The Kawasaki kz650 Cafe Racer is Retro Yet Practical

The Kawasaki kz650 cafe racer is definitely a vehicle that exudes a retro style while maintaining an overall practical look.


The gold flake, streetfighter performance and a lot of appealing bling help make it quite an interesting project by Jordon and his friends, Andrew Cornelissen and Lee Kinney.

While there are some aspects of this vehicle that might come across as unconventional, I’m talking about the gold flake that might not be to everyone’s taste, looking at the specs of this bike does support the notion that it is a cafe racer that can hold its own in front of the rest.

So, let’s look at all of the modifications that have been done on the bike and you be the judge of your own decision.

Kawasaki kz650 Cafe Racer modifications

•          This cafe racer got created back in 2013 as part of the sponsored ‘Greasy Dozen’ build.

The instructions required the bike to have a retro vibe but still be practical enough to ride daily as well as provide good performance.

That’s exactly what you’ll find in this cafe racer.

•          The donor bike for this café racer project is the 1979 Kz650SR.

The designers decided to keep the chassis parts and tank shape to remain revealing as that’s an iconic look of the Kawasaki kz650. Most of the major modifications were done on the tank area and to the leather upholstery.

•          A set of 43mm cartridge items from a ZX7 with twin gas shocks at the rear were used to replace the original forks.

•          The vehicle was altered to be supported by 17-inch spoked wheels that provide it with its streetfighter look. The 320mm Brembo discs and calipers from a Ducati Sport Classic GT1000 power the front brakes. A Suzuki SV650 was used for the headlamps while the rear seat cowl is from a GPz750.

•          The seat upholstery is in Ginger at New Church Moto’s oxblood leather. Bridge City Cycles sorted the retro swooshes and pinstripes visible on the tail and the tank.

•          Pod style filters have also been added. Pie-cut stainless steel combined with a Mega ‘Quiet Core’ reverse cone end can has been used to make the four into one pipes by hand.

Aluminum concentric chain adjusters were used to make the sweeping steel double-tube swing arm. The overall refinement of the vehicle is amplified by clip-on mounts that have been blended-in flush to the top triple clamp.

Some of these changes were quite subtle but they still played a major role in making the current bike look like a masterpiece.

While the vehicle doesn’t have speedos the featured mini bullet indicators are enough to tell others where the bike will go next.

The three designers put their best work forward when it came to creating the Kawasaki kz650 cafe racer and that is evident from the end product.

A lot of people are enticed by the vehicle’s retro yet practical look. It is a bit different from industrial builds and that’s part of its charm.

No wonder people still like this cafe racer even years after its creation.


Base bike for this project: the Kawasaki KZ650SR 1979



Engine: DOHC, Inline 4, Air Cooled
Displacement: 652 CC
Valves: 8 Valve (4 Intake / 4 Exhaust) Shim Under-Bucket
Valve Clearance, Cold: 0.08 – 0.18mm (0.003 – 0.007in)
Valve Timing: Inlet:
Open: 22° BTDC
Closed: 52° ABDC
Duration: 250$deg;

Open: 60° BBCD
Closed: 20° ATDC
Duration: 260°
Bore and Stroke: 62 X 54mm (2.44 X 2.13in)
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Compression Pressure: 10-14 kg/cm² (155-185 PSI)
Max Horsepower: 64 @ 8,500 RPM
Max Torque: 5.8kg (41.9 ft-lbs) @ 7,000 RPM
Cam Chain Type: Single Roller or Hy/Vo depending on Model
Lubrication: Forced, Twin Rotor Oil Pump
Oil Type: SAE 10W40 (Recommended)
Oil Capacity: Approx. 3.8L
Cylinder Numbering: Left to Right 1-2-3-4
Firing Order: 1-2-4-3
Idle Speed: 900 – 1,050 RPM


Frame & Suspension

Frame: Tubular Steel, Double Cradle
Front Suspension: Telescopic Forks
Fork Oil Type: 10W40 or 15W Fork Oil
Fork Oil Capacity: 165cc Each Leg (5.6 oz)
Rear Suspension: Swing Arm, Adjustable Twin Shock
Steering Geometry: 63° Rake / 4.25 in trail
Steering Head Angle: 39.5°
Minimum Turning Radius: 2.4m (94.5 in)
Brake Fluid Type: DOT3, DOT4, DOT5
Front Brake Type: 245mm Disc
Minimum Brake Disc Thickness: 6mm
Rear Brake Type: 180 x 40mm Drum (Dual Shoe), 245mm Disc (Discs were used on some later models)
Braking Distance: 12m from 50 kph (29.4 ft @ 31 mph)
Wheels: 14 Spoke Alloy
Tire Size: Front: 3.25H-19 4PR
Rear: 4.00H-18 4PR
Road Clearance: 145mm (5.7 in)
Saddle Height: 31.9 inches
Wheel Base: 1,420mm (55.9 in)
Overall Length: US: 2,170mm (85.4 in) Europe: 2,220mm
Overall Width: 850mm (33.5 in)
Dry Weight: 211kg (465 lbs)
Climbing Angle: 30°

Images by CelerityPhoto