John Kavanagh KAWASAKI Z650
From utter wreck, with a tank held on by Blu-tac, to one of the tidiest Z650s around, John’s work included everything except the seat upholstery
John Kavanagh has had a bit of a wait for a Kawasaki Z650. “I was going to buy one 30 years ago,” says the 57-year-old retired print firm director, “But the morning I went out to get it, the snow was coming down so I bought a Reliant Robin instead.”
Last October he finally got a Zed. “I paid £1200 for what was a total wreck.the vendor wasn’t very honest with me, saying the bike had been a runner. It can’t have been, the CDI was dead for a start. It was in a right state – the fuel tank was held on with Blu-tac,” he says.
Undeterred, John got to work. Less than six months later, he was done.
Not that the path was easy.the motor the US import came with was in a sorry state; piston rings were broken, valves and guides were shot and every bearing and seal required replacement. John himself blasted and painted the engine casings and refinished and rebuilt the carbs too. One piece of good news – the black-painted Yoshimura exhaust would polish up a treat.
If the engine was bad then the chassis was no better.the head bearings had pounded themselves flat, each fork leg contained a different and curious mix of componentry, and the rear wheel contained a mysterious and incorrect collection of spacers.the loom had wires twisted and taped together.
Someone had taken an unsuccessful tilt at fitting a disc rear brake but John elected to fit a hydraulic drum unit using a Z1000 mastercylinder and Frando slave.
With engine and chassis now in good shape, John could start on the bodywork. The fairing is a Forza Racing unit mounted on brackets fabricated by John.the seat is to John’s own design, with a steel pan and a glassfibre cowl, upholstered by Tony Archer in Huddersfield.
John extended the top front of each side panel to meet the seat unit. He’s become a skilled painter having been on a couple of Paint My Ride courses. His Z650 is finished in a modern Kawasaki hue – Golden Blaze Green.the pinstriping is painted on too and the white circle around the LED headlight describes a racing numberboard.
Other neat touches include AWP damper, a home-made chain guard, a Kozo clock and Suzuki GSX-R1300 rearsets.
Three decades after John failed to make it to the Kawasaki shop, he has a Z650 that’s better than anything he could have bought and certainly better than a Reliant Robin.