Kawasaki KZ650 Cafe Racer by Jon Arfsten

KZ650 Cafe Racer

The Kawasaki KZ650 is one of our favorite vintage bikes. Sometimes known as the “Son of the Z1,” this middleweight UJM offered a 61-hp inline four, solid handling, and loads of potential from a customization standpoint.

Kawasaki KZ650 Cafe Racer

Enter Jon Arfsten, who’s wanted to build a custom bike ever since his days working in a Harley-Davidson parts department many moons ago. Last winter, he put his ideas into action, building the incredible 1978 Kawasaki KZ650 cafe racer you see here.  He adapted many parts from a 2006 ZX-6R, giving this build a restomod flair.

Below, we get the full story on this stunning KZ!

Kawasaki KZ650 Restomod Cafe Racer: Builder Interview

Kawasaki KZ650 Cafe Racer

• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.

My name is Jon Arfsten, I am 41 yrs old. I am married with 2 children. I have ridden motorcycles since I was 12 yrs. Old. I had a 2016 H-D Streetglide but because I work so much and couldn’t enjoy it I sold it. I always wanted to build a bike. I worked at a few H-D dealerships many years ago in the Parts Dept. I always thought I could do it — I just needed to actually do it. So this last winter that’s what I did.

Kawasaki KZ650 Cafe Racer

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

1978 Kawasaki KZ650

Kawasaki KZ650 Cafe Racer

• Why was this bike built?

Always wanted to build one.

Kawasaki KZ650 Cafe Racer

• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?

Cafe racer, I just always liked the short compact look of a cafe racer. I had a few photos of cafe racers that I used as ideas.

Kawasaki KZ650 Cafe Racer

• What custom work was done to the bike?

The rear swingarm has been custom made to accept a 180/55/17 tire, the front upper triple tree was custom made by Cognito Moto. The lower tree had a custom stem made to fit my KZ650. I modified a lot of the 2006 ZX6R parts to fit my 78 KZ650.

Kawasaki KZ650 Cafe Racer

• How would you classify this bike?

Cafe racer

Kawasaki KZ650 Cafe Racer

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

The fact that I made my own wiring harness and wired the bike.



  1. michael h streuly

    Very nice build but i hate the tail light location. By law the tail light and license plate are supposed to be in the center of the bike not off to one side.

  2. Lon Arfsten

    Very cool. As your Dad I am very impressed and proud of what you achieved.

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