GO! If there’s a more venerated replica out there than the Eddie Lawson ELR, we’ve yet to see it. Canadian CMM reader Steve Willgoose just had to build a very special one indeed…
Some road-going classics are forever linked with the racers that made them famous – and no more so than the Eddie Lawson Replica. Built by Kawasaki as an homage to its 1981 AMA title winning superbike, the machine itself was a testimony not only to the company' s engineering prowess, but to the great man himself Steady' Eddie Lawson. ELRS as they are known are popular both sides of the Atlantic. Here at CMM we' ve seen originals (yes, Eddie owns one), ones with some wild and wonderful special parts and even ZRX1100/1200 based machines. We love em all, so we had to include this story from Canadian CMM reader Steve Willgoose, who now takes up the story. My goal in all this was to build either a proper and very period-correct 1982 KZ1000R works race bike or an S1' race bike (see boxout). So set myself up on a long journey, which took more than a year, to nd the parts and build up not the resto-mod' that you often see out there of an ELR, but a correct 1000R Race Replica' . The frame was taken all the way back, and also had a few frame braces added before the frame was painted. really liked the gold, seven-spoke Marvic magnesium rims of Eddie Lawson and Wayne Rainey' s works bikes, more than the three-spoke Dymags that the S1 had. So after looking for used ones, went ahead and special ordered a new set from taly since very old magnesium rims can be dangerous had heard! But what about the heart of my replica? Well, the engine had a 113 6cc high-compression big-bore kit in it. This was already in the engine when bought it, so sent the head to Cavanaugh Racing for some race porting and oversize stainless valves. Then had Penco Motrosports put in the race cams got from Larry Cavanaugh himself. then port matched the rubber intake boots to Larry' s porting on the head. Oh, and used Dyna 2000 electronic ignition coils, with rev-limiter. We spent days sorting out the wiring harness then gave up and found a new old stock one on ebay. As this was going to end up being a pretty powerful engine, it needed lots of fuel, so put in a high ow gas tank petcock. t also had to look good and getting a good engine covering paint can be an issue. So painted the engine with 2000-degree ceramic in my shop and added the mm CR carbs and racing Kerker exhaust (with the proper old emblem!) The exhaust itself raised another issue. had to get all the spring tabs welded onto the headers since they don' t make the real one any more. Then Kerker stepped up after hearing about my project and they sent me the real 1000R collars for the header. How cool was that? Suspension was at the forefront of my mind next, and the forks themselves were a mix of brand-new replica lowers from Japan and new custom made upper tubes from the SA to get the proper length. All the internals are new old stock Kawasaki parts from all over the place. The internal dampers themselves are from South Africa, (thanks Doc), top caps from the S and springs from Japan. Braking and brakes had to be AP Lockheed calipers and ordered these from the K and custom-made the caliper mounts myself, after making wooded mock-ups. The meaty 40mm solid S1 replica discs are from Japan and as
“I went over the top with this build, but it’s been worth every bit of time and money. The sound of the ported motor through that Kerker pipe is music to the ears!”
mentioned ordered the custom made 18in x 4.5in and 18in x in Marvic rims from taly, to keep the look authentic. At the rear, the works S1 swingarm is from the S along with the huge S1 replica triple clamps (yokes as they' re called in the K). searched for months to nd a set of original Works Performance rear shocks and had a real 1980s shock tuner/ builder set them up for me so they were perfect. The nal drive chain switched over to a uality 53 0 chain instead of the much heavier 63 0 as used in the day. also had custom aluminium race sprockets made with the same pattern as the S1 after sorting out my new gearing ratio. While we' re on the subject of speed bought a rare 160mph/3 00kph speedo for this bike (since most only had the 85mph one) and made a custom aluminium gauge cluster bracket too. The steering damper and S1 rear-sets came directly from Japan and even machined some aluminium paddock stand stand-offs to mount onto the swingarm and they hook onto the custom made S1 paddock stand. Other little bits and pieces included the handlebar clutch and brake perch, which were very rare and found those on ebay then painted them in ceramic. also machined up a custom Delrin Chain Slider for the swingarm pivot to protect it from the chain. By the time you read this, an original S1 race bike handlebar throttle should be the latest addition to the project and tted. also replaced almost every bolt on the bike with forged and formed grade-5 titanium ones made in the S and also added a hollow titanium front axle. The crowning glory of any Eddie Lawson Kawasaki though is the paint and bodywork. had the gas tank vent put into the top of the tank much like the real works bike and S1. Then after spending many days with different pictures nally chose the proper colour. The paintwork was done with a polyurethane base/clear at red' s Autobody in Sechelt. red there laid the decals and Ryan did the paint. Other nishing touches included the seat which was re-covered in the K while the rare side-louvered smoke brake lens was from Japan. Nearly nished, had to choose some rubber: went for Metzler Roadtec Z8s, soft compound, in a 160/60/18 and a 120/7 0/18 to t the Marchesinis. The bike in full street trim weighs 498lb (around 226kg) with a gallon of race gasº
When you ride it, it really is like an out-and-out race bike on the street, more than it is a street bike. Handling is very good and the brakes are super strong, but the monster comes out when you twist that throttle. Larry Cavanaugh and Canadian superbike legend Rueben Mcmurter helped me jet it to its fullest potential, so you really have to hold on when you hit the throttle! Rueben also sent me some great original pictures from the S1 race bike he raced back in 1982! Remember, you had to have a good racing resume for Kawasaki to sell you one back then and he was good enough not only to race these monsters, but to get an S1 off Kawasaki. He also kindly sent me some original S1 race tools and the proper S1 close-ratio racing transmission gear set, but have not put it in the bike yet. have restored and built a few other bikes but have always wanted to own and ride a KZ1000R Eddie Lawson race replica. Okay, maybe went a little over the top on this build, but it' s worth every bit of the time and money now that it' s done and the sound of the ported motor through that Kerker pipe is music to the ears!º
Steve’s rightly proud of his creation.
The attention to detail of an Elr-cum-pukka racer is superb.
The bog-stocker: not the look Steve wanted.
1HE 1/ Fork/suspension elements were sourced from all across the globe. 2/ Wiring/electrical was NOS: note research going on! 3/ Frame taken all the way back and braced. 4/ A pukka Kerker! 5/ Engine breathed on – paint UHT. There’s no mistaking what this is going to become. Rear shocks were hand-crafted by an expert. Replica discs. 9/ Detail touches everywhere. 10/ Light assembly. 11/ Right colour. 12/ Wooden template building for Uksourced AP caliper. 5 2 9 3 10 11