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Above The Curve: A Swedish KZ650 shaped to perfection

Barn rescue: The Swedish workshop PAAL has restored this Kawasaki KZ650 to cafe racer perfection
When it comes to iconic 1970s middleweights, the Honda CB750 steals all the limelight. But Kawasaki’s KZ650 was also hugely popular—and easily capable of keeping up with contemporary 750s.

“Right out of the crate, it will out-perform any 750 in the world,” said Kawasaki’s advertising at the time, and the claim had merit. The little brother of the Z1 was fast and nimble, and was less than a second behind big brother on the quarter mile.

Barn rescue: The Swedish workshop PAAL has restored this Kawasaki KZ650 to cafe racer perfection
It’s not hard to find a used KZ650 these days (or Z650, as it was known outside the USA), and Swedish builder Fredrik Pål Persson is a fan. Fredrik ditched a promising career as a chef to set up PAAL Motorcycles in the city of Malmö, and with three guys helping him, he’s cooked up 19 very tasty customs so far.

“We built this project for a client,” says Fredrik. “He requested complex shapes and straight lines. So we had to think hard when we designed it, but that’s also why the bike turned out so well.”

Barn rescue: The Swedish workshop PAAL has restored this Kawasaki KZ650 to cafe racer perfection
“When you look at it from the side, the lines are totally straight. But if you take a walk around, you’ll soon see that all the lines are actually curved.”

The base material was not promising. The KZ650 had been gathering dust and rust in a barn for 20 years, and it was in desperate need of restoration. “There were mice living in the battery holder!” Fredrik recalls.

Barn rescue: The Swedish workshop PAAL has restored this Kawasaki KZ650 to cafe racer perfection
The rodents and cobwebs were quickly banished, and the KZ was broken down into parts scattered around the workshop.

A full engine rebuild was in order, but not just to factory spec: the PAAL crew fitted high compression pistons, new valves and springs, and honed the bores.

Barn rescue: The Swedish workshop PAAL has restored this Kawasaki KZ650 to cafe racer perfection
The whole shebang was then sandblasted and painted before being reassembled with new bearings, gaskets and seals. It’ll be good for a few thousand miles more now, and a few more horsepower than the 60-something usually claimed for the inline four in stock form.

The four carbs have also been stripped and rebuilt, and fitted with handmade velocity stacks crafted from aluminum and brass. The stubby exhaust system has been fabricated in-house too, and you only have to look at it to know that it’ll be loud.

Barn rescue: The Swedish workshop PAAL has restored this Kawasaki KZ650 to cafe racer perfection
The frame was cleaned up and powder coated to match the immaculate power unit, and the rear end is completely new.

The true masterpiece is the bodywork though, with a heavily scalloped handmade tank—with inserts to match the pleating on the leather seat—and a matching tail unit, all finished in a deep, lustrous red.

Barn rescue: The Swedish workshop PAAL has restored this Kawasaki KZ650 to cafe racer perfection
It’s impossible to list every modification or area of work on this machine; literally every standard part has been rebuilt to as-new spec, from the front suspension to the brake system and the heavy-duty drive chain and sprockets.

Even the rims have been powder coated and fitted with new stainless spokes, for that better-than-factory look.

Barn rescue: The Swedish workshop PAAL has restored this Kawasaki KZ650 to cafe racer perfection
Since the bike had been languishing in a barn for decades, Fredrik wisely decided to strip out the entire electrical system and start again from scratch.

It’s all built around Motogadget electronics—including the speedo and turn signals—and hooked up to a compact lithium ion battery. LEDs provide illumination at the back, for both the taillight and license plate, but there’s a classic headlamp bowl with a conventional bulb up front.

Barn rescue: The Swedish workshop PAAL has restored this Kawasaki KZ650 to cafe racer perfection
Kustom Tech provided the clip ons, which are adorned with modern switchgear and custom leather grips. And the rider’s feet are equally well looked-after, with a classy pair of Tarozzi rear sets attached via custom made brackets.

It’s a traditional approach to custom building, but it nails the classic cafe vibe perfectly. Tastier than a warm glass of Glögg on cold winter night, we reckon.

Paal Motorcycles | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Anders Liljenberg

Barn rescue: The Swedish workshop PAAL has restored this Kawasaki KZ650 to cafe racer perfection

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