Motorockers Garage’s Ribbon-Winning KZ…
The Kawasaki KZ440 was a middleweight parallel-twin that evolved from the KZ400, proving itself a competent runabout with a solid blend of performance and economy. One owner who’s used his KZ as regular transportation for the last 20 years puts it this way:
“It is a nice machine – nippy and fairly light which makes it easier for me to wheel around — a comparable weight to a 350cc long-stroke Matchless. The engine turns out 40bhp, which is ideal for middle range commuting whilst still having enough poke for a little fun on the open road.” —Classic Bike Hub
Last week, we heard from the fine folks of Argentina’s MotoRockers Garage — a group of friends who began building bikes for themselves several years ago, then for a few friends, and finally for clients, opening a workshop in Mar del Plata. If their shop sounds familiar, their ’88 Yamaha V-Max 1200 — aka the Beast — was one of our favorite bikes of 2021.
Now they’re back with the ’83 KZ440 you see here. Like all their projects, this KZ was designed, built, and personalized to suit the tastes and desires of a client. But the donor bike was a far, far cry from the machine you see here:
“Regarding the construction, we started with a motorcycle that was to be thrown away — that is, it was useless and it was a piece of shit. This Kawa was made new inside and out.”
As you can see, this KZ was on a one-way ticket to the nowhere until Gonzalo and his crew got their hands on it. The design incorporated ideas both from the owner and the MotoRockers crew, and the effort to transform this junkyard dog into the sleek custom roadster you see here was monumental. When asked to list what work was done, Gonzalo replied:
“Pffff what was not done!!! It has a lot of both restoration and aesthetic work.”
That work certainly paid off, as this KZ took home top marks from one of Argentina’s most prestigious motor shows, earning her a new nickname:
“We call her ‘The Distinguished One.’ We nicknamed her that after winning a distinction in this last Expo Aff Motos. In reality she didn’t have a name; we baptized her there in San Isidro.”
Below, we talk to the MotoRockers crew for the full story on The Distinguished One. Photos courtesy of Jony Paz.
Kawasaki KZ440 Custom: Builder Interview
• Tell us a little about yourself, your history with motorcycles and your workshop.
Around 2014 I started to assemble a 1979 Honda CB400N for myself. My brother had already put together a couple of bikes his passion for custom motorcycles spread to me. The people on the street and our acquaintances really liked the final result, and we put together two more motorcycles for our friends.
We started to go out to ride as a group, and as a joke we nicknamed ourselves the MOTOROCKERS — that’s where the name came from — just a group of friends wanting to ride and build motorcycles. We started in the garage at home, and without tools hahaha, but with a lot of attitude, and we knew what we wanted.
Shortly thereafter, we rented a small space of 50 square meters, and there we started outwith some finished motorcycles for sale and many speedshop items for sale. We called it MOTOROCKERS GARAGE!
Things were not going well, though. There was no market here in Mar del Plata yet, so we began to do some service and light mechanics, adding accessories — we fended for ourselves as best we could. In this process we realized that people wanted to see how a motorcycle was assembled, and we began to find our way by manufacturing motorcycles for third parties, that is, clients. Finally things started to take shape and we finished moving to a better place and setting up a workshop of which we are very proud. More or less that is the story…
• What is the make, model and year of the donor bike?
It’s a 1983 Kawasaki KZ440.
• Why was this bike built?
It is a project to order, by request, like all the motorcycles that you see on our website — they all have their owner already. We do not sell motorcycles; we only manufacture them.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the construction?
A bit of the idea that its owner brought us and a bit of our own imprint. The idea was to assemble a personalized motorcycle to suit its owner. We do not like to pigeonhole projects by genre. For us, they are custom motorcycles assembled at the request of their owners.
Regarding the construction, we started with a motorcycle that was to be thrown away — that is, it was useless and it was a piece of shit. This Kawa was made new inside and out.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Pffff what was not done!!! It has a lot of both restoration and aesthetic work.
- Gasoline tank painted
- We adapted inverted front forks
- Custom made seat
- Frame modification and reconstruction
- Personalized accessories
- Custom made handlebar with reduction
- The complete engine was rebuilt
- All the electrical parts were converted from points to electronic ignition
- And countless other things!
I repeat this bike was for the garbage hahaha!
• Does the bike have a nickname?
We called her “The Distinguished One.” We nicknamed her that after winning a distinction in this last Expo Aff Motos. In reality she didn’t have a name; we baptized her there in San Isidro.
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride the finished bike?
It’s beautiful!!! It’s amazing!!! And steals all eyes!
• Was anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
We are very satisfied with the final result in general. We are very satisfied in every way. When you see the photos of the motorcycle as it came into our hands, and you will understand everything hahaha.
Follow the Builder
Photos by @jony.paz
Nice build. Is it difficult to find parts in Argentina with the inflation?
Looks Fabulous. A credit to you guys well done !
Owned a KZ440 in 1976 as my daily commuter in Houston, TX.
Was a nice ride from Spring Tx to the south side every day.
This unit is definitely cool.
Wow! Nice job! Love to see these old “throw away” bikes turned into something really Neat.
Great Job!! Nice work!! Congratulations!!