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LESS IS MORE. Schlachtwerk’s Featherweight Kawasaki W650

Posted on April 10, 2017 by Andrew in Scrambler, Tracker. 31 comments

Nitrous oxide. Turbos. Superchargers. We’re as guilty as the next guy and or gal for drooling over flashy go-faster parts that make good headlines and get those website clicks a-clicking. But there’s a much more traditional approach to speed that doesn’t involve mega bucks and a team of rocket scientists. It’s what bikers have done since the dawn of time. Drop weight, increase capacity and work on the heads. And for Schlachtwerk’s Tommy Thöring, it’s just this approach that turned out this little gem. Meet his Kawasaki W740 he calls ‘No Fat’.

This is Tommy’s first attempt at a W650, and it’s one that happened more organically than you may expect. That’s because Tom was both making the bike for himself and because he’d committed to build something that was lighter than light. As he was after an everyday ride, he’d set his mind on something tracker-ish that would take pretty much zero effort to bomb around on Frankfurt’s crowded city streets.

“I bought the bike at the end of the summer in 2011, after selling my Ducati Hypermotard S. After a short trial period, I realised that i’d waited far too long to make the purchase. The bike was pretty much perfect for me: the size, the look, the character. Add it all together and it was a really great package. But I still wanted to make it lighter.”

The W740 is his personal ride, and also the one that he tries new ideas on. And aside from it being his daily bike, he sometimes will plan get-aways on it in the Swiss mountains where he spends the day riding the area’s famous, serpentine roads.

“He sometimes will plan get-aways in the Swiss mountains, where he spends the day riding the area’s famous, serpentine roads.

“The build was a long-term process. It took maybe three years of slow, considered evolution. To start with, I changed the rims, exhaust and the fenders. After living with those mods for a while, I updated the seat an added a new exhaust. Lastly, I exchanged the tank for a Kawasaki z200 unit.” And that’s just the big-ticket items.

Now for the specifics. The Kawasaki has bespoke CNC machined triples with a new set of LSL ‘bars, a Magura HC1 brake cylinder and a Suzuki DRZ400 clutch lever. There’s also the ubiquitous Motogadget Mini speedo.

Up front, there’s stock forks but with new Wilbers springs inside. And to match, there’s also a new set of custom Wilbers rear shocks. The front hub is stock and has been laced to a 2.5 x 8″ rim shod with a 110/80 18 Pirelli KT60 tyre that’s undergone a tubeless conversion. Tommy calls the headlight a ‘Japanese-style’ unit.

In the back, there’s new rear indicators behind the shocks and an 18mm brake light integrated into the freshly cleaned frame. The seat is Schlachtwerk’s own, and was made using a carbon fibre plate. A tray underneath holds all the electrics and the battery. And while the rear swinger is an uber light Kawasaki KFX400 unit, pretty much everything else here is from the house of KTM. This includes the brake and hub. Attached to it is a 4.25 x 18″ rim with a 150/70 18 Pirelli MT90.

The increased capacity, 740cc engine with ported head now spits out a dyno-proven 65HP and has been treated to new K&N filters and a pro carb re-jetting. And let’s not forget the tracker’s house-made 2-into-1 exhaust system, which no doubt helps things along. More weight was saved with the removal of the starter components, a modified rotor and no more engine sound insulation.

Do I see some carbon fibre in there?

Tommy noted there were a few major challenges he had to tackle during the bike’s creation. He now knows first hand just how hard it is to find a secondhand Kawasaki KFX400 swing arm in Germany. “Bloody hard,” he says. And naturally, the welds on the exhaust took a lot of time and fuss to get looking just so. But interestingly, his efforts to find the perfect footrest position which would also work with the bike’s kickstart lever was the real challenge here.

Motogadget magic

“What do I like about it?” Tommy asks rhetorically? “The look, how it rides, the fact that it’s the only one in existence, and I am proud of my work, too. This is one of the lightest bikes I have ever built, but I still have an idea to shed another 7kg.” How, you ask? “Over a few beers with a friend of mine, we hatched a plan to build the tracker a completely new frame from chromoly.” Chromoly? Finally, that BMX revival I’ve been waiting for my whole life is here. Someone call Nicole Kidman.

Tommy grinds down the welds on his new exhaust

Schlachtwerk – Facebook – Instagram | Photos by Marc Holstein ]

  • John in Pollock

    I like it. Such a cool bike for a daily, and that last pic makes it for me. Great start to this week. Tommy’s bikes are always A-1.

  • Josh Elliott

    How much does the bike weigh?–How much fat did he trim?!

    You can’t have an article about lightening up a bike and not give numbers . . .

    • Marc

      it weighs 149 Kilos dry

      • Josh Elliott

        Dang, that’s pretty good–I’ve got a W650 I’ve rode up to Deadhorse, AK last summer–can’t imagine if it was 100 lbs lighter. Thanks!

        • Marc

          i rode it and i can tell you it is a lot of fun. if you need any detailed infos just contact Tommy from Schlachtwerk. Cheers Marc

      • Damn!

  • Manesh Karunakaran

    Now that is a proper proper motorcycle to ride daily. Not too small, makes more than enough power, looks the part, nothing superfluous on it, can handle a bit of rough terrain, great reliability… I could go on! Wonderful motorcycle and kudos to the builder!!!

    • the watcher

      You forgot to mention just how pretty the W motors are, especially the 650, but apart from that I could not agree more.

      • Manesh Karunakaran

        Absolutely! W series motors really kind of look as best as a retro parallel twin possibly can.

        • Marlon

          Line it up with the air-cooled Hinkley Bonneville to really see beautiful the W is – and how porky and bulbous the Triumph was.

    • I want to ride it so bad…

      • Tommy Vomhinterhof

        i think you will this summer

  • Soapy Loofah

    I may be the lone dissenter – but this bike doesn’t do it for me. It looks like a typical garage-build by someone who is only familiar with the latest trends. It takes the unbolt-whatever-you-can mentality and adds the required flat brown seat. I don’t see any originality in this.

  • AB

    A very nice build. The seat is quite beautiful. And some flake in the paint.

    Now – one of my beefs … lobster back welding just for the heck of it. Stop! The muffler …. it’s a cone that’s been sliced up then welded back together for no valid reason.

    • Not sure you can make that call without knowing how Tommy made the muffler.

      • AB

        Enlighten me – I see no valid reason for making it that way. If you think of a chambered factory muffler they insert and spot weld the units within – no need to chop it up. A beer says it’s a ‘look’ he was going for – and that’s his call it’s his bike. Me ….. 🙂

        • Could it not be a simple as he had a whole bunch of spare stainless but none of the pieces were large enough to form the complete section?

          • Tommy Vomhinterhof

            the exhaust is made of slices because of weight, the pipe elbows you can buy in germany are 40×1,5 and the straight pipe is 40×1.
            it saves weight to build it this way.
            the weight of the complete ex system is 3,2kg incl. muffler. next step is a titanium exhaust, we are working on it 😉

          • AB

            Hmmm darn logic.

  • Marlon

    Love it – the W650 is one of the greatest day to day retro-styled rides you can find. It could definitely do with a little more poke and some better brakes, which he’s sorted here!

    Two things for Tommy if he’s reading…

    1) Do you have a baseline reading on the dyno before mods?

    2) Any plans to sell the front brake set up? Mine is anaemic.

    • 1) 4hp? 🤣

      • Marlon

        It’s not quick, but what power it does have it puts down…

        Yeah, it’s slow and boring in stock trim. I’ll give you that.

    • Tommy Vomhinterhof

      the brake kit which contains 320mm brake disc and a 4 piston cnc caliper is available at my shop
      the stock w650 engine had 53hp and all these mods gained 12hp…
      its not so much, but in combination with the massive lost of weight, it feels like a supermoto

      • Thanks Tommy.

      • Marlon

        Thanks for the reply. Looks like the shop part of your website is down. I’ll be waiting with baited breath!

  • It’s a subtle bike, I’ll give it that. And a slow burner, too. I don’t think it blows you away immediately, but once you ponder a little and read the details, then BOOM.

  • Robert Henry

    Bunch of rust holes just waiting to wreak havok on an other wise nicely done bike. Can we please go back to smooth and tube bent exhaust and not they hey look I can weld something back together for no apparent reason look? Over all the bike is very nice, as a painter I just hate to see rusted metal in a tapped hole when it can be filled and painted.

  • guvnor67

    its rather bloody good. It doesn,t scream “Hey, look at me, I,m Sandra bloody Dee”, but like the afforementioned Sandy, I wanna take it home, and . . . . well, I think you get my drift?! I like this a lot, its light, enough grunt to get you in trouble and totally usable.

  • that’s some cone