Kawasaki W650 custom

Kawasaki W650 custom
You see quite a few Kawasaki W650 customs around these days. But when photographer Gregor Halenda sent me these shots of Dave Seidman’s bike, I knew we had something special. Dave is a writer by trade, and he has a way with words as well as motorcycles. Here’s the story as he tells it.

I didn’t set out to build a bike, I really wanted to build a car. But my friend Don, a long-time motorhead, said to “try a bike first, it’s cheaper and easier. If you get through that, you’re ready for anything.”

Okay. But all I’d ever done was occasionally change the oil on my old dirt bike, I’m not exactly what you’d call a mechanic. Which in the end wasn’t a problem. As I found out, all you have to do is … well, just do it.

Kawasaki W650 custom
First you need a vision, an end goal. For me it was the clean lines of a cafe racer. Unlike modern bikes, you see the machinery–keeping the “motor” in motorcycle. They seem light and nimble, with plenty of air around the parts, looking like what they are: honest, simple machines, with a slight raw edge. Cool.

I sat on the idea for a year until my kid, Alex, was born. Since it didn’t look like I’d be leaving him much money, I figured I’d make the bike for him, and started the fictitious ADS (his initials) Motorcycle Company as kind of a legacy. Sounds corny—but until your kid becomes an obnoxious teenager, dads think like that.

The next step was finding a donor bike. Don advised that I start with a solid foundation, a bike with “good bones” and the right look. For that I bought a beat-up Kawasaki W650 from a lesbian couple in New Jersey who were trading up to matching Harleys. Besides looking like an old Brit twin, the W650 came with a shop manual—which turned out to be the most important tool in the build as it was written for idiots. So I felt right at home.

Kawasaki W650 custom
Except for the insides of the engine, I rebuilt everything on the bike mostly just to learn how and built a lot of new parts, too. I found a world on the internet to access things from Germany, Japan, and even some custom electrical connectors from a guy in Argentina. And I also found that if you’re willing to make mistakes and do things over at least three times, nothing is impossible.

In the end it worked out well. Alex is proud to show other kids “his bike,” I built something better than I ever thought possible, plus it runs and hasn’t killed me. All very good things

Now, as my friend Don said, I’m ready for anything. But I won’t be building that car. I’ve got another bike in mind. I think I’m into something here…

With thanks to Gregor Halenda. (And if that name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s the man behind the Team Incomplete BMW.)

Kawasaki W650 custom
Here’s What Dave Did Tail light from old Vincent now w/LEDs · Headlight mount from Daytona in Japan · Headlight stone guard from an old MG sports car · Progressive fork springs · Hagon shocks · Fenders cut down and chromed · Kuryakyn turn signals · German rear cowl/seat base—modified mounting and shape · Custom seat pan · Custom seat from local shop · Rear brake torsion bar drilled and polished · Took off lots of paint and polished aluminum parts · Buchannan stainless steel spokes for wheels · Front hub powder coated · Front brake painted to match engine · Polished Superbrace fork brace · Finned bevel drive cover from Japan · Clipons, fully adjustable Italian make, from Germany · Tank strap custom made · Stainless steel brake lines from Galfer · New chain, brake pads, bushings, etc · Clutch and throttle cables from Motion Pro · Frame reworked for battery tray, welds ground down · Electronics now under seat on custom base · Lots of rewiring and new cables · Stock pipes coated by Jet Hot and wrapped · Mufflers drilled out · Uniflow custom red foam air filters · Crankcase breather and canister · Dyno tuned w/new jets · Engine repainted · Aluminum engine side covers buffed · Odyssey battery · Frame painted BMW silver · Tank, seat, headlight, Ferrari red · Headlight holes closed and one opened · Rear foot peg mounts ground off · CRG bar-end mirrors · Triumph Bonneville T-140 tank modified to fit · Triumph fuel valves/custom lines · Daytona Tach and speedo, w/custom mount LED idiot lights · Vintage cloth wrapping on spark plug wires

Kawasaki W650 custom