If you’ve been browsing your local motorcycle classifieds or any auction site lately then you would have seen the price of Kawasaki’s famous Z bikes has gotten a little out of hand. At the recent Mecum auction in Las Vegas, one sold for US$50,000 and a rare JDM-only example sold for US$85,000, until it was discovered someone had taken a grinder to the VIN (oopsie). So, it’s clear that real or not, genuine examples are getting hard to find, and at that price could you use one as a donor? This was the challenge that the legendary Japanese workshop Bull Dock found themselves in recently, so they came up with the next best thing. A 1990s Kawasaki Zephyr 750, picked up for a bargain and built for their client as one hell of a resto-mod, without the crazy price tag.
So, until prices get sensible again, alternatives have to be found, and for the boss at Bull Dock, Wakui-san, he’s started to see more requests come for the modern classics of the ’90s like the Zephyr range. But turning such a bike into one of the company’s GTM machines isn’t without its challenges. “In the case of the Zephyr, it’s challenging because the bike is not new but not too old. Even if you want to modify it, there are no custom parts available. The parts that used to be made are no longer in production.” And with the bike stripped down, this problem immediately became evident, there are simply no quality off-the-shelf swingarms available.
The solution was found by taking one of Bull Dock’s in-house brand McCoy items originally intended for a ’70s Z and modifying it to fit. This also meant making some changes to the mounting point on the frame, which was not a major hurdle, as the chassis was already in the jig undergoing a full alignment and strengthening program, to ensure it could perform at its very best. The big advantage of one of these hand-made aluminium swingarms is the feedback it provides to the rider and the amount of flex you can build in, all of which would be pointless if you then slapped on a cheap pair of shocks. But that’s not how Bull Dock rolls, so a pair of Ohlins Legend Twin units do their thing, and the 36mm internal piston provides supreme control.
To bring the front end up to the same high standard, some more adaptation was required, with an original Z bike stem kit from the Bull Dock catalogue tweaked to swing a set of their gorgeous machined triple clamps. With the calculations done to determine the right offset, the kit is finished off and through the big yokes goes a set of Ohlins right-way up shocks in 43mm, with the NIX25 cartridges that give 20 clicks of adjustment for both compression and rebound. You’re talking well over US10,000 in suspension components and the bike doesn’t even have wheels yet. So there is no skimping here either, with lightweight 17in Lavorante Leggenda rims bolted on.
Now the talented team had to get the Zephyr looking the part and thanks to modern reproduction parts, available in lightweight materials, this is one of the cheaper aspects of the build. To do the job a Z2 Type bodywork kit was purchased, which comes with the fuel tank, side panels and the all-important tailpiece. The front fender and rear hugger are carbon fibre, and then it’s out with the spray gun for the eye-catching purple paint job, which is completed with highlights of gold, white and black. The seat is another component intended for a Z2, a McCoy Supreme unit, and the mix of ’70s, ’90s and modern aesthetics all blend beautifully into one.
So far, so good! But if the ’90s Zephyr 750 had a shortcoming it wasn’t in the looks department but the performance, two decades on and horsepower was no different to the JDM 750 of old. This however is where Bull Dock shines and the bottom end was completely rebuilt, blue printed and then stuffed full of a big bore Wiseco kit, that not only bumps up the capacity to 810cc but adds a full point of compression too. The heads are ported and polished, before being fitted with a set of Yoshi cams for more duration and lift, and Pops’ company also supplies the customised Keihin carbs and accessories. An in-house Win McCoy full titanium exhaust system finishes off the powertrain, and the bluing on the muffler is a great match for the paint.
Having pumped the power figure so high, you couldn’t possibly rely on the wimpy factory brakes, which means an order to Brembo brings in twin front calipers, an underslung item for the rear, radial master cylinders and drilled discs from Sunstar. Having measured up the client before the build, the finishing touches are all about making him feel right at home, with the new bars and K-Factory rearsets placed in the perfect positions. The factory instruments stay in place to ensure the look is spot on, but a Yoshi digital meter and Protec shift light are added for the full race bike experience. So sure, this Bull Dock build might not be on the auction block breaking a new sales record, but in my opinion, it’s going one better; out on the Japanese streets, looking the proverbial million dollars and being ridden bloody hard.
[ Bull Dock ]