The nineties saw the birth of the 'naked retro' genre of motorcycle. Wanting to relive the glory of the seventies and to re-energise sales, manufacturers released motorcycles that blended modern engineering with styling cues from some of their most iconic models. For Kawasaki it was the legendary Z1 that provided the inspiration and the motorcycle they created in it's image was named the Zephyr. Despite it less than exciting name the 400cc version of the Zephyr enjoyed huge success in Japan while the 750cc version can be attributed to the popularity of the retro naked genre in the UK and Europe. Today however the Zephyr looks more out of date than retro, but when Gazzz Motorcycles owner Nazar Poznyakovsky was given the challenge of customising one, he saw it as the perfect candidate for a Cafe Racer conversion.
Firstly he had to source a Zephyr locally to use as a test bed, then he couldn't modify the frame in any way as it would be impossible to replicate the changes later and the intake system had to remain standard. "The work was quite difficult" Is how Nazar modestly explained it to us. "I had to shape the tail on to the existing frame configuration and solve the problem of keeping the seat lock functional". Despite the challenges Nazar was able to design the new tail without picking up a grinder. The fiberglass seat base and a tail were constructed using his design, which he then integrated the license plate holder and custom LED tail light into.
The front end of the bike was then modified by swapping out the stock headlight for an 8 inch British style unit, mounted using custom CNC milled fork clamps. Nazar also machined a custom alloy top clamp into which he integrated LED warning lights. The bulky Zephyr instruments were replaced by smaller, retro styled dials and to ensure all of the original functions of the dash were retained an HRDZ fuel gauge was mounted between them. Suzuki SV650 clip-ons with custom made stainless steel bar end weights replaced the Zephyr bars and rubber gators were slid on to the forks.
Since the customer and his Zephyr were in Brittany, France Nazar stripped the test bike and packed all the parts (including an after-market stainless steel exhaust header and mufflers) into his car and drove to France through Poland the Czech Republic, Germany and Belgium. "In Brittany I spent a week installing my 'kit' on the customers bike, a 1992 Zephyr 750 with ZR-7 engine. Along the way I fixed some technical issues due to differences between my test bike and the owners, but when it was done I tested the 'Cafe-Roadster' out on the beautiful Brittany roads along the Atlantic ocean. The bike rode great and it was one of the best rides of my motorcycling life." Happy with his work Nazar headed home to the Ukraine where he's now working on his next project, which we hope to reveal here soon!
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