Street to Surf: Kawasaki KZ400 Café Racer

Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer

The Okinawa Project: KZ400 from Jerem Motorcycles…

Introduced in 1974, the Kawasaki KZ400 would be built both in Japan and Lincoln, Nebraska — in fact, the latter made Kawasaki the first foreign motorcycle manufacturer to build bikes on American soil.

Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer

At the time, the KZ400 was marketed as reliable, economical transportation. In fact, a famous advertisement at the time placed the KZ next to a VW Beetle with the slogan, “Think Even Smaller.”

Over the years, the middleweight KZ twin earned the respect of long-time owners as a bulletproof all-rounder, and today, builders like Jérémie Duchampt of Jerem Motorcycles have been transforming these unassuming 400 twins into stunning custom creations like the one you see here. Jérémie clearly saw the potential in this ’81 KZ400 LTD:

“It was fit to make a real café racer.”

Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer

He set forth to give the bike a complete transformation, taking inspiration from both café and surfing aesthetics. As with all of Jérémie’s builds, no detail was left unconsidered. Highlights include Triumph Speed Triple forks, Kawasaki Z1000j swingarm, custom 17-inch spoke wheels with 150 rubber out back, carbon fiber front fender, custom rear loop with Yaya Brush Sellerie two-tone saddle, LED lighting with custom CNC supports, and more.

Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer

The bodywork is Renault Fire Orange, with anthracite gray on the frame and swingarm, and high-temp black satin for the engine. Jérémie says the bike not only looks great, but it’s a treat to ride:

“It feels like going back to the vintage years, super light and handy.”

Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer

Below, Jérémie gives us the full details on the “Okinawa Project.”

Kawasaki KZ400 Custom: Builder Interview

• What is the make, model and year of the donor bike?

Kawasaki KZ400 LTD from 1981.

Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer

• Why was this bike built?

‘Cause it was fit to make a real cafe racer.

Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer

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

The sleek cafe racer and surfer look…

Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer

• Please list the custom work done on the bike:

Chassis / Wheels / Suspension:

  • Triumph Speed Triple inverted fork
  • Anodized rear shock absorbers with spring painted frame color
  • Front and rear rim with custom spokes in 17”
  • Front tires in 110 and rear in 150
  • Custom fiber front fender
  • Kawasaki Z1000j Swingarm
  • EXACT Custom Brake Hoses
  • Custom front and rear disc.
  • Modification of the frame for the rear loop
  • New complete braking

Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer

Electrical:

  • Electrical harness redone
  • LED headlight + Custom CNC aluminum supports
  • LED rear light/stop
  • Front LED turn signals with custom CNC aluminum strapping
  • LED license plate lighting
  • SOLISE battery holder modification
  • Digital speedometer molded into the upper fork crown.

Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer

Motor+:

  • Removal of the air box for cone filters
  • Custom exhaust modification with stainless steel silencer and sports cat
  • Handmade satin polished right and left crankcases
  • Aesthetic machining of parts for adapting the fork, rims, swingarm, discs and rear caliper
  • CNC aluminum rearsets
  • Custom saddle in two-tone brown leather (Yaya Brush & Upholstery)
  • Satin polished original tank cap
  • Round CNC mirrors
  • Frame painted in anthracite gray
  • Custom rear fender with frame painted bracket

Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer

Painting:

  • Fuel tank and mudguards Renault fire orange with gray and black edging.
  • Swingarm and frame anthracite gray metal
  • Satin black high temperature paint for engine
  • Bell helmet matching the motorcycle.

The smallest details of this motorcycle have been considered and the finish is simply exemplary.

Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer

• Does the bike have a nickname?

OKINAWA Project.

Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer

• If you had to, how would you classify this bike?

Cafe racer.

Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer

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

It’s great, it feels like going back to the vintage years, super light and handy.

Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer

• Was there anything achieved during this construction that you are particularly proud of?

The rear structure of the motorcycle and all the impressive details.

Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer

Follow the Builder

Instagram: @jerem_motorcycles
Facebook: Jerem Motorcycles

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