Victor Wilkens’ 1978 Kawasaki KZ1000
1978, lots of things were going on. Fonzi was jumping the shark,
production of the VW Beetle was finally halted, and gold reached an all time
high of $200 per ounce. Also, following the energy crisis, Japanese vehicle
imports accounted for half of the US import market. These imports included the mighty
Kawasaki KZ1000. These bikes were a story in their own right, but July’s bike
of the month winner has a special story.
Fast forward 30 years to 2008. Victor Wilkens was in the midst of his college career and on the hunt for something cool to get him around on a student budget. The lucky adoptee was a 1978 Kawasaki KZ1000 that he got running and enjoyed for a bit. Upon graduation, Victor undertook an epic 17,000 mile journey with his trusty KZ. While the bike made it back under its own power, the miles racked up, including many on fire roads and jeep trails that left it battered, bruised, and burning oil like a crazed Sheikh. His initial plan was to simply fix the damage and rebuild the engine. However, lurking in the depths of his psyche, was a dormant monster. One that all of us here at DCC–and if you’re reading this– you’re likely familiar with, too. When Victor freed the engine from the bonds of the frame, that monster was awoken and there was no chance of re-caging it. The build was on… and quickly spiraled out of control.
Looking back, Victor laments not having a clear direction at the outset of the project. This was to be his first custom build, and thus many other firsts were to follow. The lack of experience conspired with a loose plan, and caused Victor to remake most things 2-3 times to achieve his evolving goals. This wavering consumed quite a bit of time and money, but was a fast track to gaining experience and wisdom on the custom front. Ultimately, Victor performed much of the work himself, including the seat, all paint work, engine build, machining of the brake set up, and fiberglass fabrication for the body work. An impressive undertaking for a novice! Victor eventually consolidated his goals and decided he wanted to keep the true spirit of the original KZ. He set out to capture the elements of the bike that really solidified his love of motorcycles in the first place, while making everything slimmer and sleeker to emphasize the brutal performance of the engine.
Victor was certainly performance-minded. The stock engine was bored to 1075cc, street ported and polished, performance cams dropped in, had the crank balanced and welded, the transmission undercut, RS34 carbs installed, and mated with a free flowing MotoGP Werks exhaust. The components of the engine build weren’t skimped on either, with plenty of billet to go around. The front end enjoyed a set of ZRX 1200 forks, with Greg Couch fork brace, custom ISR disks, and Grimeca calipers with custom mounts. Out back, the stock swing-arm was retained with under-bracing and custom Race Tech shocks. He swapped the mag wheels for 18″ stainless spoked, aluminum excel rims front and rear shod with in BT-45 tires, and driven by a 530 chain conversion. The frame was extensively braced and gusseted, with the entire rear sub-frame cut off and a new one fabricated to flow better with the lines of the tank. The rear sets controls are done by Tarrozi, while the mirrors started as CRG but were modified with custom stems and hardware machined by Victor. He also designed and custom fabricated the dash, gauge covers, mounts, and installed Speedhut gauges with custom faces. Finally, the electricity needed to animate the beast have been modernized, including a Motogadget M-unit, m-lock, and Ballistic lithium battery.
As the cats from 1978 would say, this KZ is one bad mama-jama. Be sure to and remember DimeCityCycles.com has the goods to start your own journey.
Check out DoTheTon.com to see how your build could be featured!
(via Dime City Cycles)