1978 Kawasaki KZ400 ‘Elsa’
Having two daughters of my own, I’m a sucker for a good father and daughter story – especially when it involves building a beautiful motorcycle. Sadie Glemza from Ohio has been brought up on the sweet smell of gasoline. She was four years old the first time her dad let her ride a motorbike. As she got older, Sadie started racing Junior Dragster, running 8.00’s in the 1/8 th mile. So when she came across a beat up old KZ400 for $400 she thought it would be a great project to do with her dad – who knows his way around a wrench set. “My dad has always been my go to person for anything about a car or motorcycle and it was only fitting we worked together on creating this gorgeous build” says Sadie. So with limited funds they got to work on the bike she calls ‘Elsa’.
The father and daughter team started by doing a complete strip down of the old non-running kwaka. They sand blasted, cleaned, and polished everything. To give the bike a lower stance, they shortened and chopped the frame lowering the whole bike almost two inches.
“We completely tore it apart and rebuilt the engine, welded in a skeleton key flush gas cap, hid the electrical and battery under the seat” she tells us. Living in an area of Ohio that has a large Amish community, Sadie commissioned their skills to upholster the seat – and what a lovely job they did.
They removed the front fender and relocated it to the back of the bike, almost touching the rear Dunlop K81 4.5 tire. They also powder coated the rims and frame black, added some classic clubman bars and then Sadie cut the leather and wrapped the grips herself.
To keep that nostalgic look, a 2-1 megaphone exhaust was chosen – and yes some pipe wrap as well. To finish the bike off, the tank was painted in blue and off-white by Dave Piscione.
We think Sadie and her dad have created a stunning and tasteful KZ400 on a limited budget. Not only did Sadie learn a lot about building motorcycles but she also learnt a lot about her dad along the way. We particularly love the little sticker that reads ‘Dad built. Not bought’. Priceless.
[Photography by B.Smitty]