response is crisp from idle to redline when jetted correctly. CR owners that converted to the A/S rave about how much cleaner it runs from idle to half throttle.

Some say that you can get the Mikuni to run just as well, but it’s not going to be as consistent. Most people that do the swap say that it’s a set it and forgot it modification.
So unless you’re going from sea-level to the rocky mountains, you’re not going to be chasing your tail with jetting changes throughout the riding season.

There’s More Than One Style PWK?

I have spent many hours researching this PWK carb conversion, so I decided to write this article to save YOU the time and money of doing it yourself. Since most people are only converting their CR250’s and CR125’s (some put it on the CR500 as well), it’s a little bit easier to determine which ones will fit. This guide will save you the time and headaches you could be having while trying to re-jet your Mikuni TMX Carburetor…

Before I confuse you with all of the different Keihin PWK carburetor models, I’m going to show you how to tell the difference between them. Scroll down to see the picture, and I will go from left to right, describing the differences in length and electronics they have.

  1. The first one on the left has the black screw top, and is the older style “long-body” PWK Air Striker. The body length is the distance from the tip of the inlet to the tip of the outlet, and on this one is 91mm. There are no electronics/TPS on this one.
  2. The second PWK is the newer style short-body Air Striker. It has two allen screws on top, and has a TPS (Throttle-Position-Sensor). The short body length is 75mm from inlet to outlet.
  3. The third one is the same as the second, except it does not have the actual TPS; just the spot where where it would be. The allen head screws on top also mean it is the short-body style.
  4. The fourth one on the far right is the standard Keihin PWK carb and NOT the Air Striker. The Air Striker is identified by the two “fins” on the inlet side, roughly at the 5 and 7 o’clock position. While it is still a step above the Mikuni TMX, it’s not as good as the PWK Air Striker.
4 versions of the Keihin PWK carburetor with and without the air striker fins model
All Versions of the Keihin PWK Carbs. Photo Credit: hallsy on ThumperTalk

Also, all of these PWK carburetors have the same size inlet and outlet diameters. Although their lengths may vary, they will all fit over the same size intake boots.
The older and long-body style has the screw-on cap, and the newer and short-body style has the 2 allen screws cover.

First:

  • Screw cap (black)
  • Long body (91mm)
  • No TPS/electronics
  • Air Striker Quad-vent

Second:

  • Allen head cap (2 screws)
  • Short-body (75mm)
  • TPS (Throttle-Position-Sensor)
  • Air Striker Quad-vent

Third:

  • Allen head cap (2 screws)
  • Short-body (75mm)
  • No TPS, but has the spot for one
  • Air Striker Quad-vent

Fourth:

  • Allen head cap (2 screws)
  • Short-body (75mm)
  • No TPS
  • Standard, NON-Air Striker Carb (No “fins”)

Which Style PWK Do I Need?

CR125

Now to find out which PWK A/S will fit your motocross bike, you must determine the year of your Honda CR250 or CR125. The 2000-2003 CR125’s have the older, long-body style with no TPS (85mm length). They will need the longer A/S with the screw cap (Amazon), which is the first one on the left in the image above.

CR250

The 2001-2003 CR250 also uses the same carburetor (the ’00 already has the PWK A/S). The 2004 and newer Honda CR two-strokes have the newer, short-body (75mm).

If you can’t remember that, just remember that if your bike doesn’t have a TPS carb, then you need the older long-body with the screw cap.

Does it have a TPS?

If it has a TPS, then you want the newer short-body with the two allen screws and TPS PWK carb. However, there are people that have put the long-body on the ’04-’07 CR250 had it worked fine. You just won’t be using the TPS.

Can I use a PWK with a TPS on my bike that didn’t have one originally?

There are some people using TPS Air Strikers on their bike that originally did not have it with no problems. They simply do not use it, and it does not seem to affect it.

If you just need one cheap and that’s the only thing you can find, you can make it work as long as the length is close to what the stock carburetor is.

36mm vs 38mm carburetor upgrade

While the 38mm PWK air striker carb is the most common upgrade, you do have an option to choose the smaller 36mm – but why would you want to go to a “smaller” carb, you ask?!

Well, it really depends on your personal preference and what your Honda CR 2 stroke is set up.
To put it very simply, these are the advantages of a 36 vs 38 mm PWK carb:

  • 36mm: Better low-end torque and throttle response, and slightly easier to jet
  • 38mm: Better mid-range and top-end horsepower with more over-rev

Still can’t decide?
Go with the 36 if you:

  • Are a casual trail rider or ride at a lower RPM
  • Prefer to short shift and ride in the mid-range
  • Want a little better gas mileage for trail riding to get more range
  • Your intake/engine/exhaust are tuned for low-to-mid RPM torque

Go with the 38 if you:

  • Are a more experienced rider/racer that can take advantage of the extra horsepower
  • Want more over-rev so you can hold a gear longer without shifting
  • Your intake/engine/exhaust are tuned for high RPM horsepower

Where to find a Keihin PWK 36mm or 38mm carb

There are cheaper “knock-offs” that you can buy from Amazon, but a real Keihin PWK 38mm carb is available now too. Or there’s the 36mm option. (You also support me by clicking through these links and ordering within 24 hrs – I really appreciate your support!)

What dirt bikes have a Keihin PWK A/S carb?

Unfortunately, I cannot go through every single year of each model that had a PWK air striker and which bike it will fit. I’ll just give you a quick run through of the bikes that could have it, and then you will have to determine if it will fit yours. Don’t worry, just follow the guidelines above and you will be fine.

Remember that just because the seller says it’s a PWK Air Striker carb does not mean it is. The easiest way to tell is if it has the two fins on the inlet side. So, onto the list of dirt bikes that have it (some years had variations of it, so pay close attention before buying it):

  • ’01 and newer Yamaha YZ250 w/TPS
  • ’98 and newer Kawasaki KX250 w/TPS
  • ’98 and newer Suzuki RM250 w/TPS
  • ’99-’00 Honda CR250 long-body w/out TPS
  • ’02 and newer KTM 2-strokes (some are the Air Striker, while some are the standard PWK, as well as 36mm)

Starting Point For PWK Jetting On CR250 or CR125

CR250:

  • Elevation: 1000ft
  • Main: 175
  • Pilot: 45
  • Slide: #7.0
  • Needle: Third clip position (Cxx/R13xx)
  • Air Screw: 1.5 turns out

CR125:

  • Elevation: 1000ft
  • Main: 180
  • Pilot: 50
  • Slide: #5.5
  • Needle: Third clip position (Dxx/R14xx)
  • Air screw: 1.5 turns out

The 1999 CR250 A/S is the easiest starting point for the CR125 because it has the #5.5 slide. It is richer, and 125’s require richer jetting than a 250 with the same carburetor. The best starting point for CR250’s are with the ’00 PWK A/S, as it has the leaner #7.0 slide.

Do I think a Mikuni can be jetted to run as good as the PWK? Probably, but with a small temperature or elevation change, you’ll be needing to swap jets or messing with the needle again.

q? encoding=UTF8&MarketPlace=US&ASIN=B00C178JY4&ServiceVersion=20070822&ID=AsinImage&WS=1&Format= SL250 &tag=pwk carb swap honda 20 CR250/CR125 PWK Air Striker Carb Upgrade [Why & How]

If you’re ready to swap over to a Keihin PWK 38mm air striker carb on your CR125 or CR250, Click Here to order it from Amazon today!

How to quickly tune the air screw

Want your 2 stroke to start easier, have more power, and prevent plug fouling? It all starts with the air screw. Click here to learn how to easily and properly tune it.

Paul

Monday 13th of June 2022

Hi mate great article, will the slides fit all the pwk and air striker carbs? Im after a 5.5 for a cr125 04. Many thanks.

Peter green

Thursday 21st of April 2022

Honda cl400 , mine runs rich , so I changed the Jets , better but still rich , heavy on petrol , plus that crazy enrichment device , I'm now starting it by blocking the inlet , I need a carb with a slider Choke .

Kelley Fager

Friday 22nd of April 2022

Hey Peter, I'm not quite sure what your question is... Thanks for reading!

shane

Thursday 14th of April 2022

hi do u need to change the throttle cable when fitting pwk shortbody on the 2006 cr250 ?

Kelley Fager

Friday 22nd of April 2022

Hey Shane, I believe your stock 2006 cable will be too short. The 2000 CR250 PWK cable might work. Check out this thread on Thumpertalk.

Thanks for reading!

Josh Gadaire

Thursday 17th of February 2022

So will a pwk A/S #016-167 fit a 01 cr250 without any jetting changes/slide? Thank you

Kelley Fager

Monday 21st of February 2022

Hey Josh, it depends on what it actually comes with for jetting specs. If it's the one on Amazon, then it will probably be close enough to get the bike started and ride it. For the best results (throttle response, prevent plug fouling, power, etc.) you'll probably need to fine-tune the jetting. Check out my free guide on how to do that here. Thanks for reading.

Mark Ely

Monday 10th of May 2021

Thanks for sharing your efforts. I have a 2001 CR125 that used the Mikuni . The boots are 42-63 and the PWK 36 and up are 46. What are my options for getting a PWK in this? Thanks

Kelley Fager

Monday 10th of May 2021

Hey Mark, thanks for reading and your comment! Do you mean the inlet and outlet diameters are 42mm and 63mm? I have a PWK 38 on my 2001 CR125 and don't think I had a problem with it fitting. Just get the long body style with the screw-on top.