Alternate Reality: Kawasaki-Meguro KZ79SP Raven

Meguro Kawasaki Custom

CROWS Performance injects Meguro soul into the KZ1000… 

Founded in the Shinagawa Ward of Tokyo in 1924, Meguro was a prestige brand that supplied Japanese military and police motorcycles, coming to be known as the “King of the Four Strokes.” In the 1950s, Meguro developed and raced British-inspired 650cc parallel twins so well designed and built that Edward Turner himself reportedly called them “too good to be true” — a real threat to British market dominance.

Meguro MR twin cutaway

However, things started to go pear-shaped for Meguro in the 1958:

“Based on a winning prototype of Mount Asama (one of the biggest races that time), Meguro Motorcycles produced three nice and elegant machines with overhead camshaft: the 125cc E3, the 250cc F and the 350cc Y A. Unfortunately these bikes turned out to be too heavy and didn’t get the buyers’ attention.” –VJMC


With Meguro facing financial woes, Kawasaki saw an opportunity to enter the motorcycle market and acquired a controlling stake in the company, forming Kawasaki-Meguro in 1960. Later, the Meguro K twin (a BSA A7 copy) would be enlarged to create the 650cc Kawasaki W1, marketed as “the biggest, fastest, most powerful Japanese motorcycle” available at the time.

As Ollie Barstow of Visordown says, history could’ve have easily gone the other way, so that Meguro was the nameplate we know rather than Kawasaki:

“Indeed, back in the 1960s, Kawasaki specialised in aviation and it was Meguro operating as an established motorcycle brand. However, when they pooled resources and know-how, the Meguro name was ultimately phased out and the rest — for Kawasaki at least — was history.” –Visordown

Kawasaki-Meguro Logo (1961-67)

Our friend Yoshiki Sawamura of Crows Performance has a special connection to the Meguro brand, as there was a Meguro factory in the town where he lives. He envisioned a parallel universe or alternative history where the Meguro name, spirit, and soul never died out, so that the mighty Kawasaki KZ1000 bore heavy Meguro influence.

Meguro K3

Apparently, Yoshiki isn’t the only one with such an idea, as Kawasaki themselves have recently revived the Meguro name as a upper crust sub-brand, selling the W800-based Meguro K3 as a JDM-only model…with the trademark revived worldwide:

“The new Meguro K3 — a modern retro roadster based on an old roadster that helped launch Kawasaki’s entire motorcycle business.” –MCN

Meguro K3

Meanwhile, Yoshiki took a 1979 Kawasaki KZ1000LTD and began working to inject the Meguro spirit into the bike. The bike is now running reproductions of the wheels used in the AMA Superbike Championship in the 1970s and ’80s, along with Nitron shocks, clip-on bars, rear-set controls, a custom-crafted aluminum tail section with hand lettering, and a tank with the early Kawasaki-Meguro logo. Meguro was always a prestige brand, and with the sleek, shapely lines and racier silhouette, this build stands as a convincing vision of a Meguro-branded KZ1000.

Kawasaki Meguro Custom

Yoshiki named the bike the Meguro KZ79SP “Raven.” He says it’s like riding into an alternate reality, a “world of dreams,” and he’s proud of reviving the legendary name:

“We were able to inject the soul of the Meguro brand that once existed in Japan.”

Below, we talk to Yoshiki for more details on the build.

Builder Interview: Yoshiki Sawamura

Kawasaki Meguro Custom

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

My shop name is CROWS. The reason is I was born and raised in a town by the name of Crow, and I started my shop in this town. It’s probably out of local love.

Kawasaki Meguro Custom

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

Kawasaki KZ1000LTD, 1979.

Kawasaki Meguro Custom

• Why was this bike built?

In 1944, there was a factory of the motorcycle manufacturer Meguro in the town where I live. Meguro was eventually absorbed by Kawasaki Aircraft. It became Kawasaki Heavy Industries, which developed the famous Z1.

Kawasaki Meguro Custom

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

If Meguro’s soul remains strong in Kawasaki Heavy Industries, this custom bike is an extension of that…a racer-style custom bike created with the image of a parallel world.

In 2020, the Meguro brand was revived by Kawasaki Motors. Currently, the new model K3 is on sale.

Kawasaki Meguro Custom

• What custom work was done to the bike?

I changed the wheels. They’re a reproduction of the wheels used in the AMA Superbike Championship in the 1970’s and 1980’s, while the front caliper is from the BMW R100RS. As a result, the front fork required a lot of processing.

The seat cowl is made of aluminum. The rear frame that supports the seat has been redesigned.

Kawasaki Meguro Custom

• Does the bike have a nickname?

KZ79SP. Subname is “Raven.”

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

It sounds and feels like heading into virtual reality. It leads the customer to the world of dreams.

Kawasaki Meguro Custom

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

We were able to inject the soul of the Meguro brand that once existed in Japan. I think that act will please the predecessors related to Meguro.

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Instagram: @crows_japan


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