James Compton Cus­toms

Classic Motorcycle Mechanics - - WORKSHOP -

I’ve been spend­ing a fair bit of time in the ZRX com­mu­nity on­line since I started this project. And one of the most in­ter­est­ing bike builders I’ve seen on there has been James Compton. James is an EX-AMA Su­per­bike crew chief, based in Texas, and he spe­cialises in gor­geous ZRX1200 builds. As you’d ex­pect from his race back­ground, James’ bikes just ooze race­track tech, with fab­u­lous con­ven­tional tun­ing work in the engine and top-end chas­sis up­grades. His mo­tors are a thing to be­hold, with mighty 1224 and 1255cc big bore kits, gi­gan­tic flat-slide car­bu­ret­tors, H-beam con-rods, pol­ished in­ter­nals, big cams and valves. All the very best in pre-fuel in­jec­tion, nor­mallyaspi­rated engine tun­ing. On the chas­sis front, Öh­lins or Penske sus­pen­sion, Brembo brakes and su­per-light race wheels are, of course, de rigueur. The fi­nal touches in­clude sweet paint­work, with Ed­die Law­son repli­cas fore­most among the var­i­ous schemes. Why the ZRX though? “I bought my first ZRX in 2004,” says James, “while search­ing for a com­pro­mise to the full-blown sport bikes I raced and rode on the street. My wife and I en­joyed two-up rid­ing but we’d never been that ex­cited about the lay­out on a sport­bike. The ZRX seemed like a de­cent com­pro­mise and I felt a con­nec­tion with the Ed­die Law­son replica. When I was a kid I idolised Spencer and the CB, Coo­ley and the GS, and Law­son and his KZ1000R. I love all these old clas­sics but start­ing out a project with a 35+ year old mo­tor­cy­cle with the goal of cre­at­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle I could take to the track and still keep up with my bud­dies on mod­ern sport bikes seemed like a very long road. En­ter the ZRX. Kawasaki did an awe­some job with this bike. I think in stock trim the ZRX is prob­a­bly the all-around most ver­sa­tile and best bike I’ve ever rid­den. I fell in love with it and stopped rid­ing all my other bikes. Af­ter a while I started think­ing, this bike is so good but it could use a lit­tle bet­ter sus­pen­sion... and it could stand to lose a lit­tle weight... and it could use a lit­tle more power... and I think I could clean up the styling a bit. One of the big­gest at­trac­tions for me is the sim­plic­ity of these ma­chines (com­pared to the ridicu­lous amount of elec­tron­ics and body pan­els on mod­ern sport bikes) and the fact that you can turn one of these things into a se­ri­ous track weapon. There is noth­ing bet­ter than pass­ing a mod­ern litre bike at a track day around the out­side of a cor­ner and spool­ing up the rear tire just be­fore wheelie-ing off into the sun­set!” We def­i­nitely agree with James on that. And if our project bike turns out half as nice as one of his ZRXS, we’ll be ex­tremely happy…

Le­gends Dave Al­dana (red top) and Gene Romero (right).

Proper su­per­bike engine-build­ing tech­niques ap­plied.

200bhp R1-slay­ing naked beast­ies.

Brem­bos, Öh­lins USD forks, Penske shocks – chas­sis porn…

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