CLASSIC KAWASAKI CAFE RACERS
THIS RICKMAN KAWASAKI Z1 is a fine period example of a classic Japanes bike being modified to improve looks and handling. Some might argue the looks weren't at all improved by some of Rickman's fairings but that's their opinion. Today Rickman frames, accessories and whole bikes are rare enough to be considered a part of the classic motorcycle pantheon. Starting in the mid-late sixties, Don and brother Derek Rickman began building light-wheight "Metisse" frames for smaller road and trail bikes and branched out to production of full motorcycles using Constellation motors and their own frames, body parts etc.
Later on having pulled back from full bike production, Rickman began specialising in kits for existing bikes such as the Honda CB750 and Kawasaki Z1 as well as numerous bits for British bikes of the day.
Finding a decent full original Rickman fairing for sale today is is rare but there are lots of well kept old Japanese classics wearing Rickmans gear.
Fantastic 1975 KAWASAKI KZ400 with a ridiculous license plate
This 1973 KAWASAKI Z1000 is a great cafe racer/streetfighter hybrid. Classic cafe seat and rear-set shifter combined with modern suspension, superbike bars and big rubber no doubt let this machine make the most of it's power. Impressive indeed!
Good thing because it's strictly a track-weapon or not even, considering it's pristine look. What a beaut!
The Kawasaki W650/800 series
Around 1960, a company called Meguro built a pretty close copy of the BSA 650. Meguro was soon bought out by Kawasaki and almost 50 years later this Deuce et Machina W650 unit is a cafe special version of the "retro-modern" Kawasaki W650. Now bumped up to 800cc's, the new old Kawi is a popular platform for cafe racer and bobber conversions.
The following text comes from the website W650, Kawasaki W650 Enthusiasts Group at Kawasaki650.co.uk.
"Since Edward Turner first designed the 499cc Speed Twin for Triumph Motorcycles in 1937, the vertical twin has been a big hit with motorcyclists all over the world.
The brilliance lay in its compact design and its better than average performance. The Japanese manufacturers were very quick to realise this popular concept, and they have all, at one time or another produced bikes which lean very heavily towards the British look."
This quote is from Hugh Jaegar; "The Meguro "Senior" was a 1950's 650cc parallel twin and was not copied from any particular British make. It was launched as the T (known retrospectively as the T1) and later updated as the T2. The heavyweight frame swinging-arm is Meguro's own design and is the same as they used on their single-cylinder 500cc model Z7.
Around 1960 Meguro replaced its pushrod singles with new overhead cam models and the 650cc T2 twin with a copy of the 500cc BSA A7 called the model K. BSA was about to discontinue the A7 and some sources claim that BSA licenced Meguro to copy it. Your black and white profile photo below the Triumph Speed Twin and above the Meguro T is not a Senior but a 500cc K, retrospectively known as a K1.
The OHC singles were a commercial failure so Meguro replaced them with a 250cc unit-construction single called the SG and sold a stake in the company to Kawasaki. Kawasaki took over Meguro about 1964 and the SG became a Kawasaki. The Meguro K had some oil-circulation problems so it was revised as the Kawasaki K2. the K2 has a larger timing cover and instead of the K's BSA-copy cycle parts it has Japanese-style ones." The W1 came in a choice of 3 colours, and quickly became the top selling large capacity model in Japan. It was, however, a disaster in the States. To attempt to appeal to the American public, a number of variations were produced - such as the W2S, introduced in 1967, as a street scrambler with slightly raised compression, and twin carburettors. 1968 saw the W1S, an improved version of the W1, the W2P police model, markW2SS and was named the eted in Australia, and the W1SP. The W2TT touring version appeared later that year, with a high-level single silencer.
This was basically the Commander. At the end of 1968, the W1 was dropped, and the W2TT was dropped in 1969. The W2SS lasted until 1970, and the W1SS ran into 1971, but sales tailed off considerably.
Far from being forgotten though, in 1972 the W3 appeared, sold on the Japanese market as the 650-RS. This kept going until 1975, by which time it was showing its age badly." So at this point we move to the retro modern W650 and W800 Kawasakis...
The W650 is a retro standard motorcycle made by Kawasaki since 1999. It is designed to reflect the appearance and sound of 1960s British parallel twin motorcycles such as the Triumph Bonneville. The "W" in its model name makes a historic reference to Kawasaki's W1, W2 and W3 models, manufactured between 1967 and 1975.
In the United States and Canada the W650 was imported from 1999 until 2000. With weak US and Canadian sales and the introduction of the competing "retro" Bonneville by Triumph, Kawasaki concentrated sales in Europe and Japan.
Kawasaki gave the W650 a long-stroke engine of 72 mm bore x 80 mm stroke in order to mimic the character of historic British parallel twins. However, in 2006 Kawasaki added a short-stroke W400 model, in Japan. Kawasaki simply combined the same 72 mm bore with a short-throw crankshaft to give a 49 mm stroke and 399 cc (24 cu in) displacement.
In 1999, having achieved success with its retro-styled Zephyr series, Kawasaki introduced the W650. The Kawasaki W650 is designed to resemble British motorcycles of the early 1960s, and its styling is particularly reminiscent of the Triumph Bonneville. However, while British twin-cylinder motorcycles of the period had pushrod engines, the W650 is distinctive in having a shaft-driven bevel-gear overhead camshaft, similar to those found on 1970s Ducati singles and V-twins. Further features include an anti-vibration balance-shaft, and modern electrics.
Production of both the W400 and W650 ended in 2008 because the models could not meet new emissions standards. In 2010, the 50 hp (37 kW) W650 was succeeded by the W800, which featured a capacity increase to 773 cc (47 cu in) and fuel injection.
The Kawasaki W800 is a motorcycle produced by Kawasaki since 2011. The W800 is a retro style model that emulates the Kawasaki W series, three models that were produced from 1967 to 1975, and which in turn were based on the British BSA A7. It replaced the W650, which was produced from 1999 to 2007.
The W800 has an air-cooled, 773 cc (47 cu in) parallel-twin, four-stroke engine, with shaft and bevel gear driven overhead cam. The carburettor-fuelled W650 was discontinued because it could not meet emissions regulations, so the W800 engine is fuel injected.