The Zephyr ZR750 is one of the best secondhand buys around. Twenty years ago, it left road testers lukewarm—but today, owners love them. And you can get an absolutely mint early 90s example for around $2,000.
That’s when the economics of the custom motorcycle business start making sense. And no one knows this better than John Ryland—the man behind Classified Moto, and the builder of this ’92 ZR750 C2.
Before Ryland was ejected from his advertising job a few years ago, he worked with a lady called Norma Kwee. So when Norma found herself in LA with a new job but no motorcycle, she called up her old buddy John. And convinced him to build this very smart Kawasaki custom.
“Despite her larger-than-life personality, Norma has a very compact frame,” says John. “So our first job was to make the 450-pound Zephyr as low and light as possible.”
The Kawasaki now sports a Suzuki GSX-R front end, relatively low profile tires, and adjustable shocks. There’s a custom seat from Roy Baird, with the bare minimum of foam, so Norma can keep both feet flat on the ground at stop lights.
“The ZR750 is actually a pretty good platform,” says John. “The components feel premium, it’s smooth, and it makes plenty of power. The only thing that really cramped our style was the huge fuel tank.”
After some messing around with Sharpies, John and his head mechanic Danik Herashchanka took the tank to Clay Rathburn of Atom Bomb.
“This was the first time Clay and worked on anything together. After a failed attempt at being rivals, we now join forces regularly—and it’s great.” Clay sliced the curves off the sides of the tank and shaped some concave panels to tuck things in nicely, while keeping the look raw.
Other mods are a new subframe designed to fit Norma’s physique, a simplified wiring harness hooked up to a tiny Shorai battery, and a custom intake system. (“It has a single unit for all four carbs, and it’s way easier to tune than separate pod filters.”)
It’s not a megabuck build, but it looks a million dollars. Hats off to Ms Kwee for giving Classified Moto free rein.