Early Japanese superbikes seem to get more appealing as the years go by. The Honda CB750 is still going strong, and so is Kawasaki’s KZ series. This classy, understated KZ1000 is the work of London’s Untitled Motorcycles, and it’s owned by Anthony van Someren of the UK website the Bike Shed.
“My Ducati became more and more customized and pretty, and less appropriate for my daily five-mile commute into the West End,” Anthony says. “I needed a second bike. Something that would balance bullet-proof reliability with custom looks.”
Despite being familiar with high-powered modern machinery, Anthony hankered after the old Zeds he rode in the 90s. “Then I stumbled across an ad for a horrible imported KZ1000. It was being sold by the guy who used to service my Zeds in Camden. So I rang him up to say hello, and he persuaded me to check it out.” Being a big fan of the Wrenchmonkees’ Zeds, Anthony instantly saw the potential of this bike. “I lost all reason and agreed a price on the spot.”
The plan was to make this KZ1000 pretty but practical. That meant plenty of second hand parts: only the engine and running gear had to be 100%. “This bike had to be ridden every day in all weathers. Not just sitting outside a trendy shop to look cool on summer days,” says Anthony. “It’s what I would call ‘custom-lite’. Looks cool in pics, but down-and-dirty on closer inspection.”
Anthony had a clear picture of what he wanted: clip-ons, Raask rear-sets, a small headlight and tiny blinkers, and a long Brat-style seat. The bike already had a 4-into-1 pipe and Keihin filters on the Mikunis. “It ran really well, so no issues there.”
Anthony stripped the bike at the Untitled garage under Camden’s railway arches before the frame was de-lugged, re-welded and cleaned up. A new rear subframe was built to accommodate the seat. The electrics exposed by the removed side panels were hidden. Fenders were chopped, brackets were fabricated and a shift lever and linkage were created from BMW and Guzzi parts, matching the Raask rearsets.
“With new levers and braided hoses, the front brakes now work well,” says Anthony. “The engine is tight and strong, and she even corners quite well. So I’m more than happy with how she’s turned out. Now I just need to stick to my guns and try not to make the big Zed too perfect, or I’ll need a third bike for my daily ride!”
Thanks to Damian McFadden for the images.