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Discussion Starter #1
I'm a car guy who's always loved bikes. I'm now trying to turn that into another hobby. I've wanted a Kawasaki KZ1000 since I was a kid and saw the first Mad Max. (My mom didn't restrict what we watched too well). I just recently picked up an 1981 KZ1000. It's a well maintained all original bike. But its definitely got the 80's look with the Vetter fairings and bags. I want to turn this bike into a cafe racer.

My dilemma is that I have plenty of ideas for how I want the bike to look. I've researched pictures and the Bike Shed on YouTube has definitely informed me on what I like. The problem is how to get there.

Other than ebay and Craigslist I'm wondering what vendors other people use to source parts for this type of build? Also, even though I know the look I'm after I'm still wondering how other people would approach it. How would they build this project if it was theirs? I'm open to hear anyone's ideas or suggestions.

I have metal fab and welding skills, a little electronics but no experience in fiberglass or bike engine work.

Please help this bike noob out. It'll be much appreciated. Thank you.
 

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There are lots of race parts for the KZ for obvious reasons.
Add the go fast bits and the look will come.
Read the new members read here section to manage your expectations on responses if you are planning on making this a cosmetic exercise.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
There are lots of race parts for the KZ for obvious reasons.
Add the go fast bits and the look will come.
Read the new members read here section to manage your expectations on responses if you are planning on making this a cosmetic exercise.
Performance is definitely part of the equation for me but I'd be lying if I said the look of the bike wasn't important.

I'm not looking to build a race, drag or scrambler inspired bike. The general aesthetic I'm looking for is the one anyone gets when they google cafe racer. Of course I want to make it my own but I don't want to stray too far from the time proven equation.

Am I on the wrong site or in the wrong forum to ask and learn about how to build that type of bike?
 

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Am I on the wrong site or in the wrong forum to ask and learn about how to build that type of bike?
What's your level of riding experience?
Do you have a set of JIS screwdrivers?
You're going to need a Clymer manual for the bike as well.
The first step is going to be fully servicing the bike and getting it road worthy (hopefully it's titled?)


The mentality of this forum is that form will follow function... if you do all the necessary mods to improve performance, then the bike will look awesome.
The pitfall is when people try to shoehorn the bike into an era or function it was not designed for... like trying to turn a virago into a 1960s british cafe racer. They wind up with an un-rideable, unsafe, worse performing bike.

In your case, you're going to want to look at 80s superbikes for inspiration. It will be easy, cost effective, and make a fantastic street bike.

Show us some pictures of exactly what bikes you find inspiring.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Kawsaki-KZ1000-Cafe-Racer-9.jpg
What's your level of riding experience?
Do you have a set of JIS screwdrivers?
You're going to need a Clymer manual for the bike as well.
The first step is going to be fully servicing the bike and getting it road worthy (hopefully it's titled?)


The mentality of this forum is that form will follow function... if you do all the necessary mods to improve performance, then the bike will look awesome.
The pitfall is when people try to shoehorn the bike into an era or function it was not designed for... like trying to turn a virago into a 1960s british cafe racer. They wind up with an un-rideable, unsafe, worse performing bike.

In your case, you're going to want to look at 80s superbikes for inspiration. It will be easy, cost effective, and make a fantastic street bike.

Show us some pictures of exactly what bikes you find inspiring.
My current level of riding experience is with smaller bikes. This is my step up. Although I have an extensive set of tools and equipment to do car work I'll definitely take your advice. The bike is currently road worthy and titled. I bought it off an 85 year old man who's owned it since the 80's. He had a scare riding it this spring and decided it was time to quit.

The images im dropping in are the first ones you get googling KZ1000 cafe racer so I'm sure they're well known and common but they still give a general sense of the formula im trying to follow.
 

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If I were you, here's what I'd do:
-Full service
-Thorough carb cleaning (preferably ultrasonic)
-new throttle and clutch cables
-new fuel lines and filters
-check intake manifold rubbers, replace if cracked
-balance carbs
-dyna coils and ignition
-new wheel bearings
-new steering stem bearings
-braided steel brake lines
-race tech fork emulators and springs
-front fork brace (tarrozzi might make one)
-superbike bars
-hagon rear shocks
-kerker exhaust
-the best tires you can afford

do all of those things and ride it a bit before you do cosmetic stuff. That way you have a high performing base to start with.

If it were ME, I would do the following after the above:
-box swingarm
-Keihin CR carburetors
-fancy japanese wiring harness from webike (if they have it for the KZ1000... I have one on my Z1).
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
If I were you, here's what I'd do:
-Full service
-Thorough carb cleaning (preferably ultrasonic)
-new throttle and clutch cables
-new fuel lines and filters
-check intake manifold rubbers, replace if cracked
-balance carbs
-dyna coils and ignition
-new wheel bearings
-new steering stem bearings
-braided steel brake lines
-race tech fork emulators and springs
-front fork brace (tarrozzi might make one)
-superbike bars
-hagon rear shocks
-kerker exhaust
-the best tires you can afford

do all of those things and ride it a bit before you do cosmetic stuff. That way you have a high performing base to start with.

If it were ME, I would do the following after the above:
-box swingarm
-Keihin CR carburetors
-fancy japanese wiring harness from webike (if they have it for the KZ1000... I have one on my Z1).
Thank you CaTacL. That's the kind of advice im looking to get start with.

The plan is to ride it as is for the remainder of the summer. Then tear it down and doing the usual rebuilding, fabbing, powder coating, painting, etc.
 

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The plan is to ride it as is for the remainder of the summer. Then tear it down and doing the usual rebuilding, fabbing, powder coating, painting, etc.
What is it you're planning on fabbing?
I'd seriously advise against any frame modifications, as there's no going back afterwards.
Also, you need to make sure you have a thorough understanding of the forces that impact the frame while riding.... If you're thinking of modifying the back half of the bike to accept a "bumpstop" seat, you need to know how the shocks transfer forces into the frame, how the brace between the shock towers works etc.

Additionally, most of the time a person tears a bike down to rebuild, fab, paint, etc, it just winds up being sold on craigslist as a pile of parts.

That mod list I gave you can easily take the entire winter to do (obviously do the services and safety stuff before riding).
 

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Discussion Starter #11
What is it you're planning on fabbing?
I'd seriously advise against any frame modifications, as there's no going back afterwards.
Also, you need to make sure you have a thorough understanding of the forces that impact the frame while riding.... If you're thinking of modifying the back half of the bike to accept a "bumpstop" seat, you need to know how the shocks transfer forces into the frame, how the brace between the shock towers works etc.

Additionally, most of the time a person tears a bike down to rebuild, fab, paint, etc, it just winds up being sold on craigslist as a pile of parts.

That mod list I gave you can easily take the entire winter to do (obviously do the services and safety stuff before riding).
If i don't have to do any fabrication I won't. I definitely wouldn't be doing any random uninformed fabrication that would compromise safety or function. I've just seen in articles and videos where people have relocated the battery or electronics.

Again I'm not a novice at fabrication. I know this is a bike but I built the frame and chopped the top to my model A and helped friends to do the same. I went to a tech school to learn to do so. That said, this is why I'm here. To learn from people's knowledge and experience. To avoid mistakes and pitfalls and do what works and makes sense.
 

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If i don't have to do any fabrication I won't. I definitely wouldn't be doing any random uninformed fabrication that would compromise safety or function. I've just seen in articles and videos where people have relocated the battery or electronics.

Again I'm not a novice at fabrication. I know this is a bike but I built the frame and chopped the top to my model A and helped friends to do the same. I went to a tech school to learn to do so. That said, this is why I'm here. To learn from people's knowledge and experience. To avoid mistakes and pitfalls and do what works and makes sense.
The top of a model A is bodywork.
Think of the rear of your KZ like part of the ladder chassis on that model A that the suspension bolts to. This obviously takes not just fab skills but engineering knowledge.

The bikes that you have pics for inspiration have good and bad points.
Worst thing i can see is that they have been lowered considerably.
This is dangerous if not done correctly due to steering geometry changes. A bit of research in rake and trail, fork offset etc will help
No mudgaurd on the front is another fad that looks wrong and also removes vital rigidity from the forks

The monoshock conversion is one few do correctly. I really wouldn't bother as without the R&d you wont make the bike any better.
When it comes to the modern USD forks the general concensus is that they completely overwhelm old steel cradle frames in every aspect. The frame will need a considerable amount of strengthening to cope properly to feel the benefits. Plus the fact that these modern sportsbike front ends fuel the theft of these motorcycles.

Bottom lind is as long as you dont have the ltd version you have what appears to be a great base.
Put some pictures up of it. We like pictures.
My meesage is by all means make the bike look however you want but think will that styling mod change the functionality of the bike. If not crack on and make it look as shiny as you want.
 

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Case in point he has gone for the "open triangle" look.
Hes gone for it so hard that he has built and installed a battery box that will almost certainly get hit by the rear tyre on compression of the suspension.
Do not do this sort of thing on your KZ. That triangle is actually a really handy place to mount things lime the battery and electrical components.

One more thing please research cv carbs and pod filters. The short of it is they need an airbox to perform correctly. So please leave it in place or get a fancy one made with the same volume of air for the carbs to draw from.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Case in point he has gone for the "open triangle" look.
Hes gone for it so hard that he has built and installed a battery box that will almost certainly get hit by the rear tyre on compression of the suspension.
Do not do this sort of thing on your KZ. That triangle is actually a really handy place to mount things lime the battery and electrical components.

One more thing please research cv carbs and pod filters. The short of it is they need an airbox to perform correctly. So please leave it in place or get a fancy one made with the same volume of air for the carbs to draw from.
Thank you for all the above Miniman. That's all sound advice and what I'm looking for. The mono-shock conversion is actually farther than I'd want to go. Making changes to the bike doesn't scare me but I agree I dont want to mess with the engineering of the bike. The front end swap I was a little more open to but also concerned about. Again all your insight here is appreciated. I'll drop in some pictures of my bike.
103482
103483
 

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Woodsman, according to zedder.com its a '81 KZ1000-M1:CSR. From what I found on the net the numbers on the engine make it a J engine.
Yea I think I combined a couple different years in my model.
It's a CSR, that's the cruiser isn't it?
How about a picture of the subject?
 

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Mad Max motorcycles were real cafe racers, they don't look anything like the current crop of fenderless big open triangle slammed suspension cafe bobber choppers.






This useless thing is just a movie prop. Perfect if you want to make yet another imaginary apocalypse movie.
 

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I prefer the term "vintage street racer" for the mad max bikes (and really any 70s bike that's has the performance treatment).
The term cafe racer has been coopted by trendy people.
 
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In the 1970's and 1980's we just called them cafe racers, vintage was something that had a pre-unit construction engine and transmission.
WTF is with people thinking it's ok to have no fenders and straight headers on a street bike :/ are you going to plate it in a third world country? None of that **** has a place in a modern developed country, it's imaginary.

"YouTube has definitely informed me on what I like" <- that says it all.
 
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