Motorway Maverick – WM83 GPZ900R Ninja
In 1986 girls swooned and guys headed to the nearest motorcycle dealership at the sight of Tom Cruise astride his Top Gun GPZ900R Kawasaki Ninja. Fast forward 33 years and you’d think that both Tom and the Ninja would have passed their prime, but that clearly isn’t the case. With all the new releases Cruise has coming out it’s clear he hasn’t quite done his dash, and thankfully, neither has this Kawasaki Ninja thanks to the crew at Copenhagen’s Wrenchmonkees.
“One of our best customers wanted a classic supersport, two up tourer for European autobahn cruising,” says Per Nielsen of the Wrenchmonkees. “The choice of donor bike was easy as we always had a crush on Maverick’s GPZ900R and had been searching for this type of project for quite some time.” With the wheels set in motion, the hunt began for a suitable donor. “We found two donor bikes,” Per explains. “The first was an ’85 Kawasaki Ninja. It had a solid frame, was half assembled and missing an engine, but it came with papers. The other was a ’91 model without papers and was also in fairly in poor condition.” That may not sound like much of a starting point, but it was all the Wrenchmonkees required to piece together a complete and registration ready machine.
“I feel the need, the need for speed.”
Using the engine from the ’91 donor Per and the team set about building their ideal Ninja powerplant. To step performance up a notch they installed a 973cc kit and paired it with a set of Mikuni TMR 36 carbs. Knowing the GPZ900R was susceptible to overheating a new cooling system was devised. A larger, more efficient radiator unit from a ZRX1100 now sits up front and it’s backed up by an aftermarket oil cooler. The thermostat was also relocated from its original position over the valve cover to the front of the engine and everything is held in place by custom brackets that double as mounting points for Motogadget M-Blaze Pin indicators.
Rounding off the engines combustion cycle is an extensively modified exhaust system. The headers hail from Black Widow Exhaust in the UK and were originally designed for the GPZ1100. Since the plan was to lower the Ninja by around 6-8cm the exhaust had to be rerouted around either side of the sump for sufficient road clearance. The system is capped off with a stainless steel and carbon fibre muffler from BWE.
One of the Wrenchmonkees main goals with the Kawasaki Ninja project was to give the bike a more aggressive stance. This meant playing with the suspension setup without sacrificing handling. To do this they rebuilt a set of forks and installed lower progressive springs. In the rear, a YSS fully adjustable mono shock is mated it to a longer, modified Kawasaki ZX636 swingarm. The new wheel combination features the GPZ900R 17 up front and an 18 ZX10 at the rear. Stopping power also received an overhaul using TRW discs and braided lines. So how does it ride now? Per tells us that “Handling has actually improved. It turns sharper and feels calmer and easier to handle thanks to the lower centre of gravity.”
As for the bodywork and accessories, the Wrenchmonkees made plenty of subtle changes there too. All of the Ninja’s lighting aside from the headlight are now LED units. Under the tinted screen sits a ’94 ZX-9 instrument cluster and the fluid reservoirs were taken from a ZZ-R1100. The levers and clip-on bars are TRW items and the top yoke is from a Zephyr Z750. The bodywork remains standard but it was decided to leave off the lower sections of the front fairing. This aides further in engine cooling and exposes those lovely satin finish exhaust headers.
The icing on this two-wheeled cake is the Ninja’s stereotypical Wrenchmonkees paint scheme. While the colour selection isn’t all that dissimilar to Kawasaki’s own ’91 Ninja scheme but it’s been given a coat of matt clear to finish it off. Pair that with the matt black they’ve applied to the engine cases, fork legs and frame and you’ve got one hell of a cool motorcycle that may be too cool for even Maverick himself to pilot.
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