A bit of history and some stories about vintage bikes for sale

Posts tagged “kawasaki H2

1975 Kawasaki KH500

I have owned so many motorcycles over the years that I have probably forgotten some of them, but one I have not and never will, is my 1972 Kawasaki H2 750. I have written before about how I came to owning this bike before so I won’t bore you with the story again. That Kawasaki Triple was the motorcycle that first really touched my soul. The H2 was the first motorcycle I took a long (to Canada) trip on, the bike I street raced cars on (for rent money…I almost always won), the bike I had so much fun modifying and spending money on and the motorcycle that could scare the sh*t out of me. Evil,Wicked,Mean and Nasty is how most everyone described the Mach 4. A reputation well earned. The H2 was, if nothing else, a pure adrenaline rush and when you’re in your twenties, what more could you ask for?!

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 8.06.41 AMI love the Kawasaki triples. I have ridden every size. From the 250 to the 350, 400, 500 and 750 and loved them all. As the line of Triples evolved they also became more civilized, still exciting but not the hooligan bikes they once were. It was also the end of an era for two stroke motorcycles. The Mighty Z1 and later the KZ500 and 650 put the nails in the coffins of the Triples. Well, the EPA had a lot to do with it as well.

In 1960 Kawasaki took over Meguro motorcycles, in 1961 came out with a 125, in ’62 brought out the 250cc Avenger, this was the bike that got the attention of the American public. I have ridden the Avenger and WOW!!! Granted a later version, but still a high WOW factor. The 350 Samurai was even more impressive. Now think about this, Kawasaki’s first four stoke was the 650W1, pretty much a copy of a BSA A10. The Samurai 350 was as fast as the bike nearly twice it’s size! Since that time Kawasaki has tried to bring back the W650 a couple of times with very little success. Too bad, because it was and is a great machine.

So anyway, back to the Triples…Wheelie prone? Yes. Ill handling? Yes. Poor gas mileage ? Yes. Too much fun? OH YEAH!!! Kawasaki did civilize the triples over the years but they were and still are a lot of fun to ride. On the 500, if you romp on the throttle, at 3500 RPM you’re looking at the sky. Can that be cured? Do you want it to be?
There are all kinds of things you can do make these great bikes handle better. Some are easy and cheap and some take a bit of engineering, but it’s worth it.

I found a really nice KH500 on ebay and the price is reasonable, has lots of new parts and is ready to ride. Yes I would make a few changes, only because of my experience with these bikes…but thats just me. Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures.
There is a raw excitement that comes along with riding a Kawasaki Two Stroke Triple no matter what size that can’t be matched by any other series of motorcycles.

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Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 7.27.15 AM1975 Kawasaki KH500

1978 Honda Gold Wing Cafe Racer

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 9.09.28 AMSometimes I just can’t help myself. I love Cafe Racers. Simple. A purpose built/modified machine that can get from here to there quite fast in high style. A cafe racer is a function before fashion machine but…the fashion is definitely there too.

A good friend of mine has recently discovered Cafe Racers. He started his life on a Harley Davidson Sportster, all blacked out, then moved on to a Street Bob (a big twin Harley), again all blacked out and loves it. He is a part time member of the “Harley Culture” but he is expanding his views. My subtle hints and sending pictures of cool bikes seem to be working!Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 8.53.58 AM

I was living in Las Cruces New Mexico when the original Gold Wing was introduced. The GL1000 was at first thought of as a big bore Sportbike, but as we all know, it became the Supreme Leader in touring bikes. Why the change in thought? The original was a touring bike to go up against the Harley Davidson Electra Glide, but the molds for all the touring accessories were accidentally destroyed so the bike was brought out naked and American Honda tried to market it as a Sportbike. Well, the aftermarket (in particular Craig Vetter) had a field day with accessories. In no time at all you could make a Gold Wing as comfortable as a Winnebago. It is the motorcycle that changed touring motorcycles forever.Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 8.56.31 AM

I rode it back in 1975 and thought it was rather Ho-Hum (I was riding a Kawasaki H2 750 at the time). Fast forward a few decades when I bought my father his Gold Wing, I came to realize just how good this motorcycle is. I started looking at Gold Wings as more than just an ‘old man motorcycle’ but as a platform for some serious fun. Granted, you can’t convert a modern Gold Wing to anything other than what it is but get an old GL1000 or 1100 and the fun begins.Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 9.03.34 AM

I found a very nicely done Cafe Racer ‘Wing’ on ebay this morning and it looks very appealing. A little too blingy for my taste but very well done. Pretty low miles for a bike it’s age…my wife says the same thing about me. NOT. Some really nice upgrades and like I said, a little on the ‘Blingy” side for me but nicely done.
Click on the pics below for more pictures and info. This is a very cool bike.

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Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 7.58.11 AM1978 Honda Gold Wing Cafe Racer

1975 Kawasaki Z1 900

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The 1969 Honda CB750 Four is generally considered to be the first Japanese ‘Superbike’. I beg to differ. Yes the CB750 broke ground with electric start, disc brakes and a wonderful engine. But… in my humble opinion, Kawasaki really led the way into ‘Superbike’ with the 1969 H1 Mach 3. The Mach 3 also known as ‘The Blue Streak’ (due to the blue stripe on the gas tank) was less than a Superbike in all but one category…horsepower. Power to weight ratio. It handled lousy, braked marginally, would scare the crap out of mere mortals (and some immortals)…it truly was a motorized ‘Flexible Flyer’. But we all loved it!

In 1972 Kawasaki came out with the 750cc H2, the Mach 4. This motorcycle was capable of mach speeds  and then some. It handled better than the Mach 3 and with some modifications it actually handled pretty well. In a straight line nothing on two  wheels (and most four wheel vehicles) could beat it. I paid my rent for a year or so racing cars with my H2. I thought I was King of the world until my friend Mike Kaller bought King Kong…The Z1.
The Mighty Z1 really did bring the term “Superbike” to life. Big motor, Big power, and beautiful styling.

Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 7.37.32 AMMy friend Reg Pridmore won the AMA Superbike Championship in 1977 aboard a Kawasaki, the first for a Japanese manufacturer…along with the help of Craig Vetter and Keith Code.

I found a really nice ’75 Z1 on ebay this morning. It has been set up nicely with 1974 body work and livery (paint scheme) and repro exhaust. Here’s the the thing about the ’75 versus previous years. It’s better.

For 1975 Kawasaki gave the Z1 a better frame, better suspension, brakes that could actually stop King Kong, tuned the motor to be a bit more friendly and got rid of the chain oiler (the chain oiler was maybe a good idea but sure made a mess of the rear wheel…). The down side of the Z1 was that it chewed up chains, sprockets and rear tires. Well, manufacturers of those parts weren’t prepared for a bike like ‘The Mighty Z1’.

The seller of this particular Kawasaki Z1 has done a nice job of making the bike look right. It does need some basic service work..as in go through the carbs, check the electrical’s but from there, you’re going to have a fabulous motorcycle.
My suggestions though….upgrade the rear shocks, new springs in the front (along with Race Tech emulators), a set of GP touring bars, better brake pads, some sticky tires and hang on.

Another thought here, The Z1 also makes an incredible ‘Sport Tourer’. The motor is strong enough to pull you and a passenger, along with your luggage, the seat is surprisingly comfortable for long stints in the saddle, and honestly, The KZ900 is a great all around motorcycle.

Click on the pictures below for more info and more pictures. This is a really great motorcycle to have.





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1975 Kawasaki Z1 900</a><img style=”text-decoration:none;border:0;padding:0;margin:0;” src=”http://rover.ebay.com/roverimp/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?ff3=2&pub=5574881880&toolid=10001&campid=5336495545&customid=1975+Kawasaki+Z1+900&item=111362860979&mpt=%5BCACHEBUSTER%5D”&gt;

1974 Suzuki TM400 Cyclone

Picture 13Are you NUTS??!! Does the term “Evil, Wicked, Mean and Nasty’ turn you on? Do you have dreams of taming a bucking Bronco in the old west? Do you have more huevos than brains? Have you ever had evil thoughts of giving a friend (?) a motorcycle so that you could just sit back and laugh your rear end off? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this is the bike for you!

The Suzuki TM400 Cyclone. This bike was built to be the dominant force in Moto-Cross…in the hands of Roger Decoster and Joel Robert, it was. However, the TM400 they rode was a very different motorcycle from what you and I could buy.Picture 23

What you and I got was a bike that had a light switch powerband, a chassis that had no problem bucking you off or swapping ends without telling you first, it would change directions on you with no effort at all even when you didn’t want it to. This was motorcycle like no other. It’s no wonder it was given the nickname ‘The Widow Maker’. Most riders of the TM400 are actually ‘survivors’ of the TM400.

So what is it that makes the Cyclone such an interesting motorcycle? Beats the hell out of me…both literally and figureativley. I spent all of about 20 minutes on one at an MX track in Southern New Mexico. I was the friend(?) that everybody else there that day laughed their butts off at. It was pretty fun to be terrified by a motorcycle. Now, mind you at the time, I was riding the street bike equivalent of ‘Evil, Wicked, Mean and Nasty’…the Kawasaki H2750 two stroke triple…I eventually learned how to tame that beast (or was it the other way around?) and many learned how to tame the TM400.

The Suzuki Cyclone became a somewhat rideable motorcycle by adding extra flywheel weight, thicker head gaskets to lower the compression ratio, ignition timing changes, smaller carburetors, modifying the chassis…anything to tame this Cyclone.

Picture 12When the TM400 showed up it made around 40HP from the factory and think about this, many 125’s today make that kind of power!! And they are actually fun to ride!

I found a very clean TM400 on ebay today and if you are looking for a very unique motorcycle that will scare the daylights out of you…but for some will give you big smiles, check this one out. It is a good runner, has a non stock exhaust, has been painted, but the seller says it looks really great. All in all an interesting bike.Picture 15

So, if you’re looking for a true “Holy Sh*t what did I buy?” motorcycle, click on the pics below for more info and more pictures. Also, review your insurance policies.

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Picture 181974 Suzuki TM400 Cyclone

1982 Kawasaki GPZ750

Picture 2In 1982 I was the Sales Manager at a Kawasaki dealership here in Southern California, I loved my job. The family I worked for was great, they helped me in my roadracing effort, and thanks to them I was doing pretty well. Here is the better part…I was racing a Kawasaki but my daily ride was a Honda. It didn’t look good for the Sales Manager to be riding a bike we didn’t sell, so…I was given a ‘demo bike’ to ride. Life doesn’t get any better, especially when your first ‘demo bike’ is a Kawasaki GPZ750.

I spent ten really good years on a Kawasaki H2 750 Mach 4, Kawasaki’s flagship three cylinder two stroke rocket. At times it scared the crap out of me…the H2 was called “evil, wicked, mean and nasty” by every motorcycle magazine and most people who owned them, but after some really good (serious) modifications the monster was tamed and we had great times together. Sadly,the H2 was stolen from me (if I ever find that guy…”hell hath no fury than an H2 rider without his triple!) and that is how I ended up on a Honda CB750F.My H2

Back to the GPZ. When I was told I was getting the GPZ I wanted to cry, cry tears of joy. I had already sold a few of them and everyone loved it so I couldn’t wait to ride it.

Closing time on Saturday afternoon I was given the key, and a stern lecture from my boss as to how I was to ride the bike responsibly (the look on his face didn’t match his words…if you get my drift here…). I spent the next two days flogging that GPZ up and down every canyon road I knew here in Southern Cal. The smile never once left my face.Picture 3

Here’s the deal with the GPZ…Kawasaki was already successful with the KZ series and had brought out the GPZ models in 550 and 1100cc in 1981 but they had to compete with the Honda CB750F model and Suzuki’s very capable GS750. Kawasaki was known for building motorcycles with ‘King Kong’ horsepower but didn’t have the chassis to control it. The GPZ750 changed that.Picture 5

The GPZ was not just a ‘tarted up’ KZ750, there were chassis mods (courtesy of the Z1 and models soon to come…like a shorter wheelbase for quicker turning, beefier headstock and more), engine changes like new cylinder heads,new cam profiles, different carburation and a different riding position. What Kawasaki was going for here was a pure unadulterated sportbike and that is what they got. What they didn’t expect that it would also be a really good sport tourer. The GPZ1100 was Kawasaki’s ‘heavyweight’ sport tourer, but now they had a 750 that was at home on a canyon road as it was on the interstate. The first GPZ 750 is one of Kawasaki’s finest bikes of the era. The GPZ underwent some changes over the next couple of years (some good and some… ‘not so much’) but it was and still is a fabulous motorcycle.

I found a beauty today on ebay. This GPZ is a stocker, which in my book is pretty much the best way to find a used bike…that way you get to do whatever you want to do to the bike instead of undoing what someone else did…unless you would have the same things done to the bike. A bit of a convoluted thought but hopefully you get my meaning. This GPZ has been garaged for twenty years with 24K on the clock, not bad but it is going to some love. Standard stuff will be required here…carb service (full clean and rebuild), change all fluids, new tires (they’re old. I don’t care how ‘new’ they look or how much tread they have left, they are not worth keeping on the bike), brake pads, etc, etc. There is the standard corrosion on the bike that can with a little time and effort can be dealt with. This bike is a rider not a collector piece. Do the basics and ride it.

The GPZ 750 is a really wonderful motorcycle that will do anything you ask of it…blast through your local Sunday morning canyon ride, commute to work everyday, or throw on a set of soft saddlebags, a tank bag and head off to Telluride. Click on the pics below for more (not really) info and more pictures. Having ridden one for a while I can say this a perfect example of the ‘UJM’ being taken a level higher.

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Picture 101982 Kawasaki GPZ750

1962 Norton Atlas

I love Nortons. I have ridden quite a few over the years, have been part of an LSR team,(‘Left Coast Racing’) at Bonneville with two Norton’s (one has a Bonneville Speed record!) and have grown to love them.

When my step dad wandered, rather precariously, off the Triumph path, he brought home a Norton 750 Commando that needed some love, which he gave without a flinch. It only took moments after he fired it up and I heard the beautiful song from that big long stroke motor coming out of those exquisite Dunstall mufflers that I knew all the work I had put into it (mostly all the washing, degreasing, sanding, painting little parts, taking nuts and bolts to the plater, hand polishing everything else…I still have carpal tunnel issues because of that bike…) was well worth it.

Today, I would love to have a Norton to ride, the reality is I can’t afford a Manx Norton (the one I really would want), probably not even a good Commando. But…I’ll bet I can find an Atlas, the pre-runner to the Commando, that would fit into the budget. Here’s the low down on the Atlas.

The Atlas was Norton’s big move into the U.S market. They gave it very ‘American’ styling…higher handlebars, big valanced fenders, a smaller gas tank and a bigger motor. Hmmm…let’s see, who were they aiming for?

Norton started with the Featherbed frame, designed by the McCandless brothers back in 1949. The chassis was brilliant, its name came from a moto-journalist that described it as “riding on a featherbed compared to the older ‘Garden Gate’ version”. There is a lot written about the Featherbed and it has been copied many times over by other manufacturers, my ’72 Kawasaki H2 was built with a variation of the ‘Featherbed’… the design, perfect…execution however…not so perfect, the bike still handled like crap until I modified the daylights out of it!
The original 650cc Dominator motor was pumped to 750cc then set up with lower compression to make it easier to ride on the road. The Dominator was basically a race bike with lights…a bit peaky and twitchy handling…not well suited to the American taste and our roads. The Atlas also got the ‘Roadholder’ forks, a vast improvement over the older design. In 1963, Cycle World magazine described it as “the most pleasant to ride for long distances…despite it’s size, can be zipped through ‘S Bends’ like a lightweight”. All in all, the Atlas is a great bike except for one thing…it will vibrate the fillings right out of your teeth. That really is the one and only main complaint about the Atlas. Yes, it handles great, the motor has wonderful power where you need it, but my God…you would need to see a chiropractor after every ride!?

With all that said, I found a really beautiful Atlas on ebay this morning that is going to be a great buy for someone ( I just wish it was me, but I already have too many motorcycles to care for…according to my wife…). It has been gone through from top to bottom and nose to tail. There are a few flaws and the owner has told the story (a bit humorous…except to him…) The main upgrade has been from 6 volt to 12 volt electrics and a lot of the nuts and bolts have been upgraded to stainless steel as have been the spokes. This is a really beautiful motorcycle and if you would like to get into the Norton world, this is the best jumping off point.

Click on the pics below for more good pictures and more info.

1962 Norton Atlas

’72 Kawasaki S2 350

Ok, here we go again. Little hot rod bikes. To me, a 350cc motorcycle is the absolute perfect size. Plenty fast enough to keep up with freeway traffic, light enough to be a good handler, sips gas…and with gas prices heading into the $4-5.00 range, what wouldn’t you like about a 350cc motorbike?

The Mach 2 triple replaced Kawasaki’s A7 Avenger twin as the ever increasing war among performance bikes kept building. Here’s the deal, this bike had to go up against Yamaha’s RD350…did it succeed in that quest? No. Is it a great bike? Yes. Sadly the S2 350 was probably the most ignored of the Kawasaki Triples of the time. The 500cc H1 would give you the biggest giggle factor per CC of any bike around (provided you were going in a straight line…corners were not the 500’s forte’. The H2 750 would leave any other motorcycle (and most cars) in a cloud of blue smoke, and the little 250 Triple was a just a blast to ride. So why didn’t the 350 work in the sales department? Because it wasn’t the RD350. Simple.

After a couple of years Kawasaki replaced the S2 350 with the nice but boring KH400. The 400 was smoother riding but, like all the Kawasaki Triples, was being tuned down to just OK. Not the exciting ‘scare the SH*t out of you’ of the first generation triples. The original 350’s were and are, fun to ride, you could wheelie these bikes at will in the first three gears.

So, I found this really good condition Kawasaki 350 on ebay this morning that would be a lot of fun to own and ride. It’s got 23,000 miles on the clock, no biggie…I had over 75,000 on my H2 (yes, I did do the top end a couple of times, but with a 2 stroke motor, pretty easy stuff). The owner threw on some new tires, a new battery, steering head bearings, fork seals, shocks, and other bits and pieces that make this a buy and ride motorcycle. It has been repainted but the color and stripes are right. It does have the signs of a bike that is forty years old, but all in all, really good condition.

There is one thing I would do…replace that not so good front drum brake with the disc brake set up off the ’73 model. Probably easy to find at your local salvage yard or on ebay. Actually, there are a least a dozen forums dedicated to the Kawasaki triples where you could find the conversion parts. Oh, one more thing, Kawasaki triples have a tendancey to surge at freeway cruising speeds (steady throttle), all you have to do to cure this issue is drag out your Dremel tool and raise the exhaust port about 1/2 millimeter, it’s amazing what that little change does. And…if you want a little more ooomph out of the 350cc motor, pull the baffles out of the mufflers, cut about 3″ off the internals, re-wrap them (you do still want to keep the bike quiet) and you’d be amazed at how the bike feels.

This is a good bike that can be good commuter, but…me…I’d give it a mild cafe treatment and ride it everyday. Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures. It’s good bike and well worth adding to your collection.

’72 Kawasaki S2 350

’67 Kawasaki A7 Avenger

The late 1960’s through, well, the 1980’s, brought the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers from building cheap ‘jap junk’ to total dominance of the motorcycle market. We can start with bikes like the Honda Dream, the Hawk, Suzuki’s X6, Yamaha’s R5, then Kawasaki hit the world with the H1. Power beyond anything on the market at the time. It didn’t handle worth a crap, brakes were Fred Flintstone quality at best…but damn fun to ride. The ’69 Honda CB750 did completely change the motorcycling world. It was everything that nobody else was making, style, power and reliability for a long ride.

Before the CB750 hit the market, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki were building high performance, light weight 2 strokes that were beating the American and British builders on the road and on the track. There is a lot of racing history we can delve into, but thats for one of the other blogs.

Those of us that were just hitting driving / riding age in the mid to late 60’s wanted the quickest, lightest and most fun motorcycle we could get. We had 250’s and 350’s that could keep up,if not outrun, the Bonnevilles and Sportsters of the day that we could choose from. Honda’s CB350 was good but was nothing more than a slice of white Wonder Bread, it did it’s job but it was the bike you had no problem leaving outside in the rain. The two strokes were where the real fun was.

The Kawasaki A7 Avenger took all the good parts of the 250 Samurai; quick, light and fun…pumped it up and smoothed it out a bit. Power came on earlier and a little less ‘light switch abrupt’, more torque and only ten pounds heavier. Even the brakes worked pretty well by standards of the day.

At this time Kawasaki was working on two thoughts. Do we pump up the 350 to a 500 twin (to compete with the Suzuki Titan) or do we really go for it? Two years later welcome in the H1 500cc Triple. That motorcycle, as exciting as it was didn’t stop the A7. Dollar for dollar, the A7 gave the rider more performance in almost every respect.

So, while cruising ebay this morning, I found a very nice A7 that can be had for a good price. It is a runner. I can see this as a perfect little cafe racer. Upgrade the tires, suspension, a set of clubmans maybe…I guess that’s about all I would do really. Well, there is one more thing. A friend of mine back in the 70’s had one of these. Jim Gaver. He was a really good rider, made custom fly fishing rods for a living. Last time I saw him we were riding up Angeles Crest Highway. I was riding a Honda CB750F, he had just bought a CB900F. We had breakfast at Newcombs Ranch. I continued up the mountain, he went back down. I hope that maybe I’ll see him again up the road sometime.

Anyway…Jim had an A7 and he showed me a neat little trick on his exhaust that I used on my Kawasaki H2. Pull the baffles out of the exhaust pipe cut about 4-5 inches off the internal baffle, re-wrap it, slip it back in and you have more low end power,and a smoother overall powerband with no extra noise. Cool huh. This ebay special could be a lot of fun for someone looking for a cool, you won’t see these everywhere motorcycle at a good price. Click on the pics below for more info and more pictures

’76 Kawasaki A7 Avenger

’84 Kawasaki Ninja 900

At this time I was working at a Kawasaki dealership in the LA area, along with a couple of other jobs, and was lucky enough to have a 900 Ninja as a demo bike for about 3 months. The dealership gave me the bike because they knew that my beloved ’72 Kawasaki H2 had recently been stolen and they didn’t like me riding my Honda CB750F to work each day. As a matter of fact, they made me park down the block a ways so our customers wouldn’t see a Kawasaki guy riding a Honda. Some owners are so picky…

The 900 Ninja was as eye opening as my H2 was twelve years earlier. It didn’t have the explosiveness of my H2 but it was light years ahead of the CB750. Smaller and much more compact than even Kawasaki’s own GPZ750 of the time. The 900 Ninja was the first of the liquid cooled 16 valve motors, 115 horsepower and topped out at around 155mph (I can attest to that speed). The engine was really narrow by standards of the time and that allowed Kawasaki to set the motor lower in the frame to help the bike handle better. It also was the first of it’s generation to use the engine as a stressed member. The testament to its speed and handling was a 1,2 finish at 1984 Isle of Man TT. The 900 Ninja was truly a motorcycle designed around that remarkable engine. If the 900 Ninja had an Achilles heel it was the 16″ front wheel. All in all one of the most impressive motorcycles of its time. Actually of any time. Hey, you wouldn’t let Tom Cruise ride just any old motorcycle in Top Gun now would you?!

The Ninja was loved by the moto-journalists at the time and still is. The 900 was soon upstaged by the GPZ1100 in the power arena but the big Ninja was no match for the nimble 900 on tight twisty (our favorite) roads. The original Ninja had what some perceived as an overheating problem, Kawasaki came back with a redo of the temp gauge. Seemed to work as I remember.

I found this very nice, though not completely stock, ’84 900 Ninja on ebay. But…I have a of question. The owner says it’s a Japan import. OK..but why does it have an MPH speedo instead of KPH model? Maybe he is thinking that just because it came from Japan it’s a Japan model? Maybe? The bike does have an aftermarket exhaust but that’s OK, it has been jetted and air filtered to suit the pipe. This is a really nice first generation Ninja. Well worth adding to your collection. Upgrade the tires and ride the daylights out of this classic bike. Click on the pics below for more info.

’84 Kawasaki Ninja 900

’83 Yamaha XS650 Cafe’

So, this guy buys a Yamaha XS650 Heritage Special, an at the time a ‘cruiser’ style motorcycle and then says “not quite my style”…and thus the ride begins.

I have always been a huge fan of the Yamaha XS650. I test rode one back in the early Seventies and loved it, almost bought it. but…something faster caught my ego and a three cylinder started living in my garage.

A decade or so later I had the chance again to buy one. A used, beautiful condition XS650B showed up in the classifieds not too far from home. I drove over, checked the bike over throughly and made the deal. I went to the bank, pulled out my life savings (I wasn’t what you call rich at the time, raising two kids on my own and working at a motorcycle shop…), drove back to the guys house and saw my ’72 XS650 riding away with somebody else on it??!! What happened??? Apparently that guys bank was closer than mine. So, I don’t have the XS650 I still lust after.

The XS650 has been the platform for so many custom treatments over the years. Probably the most popular was as a chopper. Because of Yamaha’s success in flat track a Street Tracker version became an option and then of course there is my favorite…a cafe’ racer.

I found this very cool ’83 XS650 on ebay this morning. Like I said at the beginning here, this cafe racer started life as a cruiser style ride, you the laid back, ride slow, more style than performance type of motorcycle. Blasphemy in my book, and apparently this guys too.

He bought this XS that had been sitting for years, tore it down and changed it’s life. Starting with the motor, the top end was refreshed with new pistons and a some head work, everything else looked pretty good…it should be with only 8300 miles on it. To make it ride better the forks were rebuilt, replaced the rear shocks,and this where I have a couple of questions. The owner replaced the stockers (which was very necessary in this transformation) with old shocks from a 70’s era Kawasaki KZ500?? Shocks off an older smaller motorcycle?? I don’t get it. When you look at the pictures you can see it’s too short in the back end. He must have gotten them for free. Then switched out the stock nylon swingarm bushings for some good brass bushings (a much better choice than needle bearings that were popular at the time). Changed out the wheels for vintage cafe correct 19″ front and 18″ rear wire wheels. Then the rest of Cafe treatment started.

A very cool Kerker 2 into 1 followed up by a Dunstall muffler helped the bike perform and sound Cafe’ cool, a nice set of Omars rear sets (look a little too high for me, but that’s just me…). The XS was topped off by an Yamaha RD400 gas tank (that had to be a bit of an engineering bad dream, but the results are well worth it), a very cool looking Cafe seat set up and then all of it finished off with a very nice paint job.

Cruiser to cafe racer…very nice. Click on the pics below for more info and pictures. This is a very nicely done XS650. Makes wish I gotten back from the bank just a few minutes faster all those years ago.

’83 Yamaha XS650 Cafe