ALPHA: Kawasaki ZRX1200R Café Racer

Kawasaki ZRX1200 Cafe Racer

Titanium-clad Zed from Alpha.Moto…  

The Kawasaki ZRX1200R remains one of our favorite machines of the early 2000s, a throwback muscle bike that took inspiration from the KZ1000R Eddie Lawton Replica of the early 1980s. It had twin shocks, conventional forks, UJM ergonomics, and retro-style bodywork and livery.

Kawasaki ZRX1200 Cafe Racer

The big 1164cc liquid-cooled inline four had done service in the ZZ-R1200 of the 1990s, where it earned a reputation for power and longevity. In ZRX trim, the big mill boasted an output of 123 horsepower, sucking its fuel through a quartet of old-school carbs. A few years ago, Cycle World published a loving retrospective of the burly Zed:

“The 1164cc ZRX1200R was faster than its predecessor, turning a 10.85 at 125.72 mph in our testing. Alluding to the original Lawson Replica, we stated that ‘The real thing never worked half as well as this modern equivalent… slick execution slid under a resonant appearance… it carries one of the Great Motorcycle Engines.'”

Kawasaki ZRX1200 Cafe Racer

Recently we heard from one of our favorite young builders, Carlos Lopez of San Antonio’s Alpha Moto, who just finished up the stunning ZRX1200R you see here. Carlos grew up working in his father’s motorcycle shop, built his first racebike with his father in 4th grade — a 1990 Yamaha YSR50 he raced in CMRA (Central Motorcycle Roadracing Association) competition — and opened his own workshop straight out of high school. Talk about born and bred on two wheels!

Kawasaki ZRX1200 Cafe Racer

This build started with an ’01 ZRX1200R, the first year of the model, and was custom-built for client Dan Cardenas. The tail is one of the most striking aspects of the build. It was hand-made and shaped from fiberglass with a nod to the old Kawa ducktails, and the seat is red Alcantara with black diamond stitching.

Kawasaki ZRX1200 Cafe Racer

The inverted front end is courtesy of a ’94 ZX-7R, matched with a custom-made top triple, while a pair of Öhlins handle suspension duties in the rear. The bike now rolls on a set of custom wheels with custom solid inserts and Pirelli Diablo Superbike tires (200/65/17 rear and 125/70/17 front).

Kawasaki ZRX1200 Cafe Racer

The brake and clutch master cylinders are ZX-10R units with PSR levers and stainless steel brake lines. The rotors are from Braking USA, and the bike is now running a Domino throttle and cables for the upgraded Keihin FCR39 carbs.

Kawasaki ZRX1200 Cafe Racer

The stock fuel tank was kept, but upgraded with a Pingel power-flo fuel valve and a signal outlet, and an Antigravity battery is tucked underneath the tank.

Black Sato Racing rear sets make for a slightly more aggressive riding position, befitting the uprated suspension, brakes, and rubber.

Kawasaki ZRX1200 Cafe Racer

For electronics, Carlos and crew opted for an M-unit Blue, Motogadget speedo gauge, and LED headlight from Cognito Moto. 

Kawasaki ZRX1200 Cafe Racer

The bike is literally dripping in custom-made titanium and aluminum parts, including a titanium fender and brackets, headlight brackets, Vandemon silencer with titanium exhaust hanger bracket, aluminum coolant reservoir tank, titanium kickstand, aluminum speedo bracket, and more. All the hardware throughout the bike is titanium.

Like any good leader, Carlos is quick to recognize the help and support of his collaborators and crew.

“I would like to thank the following people who helped with the project. Thanks to my crew at Alpha.Moto, Bexar Custom Upholstery, Johnny White, and photography by Jason Farias.”

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Photos: @Jason_Farias28

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