When opportunity beckons what do you do? ... let it pass you by or seize it? Whilst the decision for Henry didn’t make for completely smooth sailing, the potential result was well worth the gamble. He was after a clean and unique bike to run down to the shops on and something to check out the best surf breaks early in the morning. What he initially found was a shabby ‘93 black Kawasaki ZR550 (Zephyr)... and a vision of how cool that bike could be. The point is that Henry had some ideas, saw an opportunity, seized it and some time later that vision materialized as the bike you see here now.
The Zephyr had seen better days and needed some work, but there was still life left in it, so when Henry decided to go ahead with the project Ellaspede started with a two-pronged aproach. The design team generated a number of different aesthetic concepts while the build team got to stripping and cleaning the Zephyr down. The motor was taken apart for gearbox work and although it actually seemed ok the entire motor was given a comprehensive rebuild. Oversized bore and pistons, new engine and gearbox bearings, seals and gaskets were installed, specs were measured and checked before the engine was blasted, painted and then appropriately polished.
"One of the design requirements specified by Henry was that he was keen to achieve a retro look, so naturally he gravitated towards one of the spoke wheeled concepts we produced. If only swapping mags out for spokes was as easy as selecting out of a catalog!" Ellaspede’s industrial design background helped with the design of a new hub, brake and sprocket spacers which were CNC machined from billet blocks and laced to Z900 rims. New brake rotors were sourced and Firestone Deluxe Champion 3.5 inch front and 4.5 inch rear tyres completed the wheel package and added to the retro look Henry was chasing.
After some necessary adjustments, de-tabbing and minor modifications the frame was blasted and powder coated in satin black along with many other associated items. A custom made seat, trimmed in tan kangaroo leather sits atop the frame and is complimented by a set of tan Posh grips. The arctic white and warm grey paint scheme was deliberated on for some time but Ellaspede decided that it sat very comfortably with the rest of the bike, crisp and clean. The vintage scales graphic makes reference to Henry’s vocation as a Barrister in combination with the 550’s ‘Zephyr’ title, with the signature style graphic being inspired by the early Ford models of the same name.
Posh white-face gauges mount off the modified original top fork clamp which now holds chrome drag bars. Posh indicators, a 6 inch headlight and LED taillight illuminate the bike whilst an Ellaspede ‘Ninja Star’ plate mount adorns the custom made rear guard. The original rear shocks were re-gassed and finished with white powder coated springs to carry on the colour scheme. The 4 into 1 original exhaust has be simplified and now runs 4 into 2 headers and shotgun style mufflers with internal baffles.
For more images of the Ellaspede ZR550 Zephyr and the full build story check out issue 3 of Tank Moto.
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