Bryan’s ’91 Kawasaki Zephyr

When asked why he picked a ’91 Kawasaki Zephyr for the base of this build, Bryan bluntly replied, “I didn’t, I’d never even heard of them.” And it’s here that the humble beginnings of what would be an insanely cool build will now be told.

It was Bryan’s mate Geordie who had first owned this 1991 Kawasaki Zephyr ZR750. “He’d bought it as a shitter from the Blue Mountains to fix up and give to his brother. Well, his brother didn’t want it, so I snapped it up for an easy $500 with plenty of impulse behind it.”

Bryan’s initial intentions were to turn this up until now unwanted machine into a rat/brat style build after catching some inspiration from Wrenchmonkees, with a small budget being high on the cards. “I was happy with it for a while, and did 2 Philip Island trips on it. It was a pretty good bike, super reliable near bulletproof. After a while it started needing a bit of love, and I was living overseas at this stage so needed a project to keep me out of trouble. I bought the CR29 carburettors off someone from Sydney Café Racers with the intention of getting the bike up to scratch mechanically. Well, one thing led to another and here we are…”

“When the real vision for the build started coming together I had a spank bank of reference images of retro endurance racers and knew this was the direction I wanted to go. I was thinking old naked Z1 Superbike in Moriwaki trim, but got the endurance vibe and ran with it. The whole build is based around those headlights.”

Getting just the right headlights wouldn’t be an easy task as Bryan was to find out. Searching high and low for a pair of matching vintage headlights, Cibie spots off a Porsche 911 or anything similar. “I went deep into a hole. I came out the other side with the help of Daniel Stern Lighting, a boffin in the US who apparently lives nothing but headlights. These came in RHS spec, they had the right diameter and the right depth so that they didn’t sit too far forward from the fairing. From then on, every part was researched in as much detail. It was probably 6 months of hardcore procurement and ordering from the US, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Uk etc. I’ve had a hard-on for the racefit quickfiller and ISR brakes going way back. This is where it started getting out of control.”

The work that would go into this build would be a group effort, with Bryan farming out work to those best suited for the task. Darren at DNA did the heavy lifting with the bodywork, exhaust, and all the custom trickery and last minute wiring. Harley at RB Racing sorted the brake and swingarm conversion, while Pete at Cutting Edge finished the paintwork. Dave from Badarse Trim Co would fix up the seat, Ron from Flywheels did the big bore kit and engine rebuild. Enrique from Sydney Motorcycle Transport did all the running around of parts.

“This bike is pure Frankenstein. Aside from the aftermarket bits, it has donor parts from a kwaka ZRX1200 (swingarm and rear brake / wheel), ZXR750 (front forks), GSXR750 (front brakes) and so on, all specifically selected to achieve a certain look or work with the rest of the build. The front callipers are a common 6 pot brake upgrade to ZXR750’s from back in the day. I’m a project manager by profession, so as with all projects it’s the interfaces between components where the issues arise. Small things like the petcock clashing with the new carbs on an original tank etc. The front forks were a sticking point as they were a little delayed meaning we couldn’t progress the build until it was a roller again. The powder coating colour was a happy accident and turned out quite well.”

“The fact that there’s not another bike out there like it, is something that I love. The colour changes in the light a surprising amount. The exposed battery, race filler, circular dash, circular taillights, circular head lights, all along with the white stripe make sweet lines across the top of the bike. The dimple die supports and frame bracing are a nice touch. It’s loud, and not so comfortable, it’s head down, bum up and it’s not an easy bike to ride. That’s what makes it fun.”

 

Gear up with some Throttle Roll Merch

A few pieces from the archives