Aquafresh: Kawasaki KZ1000 Cafe Racer

Kawasaki KZ1000 Cafe Racer
A big-bore Kawa from Mitsuaki Shinohara…

The Kawasaki KZ1000 is one of the baddest air-cooled muscle bikes of the 1970s. Introduced in 1976, the bike won the 1977 and 1978 AMA Superbike Championship, and the legendary Eddie Lawson would win the championship for Kawasaki once again in 1981, riding a factory KZ1000S1. What’s more, the 90-hp big-bore Kawa was seared into the cultural consciousness when fourteen of them starred in the breakout film Mad Max — one as The Goose’s police bike, and thirteen as the modified mounts of Toecutter’s gang, played by the Vigilantes — a real motorcycle club.

Kawasaki KZ1000 Cafe Racer

Enter our new friend Mitsuaki Shinohara (@mitsuaki555), an automotive painter whose 1978 Kawasaki KZ1000 was one of the standouts of The One Moto 2020 — a dream come true:

“I’ve always wanted to submit a motorcycle I built to the One Moto show ever since I first visited 6 years ago.”

Kawasaki KZ1000 Cafe Racer
As you might imagine, “Aki” was inspired by the KZ1000 customs from Mad Max. Among the many modifications, the bike now sports a period-correct Tracy body kit and Rickman front cowl combination, and the paint is Aki’s own work — the result of much trial and error, trying to decide on the right colors. We love the scheme he chose, which gives the bike its nickname: “Aquafresh.”

Below, we get more details on the build from Aki himself, as well as some stunning photos from photographers Noriko Tidball (@norikotidball) and Niko (@ki61s).

Kawasaki KZ1000 Cafe Racer: Builder Interview

Kawasaki KZ1000 Cafe Racer

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your history with motorcycles?

I first rode a motorbike at around 12yrs old. It was an abandoned scooter in our house’s backyard, I was amazed and really enjoyed riding a scooter. As I grew older, I become more interested in motorcycles and modifying motorcycles, especially their paint jobs. My first attempt to be a painter was paint my own scooter with a spray can when I was in high school — my paint job was very popular among my friends. I’ve been painting many different genres of custom motorcycle (bosozoku style, circuit racer bikes, cafe racer, chopper etc) — I’ve been riding motorcycles as well.

By the way, it was my dream to join a custom bike show in US with my own made custom motorcycle!

What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?

1978 Kawasaki KZ1000.

Why was this bike built?

I’ve always wanted to enter some big custom motorcycle show in North America. I wanted to build one to enter in the One Moto Show ever since I first visited 6 years ago.

Kawasaki KZ1000 Cafe Racer

What was the design concept and what influenced the build?

I’ve always loved the style of the ‘70s / ‘80s custom motorcycles. I was looking for retro mods cafe racer style in this time, the design is also influenced from customized Kawasaki bikes that were in the movie Mad Max. It was a great influence on me to built the bike.

Kawasaki KZ1000 Cafe Racer

What custom work was done to the bike?

To make this Kawasaki my own, I’ve installed a lot of aftermarket parts and also done the paint work myself. I’m an automotive painter by trade so I’ve showcased my talent with custom candy paint and design. It features period correct Tracy body kit and Rickman fairing.

Kawasaki KZ1000 Cafe Racer

Does the bike have a nickname?

It is “Aquafresh.” The stripes colors look like Aquafresh toothpaste. Lol.

Can you tell us what it’s like to ride?

It is easy to handle and puts enough power and torque to make a fun ride. It has more power and acceleration after adding a VM29 smoothbore racing carburetor. Needed a lot of work to installed this special carburetor but I was satisfied after all the adjustments.

Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?

It wasn’t easy to decide color & design for the Tracy body kit and Rickman front cowl combination. Paint job on KZ1000 is the result of many trials and errors. There were a lot of people who looked at my KZ1000 at the show, I’m pleased and proud of that.

Kawasaki KZ1000 Cafe Racer

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One Comment

  1. Absolutely perfect in every way. And nothing sounds as good as Kerker headers.

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