When the Kawasaki Z1 was introduced in 1972, it was the most powerful Japanese four-cylinder, four-stroke ever produced, with 82 horsepower and a top speed in excess of 130 mph. It quickly became a legend, inspiring poetry like this from copywriters across the globe:
“Something about the way the double overhead cams of Kawasaki’s venerable inline four bang open their assigned valves has always set my blood to boiling. To me, the motor has the rhythmic downbeat of a steel foundry.” –Cycle Guide
In 1977 came the KZ1000/Z1000, but everyone knew it was really a Z1. The 998cc now produced 102 horsepower, and quarter mile times dropped to 12.1 seconds.
Today, we’re excited to present this ’82 Z1000 from Dave Solomon of Butchered Classics, whose Bandit-powered Z1000 and CB750 we previously featured, as well his Spondon Hayabusa. Besides his mad collection of bikes, Dave writes some of the most entertaining, colorful bike build stories imaginable…so we’ll let him take the mic from here!
Kawasaki Z1000: In the Builder’s Words
1987…a time when ladies had big hair, shoulder pads, and a lot of the men did too. I, however, was a spotty unemployed teenager, struggling to find my ideal bike. Had my fair share of Honda 750’s and thought it was time to move up to the challenge of a litre sports bike. A friend was selling his 1982 1000j and realised I could just raise the funds to purchase it. The deal was done and she was brought home and great plans were dreamed of for my new “pride and joy.”
Within a few weeks, I’d realised the bargain bike wasn’t such a bargain. She burnt more oil per mile than fuel, and being unemployed, it wasn’t the wisest move. So my dreams were put on hold and the bike was sold to a friend who spent the money in the right places and ended up with a very nice bike.
We jump forward 25 years (yep you read that right), and the friend who bought the big Kwak from me contacted me to say she’d seen the old brute on Ebay in a very sorry state indeed and jokingly thought it would be good for me to buy her back and ‘pep’ her up a bit…the seed was planted and the bike was won by me and collected within a week…this was the one that ‘got away’ in my youth and knew now I could lavish the old girl with the treats I purely dreamt of as a youth.
The bike was in a very sorry state. It had been laid up under a cover for two decades; wheels were locked solid; the tank was rusted beyond repair. The engine amazingly turned over by hand; however, it was obvious she had to come apart, so the task was on!
The bike was stripped, front and rear ends placed gently in the nearest skip, engine removed and stripped. Replacement rings were all that required on the Wiseco 1135cc pistons, even the original clutch was still fully functional. The carburetors were shot beyond belief, so the motor got treated to some new Mikuni RS34’s, a Dyna ‘S’ ignition and of course Dyna coils. The exhaust fitted to the bike had rotten away, so a period 1980’s Alfa left exit exhaust was sourced just to complete the engine package.
The chassis was sent for shot-blasting then powdercoating. A complete front end from a Kawasaki ZX9R was purchased from a breakers, and with the help of a local engineer (Burlow Engineering), a replacement stem was fabricated to make this all work and give it the stance it needed. The front “wrap around” fender was split into two and a new rear section purchased. I put these back to back to lose the modern look and give it a more retro style.
Rear end was taken from Suzuki’s big V-Twin TL1000R. Had to fit a 180/55 tyre to get the chain run right but she went straight in and looked…bang on!
Paint was left to a local guy whom I use frequently, Chris Davison, who paints for nothing, literally. I don’t know how he can prep, pinstripe and paint my bikes for what he charges. You read right: all the pinstripes are painted and are second to none. The green isn’t a classic Lawson colour–I decided to match it from the original ZX9-R front fender mainly because it was a brighter green and stood out that tad more. Along with the powder-coated white wheels, the effect is stunning. With the help of Tim Dudley and his amazing skills at seat cover manufacturing and fitting, I’d achieved what only I could dream of as an 80’s youth!
She rides fantastic and pulls like a train and draws a crowd wherever parked. I’ve got bit of a reputation for putting the wrong engines in classic frames (mainly 1200 Suzuki Bandits), but this one was spared !! 😉