If I had to lay a bet on the next big trend in custom motorcycles, I’d say we’re returning to the glory days of 1970s and 1980s superbikes. Interest in these iconic machines seems to be rising, and upgrade parts are readily available—albeit mostly in Japan. The days of the traditional British café racer must be numbered by now, and we’re seeing fewer machines adorned with checkered stripes and fork gaiters. The ‘brat style’ is taking a lower profile too, with builders dropping the glitter paint and hunting down Dunlop K180s for an authentic tracker look. There’s a renewed emphasis on performance—but not the clinical, metered-by-electronics performance of contemporary sportsbikes. It’s the raw, loud horsepower offered by machines such as the Kawasaki Z1, like this recent resto-mod from the Tokyo West outlet of Sanctuary in Japan.
Most of the critical components that affect dynamics have been upgraded. The frame has been reinforced and the engine has been blueprinted and balanced, and fitted with Keihin FCR 37mm flat-slide carbs. (Power output will be a fair bit higher than the 80-or-so hp of the original.) The suspension is all-new, courtesy of Öhlins, and the braking system is packed with state-of-the-art Nissin and Brembo components. Gale wheels carry modern rubber, with a custom swingarm fitted to cater for the increased width at the back. And there’s a smattering of top-shelf Nitro Racing parts throughout, including the exhaust system and controls. It’s as much about the ‘go’ as the ‘show’, and this Z1 gets 10 out of 10 in both departments from me. To own a bike in this spec would probably cost around $30,000, though—which means that a mint, restored Z1 in the US starts to look like a bargain at around $7,000. (If you’d prefer a more modern superbike but with a retro look, just check what Whitehouse did with the CB750.)