Two bikes with very similar specs and yet one – going by the numbers – is infinitely more popular; it’s a hard thing to explain. For the hundreds of Honda CB750s we’ve featured there’s only been two Kawasaki KZ750s, is its pedigree, aftermarket parts availability, one simply forgotten and ignored? It’s hard to say, but one thing we know for sure is that the Kawasaki has a whole bunch of potential and one uber-talented California based builder is here to prove it. Dustin Kott builds a killer cafe racer and his latest, based on a 1980 KZ750 has plenty of go to match its show-stealing ability.
In 1981 ‘Two Wheels’ magazine put the two bikes, along with offerings from both Yamaha and Suzuki up against each other. With the Kwaka taking a fairly easy win over its Japanese competition, thanks to its light chassis, high revving engine, and superior power:weight ratio. But that hasn’t translated in the custom scene nor in the used bike market, as Mr Kott Motorcycles explains, “The bike came to the shop as a stock machine with relatively low mileage. A problem with this bike is that it really doesn’t maintain much clean stock value.”
So if it’s not worth keeping stock to sell for big money at auction some day, the answer as to what to do with one was simple, “The client had this bike in his stable and wanted to see if this bike could transform into a unique, desirable and better-performing machine, I believe the answer was yes! The dual overhead cam Kawasaki can absolutely rev to the moon. This bike was definitely the most responsive machine to customisation that I think I’ve ever really built. It was amazing how much it woke up after some customisation and modification.”
And there you have it ladies and gentlemen, further proof from one of the industries best as to why you shouldn’t sleep on a KZ. But, we can’t just leave it there, now it’s time to look at exactly what Dustin did to take the Kawasaki to the next level. First, as he always does, he strips back the bike to the bare bones and prepares the frame for his signature bodywork to follow. The frame is trimmed back at the rear and smoothed out. Then the upper frame rails are modified to allow everything to sit flat, as well as to create the perfect space to store the electrics.
To bring the handling of the forty-year-old bike into the 21st century, the stock forks with their offset axle were tossed away and new USD items were selected. These are from a GSXR1000 and offer and whole host of benefits, but they obviously don’t just bolt-on. To make it all work, a brand new steering stem and a stunning set of triple clamps were supplied by who else, but Cognito Moto. The brakes are of course the big Tokico calipers and drilled discs from the Suzuki and a custom spoked hub from Cognito Moto starts the process of building a wheel.
The rest of the components come in the form of Sun rims in gold and a brand new set of spokes. At the rear, Dustin had to get creative to craft the look he was after, and here a familiar friend makes an appearance. A CB750 Supersport donates its entire swingarm and rear hub assembly so that a spoked rim could be run at the back end. Keen eyes may have picked it up when they saw the photos. The rest of the rear is finished out with a drilled disc and high mounted caliper, and some tasty chromed springs on the new shocks.
Now it was time to turn attention to that four-cylinder engine and already a rev hungry beast, Dustin happily reports “the CR carbs really woke this machine up!” To help the motor breathe they wear pod filters and the crankcase vents through its own. While on the exhaust side of the equation a four into one system with a Cone Engineering muffler looks as good as it performs. The engine has been given a major makeover in the visual department too and the polished covers match the custom rearsets.
Of course, any Kott Motorcycle is an absolutely beautiful thing to look at. So, having turned this KZ into one hell of a performer, Dustin fabricated and pieced together his always incredible bodywork transformation. The tail and the tank are absolutely stunning and give the bike sex appeal it definitely lacked from the factory. The bold colour with gold highlights helps to tie the bike together and the use of a yellow lens in the headlight is an inspired touch, it’s just what the Kwaka needed! Now the Gauntlet has well and truly been thrown down, the KZ is absolutely a worthy donor and we shall wait to see if the Kott influence kicks into full effect.