Delaware-based Speedwerks were in an enviable position. They’d been approached by a long-term customer wanting a balls-to-the-wall café racer that could be ridden hard and ridden every day. The customer, local racer and speed boat enthusiast known only as ‘Richie’, had seen a few Deus café racers and wanted something in a similar vein, but louder and better engineered than anything that had come before. Armed with only a Kawasaki W650 engine stripped of its electric start, Speedwerks surveyed the line-up of modern retro motorcycles for a donor frame and found few that could blend traditional looks with modern geometry and stiffness. So they went about designing one. On the back of a beer-soaked napkin at a local sports bar.
Words by Martin Hodgson.
Son of a gun we’ll have big fun on the Bayou, only this son of a gun is the offspring of the legendary Kawasaki Z1 and the Bayou is replaced by the historic streets of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Built by Krakenhead Customs this is a daily rider that pays homage to the golden years of Kawasaki’s Z bikes that along with Honda’s CB series introduced the world to 4 cylinders across the frame, big disc front ends and became the inspiration for all modern sports bikes.
Barn finds are good and well, providing you actually have barns where you live. But as long as you have old geezers who love to horde, you’re going to find old bikes hidden away. Here in Australia we usually find them in sheds or garages. And clearly barns are the preferred storage method for the forgetful oldies in the US. But what about Germany? Apparently carpenter’s shops are all the rage over there. And if Jochen Guske and his find are anything to go by, the common inhabitants of the average Deutsche woodworkhaus are none other than the ‘Kawikus Kaffeus’ – also known as the Green-Breasted Kawasaki KZ400.
Written by Marlon Slack
Klassik Kustoms is a small workshop run out of a barn in Hagen, Germany. Specializing in Yamahas and Hondas under 750cc the owner, Jan, aims to make affordable, cool specials that are fun to ride and affordable to own. Since 2010 he’s put together several tidy café racers based on old air-cooled bikes but this time around Jan has taken a tilt at something a little more upright with this 1979 Kawasaki Z400 tracker.
Estonia. No, we didn’t know where it was either. As luck has it, the country is essentially Finland’s southern cousin which should help you figure out how the hell you’d ride there if the mood ever took you. And if, once you arrived, you were looking for one of Estonia’s coolest builders to hang out with, best grab a ticket and fly straight back to the good ol’ US of A, because we’re here to tell you that Estonia’s finest is coming at you straight out of downtown Philly, Pennsylvania, and his name is Alex Veaone.
Written by Martin Hodgson.
If I sat down with pen and paper and began to brainstorm my perfect café custom I could never limit myself to just one influence. I’d want the vintage appeal of 1950’s British bikes, the beauty and charisma of Italian styling, the function and reliability of Japan’s best and then I’d entrust the whole build to a workshop of builders who understand the beauty of raw mechanics and properly engineered fabrication. Pen and Paper can be pushed aside, silence and admiration is all you need and join me in feasting your eyes on Revival Cycles Kawasaki W650 “Bean”, my dream bike come true.
In most western civilisations, we take basic human rights for granted. Take, for instance, clean drinking water, political freedoms and the ability to ride high powered motorcycles. This stands in stark contrast to our brothers and sisters in Indonesia, where any bike that was over 200cc was illegal to import or buy unless it was for military or police use. But why should they get all the fun? Well, today’s bike is a left over from the good ol’ days of South East Asian law enforcement and it’s addressing this imbalance, big time. It’s an Indonesian Kawasaki KZ1000P Police Edition named ‘Kwakazilla’ and thanks to it, criminal getaways in Indonesia were about as successful as a North Korean metal band.
Some of us dream of throwing in the towel on our day jobs to do what we truly love. Whether it’s building custom bikes, opening a café or just taking more time to focus on your family, it’s a fantasy that’s as common as slap bass in Seinfeld. But as with most things inline, there’s another option to consider. What if, instead of leaving one job for another, you just combined your passions and did both? Sounds impossible, right? Well don’t tell that to North Carolina’s Tattoo Projects, who are currently a successful advertising agency and a custom bike shop. It might seem crazy, but when you consider that they count Victory Motorcycles amongst their clients, you can kind of see the logic of it all. And what have they been up to when they weren’t standing around with whiskey and cigarettes Don Draper-ing? This is what.
You’ve got to hand it to the Spanish. They are nothing if not risk takers. While America, Australia and England get their jollies from innocuous bat and ball sports, the Spanish get theirs taunting angry bulls. Now, I think it’s fair to say that the number of combined casualties for soccer, cricket and baseball players over the past few hundred years or so would be pretty much zero. Sure, there’s the cricket players that died of boredom and the soccer players that were just pretending to be dead, but overall they’re negligible. But compare that to bullfighting’s 533 deaths in the last 300 years. Serious stuff, but probably what you should expect if you jump into a ring with a beast like that. Or like this. Wave your red capes in honour of the nastiest, most powerful bull that’s ever lived, ‘La Bestia’ from Madrid’s Valtoron.
Written by Ian Lee.
Some people like lots of shiny chrome on their pride and joy, while others prefer the aged look of patina. Today’s bike firmly falls into the second category – with a finish that looks like it was pulled from a swamp. The builder, Janne Martola is an artist hailing from Finland, his artistic expertise being built into this well worn Kawasaki 750LTD. Buying it as a non runner three years ago, Janne has spent the last three years fine-tuning the machine – both aesthetically and mechanically – in a manner which appealed to his tastes and budget. Used as an expedition machine for Janne’s to access places of an interesting nature, this bike is a custom which is ridden hard. On occasion the Kwaka has to pass for a scrambler in it’s duties, and this it does admirably for a bike that was so vanilla when it left the factory. Built in a small garage on a shoestring budget, the bike may not appeal to everyone’s taste but it is definitely a custom in the truest sense of the term. And the fact it’s an everyday rider makes it all the more interesting. But you can probably tell that from the patina.