Kawasaki GPZ750 "BLACKOUT"
Kawasaki Tracker as featured on Bike EXIF Speed Read
The period between finishing your last bike and starting the next one is strange. You can't help but reflect on what you created. All those hours you put in, you could have learnt something useful, like a new language? Wouldn't it have been easier to do a BMW R9T rather than a 44 year old Kawasaki? Why does this road bike have knobbly tyres? I don't have any answers, all I do know is this is the bike I imagined when I closed my eyes 12 months ago. So I decided to make it.
This project started as a 1978 Kawasaki Z650 in good condition. First on my list was an engine swap. Out with the 650cc, in with the later 1984 GPZ 750cc. A small bump in power is hard to turn down and it fits nicely in the slim Z650 frame. Kawasaki's of this era share a lot of common parts so sorting the running gear was not too much of a hurdle. All mechanical assemblies were restored and cerkote'd in a mix of satin and gloss black. The rear end of the frame was shortened to convert to a single seat. Continental Twinduro TCK80s were the obvious choice for a bike that will spend 80% of its life on tarmac. Fuck it, bikes are meant to be fun, not practical, a bus pass is practical.
All of the parts I designed on this bike had to balance functionality with size. I find great satisfaction in things that are exactly the size and weight they need to be to complete their purpose, no bigger, no smaller. For example, I built the carbon headlight cowl around a bates style 5.75" light and the Motogadget motoscope mini. Nice and compact but with all the functionality needed for a street bike. Handmade carbon fibre parts cover this build head to toe. It's not solely for weight gain but because it's a medium I feel most comfortable with and where my experience lies. The bespoke carbon fibre parts list on this build got a bit out of hand, but once the main items were laminated I felt it was important to keep continuity through the build. Parts include the tracker seat unit, front mudguard, rear splash guard, battery box, chain guard, tank skins, headlight cowl, number plate mount and brake torque bar.
I am particularly fond of the seat unit and integrated rear lights. 3D printing lights is something I have wanted to do for a long time. The sidelights were originally vents, similar in style to the ones on a Ferrari Testarossa, before it was pointed out to me that these could also be lights. Right from the beginning I wanted to come up with a variable noise control exhaust. I built a full stainless exhaust system from front to back including hidden silencers with baffle valves inside. They are opened and closed from a lever next to the rider's knee. It has two volumes, race mode and just quite enough to not piss off your neighbours or get pulled over. I built a new wiring loom around the Motogadget M-unit and switches, modern electronics are a godsend to classic bikes, making a vintage machine a pleasure to use every day. All of the CAD, prototyping, moulds and even seat upholstery was done in house. I am very proud that I only had to outsource the tank painting and the powdercoating of the frame and wheels.
I am really happy with how the bike turned out. The process of building things pushes me to hone my skills. Each build must be a level up from the last in some area. Perfection is unobtainable, but the pursuit to be better each time is what drives me.