Showing posts with label Kawasaki. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kawasaki. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Accurate Description - Kawasaki Vulcan Cafe Racer

The Vulcan S ABS Café is Kawasaki's "learner approved" cruiser. It's styling is typical of all cruisers that follow in Harley's footsteps with its laid back riding position, wide handlebars and over inflated bodywork (in my humble opinion). However, at it's heart is an engine that uses the same configuration as some of the first motorcycles to ever be used for Cafe Racer conversions, a parallel twin. Granted the liquid cooled, Kawasaki 650 may not have the same aesthetic appeal as a pre-unit Bonneville, but to a romanticist the Vulcan engine is, in a roundabout way, a hommage to the legend. At least that's how Mário of MRS Oficina felt about it when he was given the opportunity to customise one himself.

The project began when Mário was approached by Kawasaki France to undertake a commissioned project in 2015. They had recently released the 'Vulcan S ABS Café' and wanted to see what Mário could make of it. Knowing that Kawasaki's claim to have been influenced by cafe racer styling when designing the Vulcan S was a bit of a stretch, he decided to follow their lead and build a bike worthy of the cafe racer moniker.

Despite being the lightest of the bunch in Kawasaki's cruiser range, the Vulcan S is no feather weight tipping the scales at a hefty 498 pounds (226kg). Mário was going to have to shed some serious pounds from the Kwaka if it was ever going to perform to his expectations. The weight reduction regime began by discarding the bikes fuel tank, seat and fenders. This was followed by the removal of the rear half of the frame, the cast wheels and any components that complimented the cruiser configuration such as the handlebars and forward control footpegs.

Stance was the next challenge to overcome. The Vulcan needed a less slouched, more aggressive posture if it was to have the geometry of a cafe racer. This required raising the rear significantly using a single, custom made shock absorber from Ohlins and modifying the swingarm to suit. The triple trees were then slid 20mm lower on the fork tubes and stiffer springs installed for optimum handling. A set of classically styled, laced rims with slick rubber donated by Pirelli were then bolted in place.

Mário wasted no time discarding the Vulcan's highly adjustable riding system, which Kawasaki had no doubt spent millions developing. In it's place he installed a single piece tank and tail that floats above the rear wheel and mounted the quintessential cafe racer control configuration of clip on bars and rear set footpegs. To continue to enhance the cafe styling the triangle headlight was also replaced with a yellow lensed Bates style unit, colour matched to the new bodywork and Ohlins shock reservoir. A slimmer custom front fender was also bolted in place for everyday riding practicality.

Reverse megaphone mufflers were the obvious choice for the exhaust system, mounting 2 of them using a custom made pair of stainless steel headers. Finishing touches were then mounted such as the cross stitched leather seat, the matching white faced Motogadget dials, Beringer brake reservoir assembly, Monza style filler cap and frame mounted, custom made indicators. 

Being a Kawasaki the obvious colour choice was always going to be green and Mário has smashed it out of the ballpark with a two toned, metallic scheme. Amazingly this entire build was packed into 4 short months leading up to the 2015 'Salon de la Moto Paris' where punters were lining up to place their deposits. Alas, much like Kawasaki Italy's 40th anniversary Z1000 from 2013, this bike will remain a one off, but here's hoping this won't be the last time we see the green team commission a build of this calibre.

Photography by Antoine Sayn

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Friday, June 10, 2016

Sacrilège: A Kawasaki Z1000ST Of Biblical Proportions

Ed Turner is one of Europe’s most extreme custom workshops. Owner Karl Renoult has a very clear and unapologetic vision: he builds each bike with “the sole purpose of giving it character and attitude.”This is Karl’s most outré creation yet, a Kawasaki Z1000ST heavy on biblical references and christened Ezechiel 21, ‘The Sword.’

The Z1000ST is interesting enough in its own right—35 years ago, it was Kawasaki’s first shaft-drive motorcycle, and pumped out a solid 93 horses. But it was also a little staid. And that’s like a red rag to a bull for Karl.The project was commissioned by Grégoire, a man counting his blessings after surviving the November 2015 attacks in Paris.

“He decided that his dreams had to be achieved in his lifetime,” says Karl. “After two or three phone calls, we had the outline of the project.”Grégoire wanted a machine with a powerful-looking frame, a springer front end, and beautiful finishes. The Z1000ST was chosen, largely for its powerful engine—this allowed Karl to devote most of the budget (“not crazy, but comfortable”) to the design.

The chassis took shape rapidly, with a sleeker profile at the back. But Karl resisted the temptation to mess too much with the stock wheels: “I find them pretty cool when polished and adapted to the CBR forks.”The Honda forks have been ‘emptied and springerized’ using custom dampers built by Shaft Racing. It’s a most unusual setup; the suspension duties have been moved from the fork springs to the shock nestling between the yokes.

“For this step, I admit I used some sketches—and even some math,” says Karl. “Not my habit!”“But as usual, surrounded by my mates Joe, Mikael and Gael, we tinkered with this thing and it works pretty well.”

Other cues come from the American vintage drag scene. Notably the proportions of the tires: an Avon 5.25/5.50 17-inch car tire at the rear, and a 3.25 18-inch Speedmaster Mk II rib tire at the front.Everything else is kept to the minimum—specifically, a tank that does not exceed five liters in capacity, and a microscopic brake light and flashers under the custom saddle, masterfully crafted by Red’s Leather.

“Restricted by the wallet, we were unable to satisfy all our pretensions for the preparation of the engine,” Karl says. “We had to play another card…”It was time for divine intervention, so Karl chose a few lines of Ezekiel 21 from the Old Testament to decorate the tank. “A rather creepy passage which speaks of a sword sharpened and polished—and a God who, for once, seems really pissed off and ready to fight.”

To complete The Sword, Karl called in extra manpower from the Breton artisans at Stick Your Cycles. They helped fabricated the bars and the stainless steel exhaust, and refinished the engine cases in green.After several months of work, the Kawasaki was finally ready to hit the autoroute.

Karl handed it over with a message to his client: “Greg, you run faster than bullets. Now let’s see what you can do behind the handlebars.”Amen to that.
Ed Turner | Facebook | Instagram | Photos by Francois Richer
Enigmatic French builder Ed Turner reworks the Kawasaki Z1000ST, with outrageous results.
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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Rodsmith Kawasaki KZ750 Cafe Racer

Kawasaki KZ750 Cafe Racer
The art of coachbuilding and metal shaping is a dying artform. Finding skilled individuals who can take a flat piece of metal and fashion it into a fuel tank or custom fender is getting more and more difficult. Thankfully the demand for such work is on the rise thanks to the popularity of the custom motorcycle scene and people like Craig Rodsmith are leading the way. Craig's an Aussie living in Illinois and he's been manipulating metal for hot rods and custom motorcycles for the past 25 years. One of his latest 2 wheeled creations is this '79 KZ750 Kawasaki Cafe Racer and I had the opportunity to speak to Craig about its creation.

"I was born and grew up in Melbourne, Australia." Craig explained "I spent a lot of time amongst the Elizabeth Street motorcycle scene and was a member of the Hartwell Motorcycle Club. I did a lot of road racing, on TZs and RDs, at Winton Raceway, Calder, and other regional tracks."

"I bought this motorcycle as an almost stock Kawasaki KZ750 twin from a guy in Wisconsin and decided to turn a mundane bike into something interesting. When I took off the stock fuel tank I liked the shape of the top of the bikes frame so, going outside the box, I decided to make a tank that accentuated that line."

The KZ was a neglected relic that had been sitting unloved in a garage for over a decade. Thanks to Craig's handy work it would soon have a new lease on life. "I like the challenge of giving a bike another chance by restyling it. Like most of my bikes, I like to bridge the gap between traditional styles and something unique and unusual. With this particular build I wanted the exhaust to be a part of the bike and not just an add-on, which is why I snuck it into the frame to hug the engine."

Every builder approaches their projects differently and Craig's is defined by his skill set. "When I approach a build I plan the entire bike in my head straight away, then I build it accordingly. I make minimal changes to my idea along the way depending on what the bike requires. I do every aspect of each build myself from disassembly, to design, fabrication, engine building, electrical, metal forming, welding, polishing, painting and tuning. This means I don’t need to do sketches or delegate the build requirements. I can just get on with it."

"With the body work on the Kawasaki I used traditional tools (many of which I made), such as hammers and dollies and, obviously, an English wheel. I usually do a mockup with cardboard outlines before I form the metal. Every piece of aluminum on the KZ started as flat stock.  I like to make as many pieces myself as practical, on this bike that includes the rear sets, brackets, exhaust and air cleaners.  I designed and constructed the seat to have a simple, clean look and kept the sewing at a minimum (Yes, I can sew as well). The tailpiece houses an EarthX lithium battery and the electronics.

I used an early model driving guide light and made the fairing screen to match. I like the contrast of the polished aluminum with the raw cast look so used a mix of these finishes on the bikes alloy parts. As with a lot of my builds, I like everything simple and clean so every piece of this bike has a purpose.I also have my own electroplating setup so I nickel plated the spokes and all of the bikes engine brackets."

When I asked Craig which part of the build was the most challenging he replied " The fairing was a pain in the ass! I wanted it to look seamless, while flowing aesthetically with the rest of the bike.  The shape was a major challenge because I very rarely use forms or bucks to shape the metal." Regardless of the stress it put him under the fairing remains Craig's favourite part of the KZ. "I was struggling with whether or not I should even build it. I couldn’t imagine the bike without it and it ended up being the finishing touch." and we'd have to agree.

Kawasaki KZ750 Cafe Racer
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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Dama - Davide Biondi Kawasaki W650

DAvide Bondi is an Italian artist based in Abbruzo. He loves motorcycles. And had time and passion and motivation to spend 2 years to build his dreams motorcycle.
The donor is a Kawasaki W650 and the work started in 2012. In his own atelier he striped to the bones and rebuild it from scratch .
The result was fabulous .

Please see the pictures here.

For any other Davide Bondi other work follow him

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The French Way: Bad Winners’ Kawasaki W650

Just like love and cuisine, when it comes to custom motorcycles no one does it quite like the French. Builds from the likes of Clutch Custom and Ed Turner constantly wow us—and now we’ve added another name to our watch list. Bad Winners is the workshop of Frenchman Walid Ben Lamine. From his 250-square-meter space in downtown Paris, Walid creates motorcycles like this très chic, 2006-model Kawasaki W650.
“The concept behind this bike,” he explains, “was to create a clean, minimalistic look that focused as much as possible on raw metal textures, clean welding, and simple lines.” To smooth out the distinct dip in the W650 frame, Walid lopped off the entire subframe and fabricated a new one—complete with new shock mounts and passenger peg brackets. Up front, he rebuilt the main frame’s backbone to accommodate a Yamaha DT250 fuel tank.
The tank itself has been mounted as flush as possible—to the extent that Walid had to add indents to help it clear the engine. It’s perfectly matched to a bare-bones seat, with hand-made fenders at each end capping off the bodywork. The front forks have been lowered by 5cm, and the rear shocks swapped out for a pair of YSS units. The classic diamond-tread tires are from Coker. There’s a Beringer brake at the front, customized by Beringer themselves to fit the stock caliper mounts. And the engine’s been treated to a set of K&N filters and Spark mufflers.
Walid went to great lengths to trim the W650’s wiring down too. There’s even a custom CDI, which allowed him to remove a bunch of sensors that were no longer needed. Everything’s been rewired around Motogadget’s popular m-Unit, and stashed in a discreet tray under the seat. The speedo and switches are also from Motogadget, with all the wiring running inside the low-rise, 1-inch handlebars. Biltwell Kung Fu grips, a new throttle and Beringer brake and clutch levers round out the cockpit.
Up front, Walid’s fitted a classic Cibié headlight—upgraded with a 2500 lumen LED. There’s also an LED taillight integrated into the rear fender, and compact turn signals at both ends. The W650’s finishes are sublime—a result of careful thought and hours of prep. “There’s no paint on the frame, fenders or suspension,” says Walid. “I kept the raw look of the metals to achieve the simple ruggedness of my concept. “
The frame was blasted before being sanded to a final finish and clear-coated. Other components—like the fork lowers and handlebars—were given the same raw effect. The only painted bits are the tank and headlight. Both are finished in an off-white that earned the bike its nickname: ‘Skin Milk.’ It’s an ode to simplicity, and one of the most charming Kawasaki W650s we’ve seen.
Bad Winners | Facebook | Instagram | Photos by Guillaume Petranto
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Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Saint Kawasaki W800

Deus Ex Machina are continuing to expand their footprint by opening flagship stores around the globe. Since their first store appeared in Camperdown, Sydney in 2006 they've opened 6 other international locations and although apparel may have become the biggest sector of the Deus business they've never lost sight of their beginnings as a custom workshop. Each store has its own team of talented builders who continue to produce great looking custom motorcycles while still retaining that unmistakable Deus style. Out of the Dues Milan premises, otherwise known as "The Portal of Possibilities" comes this latest custom build they've coined 'The Saint'.

The Kawasaki W series is an old favourite of Deus ex Machina. The 650 version of Kawasaki's ultra reliable, parallel twin was the subject of many of their first builds and they've done everything with it from hardtailed Bobbers to Cafe Racers. When the W800 was released a few years ago I felt that some of the W soul had been lost with the move to Efi and the removal of the kickstarter, but despite this The Saint has a timeless appeal to it. Looking like a bike that would have been at home in Bruce Brown's original 'On Any Sunday' the team at the Milan based Deus have put together a custom that any classic bike lover could appreciate.

The Saint was built for one of the heads of the Deus Milan store, Santiago, who despite being a long time bike lover and rider was yet to own a custom. Looking back over the Deus portfolio it was the blacked out,  "Le Gicleur Noire" that appealed to him the most so it was decided this would be the template for the build, however it would need modifications to suit Santiago's personal style.

The build began with the customary removal of superfluous parts to start the custom work on a blank canvas. Next step was to slim the bike down by adapting an original Yamaha SR tank, positioning it on the backbone of the frame to follow the curve of the cylinder heads and fuel pump was integrated to work with the bikes fuel system. To keep the handlebars looking clean a Daytona Velona speedometer was then mounted where the SR oil filler would usually sit at the top of the tank tunnel. A set of clubman style bars came next with with classic Beston style grips and a single low slung clubman mirror.

With the factory 2-into-2, chrome exhaust system gone a new, blacked out, 2-into-1 unit from SC-Project was added along with a set of new black rims wrapped in chunky rubber. To continue the  Tracker styling the bulbous airbox covers were replaced by hand shaped alloy plates with indents to allow the fitment of K&N pod filters. High mount fenders were also added to clear the rubber and all new lighting added to the front and rear.

The Saint was finished with the addition of a custom made seat and a slick paintjob by Kaos Design in Milan. If you happen to pass by 'The Portal of Possibilities" chances are you'll spot it parked out the front where Santiago admires it from his desk.

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Saturday, December 6, 2014

GPZ550 by Shaka Garage

GPZ550 by Shaka Garage - Bari, Italy
Latest release by Saverio Damiani - DS Design

Purchased from an elderly gentleman who, because his age, was no longer able to use it, this GPZ550 from the eighties was entirely transformed, both in the appearance and chassis. The gas tank has been modified, the front light replaced and now welcomes the ignition lock, exhausts are handmade, the forks were shortened, the subframe cut and reshaped, the seat rebuilt from scratch with a new tail light and license plate holder. In the left side panel there is suitable a space for the air filter with the cap of an old Italian coffee machine. The brakes have been revised with a new master cylinder coming from a 2014 Kawa Z750 and new braided lines... 

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