The Kawasaki Zephyr series harked back to the mighty Zed of old — a line of air-cooled, dual-shock inline fours with 70s styling and 90s tech. This made for quite a solid combination, though some riders and reviewers felt the bikes were “a bit bland and safe.”
Enter Garry Wolf, a 37 year-old maintenance engineer and shed-builder from the UK. Garry, who builds under the name Wolf 77 Customs, isn’t afraid to admit that bike-building has become “a bit of an obsession for him.” Though he recently moved into a larger workshop alongside GC Custom Bikes, Garry built this Zephyr 750 cafe racer in his small shed at home while juggling a 48 hour per week shift job and a two year-old son. He’s managed to create one of the slickest shed-built modern cafe racers we’ve ever seen.
This was an “engine-out” build with staggering execution and detail, from the hand-built steel cafe seat with neodymium magnets to the modular headlight unit to the rfid tag sewn into Garry’s glove…and so much more. Below, we get the full story on the build from the man himself.
Kawasaki Zephyr Cafe Fighter: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
Garry Wolf. I’m a 37 year old Maintenance Engineer from Newcastle Upon Tyne. I have been riding bikes for around six years now. It has ended up turning into my passion and a bit of an obsession I’m not frightened to admit.
I started off with lightly modifying my bikes like most other folk do, just to own something different. I then ultimately progressed to building them more seriously.
I do it as a creative process I guess. I build them for myself and for my own tastes. I thoroughly enjoy the whole building process from start to finish. So much so that I hardly seem to ride my bikes much anymore.
I have a little 50’s diner themed shed that I originally carried out my builds in. Its small but very comfortable. I manufactured a front wheel chock rail system so I can slide the wheel chock along and allow me to position a bike inside the shed at any workable position I need. It has allowed my shed to be versatile enough to carry out these builds.
I have recently jointly moved onto a larger secure workshop which I share with a good friend and skilled builder Gary Carr. He owns GC Custom Bikes and predominantly builds custom bobbers based on VN800’s. The new workshop has much more room and comfort. I can actually stand back from a build when I’m thinking more than 10ft without dragging the bike outside. We kitted the workshop out with a seating area, bar, tv, jukebox etc. Very much a lads pad and a dream for both of us.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
The bike is a Kawasaki 750 zephyr (1992).
• Why was this bike built?
I really loved the café racer style predominantly at the time and wanted something I could take to a few shows, and do things like the Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride on.
I only build bikes for myself and not for customers or anything like that. I’ve never really liked the idea of building a bike to someone’s vision. I may do one day who knows? I just like letting my creative side take control and guide me.
If I fancy painting a bike pink with purple spots then that’s what I will do. It sounds silly I know, but I think that’s important sometimes. Building them for myself has always been the main driving force.
I think I have built a handful of bikes now. I’m currently working on a BMW R80 which I am massively enjoying. Once I’m done and had a little bit of fun with the project I sell them on to make room for other projects and start again.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
Although you can’t see any of it in the direction of my build at all. I always find the builds by Old Empire Motorcycles have an influence on me.
I love how their bikes always look sexy and non-conventional. I like a bit of strange on my builds. But there are so many amazing pro-builders and even shed-builders like myself out there that I can get inspiration from loads of places, sometimes without even realising it.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
The bike has been an ‘engine out’ build. The frame was modified to take the steel, hand-built café seat. The rear loop was modified to accept two independent brake/tail and indicator lighting strips and a third low level brake light hiding under the frame which illuminates the floor under the bike at night.
The frame was also de-lugged and tided up ready for powdercoat. I chose Hyundai tiger satin grey for the frame.
While the engine was out the top end was re-built and bottom inspected. New gaskets etc. I didn’t want to paint the engine as I like the factory silver finish. I just contracted it with painted/coated covers.
Custom made steel undertray was made to house the electrics and small Shorai lithium battery. The swing arm and undertray I had dipped in carbon effect.
The fuel tanks original rear fixing support lugs were removed for a cleaner look.
The seat has no fixing screws. It is secured with very powerful neodymium magnets within a supporting frame. It is very secure and has the bonus of keeping the underside clean.
Motogadget keyless ignition fitted and RFID tag sew into my glove. Top triple tree was modified to accept the idiot lights as I wanted to fit small 60mm speed and tacho gauges for a retro feel.
I also fitted white L.E.D show lights under the frame and above the carbs. I have no idea why. Probably because I could, I guess. The operation buttons for them are located to the rear of the tank near the seat.
The headlight unit is all modular. I can remove it in minutes and fit one of four different looks including a carbon plate, road legal plate with rear projector and a couple of race number plates.
The wheels are 750 zephyr D1 model wheels. Very difficult and expensive to acquire and re-built. I think it was worth the effort.
Pretty much everything is new. Brakes, discs, bearings, fluids. Nothing was really left un-touched.
The paint work was carried out by Adrian at Bulldog Customs. The man knows his painting and is superb. No decals and everything under the lacquer.
I was lucky enough to pick up a few local custom bike show ‘best in show’ trophies along the way. Which was unexpected but really appreciated.
• How would you classify this bike?
Probably just a café racer or it has been referred to as a café ‘street’ fighter. Café racer to me.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I guess I was proud I managed to build the bike in a little shed around my 48hr a week shift job while juggling my two year old son at the same time.
I get so much support from my partner Sandra when it comes to my building. She makes it easy for me to follow my passion. I’m very lucky to have her in my life.