Sunday, July 8, 2012

1979 Kawasaki KZ750 Cafe Racer Project - Before

This weekend I began a project to convert a 1979 Kawasaki KZ750 twin into a cafe racer.  Here I will share the "before" photos.  As the project progresses, I will return with updates as particular milestones are accomplished.  I'm guessing the whole project could take up to a year, but I hope to have it on the road with a big part of the transformation complete by the end of August.

Some of you may be wondering "what is a cafe racer?'  Here are a couple of links to photos:

By way of explanation, the history of the cafe racer dates to the 1960s British Rocker subculture.  And yes there is a tie to cafes.  The rocker subculture stripped their bikes of anything extraneous in the pursuit of dropping unnecessary weight, and would race their bikes between cafes.  In addition to dropping weight, the rockers would regularly seek out other modifications to improve performance.

I am drawn to the cafe racer because of the minimalist approach - I like the aesthetic.  And bonus, customizing a bike into a cafe is largely a matter of taking stuff off, swapping out a few parts, and you end up with something fun and eye catching.

This weekend I began the process of transformation by shipping the bike off to a mechanic to rekey the ignition (keys were lost during the last two years in storage - unnecessary bummer), clean the carbs, and give the bike a once over for mechanical soundness.  I could have done this part, but I'm on a tight timeline to get the bike on the road (end of August) and have limited time available.

Before sending the bike off, I found a couple of YouTube videos describing how to pick a lock (isn't the internet amazing??).  After 10 minutes of lock picking tool fabrication, I was in business - and it worked!  A little jump to get the juice to the long dead battery, and my little project was rumbling.  A good start.  Once I get the bike back, I will beging stripping the incidentals like the fenders, and all the plastic.  Then comes the parts swapping phase to include;

  • clubman handlebars ($40)
  • bar end mirrors ($25)
  • Intake filters ($90)
  • miniature turn signals and tail light ($25)
  • cafe racer seat ($175)
  • Muffler ($35)
  • headlamp ($60)
  • mini gauges ($100)
  • and header wrap ($25) for a total of $575
The next phase will come over the winter when my motivation for freezing plummets.  This phase will include paint work, and a touch of custom metal work.

Check back soon for photos of the tear down.

Have fun and go make some great photography.


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