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.
Wales. A rather quiet place, all things considered. Unless coal mining or male choirs are high on your list of wow, it probably doesn’t cross paths with you all that often. But magically zap yourself back in time a few thousand years and Wales would be offering up a whole different set of attractions. And the foremost one amongst a list also featuring dragons, giant Celtic armies and beautiful maidens would be one Mister Myrddin Emrys, a.k.a. Merlin the Magician. So, inspired by Wales’ greatest ever son, our favourite Brit builders have taken inspiration from their wand waving western neighbours and conjured up this little wonder from their alchemic cauldron. Hey presto, meet Old Empire’s magical ‘Merlin’.
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’.
Written by Ian Lee.
Motorcyclists sure are a social bunch. Which is weird seeing as the act of riding is a solitary pursuit in itself. However, many a strong friendship has been forged over a rusted bolt or faulty starter motor. And some can lead to greater things. It is thanks to this social aspect that we have today’s feature bike, Vast Moto’s 1975 Kawasaki KZ400. Created in a small Portland workshop, the bike is built on the concept of motorcycles built for the people, by the people. Being the first build completed by a bunch of roustabouts who banded together for a common cause, this little Kwaka is proof of what can happen when you fall in with the right crowd.
When Verve Moto were approached by a customer to build a tall, light and powerful enduro bike with a 250cc engine that could handle all the different roads Bali has to offer, they knew the Kawasaki D-Tracker would be the perfect donor. The stock bike is called a D-Tracker in Indonesia (KLX250S in most countries) and is a very popular model given the countries rugged terrain. Verve found a lot of inspiration from the many custom enduro builds coming out of Europe, but they also wanted to put their own ‘Bali style’ into the build.
In a world of sterile, bubble-wrapped motorcycle design that puts government regulations and usability above all else it’s easy to forget that once upon a time, motorcycle design was an entirely different beast. Take, for the sake of argument, the rather ‘charismatic’ Kawasaki 500cc triples from the 1970s. Put simply, they were an air-cooled three cylinder sportsbike with two exhausts on one side and one on the other, barely-there brakes, a penchant for death wobbles at high speed and the ability to flip itself rubber-side-up with any decent twist of their throttles. They were also bloody quick. So quick, in fact, that journalists of the day refused to believe Kawasaki’s quarter mile claims until they themselves managed to replicate them, thus proving that the bike was actually the quickest production motorcycle of its day. Even the legendary Plymouth Hemi Cudas would eat their dust. Cue this immaculate and very green rocket from the crypt, Craig Johnston’s Kawasaki KH500 – aka ‘Kermit’.
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