Dave Solomon is the founder of Butchered Classics, a 2000-member community dedicated to the modification of classic bikes, from tame resto-modication to radical engine swaps. Dave himself has turned out a number of simply mad machines, many of which we’ve featured here on BikeBound. Now the mad Englishman is back with a 1977 Kawasaki Z1000 (KZ1000 in the United States).
The Z1000, as you may know, was the direct descendant of the legendary Kawasaki Z1. The Z1000 offered around 90 horsepower, making it the fastest production bike of the era. In the United States, the KZ1000P police model was famed as the motorcycle in the show CHiPs, and in the original Mad Max (1979), fourteen of the bikes were Z1000s, modified by La Parisienne of Melbourne.
While this 1978 Z1000A2 may be one of Dave Solomon’s tamer builds, it’s also one of our favorites. Sometimes the lines, colors, and modifications are “just right”–the bike has that “it factor” that’s so hard to define. This is one of those bikes. We would be inclined to call this bike a Z1000 cafe racer or streetfighter, though we know Dave eschews such labels. Below, we let him give us the full story on the build.
Kawasaki Z1000 Custom: In the Builder’s Words
Now, I ain’t one for stock bikes…boring, monotonous, and bland are just few of the words I use to describe the two wheel rides at my local dealerships. Even if I get the chance to take a classic and alter it well, that’s just me! When I got the chance of purchasing this z1000 0f 1978 “vintage,” I knew what plans were afoot: upgrade forks and swingarm (mainly because these items were missing!), probably squeeze in Suzukis “finest” motor of all time–the mighty Bandit 1200 (I like doing that)–and generally just have fun creating something a tad different.
The plans were going well until I started this motor, which I have to add was the first time it had been started in nearly eight years…so it was gonna be tired, smoke like hell, and rattle more than the whole rattle section of the local Toys R Us, right?
Now I wont just fit the mighty Suzuki engine into anything if the original motor is mechanically fit for purpose, so now the real challenge was on. A Dyna ‘s’ ignition was purchased along with some Dyna coils and Taylor leads just to supply a nice healthy spark.
Whilst this was on order I began to get to grips with the chassis. A swingarm from Kawasaki’s ZRX1100 was sourced to grip the Aprilia Shiver 750 rear wheel, along with Aprilia’s RSV1000 forks and wheel doing what they do best up front.
The stock wiring loom was stripped naked, minimalised (down to six wires), and new connections fitted just for reliability. Paint was taken care of by local paint wizard Chris Davison who in his retirement does wonderful paint work in his garden shed…it really is a garden shed!
Everything was coming together nicely and well within budget but those 40 year old carburetors were doing me no favours; a decision was made and a set of 29mm CR specials were purchased…that’s the budget gone then…lol. However they did the job and the bike sounds as crisp as any other “tuned” one I’ve come across.
Now she ain’t gonna be breaking no records. However, what we do have is a unique bike built with love and attention to detail. Wherever this bike is parked, it gets people just stopping and looking; they ask if “it’s quick?” “Not really by modern standards” is my reply. The next question is normally “whats it handle like?” To which I reply “not that great compared to a new bike.” Then the clincher, when they look at me as if I’m mad and say “well why bother?” To which I reply: “Because I can!”