It’s that time of the year again, when thousands of riders and bikes descend on the bustling French resort town of Biarritz for the Wheels & Waves festival. One of those bikes will be this fresh-looking Kawasaki W650—and it’s a perfect match for the moto-meets-surf vibe.
Builder Uwe Kostrewa is already in Biarritz, after an 800-mile jaunt from his hometown of Cologne in Germany. And there’s a chance he’s picked up a few fines on the way.
“So I spend a lot of money on tickets from the police, because I am not a fan of original stuff.”
From there he worked his way up to bigger engines, until someone else’s Yamaha SR400 café racer caught his eye. Uwe was smitten—he bought a SR500 donor, dragged it into his workshop and built his first custom motorcycle.
That was four years ago. Since then he’s been spending his after-work hours building bikes for himself and close friends, for the pure joy of it. “I’m not happy when I don’t have a tool in my hands,” he says.
This 1999-model Kawasaki W650 is Uwe’s fourth personal build. It’s also the fourth bike in his garage, since he can never bring himself to sell any of his own projects.
“So I bought a donor in a private sale with 34,000 km on it, to create my vision of a street tracker.”
Sitting up top is a fiberglass, flat track-style tailpiece, hand-shaped by Uwe. The tank’s an eBay find—originally off a Yamaha of undetermined model.
The bar-end turn signals (and the tiny turn signals at the rear) are from Motogadget, as is the side-mounted speedo.
Those concerned with appropriate tire selection can breathe a collective sigh of relief: this Kawasaki’s kitted with sensible Avon Roadriders.
Uwe tossed the airbox and fitted a pair of K&N filters, relocating various electronic components in the process. He built the exhaust too: a curvaceous two-into-one system terminating in a MotoGP can.
Uwe sent the frame off for base powder coating, before finishing it in a striking bright blue himself. Most of the finishings are his own work: from the polished and painted bits on the engine, to the distressed livery on the fuel tank.
The entire project took roughly 250 hours to complete, spread out over six months. But it was worth it: “The bike runs great, and is round about 25 kilos [55 pounds] lighter than the original. I am very happy with it.”
We would be too, especially if we could ride it around Biarritz this weekend…