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Roads We Ride | Kangaroo Valley

The Roads We Ride collaboration between Transport for NSW, Pipeburn, and Stories of Bike, continues with a great ride through the Kangaroo Valley on the Moss Vale Road. 

Join local Kawasaki Rider, Dan Sharp, on his custom café racer as he explores one of NSW’s most picturesque historical locations, via one of the State’s most spectacular roads – and Australia’s oldest suspension bridge.

Click here to watch as Dan focuses on the changeable weather conditions, the challenges he faces with local wild life and and visiting tourists within the region.

Visit Kangaroo Valley for a ride sometime; and as always, keep the shiny side up.

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Bikes

Roadkill – Liam’s Kawasaki KZ750R

Viewer discretion is advised for any Kangaroos that may be viewing this bike. Taking its namesake from the amount of Roo hide used across the build, it’s a rustic tracker that will have Skippy shivering in fright. Or whatever it is that Roos do when scared.

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Growing up surrounded by family that all rode motorbikes, it’s no surprise that Liam would follow suit. Not only that, but he’s been working on bikes for himself and others now for a couple of years, and the projects are only growing. “I’ve actually only owned my own bike for the past few years, as I couldn’t afford one prior. Now I’m surrounded by them, and loving it all the same.”

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Coming across a 1982 Kawasaki KZ750R on Facebook for a steal, this would be the perfect machine for Liam to work on and ride. “The price was right, and so was the style. So I picked the bike up and soon got to work making it truly mine. I completely rebuilt the bike’s style from the frame and motor, to the tank and paintwork 4 times in just as many months. It cost an arm and a leg going over it so many times, but I had to get it to the point where it was truly from my style and me. If it wasn’t something that got me excited as soon as I opened the shed door each morning then it would have to be changed.”

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The bike had been picked up a complete basket case (perhaps explaining the price) not running with many missing parts. “It took me about a year to iron out all the issues before I could even ride it. Once I got it running, I rode it once, then stripped it back down to redo it all over again. And so the process went on a few more times until I got it just how I wanted. Every nut and bolt is brand new. The frame was custom built using parts from an original frame that I was given. The seat is made from Kangaroo hide, and the tank came from a Kawasaki Z650 that sat on the wall of a wrecker’s for 15 years.”

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A friend of Liam’s by the name of Jordy from Hide and Seeker put together a bunch of custom kangaroo leather bits for the bike, including the tank badges and side bags. “I wanted a really rustic tracker look for this bike so I internally lowered the front forks and raised the rear end. I then mounted the speedo in the headlight and went with a mesh grill to give it more of that off-road feel. All the electrics have been done away with, I designed and made a whole new wiring harness, handmade switch blocks and a hidden battery.”

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“Almost everything on this bike has been modified and hand-made from top to bottom – sometimes more than once. It’s been a great learning curve working on this bike, especially doing it all over 4 times in such a short period of time. Stressful – but good. I’ve learned a lot in the process.

The bike is super fun to ride with its power to weight ratio. It’s personal – it’s me and my style.”
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Bikes

The Kwakka – Kawasaki ZX6R 636 Salt Racer

“Every now and then, you need to do something that scares the shit out of you”. These wise words are applicable to everything from asking out that special person, to leaping out of a plane. For Mitch who is the genius/madman behind this mantra, it’s been about building a terrifying speed machine.

This Kawasaki ZX6R 636 has been created with the goal of making it to the great white dyno that is Lake Gairdner in South Australia. There, this machine is charging to beat the A-PS G 650 class land speed record.

The desire to run a bike for Speedweek 2017 had been planted in Mitch’s head since he was young. My neighbour at the time was Chris Bryson who had a couple of very competitive Hayabusas that were pretty wild. He still maintains a handful of records. I’m pretty sure everyone that watched the film The Fastest Indian let the cinema with intentions of hitting the Salt Flats. For me, I had my neighbour who owned a real life salt racer, so the sound of that machine idling away in his workshop was enough to truly cement the idea for me.”

The last of the Kawasaki 636 motors, Mitch and chose this 2006 Kawasaki ZX6R 636 after much consideration and even more beers. “We decided this would be the best engine to start with purely as it already have more capacity than the other 600’s around.”

The urge to build a machine, and go as fast as this engine and wheels would take him in a straight line would be a somewhat different style from Mitch’s previous Moto history. Growing up, his Dad raced Enduros which of course led to Mitch and his brother being put on trail bikes early on. “Eventually that led to me doing Motocross (much to my Dad’s disappointment) which I raced in for a while, before getting into freestyle Moto X stuff after a mate introduced me to it. That endeavour didn’t last that long before I had a miscalculation in a move and broke my back. This put me off bikes for a year or so, and sure enough I found myself without time or money to continue racing, so it all sort of stopped for me at this point.”

Not to be put off bikes forever, Mitch got back on two wheels further down the track and resumed racing. “I ticked off a few goals and had an absolute ripper time travelling around each weekend and racing. Unfortunately I had to go and grow up – and as anyone will tell you, any form of Motorsport is not cheap. Especially Enduro racing, so I stopped racing. The last few years I have just been fiddling around with different bikes and have started to enjoy the customising as much as I do the riding of them.”

The salt flats would be all too perfect now for Mitch’s (slightly) matured lifestyle. “It seemed like the right time to do the salt bike, I haven’t got the time to go training and racing like I used to, and with the salt bike there isn’t much training involved. I can just sneak out for a few hours a night and work on it and still be home on the weekends to work around the house and do adult stuff.”

With the donor bike on the bench, the work began by simply getting the machine eligible for the standard class. Before long, more and more work was being put in to what is now an A-PS G 650 class bike, or Altered Partial Streamlining 650cc bike – basically an Altered (do what you want to the bike) Partial Streamlining (still a “sit on” motorcycle) Gas (98 Octane fuel) 650 (up to 650cc). The motor is unmodified, but features a new exhaust with DNA filter attached with the original ECU being re-flashed. “We didn’t want to bother with the motor until we gave it a test to make sure it goes straight, and is slippery enough. The thing with Speedweek is, its only once a year and there basically is no way to test any of the components properly until you are there.” And so, the first race day this coming weekend will be the first time Mitch will get to ride his creation in it’s current form.

 

The standout visually for ‘The Kwakka’ is no doubt it’s “Charlie’s Toy” fairing which as originally created for Hayabusas. The entire unit had to be cut and modified to fit its new designation. “Most of the work has been done in my little garage, included the suspension and exhaust. The front end was lowered, and Rex Wolfenden from T-Rex Racing helped out with the rear subframe for the tail. We threw out the slicks that were on the bike and put Avons on the front and rear. We then removed the front brakes completely and it now operates the rear brake from the hand levers. I eliminated some of the wiring that was not needed, and then modified the tank to create some more space to lay flat while riding it. There are a million tiny modifications that were done, which are hard to remember in the whirlwind 10 month build that got it to this point.”

“I’m not really phased if I set the record or not to be honest, my original goal was to achieve 150mph, the record is actually only about 132mph so hopefully it will be two birds with one stone. I’m actually just more keen to get to the 150mph mark. It doesn’t sound super fast, I know I have gone faster than 132mph with my girlfriend on the back on my old Yamaha XJR1300, but the difference is the actual salt. The salt lake is not a nice hard smooth bitumen road, it’s almost a dirt road and depending on the weather it can be very soft and your feet actually squish into it as you walk. This takes a fair amount of horsepower out of the bike and then also induces wheel spin and in turn drops the speed. So to do a good speed out on the lake becomes pretty difficult with all of these factors.”

“Big thank you to Throttle Roll for the support, Benzina Garage, Bell Helmets, RST LEATHERS, Avon tyres, DNA Filters, Hunt & Co, Death Collective, Grimshaw Signs, MATMAC Media, my Dad and Chris Bryson for all of the help and time. Oh, and a shout out to my girlfriend Megan for putting up with the noise and the stressed out, tired, absent boyfriend.”

To help keep the Kwakka Kwakin’ along, a limited edition T-Shirt is up for sale with all proceeds going to fuel this ambition. Click Here or miss out!

Photography by @oli.coulthard

More to come once ‘The Kwakka’ has hit the salt, stay tuned!

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Bikes

Lone Ranger – Cam’s Kawasaki KZ650

Growing up on an acre property with nothing but flat dirt as a kid was life for Cam, and when his old man brought home an early ‘90’s Kawasaki KX60 one Christmas – bikes would be firmly cemented into his life. Cam’s veins now ran Kawasaki green.

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Despite this early introduction to bikes, a change in direction happened as Cam spent more time on other passions like Soccer, Powerboats, and Ski racing. He’d lost touch with 2-wheels, but this wasn’t to last. “At around 16 I got back on the horse, racing around on 2-stroke Yamaha IT175’s out at Mudgee. Something fast, and the smell of burning fuel always got my attention. About 3 years ago, my mate Chris drew me into the old school motorcycle scene. The sleek, retro “less is more” approach got me hooked. Countless Youtube videos, magazines, and after attending Throttle Roll, a trip to “Old Gold” was in order. Chris ended up with a Honda CB250rs, while I of course went for a Kawasaki KZ250 so we could both get started out.”

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Time in the shed for Cam is time well spent. It’s an outlet, and something he can tell the kids about later in life. Pulling back and switching off while you work on your machine is a unique and highly effective form of meditation. “The feeling of working on your own motorcycle is so satisfying – I really haven’t looked back ever since!” It would now be time for an upgrade from the 250 he and his mate had grabbed. The search for something different, something new, was now on.

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Settling on the ‘80’s screamer, the KZ650, Cam soon realised there were bugger all of these machines actually in Australia. “eBay, Gumtree, Trading Post – nothing! I dug a little deeper on a Kawasaki forum and found a complete bike in NSW. I sent out a message on the Thursday, and early on the Friday I had picked up my Grandfather’s bluebox trailer and was on my way to pick up the bike.”

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The bloke Cam had purchased this 1981 Kawasaki KZ650 from had originally bought it brand new in England back in 1981. After moving to Australia, the bike sat in a shed for nearly 20 years. “He was also a Kawasaki man at heart, so it all felt pretty right. To be honest, this was the first time I’d ever touched a motorcycle mechanically, I really had no idea what I was doing! It was a challenge, and a really big learning curve. A lot of photos, and bagging and tagging of parts kept me honest.”

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Cam soon got to work stripping this neglected old Kwaka down, his vision for this machine was to keep it clean and simple. Staying true to the style that had originally peaked his interest in this aspect of motorcycling. “I wanted a bike I could ride overnight with the lads, and turn up the next day to a show and shine – a reflection of myself.”

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“I completed all the detabbing, welding and grinding to get a base ready for the build. I then started to play around with fitting up parts that I liked, getting a more visual idea of what it would look like in the flesh. I folded up a new electrics tray, splashguard and new bearings all round. Next up I grabbed a set of Vance & Hines 4-1 exhaust, HID headlight and set up the electronic ignition. With a chance meeting at Rene9ade Workshop, I found a seat that matched the flow of my tank perfectly. Kyle was up for the challenge and got to work mounting it onto the bike for me. Darren at DNA knocked me up a one-off engraved triple clam and rear sets for me. As they say, and 6000km later, the rest is history!”

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Despite Kwaka green running through Cam’s veins, he decided to take a risk and do something he felt was left field and so painted with a purple scheme. “It was a learning process, and certainly a challenge, but the end result is a machine I love that has plenty of character, and many hours behind it.”

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Bikes

Thumper – Andre’s Kawasaki KLR650

It was 7 years ago while on a holiday visiting family in Indonesia that Andre got his first dosage of 2-wheeled fun. This new passion would be brought back home to Australia as he got his own set of wheels, and so began the tumultuous relationship between man and machine.

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Despite protests from his Mum in regards to going riding with his cousin on little 150cc Yamaha semi-auto scooters, a little convincing and a reminder that they had purchased travel insurance later and Andre was on his way. This new thrill of riding around feeling one with the surrounding environment, the experience those in cars can’t quite enjoy, struck Andre instantly. “I knew the moment I touched down back home I was going to do all I could to get my bike licence so I could experience it again and again.”

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“At the time, I was amazed at how easily freedom is afforded to those who can ride, the notion that on a whim you can go from your bedroom then get lost somewhere in the wilderness. Another thought I had from the ‘Indo experience’ was my amazement of these people pushing their bikes to the limit of their capabilities, their practicality: family of five on a single 150cc, nothing exceptional about that – but the best I’d say was a dude pulling an entire scaffolding set with his Yamaha Mio Scooter. Underneath these components was some braided banana leaves to prevent them from eroding away before reaching the work site.”

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Sure enough back home Andre had his licence, and a trusty 2007 Honda CBF250. Leading up to receiving his unrestricted licence, all Andre could think of was getting something bigger, something that would leave the Honda 250 in dust. “In my online search, I came across a 1987 Kawasaki KLR650. The paintwork immediately grabbed my attention.” This new machine would be dubbed ‘Thumper’ courtesy of a workmate, and so the love-hate relationship would begin between man and machine. “I got Thumper how it’s seen today – except while with me a lot of effort has been spent replacing parts – it’s a tough relationship! Thumper’s broken my heart numerous times… maybe an exaggeration, it’s more on my bank account.”

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The previous owner had done some work to the bike, including having the motor refurbished with aftermarket forged high compression Wossner piston and rings, a KZ400 tank with Rising Sun custom paint-job, rear brake braided brake lines from a CBR600RR master cylinder, and the forks internally lowered to achieve more of a café racer streamline look. “I’d replaced the motor experiencing issues with the bottom end and was constantly dealing with leaking oil around the motor’s cooling fins, I believe caused by the stress from the high compression piston. I soon also had the clutch replaced.”

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“The main lesson I’ve learned riding Thumper is that you cannot take Thumper for granted, otherwise Thumper will fuck up your day! One morning riding to work I lost the gear lever – I was in fourth gear and somehow I’d managed to get it to first and stayed in that gear for another 20km before reaching the office. Another instance, I was riding along and out of nowhere I lost the right footpeg. I stopped and backtracked to see where it have might dropped to the amusement and confusion of the other vehicles stopped at the lights. I gave up and used the opportunity to put my Mechanical Engineering degree to good use by raiding someone’s garden, ‘borrowing’ some bamboo and employed bush mechanics to created a temporary peg. Fortunately it held long enough for me to reach home without drawing any suspicion I was a defect-on-wheels.”

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“Despite its flaws, I love the bike. It looks great, and while riding it sounds tough and almost always it turns heads. The main thing I like most about Thumper is that it’s not perfect, like me, like mankind. One thing that comes to mind, every time I come to turn the bike on, the odometer is reset. Therefore each time it appears I am riding a brand new bike, but maintenance is a bitch – so the bike’s over-maintained. The always-resetting odometer would help immensely if I were to resell, but I don’t believe I ever will.”

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Bikes

The Toaster – Kawasaki W650 Tracker

A custom motorcycle build Inspiration can come from anywhere, especially in the case with this custom Kawasaki W650 has been inspired by an art deco Smeg toaster which provided the colour for a finishing paint scheme.

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Sarah, a NSW Police officer, first came to Gasoline Motor Co with the idea to build a timeless tracker style motorcycle that was modern in its construction – but still had a unique sense of vintage style. A Kawasaki W650 would be the perfect machine that would then be transformed from a modern classic to a lean, mean tracker in just three short months, with only a few late nights of final assembly to get it ready to roll.

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The roadster look of the W650 started with the scrapping of the original tank, which was then replaced with a slimmer version from a Yamaha SR500, this not only slimmed down the motorcycle, but also allowed for the speedo to tuck in neatly between the tank and top clamp. The top clamp is completely custom, designed and machined in-house at Gasoline and was made to have an allocation for the instrument lights, which eliminates the bulky ignition system to further slim down the build.

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The colour inspiration for the tank came from a vintage art deco toaster Sarah had in her kitchen, and also includes a true reference to vintage racing with a classic stripe. The leather used to accent the build was taken from the handle of a retro styled kettle, another piece of inspiration taken from an unlikely source that adds to the character of the motorcycle.

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To underpin the colour accents most of the bike was blacked out in a satin finish including the wheels, triple tree and flat faced down handlebars. Even the tail light that was hand picked for its vintage styling was treated with a satin black coat to help fit in with the scheme of the build. The high profile classic antique Firestone tyres also help to bring the vintage style, while also being the perfect tyre for flat track blasting.

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Custom created components include a battery box hand fabricated and purpose built by the workshop crew at Gasoline that was made to accommodate all electrics and the anti gravity battery. Cleverly placed bar-end indicators are also custom fitted, with their hidden wiring helping to create the clean, simplified lines seen throughout the rest of the motorcycle.

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A long-lived local fabricator was commissioned to hand craft the exhaust systems to impress not only by looks but the unique sound and performance that comes with every cone and fancy weld. This machine looks elegant and stylish, but has a very mean growl from the exhaust that belts out a truly aggressive tone. The front and rear guards were shortened and given the same scuffed finish as the exhaust to help keep the symmetry of the steel.
From a toaster to the tool shed, this mad Kwakka is ready to dust hustle…

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Muntjac – Oliver’s Kawasaki W650

Taking its namesake from a population of feral deer that have been sweeping their way across the UK, Muntjac is a W650 that is the amalgamation of years of experience and work in the motorcycle scene that’s sweeping it’s own way in foreign territory.

Growing up with a father that was from the Mods & Rockers era in 1960’s England, Oliver was brought up on bikes and mischief from a young age. When he wasn’t being regaled with stories of the early café racer scene and all kinds of goings on in the early 70’s, he’d be riding pillion with his old man to racetracks, pub meetings and on joyrides through the English countryside. Oliver’s was the kind of childhood most of us could have dreamed about.

Before Oliver was bestowed with his first bike, an ’85 Honda Melody when he was 14, he’d already been pulling apart engines and could happily rebuild a complete Melody engine with his eyes closed. “As soon as I could ride, I did. From then on I’d be washing dishes and working on a farm to save up for my second bike, a 1989 Kawasaki AR50, which was bored out, clip on handlebars and loud expansion chambers. Bits would be falling off the bike within a few miles of fanging it flat out everywhere.”

By the time he was 16, Oliver had been offered a 3 year apprenticeship at one of the country’s only motorcycle mechanic schools, based in the east end of London. “I also worked day release for a local Kawasaki and Ducati dealership which was family run for generations, these were some of the best years of my life. I was young, dumb, and had a huge passion for 2 wheels.”

It was a steady progression in the motorcycle world for Oliver as he gained new skills and experiences, spannering for Ron Parkinsons for the next 3 years. “One day a good friend and work colleague of mine decided it was time to go road racing. He was coming from an MX background, him being a champion from a teenager I was keen to jump on board and fulfill a dream of being a race mechanic and so my racing career began. And so my racing career began.”

Taking a sabbatical from bikes, Oliver hung up the greasy overalls after years of tuning, building and spanner to travel the world. It was then in 2010 he decided to call Australia home, and his love for bikes was reignited as he jumped into the café racer and brat motorcycle scene. “Building bespoke bikes was always something I wanted to do. One day my old man found some old pictures of a Triton he had built back in the early ‘70’s when we were a similar age. This started a fire under my arse, and so the work began.”

This fire under the posterior would give birth to a 1999 Kawasaki W650, which he got quick to stripping down in his 3x6m shed in his backyard, attacking it with a grinder as he was fueled on into the night on many a beer. “I was sourcing parts from all over the world, trying to create something unique that was in the style I was most passionate about. I focused on my heritage as the theme for this bike, with a classic British racing green, plenty of chrome, dark browns and leather which would add some country feel to the bike”.

Having always owned MX bikes, a wide bar style was planned for but with more of a racing edge added in. The bike soon started to take on it’s own look, as each piece represented a different style and unique piece of Oliver’s riding history. “The bike started to take on a look of its own, and was aptly named Muntjac after the UK’s mysterious mix breed deer. I added racing rear sets, 2 into 1 exhaust, and some CR carbis which gave the bike the subtle racing edge I was looking for. The BSA headlight and firestones brought it back to the period style I was most fond of, giving it an almost ‘40’s military look.”

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Bikes

Vlad’s Kawasaki W650

You’ll read about plenty of motorcycle riders coming from a proud family history that also rode. Vlad however will be the first to admit his roots when it comes to bikes isn’t quite as rich or exciting, but it must all start somewhere and hopefully he is the first in a long line of riders in his own family.

Vlad first started on 2-wheels after buying a 125cc scooter for his wife which he also started riding. “She stopped using the scooter and it just sat in the car park collecting dust. Sure enough that thing was either stolen or towed away, I parked it in Richmond and forgot about for about 3 months, I’m sure it’s found a good home.”

Little did Vlad know this unsuspecting introduction into motors on 2-wheels would result in him wanting more power, and more machine. It was time to upgrade to a proper motorcycle, and so the search began.

“As with a lot of people, I very quickly came across Deus Customs and really liked what they were doing with small capacity Yamahas. I was pretty set on buying one, but after going for a test ride I wasn’t blown away at all. I needed something with more performance, and the look was a bit too skinny for me. I looked at some 400cc bikes, and kept researching for something that would be right for me. I finally came across the Kawasaki W650.

The more I read about this bike the more I wanted to ride it, and after a rest ride I was set – I loved it. I found one for sale on Bikesales in QLD and had it shipped down.”

When the bike arrived, it was time to add some personal touches to really make this machine Vlad’s own. “While I was researching what bike to get I came across Rob Wood’s Rotax BMW tracker out of the States. I thought that thing looked unreal and really wanted to replicate as much of it as I could, including the tracker seat/tailend combo.

I soon realised that trackers aren’t all that comfy for any rides longer than 3 minutes for what I was using it for, so I had to compromise.”

This being Vlad’s first bike, there were sure to be a tricky part or two in giving it the look he was after. “I’ve never held a spray can in my life before, and found myself spray painting the tank with a 2 pack system out of a can in a carpark of a residential building… shall we say lots of fun?”