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Renegade Custom’s Kawasaki Z250W – “Redback”

Posted on July 13, 2012 by Andrew in Brat. 35 comments

Time for a quick Arachnology lesson. You’ve probably heard of the Black Widow spider – a native of North America and famous for innumerable associations to big-boobed comic book characters and b-grade action movies. Less well known, but just as deadly is her Australian cousin, the Redback spider. Considered the most dangerous species of spider in Australia (and that’s really saying something), a bite from a fully-grown female can cause a strange burning sensation, goosebumps, malaise, sweating, fever, tremors, seizures, comas, respiratory failure and eventually death. Which is strange, because that’s just how we felt after laying our eyes on this bike built by Ren De Hass and his Renegade Customs. Except for the dying part.

Here’s Ren. “I’m a one man operation, formed about 8 months ago. I had never intended to start doing it mainstream rather just make and sell, kinda for fun. But I wanted more fun, and more projects, and I figured I didn’t want to do the whole advertising on eBay every time I wanted to sell a bike, so came up with the idea of doing it as a part time gig (hence Renegade). I have mates that do a similar thing, and the revival of custom bikes thanks to cable TV and custom builders like Deus, it’s really a growing market. I build at home, I have a freakishly small shed, which is almost fully equipped, but if it’s not raining, I usually sit in the yard, on the grass and cut, grind, and paint myself into some kinda trance. Because of space I am limited to one or two bikes at a time and I never rush the builds (this one took about 4 months) so I certainly have no production line.”

“I have no formal qualifications in fabrication or design. I just know what I like and I like the challenge of figuring out how to get there. For me its about the process, not so much the end result. I get stoked when customers see their finished bike and love it! But I see the beauty in what it took to get there. My wife thinks I am clever and I guess in some respects I have skill, but I reckon if you make enough mistakes and learn from them, you get really good at stuff! That’s where I think I am now.”

Bike and mattress. One delivers the toxins, the other catches you as you fall

“It’s a 1985 Kawasaki Z250w Belt drive. Given to me by a guy who was sick of it sitting in his back yard for 10 years. I was told that “it was running a few years ago” Of course it was in such a bad way I couldn’t test it. Note to self; don’t do this again. The build for this bike was pretty open, the customer gave me the brief, “have fun with it Ren and I am sure I will love it.” So apart from the fun part, I decided that the machine was gonna be black with some red highlights. The customer was also a fan of red and black and drives an Alfa with a similar theme. So with a few touches here and there, the Redback was born.”

“Backtracking though, before any colours were chosen this bike needed some serious “Love.” Basically a total re-wire, and new carburettor were the starting point. The engine itself was pretty solid, which is great as I am no mechanic. With it firing away, I could concentrate on shaping and stylin’. I found a couple of great tanks from a ’79 Z 250C at the wreckers, tho they needed a fair bit of bondo, bashing and some paint. This bike was actually my first attempt at using 2 pack. I am pretty happy with it. Same with the body filler, though the tank is not 100% perfect, its close.”

“I wanted to use the red for highlights, not to take over so a lil bit here and there was ok! The small section on the seat tail was enough to finish it off and in doing that, I came up with the name “Redback.” One of the hardest issues on any bike I build is finding the right shoes. Tyres can make or break a bike and with this bike it definitely makes it! I was so limited in choice with a 16 inch rear and 19 inch front and in the end the boys at Antique Tyres got me sorted with an awesome set of Firestone ANS military. For reference that’s a 5 inch tyre on the rear and 4 on the front. With rubber this fat I have no choice but to second name this bike the “Phat Tracker.” The seat was the third for me and my fibreglassing skills, I am pretty happy. I have that down now and can knock one out in a day. My first one took about 10 days.”

“I wanna add that just because you get a bike for free, doesn’t mean its gonna be a cheaper project. This one was a nightmare. I still can not find a workshop manual for this bike and parts are impossible to come by. Wiring took the best part of 3 weeks for me to do and I musta gone through about a box of fuses.”

We’re very much looking forward to seeing what Ren has up his sleeves for the next build. If you can’t wait until then, head on over to his interweb information receptacle at for more. Just keep an eye out for the wildlife.

  • GuitarSlinger

    So let me guess . The next arachnid named M/C will be called the ” Brown Recluse ” or the ” Wolf Spider ” from the US : both of which make the black widows venom look like a mosquito bite in comparison 😉

    As to the bike ? Not bad .

    • Well at least the seat isn’t a loaf of bread. Croissant maybe???

      • GuitarSlinger

        Tony ! Too funny . As well as true . No this is a nice enough bike for certain . No complaints on my end ….. it doesn’t completely grab me mind you …… but there’s not a thing wrong with it either . And the seat does seem appropriate to the overall build

        Croissant ! LoL . Gotta love that one 😮 )

        • Get a room, you two.

          • My mind wasn’t going there, but yours did, Andrew. Hmmm, curious thing really…

          • GuitarSlinger

            Yeah Andrew does kind of hit me as a sick little puppy now and again :o)

      • GuitarSlinger

        Wait wait ! I know ! Its a Brioche ! Nahh thats just being mean for meanness sake . The seat is just fine on this build .

  • I think it’s a good looking bike. Couple little design elements I don’t care for (black motor, side covers), but I wouldn’t turn my nose up to it if I saw it rolling down the street.

    Ren, I hear ya about the “free bike being cheaper” thing. I’m (still) working on a Honda Shadow (one of the few bikes actually lamer than a Virago) that is probably going to cost me more to finish than what I could sell it for.

  • Not Scared of Red Backs.

    umm, Redbacks aren’t considered the most dangerous spider in a land that has Funnel Webs … :/

    • Or funnel cakes for that matter.

    • Oldnbroken

      I noticed that too but I am sure the Redback’s of Australia thank you Andrew for elevating them to the pole position as they have long played second fiddle to the Funnel Web.

    • “Redbacks are considered one of the most dangerous species of spider in Australia.” –
      Ok, so I left out the “one of” bit, but it’s important to note that no-one has died of a spider bite in Australia since the mid ’50s due to the availability of antivenins – so moot point, really.

      • GuitarSlinger

        Hell … get bit by a Brown Recluse ( which will in fact attack rather than defend ) and you’ll know what ‘ serious ‘ means when it comes to spiders . You get to watch your flesh dissolve before your eyes … anti venom or not

      • Oldnbroken

        Not quite as interesting as Ren’s bike Andrew but it did get me searching. The last recorded spider bite deaths in Australia were 1979 (a young girl) and 1980 (a male toddler). It was just after those two deaths that Struan Sutherland finally cracked the Funnel Web antivenin. I remember as a child growing up in Sydney in the 60’s and 70’s that we were taught to fear both the Funnel Web and Red Back. We always had to check the swimming pool for funnel webs before getting in. A “moot point”? sure, so there are no dangerous spiders in Australia(provided you are within reach of antivenin).

        • Yr right. Redbacks in ’56 and Funnel Webs in ’81. My bad. I was the same re: the pool and the parental spider warning. Now enough with the spider trivia and get back to looking at the bikes!

      • BenjaminMorgan

        I actually use to extract venom from Redbacks to create the antivenins, we use to pay local kids 50c a spider to collect them for us.
        Was a fiddly job, not as much fun as milking all the local and exotic snakes we had in the facility.

  • Oldnbroken

    Nice work Ren, I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on one of them as I am a fan of single cyclinder, single pipe and single carby bikes however I am not sure they were ever sold in Australia or maybe I have just never seen one. I have had my eyes on a set of those ANS Military tyres for the bike I am working on and seeing them on that bike has made my decision, nice choice.

  • oldtimer

    New tyres, seat and header wrap make this a custom how??

  • revdub

    Some cool things going on here. I really like the rear of the seat. That little headlight bracket is a cool solution too. The spindly black mags with beefy tires look great, in my opinion. I think that something could be done a little different with the side covers, to really set it off. Overall, a nice build.

  • arnold

    I have to agree with the heavy hammers, there is nothing to hate about this bike. Good finish, good presentation. In fact it is so well done it is a little dull. oops, slipped.

    I guess , to me , it raises the point of why the North Americanos, aren’t buying up this type of machine in the millions, given our “need” for high MPG, low cost personal transportation.
    This present just ticked the memory of the ‘You meet the nicest people on a Honda ‘campaign of the sixties. I know it would not compete at freeway speed, but really many four wheelers don’t either.ald

  • Dale McVey

    Uuuum…GuitarSlinger…the wolf spider is not a venomous spider. I leave all spiders, venomous & non-venomous live in peace here at my home in Arizona. Wolf spiders I am particularly fond of because they are so aggressive and efficient at keeping other pests (crickets, flies, moths, etc.) at bay. My motorcycle shed is littered w/widows, and a trip to my toolbox will always entail a meeting!
    As for this build, I think it’s very nicely done and I like everything but the exhaust wrap. Aren’t there economical ceramic coatings that could be applied that would give a somewhat similar effect? BTW, since ’07 I’ve been stung 3 stings by the “deadly bark scorpion”, and the worse effect I ever had was numb lips!

    • BenjaminMorgan

      Sorry to burst your bubble Dale, but there is no such thing as a non venomous spider. Certainly spiders that are non dangerous to humans, but all spiders have venom.

  • Me likes alot : )


    I think it has potential, but sadly is not there yet. Many small details have been missed, which distract from all the good work, eg. headlight bracket and mounting, bright bold side cover bolt/washers, billboard looking side covers and odd muffler angle.

    • PariDas

      wholeheartedly have to agree on the muffler angle issue. It seems almost like it’s pointing slightly down. Usually i’m a huge fan of straight mufflers, but the ‘odd angle’ keeps attracting my eye, on an otherwise solid bike.

  • BenjaminMorgan

    Sick bike Ren!!… Will you be bringing it out for the next SCR ride? Look forward to seeing it in the flesh.

    • Renegade

      Hey Ben, no man it was built for someone he will be riding with us soon enough.

  • genn

    Formula 1
    Formula 3
    Formula cafe Flat black frame , motor, wheels and imagination,

    and add fag pipe wrap, stupid fat tyres, no gaurds…and there we have the new brown.

  • Johnno

    Like like like. Neat and clean. Watched this build progress on renegade website and must say it was a nice save from a certain death rusting away. He has made a tough Conversion/customization look like a simple makeover.

  • Singletracker

    I like it! That 19 front wheel with the 400 tire looks awesome. Probably would have gone with a slightly shorter pipe if it was my bike, but given its 19/16 geometry can’t see anything wrong with the angle, sort of suits the bike. Good job Ren.

  • Upton O’Goode

    Being folded over this tiny bike between the clip-ons and the standard mounted footpegs must be an exercise in form over function and pain instead of pleasure. Beauty is as beauty does. I like motorcycles to ride not to look cool on. Come to think of it, looking cool would be difficult with a grimace of pain on your mug.

    • addictioncustoms

      I’ve actually ridden this bike and the stance is much like a comfortable brat tracker. It’s not all high rearsets and low clip ons. Very easy to ride around town all day long.

      Great job Ren, this bike was a total basket case and I think now has a new lease on life.

  • melisse

    were very much looking forward to seeing this..surely, I will keep an eye out for the wildlife.

    power cord assembly