He might have been known as ‘Steady’ Eddie Lawson, but just about every motorcycle he rode was a crazy piece of kit. From the hulking green Kerker Kawasaki that delivered him two AMA titles, to the mental bucking bronco that was the Marlboro Yamaha two-stroke that took him to four 500cc world championships, these bikes were incredibly fast and yet just as likely to throw you down the road. That steady style and winning attitude earned him a legion of fans and forty years on, a German with a need for speed wanted to be just like his hero. Enter RF Biketech, the kings of Europe’s muscle bike scene, who have delivered for their man a rip-snorting Kawasaki Z1000 for both street and strip.
The big sport bikes of the late ’70s and early ’80s could be a real handful, power was increasing and yet brake, suspension and most importantly tyre technology simply wasn’t keeping up. But it was partly for this reason that people loved these bikes, they had character, they could scare you with a violent shake of their head and each had a very unique personality in the way it delivered its performance. The modern superbike might be faster, but it’s also lost a lot of its raw mechanical brutality and so for this reason, a German lad who competes on the track, wanted to race a forty-year-old beast, but also wanted it to be road legal.
To take on the challenge of creating a bike that could be a competitive weekend racer and yet still be street-legal he sought out Bavaria’s RF Biketech who knows how to turn out a beast of a bike. Together they worked out a plan to combine the best of old and new and no stone has been left unturned in producing the perfect package. To start the build they selected a 1981 Z1000 ‘J’ frame, which was the year the engine capacity was dropped just a little to get it under a 1000cc, so it would be eligible for the likes of Lawson to use under the new Superbike homologation rules.
To bring this up to standard, significant work was done to the chassis, from strengthening the area around the swingarm pivot to adjusting the steering head angle and adding extra material to reduce flex and increase rigidity throughout. This work was completed with the assistance of HyperPro and R&R Customizing, using both some of their parts and also ensuring that the integration of their handling products would be spot on. The back of the frame is shortened, there will be no two-up riding here and the numberplate holder and its lights are easily detached for the race track.
The customer knew he wanted one of RF’s amazing, lightweight, aluminium swingarms and who can blame him? “The swingarms, no matter what type, are designed individually for each vehicle on our CAD/CAM system and manufactured in-house on our CNC milling centres and welded in jigs.” To maximise this advantage, HyperPro came to the party with their suspension package, which features fully adjustable twin rear shocks to maximise the feedback of the new swingarm. The front end is just as impressive, with their right way up forks, clamped by huge triple clamps and again, allow for maximum tunability.
The stopping power on the bike comes from a full Brembo brake setup, with radial mounts on the fork legs allowing the latest and greatest to bolt up. To get things rolling, reducing unsprung mass was vital, but it was found that 2014 Kawasaki Z wheels were nearly as light as aftermarket units. These are wrapped in semi-slick Pirelli rubber, and the increased grip and feedback allow for clip-on bars over the old long flat bars needed to wrestle the bikes back in the day. With all of this track focus in mind, RFB adjustable rearsets get bolted on and the dash is a vintage inspired Kwaka look, with modern Koso lights.
This balance between road and track is carried over to the looks, and the front mask was made from an aluminium sheet, that has been perfectly shaped and houses the single projector LED light which is capable of both high and low beam. Both the fuel tank and the side covers have been taken from the ‘J’ era Z, but not before they were panel beaten to perfection and original badges found to complete the look.
The lightweight front fender and the period tailpiece were both made at RF, and then the whole thing was covered in the client’s favourite green with a silver graphic. A black leather seat provides the padding and an LED version of a ZRX taillight completes the look.
Now for the power and homologation rules be damned, as the stock engine was binned and a GPZ1100 engine given the call up. The capacity has been punched out to 1170cc and forged pistons boost compression to 11.5:1.
The head has been completely customised and flowed to the maximum and helps deliver the mix from the bank of RS36 flat slide carbs with individual filters. A Cobra and RF combination 4 into 1 exhaust finishes the job and it’s now packing over 130bhp in what I’d guess to be a sub 200kg package.
The bike passed its rigorous TUV inspection without worry and this Lawson R replica would have to be one of the coolest road and race bikes you’re ever likely to see.
[ RF-Biketech ]