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Kawasaki Cafe Racer on a Budget part 1

It has been an ambition of mine to build a Cafe Racer for quite some time. I am following Instagram posts, searching for inspiration on YouTube and so on. Anyone who has built a cafe racer / bobber or is thinking of building one will know, the price of a typical donor bike has rocketed in recent years. As I'm not planning to spend a fortune on the project the price of all parts and work needed will be an important factor.

So I've been keeping an eye on local ads and asking biker friends if they know of any potential project bikes to let me know if they hear of something for sale. Like most things, it seems the harder you look the harder it is to find what you want. So after a year or so of biding my time I was recently chatting to a friend who owns an early 1980's Kawasaki Z750 and he happened to mention he had a second bike. Knowing he would only be restoring one bike he said I could have the other as he would rather see it get back on the roads. So arrangements were made for me to collect the 1980-81 Kawasaki Z750-E1 in exchange for a very reasonable £100 plus transfer costs. And so the fun starts.

My first task was to check if the engine would start after being stored in a shed for six years. Paul, the previous owner, said he had it running since he owned it and with only just over 10,000 miles on the clock I was feeling reasonably confident. So with a temporary fuel tank hooked onto the handlebars and a can of Easy Start we connected a battery booster pack and hit the starter. Success!!!

After taking a few photos and measuring various parts I started to tear down the bike to the bare frame. It was 1st March 2018 and by now I had my bike lift and a selection of tools moved into my friend Tony's large garage. By coincidence Tony was also starting to strip down a 1200 Bandit but his project will be taking a different direction. As work progresses on both bikes I may give his project a mention from time to time or it may get a story of its own!

On the day of the tear down I decided to take a few photos as various intervals throughout the day. In future I will also take time-lapse and / or film. Anyway I made much better progress than I had expected to. Apart from the final clip of the bare frame, which was taken after I had removed the forks and wiring harness the next day, everything went well on the first day. So at the time of writing this blog this is the progress to date.

Of course when I'm sat at home in the evenings I'm straight on to eBay and other sites looking for affordable parts for my budget build. So far I've managed to source used clip-ons £22.50, aftermarket lever controls £18.99, throttle and grips £12.60, 4 air filters £7.69. I hope that buying inexpensive parts won't turn out to be a false economy!

The fork legs are in good condition inside the rubber gaiters but they are a bit pitted at the top so I will either buy new fork legs or sleeve them with stainless tube below the clip-ons.

The original frame dips down behind the petrol tank for a lower seat position so I'm now in contact with a specialist company to make a new top rail to get the important straight line from the bottom of the tank.

So what's next?

I'm going for a similar look to one that has been built in Italy. Originally I wanted to stick with an all black colour scheme. Then my helpful/unhelpful friend Tony sowed a seed of doubt in my mind. So after a bit of work with Pixelmator photo editing, I came up with two possibilities. Please let me know if you have a preference but I think I have already decided.

I have no planned end date but it would be good to get it on the roads this summer. Well as soon as I have more to report I will be posting another blog.

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