There must be some Big Green in the Milwaukee water supply. Today we’re proud to feature this Kawasaki KZ400 street tracker by Buck Knitt of Milwaukee’s One15 Design…the second KZ400 we have featured from the Brew City in recent months, after Moto-fied’s Brown Bomber.
Kawa’s KZ series has become a popular set of platforms for custom builds, though most builders focus their attention on the larger displacement models. In fact, the Kawasaki KZ400 was marketed in the 1970s as fuel-sipping transportation, featured alongside the VW Beetle with the slogan: “Think even smaller.” However, if there’s one thing we love, it’s seeing an old machine reborn into a mean little street weapon, like the KZ400 street tracker you see here.
Below, we get the full story from Buck Knitt, an architectural designer and airbrush artist whose inspiration for this build “stemmed from the desire to know an old bike inside and out.” He did everything himself, including his first forays into wiring and fiberglass. Ultimately, he built this little ripper for just $1500!
Kawasaki KZ400 Tracker: In the Builder’s Words
(Words by Buck Knitt. Highlights by us.)
I’m an architectural designer by trade, and an airbrush artist in my spare time. This project honestly stemmed from the desire to know an old bike inside and out.
Aside from maintenance on my other bikes, this is my first “build.” Due to this, I started with a full engine tear down and paint. I ended up designing the bike around the engine. I feel that the shape of these early KZ400 engines is so underrated!
From there, I wanted to build a bike that was fully capable as a daily rider, but could also tear up the grass now and then. That meant practicalities like fenders, passenger pegs, and road-worthy rubber.
I raised the bike with KZ440 forks and Bonneville shocks in the back. Bobbed and relocated fenders, and a hand made fiberglass two piece tall section. Carbs from CR80’s and a new muffler.
Every dollar I spent had to count. My all in? $1,500. My other goal? Everything was done myself. My first foray into fiberglass, upholstery, wiring, and a full repaint.
This KZ ended up taller, leaner, meaner, and greener. And I ended up with not only a fresh bike, but a lot of gained knowledge in the process.
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