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Ground-up build: A Kawasaki bobber rises from the weeds

Kawasaki KZ250 bobber by Machine 1867 of Australia
Everyone loves a good barn find story, but what about digging an old motorcycle out of the weeds? That’s where Edi Buffon found the basket case Kawasaki KZ250 that would eventually become this incredible bobber-style piece of art.

Edi lives in Sydney, Australia, where he works as an engineer. Outside office hours, he wrenches on bikes as Machine 1867, from a 380 square foot space inside a shared warehouse. His area’s stacked with welders, grinders, hand tools and a lathe.

Kawasaki KZ250 bobber by Machine 1867 of Australia
Edi wasn’t really shopping for a KZ when he found this 1980 model. He had a lead on a bargain pair of Honda CB900s, and when he went to collect them, the owner threw in the forlorn Kawasaki.

It wasn’t running—and yes, it was literally lying in the weeds—but Edi saw potential.

Kawasaki KZ250 bobber by Machine 1867 of Australia
The KZ’s odometer showed less than 17,000 miles, so he cracked open the top end to figure out why it wasn’t running. “It looked immaculate,” he reports. “However, while assembling it, I found that the CDI was faulty. That could have been why it was dumped.”

Edi took the now-running motor, the section of frame that cradled it, and the rear wheel…and tossed the rest.

Kawasaki KZ250 bobber by Machine 1867 of Australia
So most of what you see here was built up from raw materials. Edi started by fabricating a chromoly rigid frame—opting for a more shapely design than your garden-variety hardtail.

Next up was the front suspension. “Aesthetically, my favorite type of suspension is the leaf spring,” he tells us, “so this build had to have one.”

Kawasaki KZ250 bobber by Machine 1867 of Australia
Edi built the front forks up with solid 20 mm and 16 mm round bar, with custom triple trees made from 6 mm plate. The leaf is from an old trailer, which he cut down. It ended up following the curve of the new front wheel perfectly.

As for the wheel itself, it’s a 21” spoked number, which needed a custom axle and spacers t0 fit.

Kawasaki KZ250 bobber by Machine 1867 of Australia
The original 16” KZ250 rear wheel is still running out back, but now with a whopping 5.00 tire—that, not surprisingly, was a pain to spoon on.

Moving to the bodywork, Edi built a petite tank from sheet metal, machined up a small filler cap for it, and sprayed it in 2K black paint. And he made sure it followed the frame’s lines perfectly.

Kawasaki KZ250 bobber by Machine 1867 of Australia
The seat pan’s made from sheet metal, but it’s adorned with panels of Jarrah wood—a type of eucalyptus found in Western Australia. Edi worked with 5 mm x 40 mm strips of wood to make shaping easier, then stained and waxed them to the point that the joints are almost invisible.

The seat suspension system is equally interesting. Edi started with a spring that he lifted from the mechanical seal of a water pump: it turned out to be the perfect size and strength. Then he hand-built every bit in-between, eventually ending up with the setup you see here.

Kawasaki KZ250 bobber by Machine 1867 of Australia
Cool little details like this are rife. Like the gear shifting system: it features a heel-operated clutch, along with a hand shifter. And the rear (and only) brake’s been converted from a toe to heel lever too.

Neither mod makes the bike any easier to ride, but they sure make it a lot more fun…and extremely interesting.

Kawasaki KZ250 bobber by Machine 1867 of Australia
Edi’s also loaded the KZ250 with lots of hand-turned brass details. Extra care’s been given to the smaller pieces—like the mounting struts for the fender and tank, and the way the brake and clutch connecting rods curve to match the frame. (He even spent nine hours turning a pair of custom-made aluminum grips.)

Wrapping up the build is a simple exhaust, pieced together from left over exhaust bits that Edi had amassed over the years. The frame was ceramic coated, and then polished for maximum effect.

Kawasaki KZ250 bobber by Machine 1867 of Australia
It wouldn’t be amiss to call this a true ground-up build—or a rolling work of art. Not only did Edi see potential, but he had the guts to go after it.

Unfortunately he doesn’t have an online presence, and relies on business from word-of-mouth. If you’re based in Australia and like what he does, drop us a line—we’ll put you in touch.

Images by Ana Martini photography

Kawasaki KZ250 bobber by Machine 1867 of Australia

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