Dave Solomon is the mad Englishman behind Butchered Classics, an online community dedicated to pre-1990 bikes modified in diametrically “non-purist” fashion, embracing everything from braced swingarms to crazy engine swaps. Dave himself has earned an “evil reputation” for “butchering” classic Kawasakis, including his Bandit-powered Kawasaki “GPz1157” — which we recently featured.
Now Dave is back with what might be his most purist-maddening build ever: a (formerly) fuel-injected Kawasaki Z1000H, of which there are only 11 still registered in the whole United Kingdom. To be fair, his original plan was to restore the old girl to factory-spec — quite the surprise from a performance-minded man like Dave, as the early fuel injection system proved to be a failure and Kawasaki quickly swept the “H” under the rug and switched back to a carb’d version.
However, once Dave learned that the engine was in terrible shape and didn’t have the fuel injection anyway, it was on. And besides, old Dave was itching to get a rise out of the naysayers…
“The ‘purist’ types out there were baying for my blood…and to be honest, I’m always up for a battle.”
Below, we get the full story on this Bandit-powered Z1000H!
Kawasaki Z1000H/Bandit: In the Builder’s Words
The title “Purist,” according to Wikipedia, means a person who likes something “pure” — unblemished , not altered, or…as intended. However, sometimes you may make a purchase, only to find a year down the line that the manufacturer has now brought out a new refined version of the product you originally purchased. I had this recently with my laptop and my daughter is constantly updating her phone as her six month old phone is apparently useless with its mountain of storage and three camera lenses on the rear to gain that perfect “selfie.” Me? I’m still classed as prehistoric by her with my iPhone 4 (yeah, yeah I know), but to be honest, I still much preferred my Samsung E330 “clam” phone from over a decade ago, but sometimes you just gotta move with the times.
Now, I’m fully aware you know where I’m going with this, but this bike I’ve just completed is a tad special — let me explain.
It’s the end of the seventies — Kawasaki are the market leaders in litre plus superbikes, but all the other manufactures are hot on their heels. The mighty Z1R had done a two-year stint and design change saw the launch of the Z1000ST — a mighty fine bike, but not everyone was in love with the shaft drive. Kawasaki took it upon themselves to introduce the Z1000’H’ (KZ in the good old U S of A)! It would receive subtle changes to bodywork design, chain drive. but more importantly fuel injection — a massive gamble on the part of Kawasaki. A thousand bikes were built and spread across the globe. Here in the UK, we received 200 of the said model and they sold well. However, it soon became apparent the market wasn’t quite ready for fuel injection. Reports of dealers around the world struggling to keep customers happy with their recent purchases meant Kawasaki had no alternative but to offer a carburetor alternative to unhappy customers, and all bikes manufactured from that point would receive the carb’d model rather then the fuel injection…the KZ1000 MK2 was born!
I’d been hunting a Z1000 (H or MK2) for quite a while. Loved the styling from when I was a spotty youth, and with the likes of Sanctuary and Bulldock in Japan re-importing these models and making stunning machines from them just made me want one more. So when I was offered a “project” back in October ’18, I thought why not?
The seller sent me some pics of the chassis and bodywork and amongst them was the side panel badges stating Z1000 and below was the words “Fuel injection.” It meant nothing, though — the bike was 80% complete and even came with two sets of carburetors. The deal was done and the chassis, motor and various boxes of rusty junk were transported back to my shed.
The following day I’d arranged for a fine gentleman to arrive and collect some Z650 “rusty junk.” He arrived as planned and entered my shed. On looking upon the pile of former Kawasaki I had just purchased, he was overcome with elation, explaining the story of the Z1000H and how rare they are. He started shuffling through boxes explaining what parts and pieces were worth…for the first time the idea of a restoration came to mind.
A few days passed and I asked for information on a few forums, most were helpful others were…not. I found some wanted the frame just to make a quick buck and others were saying that the whole package is worthless because the frame had been “slightly” altered by the previous owner, but still I persevered with the restoration idea.
A leakdown test showed the motor was very tired, compression test was 20% on three cylinders and 40% on the other. On lifting the cylinder head I realised it was gonna cost a small fortune to get this old girl right…and on top of that, unless it has its fuel injection, it will never be “right” and the “purist” types out there were baying for my blood…and to be honest, I’m always up for a battle.
So, the decision was made. The frame was dispatched to Wayne Kirby who braced the frame, re-positioned the top shock mounts and welded the billet alloy mounts on the replacement arm.
Whilst the frame was being modified, all the bodywork was sent to Chris Davison, the garden shed Picasso, who took on the job of prepping and painting the original panels in Z1000H colours. As the donor Bandit (what else ?) had just been purchased, I was able to give Chris the wheels also to paint in dirt attracting gleaming white.
The frame, once received back from Wayne, was sent for blasting and powder coat. Neill Curtis from Burlow Engineering fabricated a new steering stem in what seems overnight and his business partner Mark Eavers created them “billet porn” engine mounts…again in record time and even helped me with the right hand pick up cover (that’s annoyed a few…lol).
The RCD rearsets were destined for a different build but look just right on this bike, and along with the brand new RS36mm Mikuni’s and matching stacks, the bike is pretty much perfect.
The whole build took a little over ten weeks from receiving the project to her first outing. She rides well and handles perfect. If I’d stuck with the restoration idea, it would’ve cost me far more money, took far more time to build, and more importantly, had far less performance.
As for the “purists”? Well I’ve been told that I’ve ruined a genuinely rare classic bike with only eleven left registered here in the UK. My reply to them: Ive taken a bike that even Kawasaki failed with in its day and couldn’t hide quick enough and created a perfectly usable (and reliable) motorcycle. And as much as I loved my 20-year-old Samsung E330, I still prefer my iPhone 4 (even if it is way outta date)…and what’s the chances them same purists have phones way more modern than mine!