1978 Kawasaki KZ750 Twin
Here I am again writing about a bike that I wish I had room for in my collection, the Kawasaki KZ750 Twin. It may not have the status of a Bonneville, a Lightning 650, a Commando, or even an XS650 (I have owned 2 out of the 4), but the KZ750 Twin deserves more love that it gets. The KZ750 is a classic bike that has been flying under the radar since it was new.
When the 750 twin came out it fit right between Kawasaki 600 and 1000 fours and we all looked at it and thought…why? At that time there were only two big vertical twins left on the market, the Bonnie and the XS, Kawasaki thought they could find a place in that market. There were still riders that liked vertical twins. Compared to the Triumph and the Yamaha, the KZ750 was just plain boring. The styling was conservative, the motor was just a lump (styling wise) between the wheels and, the mufflers were a bit too big with a big ugly seam running along the top and made the motor sound more like it was wheezing instead of breathing.
What Kawasaki did do with the KZ twin motor, that was either good or bad depending on your point of view, was smooth out the vibration that vertical twins are known for. Part of the charm (?) of the vertical twin motor is the feel, the vibration that comes up from the seat,the footpegs and handlebars…it let you know the bike was alive. Kawasaki built the motor with counter balancers that took that feel away but made the bike a very smooth ride for a big twin. I think that was part of why the KZ twin was really a non-event in motorcycling, that and it just came out a few years too late.
The KZ750 wasn’t fast, it came to market with a modest 55 horsepower (give or take), a top speed of somewhere just north of 100mph (barely), a bit heavy at a little over 500 lbs, and a soft suspension. The brakes were decent though. But you know what…it’s a great motorcycle!
One thing that Kawasaki is well known for is building bikes with great motors, and the KZ750 twin is no exception. Kawasaki motors have a reputation for being nearly indestructible, many journalists have called them the ‘King Kong’ motors of the industry…what else would you expect from a company who also builds steamships and locomotives?!
The beauty of the KZ 750 twin is that it can be any kind of motorcycle you want it to be. You can leave it stock (why?), chop it, bob it, load it up with a faring and saddlebags for touring, put a sidecar on it or, in my case, make a cafe racer out of it. The KZ750 twin is ultra reliable, easy to maintain and parts are still available. The net is full of resources and enthusiasts for this under loved motorcycle.
I found a really nice KZ750 twin on ebay this morning that somebody needs to buy. This is one of those, buy it…go get it…ride it home. Well, unless you live in North Dakota or Minnesota. It has only 9446 miles on the clock, it’s in really great condition and will be a great value for the buyer. Put on a new set of tires, give it a good going over, re-jet the carbs (they came from the factory way too lean), put on a set of good aftermarket mufflers, a set of lower handlebars, better rear shocks…ok, wait a minute, I’m heading off into the cafe zone. Really though, set it up which ever way you would like this is a really good motorcycle for the money.
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