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7270 Views 22 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  8ball
Hi everyone,
I finally signed up for an account so I thought I'd introduce myself and my new bike. I am a first time owner and a first time rider, so I am not too fluent in motorcycle-ese yet! My bike is in great working condition, so now I'm going to pour the rest of my time and energy (and money) into taking her from good to excellent, both mechanically and aesthetically.
1981 Kawasaki KZ650 csr H1
Land vehicle Vehicle Motorcycle Automotive tire Tire
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Tachometer Speedometer Gauge Auto part Vehicle
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Please feel free to leave suggestions and comments!
Also, my real question... I'm looking for a great helmet that goes with this sort of bike, what are your opinions?

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First off - you are a new rider? take those shitty clubman bars off your bike and put on a real handlebar like a superbike or daytona bar. Also put the mirrors back on and the turn signals. Don't be stupid, your first year of riding should be focused on learning good habits and trying not to die. Clubman bars won't give you the proper leverage you need when learning (steering will seem heavy and slow) and you haven't yet learned to anticipate traffic so why not give your self an advantage instead of trying to be one of the cool kids. Also, NOBODY pays attention to hand signals, ever, so put the front blinkers back on your bike so the other drivers can actually see you and not crash into you. You live in gods waiting room (FLA) which means your roads are choked with cotton tops, you need all the help you can get. While you are at it, put the mirrors back on as well, I shouldn't even be having to tell you that. If Florida has bike inspections - you would not pass with that bike setup as is.

As a newbie rider your gear should be as follows:
- Full face DOT/Snell rated helmet (preferably snell 2010 or newer). Icon is a good budget brand, my wife has ridden with one for years and loves it. I would also recommend you look at a carbon fiber helmet like HJC's AC12 carbon not because of looks but because they are so much lighter on a person's head and help make looking around much less of a chore. IF you buy a 3/4 or half helmet as your first helmet you are a fool. As a newbie you are going to crash at least once (this includes just falling over stopped) and the worst injury for riders without a full face helmet is damage to the jaw (did you know you can get brain damage from a jaw injury? boxers call the chin the button because if you hit it right the jaw slides back and triggers a response that causes a person to pass out).

- Real Gloves, either deerskin, or armored motorcross style.

- Over the ankle boots. Can't stress this enough. I once knew a guy who when coming to a stop in tennis shoes put his foot down wrong and broke his ankle. It can happen. Realistically though in a wreck over the ankle boots will help you keep your foot intact

- Leather jacket, preferrably with armor. I know FLA gets hot so in the summer they do sell nylon mesh jackets with armor and those work in a pinch, but for all other times you want something with a back protector, elbow, and shoulder pads. I personally did not heed this advice and in a wreck my collar bone was broken when the bike tried to run me over - had I had a jacket with shoulder protection this would not have happened.

- Heavyweight denim (like draggin jeans or Icon's motorcycle jeans). a pair of old navy jeans will shred in less than half a second (I ripped a pair wide open in a rollerblade fall, on a bike at 30mph they don't stand a chance).

Welcome to motorcycling.
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Thanks Geeto67!
These photos are actually from the seller, so this is the bike as I bought it. I have already added the mirrors and blinkers, because I am not a fool and have no idea why they were taken off in the first place! I am going to look into those handlebar suggestions as soon as I can save up another chunk of change. :)
I'm looking for a SNELL full face helmet, I'm just having a tough time finding one that doesn't look like it belongs on a street bike. I recently tried on an HJC FG-17, which was lighter and fit well. If I can't find something I prefer I think I'll be purchasing it. I'm glad to hear you're recommending the same brand!
Sorry...we get so many here that are posting after they bought the bike and have already gotten themselves into trouble with the "cool kids" mods. The PO probably took the front blinkers off to fit those clubmans.

If you haven't bought it already I would be really leery about buying a bike from that seller. The pod filters he put on are the cheapest pieces of crap and usually restrict the carbs (robs HP) which is usually an indication that the seller doesn't know bikes and also doesn't know what he is doing - same with the ditching the front blinkers. Otherwise the bike looks like it was well cared for for most of it's life before it got to whomever put those clubmans on. Expect if you buy it you need to buy a workshop manual and you WILL need to give it a proper checkover and tuneup. I would also look at putting a new chain and sprockets on it as that chain looks a little grungy and may have kinks in it.

While the kawasaki 650 four is generally a good bike the CSR is a "factory" chopper style bike and lousy for an old performance street bike. It would be the bike you learn to ride on and the basics of motorcycle maintenance and then sell when you are ready to move on to something more racy. It seems to be in nice overall shape and if the price is right I would consider it, but know that you are probably putting that stock airbox back on.

I have a love/hate relationship with HJC. their fit seems a little wonky for my head but my brother and father both like them. I love my AC-12 carbon because it feels lighter than a hat where as my KBC feels like a 5 lb weight on top of my head. Some people think you need to spend $500 on a helmet, I am not one of those people - I think if you find one with a weight you can live with with good ventilation and doesn't move around on your head in the budget helmet department. My current Helmet and one that I absolutely love is an all black Bell MX-2 ($180.00). It does require you run with separate glasses since there is no face shield but it is Snell and DOT and honestly I like being able to ride with my sunglasses anyway. It doesn't have crazy graphics so it doesn't look crazy on my head (honestly I think helmet graphic artists are color blind) and some of their graphic choices look more "vintage" than any of the other full face helmets. They are technically "dirt" helmets but the MX2 is DOT and Snell so it is street certified.

If you are looking for a deal on a helmet, don't be afraid of closeout places online or at the dealership. They haven't updated the Snell rating since 2010 so last years helmets are still going to be current. Helmet prices are funny, they are very much seasonal fashion and this year's graphics are $200-$300 but will be less than $100 next year (helmet markup is usually 100%). We got my wife's icon for $35 brand new because it was a 2 year old design sitting in the back of the shop and I worked for the shop (employee discount) but it had been a $250 helmet brand new).

here is a great example: This is a Bell Vortex which is an excellent helmet and was $200 brand new in the year it was released now it is $100 just to get rid of the overstock:
Bell Vortex Torn Helmet - $99.99 closeout special! In stock NOW! :: MSRP: $179.99

and here is that awesome Bell Mx-2 I suggested in vintage yamaha graphics for $90 ($180 retail):
Bell MX-2 Helmet - Daytona - $89.95 closeout special! In stock NOW! :: MSRP: $179.95

If you can stomach the graphics here is a Snell and DOT helmet for $70 (I like it but it is a bit busy):
Bell MX-1 Speed Tat Helmet - $69.99 closeout special! In stock NOW! :: MSRP: $169.99

Since we have multiple MSF instructors on this board I didn't mention it before but since nobody else is responding I will mention it now - take a Motorcycle Safety foundation rider's course if you haven't already. Not only will you get your license at the end of the course but you get an insurance reduction and good advice and skills for riding the road.

Also, Don't carry passengers in your first year and stay off the highway for the first 6 months. Why? an 85 mph fully loaded big rig passing you at speed is enough to make your piss yourself if you aren't expecting it. You need some confidence in your abilities before you tackle the slab. get comfortable with the bike and your control of it first. If you can try to put 100+ miles on it a week to start and then work your way up to 500 miles a week.
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Geeto covered a good bit of info and advice. I will cover the bike. As Geeto suggested, change the bars. The only other money you should spend for the next year is for maintenance items, suspension, tires and brakes. You will be able to spend plenty on those and they will not have the bike down for extended periods of time and will always be useful if you decide to make some cosmetic changes. The KZ650 CSR is a solid dependable bike. Enjoy it for what it is.

Not trying to bombard you by adding to your "to do" list, but if you still have the previous owner's contact info, ask to see if he/she still has the stock airbox. Those shitty little Emgo pod filters gots ta go.

Taken an MSF Basic Rider Course yet? Please do so. I'm kind of a stickler for newbies doing this, as I've been conducting MSF Rider Courses for 33 years now. This stuff will save your life someday. If you have, please disregard.

Another bit of helmet advice - go get fitted at a store that has a staff of people who know how to help you through the process.

I see potential in that bike, even though it isn't the ideal platform. As Ken said, just ride it.
The reason the pod air filters need to go is bc even a great mechanic will never get them running right. You will be fighting it constantly. Makes riding less than enjoyable. They look nice but they work like shit and really don't filter anything either.
Thank you all so much! All of the advice has been very helpful, I'm very happy to hear all of your suggestions!

First off, you can rest easy, as I have taken and passed the MSF course and am a licensed rider! :) I am a bit of a safety nut, so I don't buy any gear without having it fitted first, and I am definitely not taking passengers or going anywhere near the highways anytime soon! (Especially since I live in Orlando)

I've already contacted the seller and asked for the stock airbox back, but he said to "leave the pods on and raise the needle up for more fuel". I have a feeling I should just say screw the pods and go with the airbox? if he doesn't have it, what should I do?

Also, I don't fully understand the difference between the handlebars... I'm hearing you all say "no" to the clubmans, but I'm not too sure why. What are the advantages to superbike or daytona handlebars?

PLease keep the to-do list coming!
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Also, I don't fully understand the difference between the handlebars... I'm hearing you all say "no" to the clubmans, but I'm not too sure why. What are the advantages to superbike or daytona handlebars?
Leverage. Superbike bars are taller/wider. They'll give you better control of the motorcycle in every situation.

Before you go too far on that thing. With the engine running turn the bars side to side. See if there's any change in rpm. Put it in gear and pull in the clutch. Do the same. See if there's any change in the clutch engagement. The seller's cable routing looks terrible.

You know like they should have been shortened when he put the bars on?

R.E. airbox; Besides being harder to tune. It's rained on me every time I've been in Florida.
Leverage. Superbike bars are taller/wider. They'll give you better control of the motorcycle in every situation.

Before you go too far on that thing. With the engine running turn the bars side to side. See if there's any change in rpm. Put it in gear and pull in the clutch. Do the same. See if there's any change in the clutch engagement. The seller's cable routing looks terrible.

You know like they should have been shortened when he put the bars on?

R.E. airbox; Besides being harder to tune. It's rained on me every time I've been in Florida.
You must have been in Fla. at 2pm.:)

Get with the seller again and see if you can get the airbox. He doesn't know what he's talking about. His recommendation to raise the needle for more fuel tells me he either knew it would run worse or knows it needs a fix. The pods will restrict airflow and make it rich if anything and adding more fuel is not going to fix that. Read the stickie we have on this forum specifically addressing why pods suck
All the good suff has been covered. Enjoy riding. My only additional tip is for the helmets, ECE (212 or sonething like that) rating is a real tested rating unlike dot. ECE is strict and only given to good helmets, its not as tough to pass (cost to manufacturer is big part) as snell.

I wouldn't feel worried about wearing one with that rating yet those helmets are often cheaper. i crossed the continent wearing a cheap $120 helmet and the build quality is great. This was dual sport helmet so not apples to apples and a $500 Arai would have been lighter and quieter.
More about bars:

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superbike style:

Don't mind the horrid cruiser Kuryakyn grips in the second pic. Just giving you a nice visual on what others have said.
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As far as the Pod filters go, read this:

As to the clubman's... it is as much to do with proper body position and ergos as anything. I have clubmans on my 79 GS550, and I like them, but I have been riding sport bikes for 25 years and used to race them. I am much more comfortable in a tuck, than in an upright postion. Clip-on bars are better than clubmans because they are more adjustable to fit you. And clip-ons or clubmans without rear set pegs put you in a position that is less than optimal for performance riding and control. Without rear sets clip-ons or clubmans scrunch you up in a crouch with your feet forward. You should be in a position that your feet and the opposite bar are in more of a direct line with your body. In other words, when you push on the inside bar to initiate a turn (yes, inside is called counter steering and it is how a bike is steered) your outside foot is in a line to form a reaction. So you push with your foot at the same time you push with your hand. It gives you a form of "power steering", in a sense, and you can use more of your body to control the bike than just your arms and lower back.

The superbike bars that have been suggested are a good option because the increased leverage makes the whole leg/arm thing less necessary. Plus, if you are new to riding, a more upright seating position will be more comfortable in the long run.
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Anyone know if you can get the kz650 duckbill tail to fit on a CSR? That rear end looks like something is missing; might be an incorrect seat, but those duckbill tails sure are sexy.

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Is the rear wheel smaller then stock?
fender looks odd
yeah someone put a regulat kz650 seat on the CSR.

CSR has the 16" rear alloy rim.
Blue one has matching wheels, red ones are mismatch.
HJC FG17 is a great helmet for the price. I bought one earlier this year and the smoke and mirrored screens are finally available too.
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