Top 5 Kawasaki KZ750s

Kawasaki KZ 750
I’ll admit it, I didn’t know that Kawasaki made a twin-cylinder ‘Z’ until I came across the bikes we’ve selected below. It seems illogical that Kawasaki would release a twin when they had a great four-cylinder engine in their line-up, but they wanted a piece of the vertical twin pie. It meant going up against Triumph’s Bonneville and Yamaha’s XS650—so the Kawasaki KZ750 was born.

Produced from 1976 to 1983, the KZ750 was (at the time) a fairly modern motorcycle. At its heart was a 745cc vertical twin motor, with double overhead cams and chain-driven counter balancers, good for 55hp, and twin disk brakes. Testers reportedly loved the KZ750—and it was known for being extremely reliable.

These days it’s hard to find a decent condition KZ750 (or Z750B, as it was known in some countries). But, if you do manage to find one, there’s ample potential for using the ‘Z’ as a platform for a show-stopping custom—as proven by the five builders we’ve selected below. Wouldn’t you agree?

KZ750 by Valtoron
Valtorón ‘Vintage scrambler’ isn’t a style you’d normally see applied to the KZ750, but brothers Carlos and Pablo have pulled it off brilliantly. Together they run Valtorón, a foundry based in the Spanish village of Valdetorres del Jarama. Their passion for traditional metalwork is evident: all of the KZ750’s new bodywork was cast in aluminum in the foundry, including the fenders, side covers and tank, with a few bronze pieces acting as accents. The brothers also reinforced the frame, and grafted on a bunch of upgraded components from other bikes. These include 41mm Husqvarna forks, Suzuki triple trees, Betor shocks (from an Ossa Desert Fuego), vintage KTM GS 250 foot pegs, Bultaco Pursang handlebars and a Yamaha SR250 front brake. Valtoron’s unique take on the KZ750 oozes charm and screams fun. [More about this bike | Valtorón]

Photo (and header image) by Kristina Fender.

KZ750 by Chad Hodge
Chad Hodge’s KZ750 Chad Hodge is an industrial designer by trade, and it shows. This ’78 KZ750B (his first custom build) is loaded with clever features and tasteful design touches, exactly what you’d expect from the man who penned the Bell Bullitt helmet. It’s also the first motorcycle Chad ever owned—he initially bought it when he was 18, couldn’t get it running properly, sold it, then bought it back and began customizing it.

After an engine rebuild, rewire and frame cleanup, Chad upgraded the suspension—with YSS shocks at the rear, and progressive springs and a fork brace up front. The stock tail unit was shortened and sent to New Church Moto for upholstery, and now houses the battery and tail lights behind a hand-made mesh cover. Reverse megaphone mufflers were fitted to the re-routed headers and wrapped in custom heat shields, with a lick of pipewrap for good measure. Chad had a color scheme in mind, but settled on black-and-metal when he stripped the tank’s paint off and saw how good it looked. [More about this bike | Chad Hodge]

Photo by Blaine Davis.

KZ750 by the Wrenchmonkees
Wrenchmonkees This stunning Z750B was the pet project of Wrenchmonkees founder Per Nielsen, who set out to build “the perfect City-Dirt tracker.” In my opinion, he nailed it. It’s a bit more colorful than most bikes from the Danish workshop, but it still has that unmistakable Wrenchmonkees vibe. Most of the work happened under the hood though: the engine’s been bored out to 970cc, using mostly bespoke parts (aftermarket Z750B tuning parts are non-existent) including 89mm pistons made by Wössner in Germany.

Per also installed SR/XT Mikuni TM36 flatslide carbs and large K&N filters. The exhaust pipes, connected to SuperTrapp mufflers, have been rerouted through the frame to the left of the bike. 19” wheels wrapped in Maxxis dirt track rubber match the rest of the bike perfectly, and the orange, brown and green color scheme is simply inspired. [More about this bike | Wrenchmonkees]

KZ750 by HB Custom
HB Custom You wouldn’t say it looking at this über-clean 1983-model Z750B, but Holger Breuer has a day job—and it’s not building café racers. He’s been doing that in his spare time, racking up a rather decent catalog in the process, including a few Z750Bs—one of which even won a competition run by Kawasaki Germany.

This particular ‘Z’ was built on commission, and had been standing for ten years when Holger got it. So he overhauled the engine, fitting an electronic ignition and Mikuni TM34 carbs. He also fabricated new exhaust headers—adapting aftermarket Triumph mufflers from Classicbike Raisch to fit—shortened the subframe, and fabricated an alloy tail unit. Holger’s aforementioned day job is as an electrician, so he reworked the bike’s wiring, with a Lithium-ion battery hidden inside the tail, and installed Motogadget‘s Motoscope Tiny speedo and m-Switch controls. Other mods included upgraded suspension, plus Tarozzi rear sets and Tomaselli clip-ons for a sportier riding position. The Z750B’s classic lines are complimented by a classy black and brown color scheme. [HB Custom]

Photo by Timo Meinking.

KZ750 by Cafe Racer Dreams
CRD #28 There’s not a lot to say about this KZ750—other than that it’s an archetypal Café Racer Dreams build. And that, in itself, is a huge compliment. The traditional CRD signature touches abound: Renthal’s Ultra-Low bars, lights and fenders from CRD’s own catalog, and an under-seat area devoid of any clutter. The subframe’s been shortened to accommodate a custom bench, and the exhaust headers have been rerouted to the same side with twin, blacked-out reverse cone mufflers.

Two-tone paint on the tank keeps things simple and monochromatic, and the vintage Kawasaki badges are a nice touch. Despite all the work involved (I’ve seen a photo of the donor bike and it’s a far cry from the finished product) the overall effect is understated and sublime, making this one of my all-time favorite KZ750s.

Last week’s Top 5 celebrated the Harley Panhead.