Things were looking a little grim in the late ’60s for bikers, with the British industry on its knees and motorcycle culture still with a bad name. But the Japanese came to the rescue with the Honda CB and Kawasaki Z, lighting a fire that has had the superbike category booming for fifty years. But there was a period a decade into that evolution around 1980, where engine development had stalled and bikes were piling on the weight at an alarming rate. Kawasaki was pouring big money into dirt bikes, and their engineers focused on lightweight machines. A concept that carried over to the brilliant Kawasaki Z750FX, which Japanese powerhouse Bull Dock has now transformed into a resto-mod for the ages.
Go back to an early 1980 issue of Cycle Magazine and you can sense the excitement in the words, as a new dawn of middleweight machines was finally being unleashed. “Fat is the enemy. Some motorcycle manufacturers believe the only way to buck this trend is to coax more power from their bulk-bikes to disguise the fat. Kawasaki sees the problem differently. Its new KZ750 pares the superbike concept right down to its essentials, for at a fighting weight of 471 pounds, the KayZee weighs a staggering 53 pounds less than a Honda CB750F.”
That’s a huge advantage in anyone’s books, and now four decades on, the wizards at Bull Dock are taking the same philosophy to their Z750 builds as those Kawasaki engineers all those years ago, by making weight the enemy. This all begins with the bike stripped and the frame in one of the company’s many jigs that enables them to rebuild the chassis’ of old bikes into stronger and yet more lightweight foundations for their builds. Ten specific areas are improved before the whole thing is hit with a coat of gloss black powder.
The bodywork is next on the list and it’s here that Bull Dock pulls a big surprise. While most in the resto-mod scene restore the classic tanks back to their brilliant best, the guys wanted to honour the Kawasaki engineers with this one. So, instead, they have faithfully recreated the fuel tank from aluminium, for a big weight saving over steel. The rest of the bodywork follows a similar theme, with fibreglass and composite materials used to make further savings with the side covers, guards, fenders, chain guard and seat base all re-made lighter.
The theme was clear and the guys weren’t going to slow down, as more weight could be cut from vital areas. Unsprung mass is the most critical, and a set of custom forged aluminium wheels measuring 17x6in are absolutely feather-light, but have a classic appeal thanks to their star like design. The fitment of modern rubber amplifies this advantage and then the steel swingarm is tossed aside for a custom alloy unit from McCoy. This is vital in transmitting feedback from the rear tire to the rider and it looks trick as hell too.
For the suspension, the usual Ohlins were sidelined for the increasingly popular British product from Nitron. With Bull Dock CNC machining their own triple clamps, they had Nitron build them a set of traditional forks, with radial mounting and perfectly valved for the weight distribution of the Z. The rear end too is supported by the British company’s finest, with fully adjustable shocks allowing for incredibly precise tuning. A steering stabiliser finishes the package and the clip-on bars are raised to suit the owner. Throw in a full Brembo braking setup, with McCoy customised master cylinders and the whole package is first class.
But all of this weight saving didn’t mean the guys didn’t want bulk power too, and the engine has been punched out to a thumping 1197cc. The internals have all been balanced, with the pistons being high-comp Pistal items and the camshafts coming from the Yoshimura catalogue. Pop’s company also supplied the bank of 36mm carbs that deliver ultra snappy response, which is further improved by full digital ignition. The clutch and gearbox are modified to handle the extra power, with a hydraulic conversion performed in-house and it all screams from a Win McCoy titanium exhaust.
The red engine and carb covers were a request from the client and give a nod to the Ferrari engines of old. And speaking of Italians, he also had another request, he wanted the bodywork finished in the same blue and subtle gold graphics as his Lamborghini. The seat is all about quality too, with a mix of Bull Dock high-end urethane base, covered in a water proof McCoy cover getting the job done.
The rest of the build was about staying authentic to the period, with the light package and instruments, all reproduction parts. The original idea of the Z750FX has not only been embraced by team Bull Dock, but enhanced in such a way that the end result is well, perfection.
[ Bull Dock ]