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Kawasaki KZ750 – galvanised fuses

This article covers the old KZ750 Kawasaki twin. It also covers the genuine interest our scribe has in old motorcycles, the classics from yesteryear. Unfortunately hailing from Cape Town, South Africa has its disadvantages. Most bike workshops and spares outlets are up in the Gauteng region. Most of my reading comes from the web, specifically the USA and UK and I’m genuinely surprised at the lack of interest in sunny SA for these bikes – have they really all gone to the big bike wheel in the sky? I’d really like to strike up some great interest on this subject in parts-ring and we’ll even allocate dedicated space for this – after all this is what this site is all about.

I purchased the bike in the early ’80s for R400.00 + 4% GST = R420.00. (in those days that would have been equivalent to about 500U$). R420.00 was incredibly cheap – new 750cc’s cost about R2K then. (about U$2300). The bike was 5 years old, other than the starter which wouldn’t crank, was in mint condition. The previous owner drove the bike all the way down from Johannesburg straight into the finance house, Stannic, before it could be repossessed. They tried to auction it off but there were no takers. A friend of mine had the same bike and I knew these were tough cookies. So I purchased the bike so I could fix it – it ended up being a bad earth in the starter solenoid circuit. The bike started first time. Phew! The guy at the gates asked me if I wouldn’t sell it back to the finance house for R800.00 – then R1200.00. Yes, the bike was worth R1200.00 easily. That was actually quite a bit of money in those days – can you imagine buying a near mint 750cc nowadays cash?  I didn’t fall for the offer – I wanted the bike. I then had to drive 120Km home – the oil was still OK, just topped up the fuel and off I went. Stupidly I pushed the bike to 180Km/Hr on the way home – it was effortless. They weren’t fast bikes but once you hit a ton they’d stay there, uphills and downhills. I rode the first Honda CB900s when they came out and they were brutal machines, no vibration, nearly double the horse power but they were souless next to the KZ750.

Kawasaki Z750
Kawasaki Z750

I had the bike for about two years when the voltage regulator packed up. The new parts cost nearly what I paid for the machine so I gave that a miss and made my own. A friend of a friend kept on pushing me to sell the bike which I eventually foolishly decided to do just before I had to go back to sea (merchant marine) – the guy promptly sprayed it white which to this day I cannot forgive anyone for doing – these bikes came out with a metallic green or lean mean Kawasaki maroon Z900 finished look – why kill it’s appearance by making it look like a police bike. The tank did take on the appearance of the older Z900 but this was intentional, I believe it was the same tank. Subsequently when I got home again after 6 months away I bought the bike back from the spraypainter hack… A week into my leave the bike started making some decidedly dodgy noises on the local road and then died on me. What had transpired was that our erstwhile spraypainter had blown a fuse and replaced it with a 1/4 inch galvanised bolt. A short in the loom down to ground and bingo! A buddy of mine riding his sister’s 50cc scooter pulled me home. Embarrassing! Never trust a white bike.

After rewiring the loom and purchasing a secondhand Volvo regulator from a Toyota dealer in town for about R12.00 (U$15.00) I was on the road again.No, the Volvo regulator didn’t overtax the charging system – it worked fine. 🙂

80 kilometers aways from where we stayed at the time there was a steep mountain pass, known as Sir Lowry’s Pass which overlooks Cape Town – if you ever get into Cape Town do take take a tour on a sunny clear viz day.  A friend and myself pulled up that hill at 140Km/Hr and our combined weight must have been around 150Kg. This bike had some incredible torque. I could not compete with 4 cylinders in performance and even a biker friend of mine on his Yamaha triple 750 outperformed the Z750 but the old girl just had more class. Actually it outlived all my buddies bikes. When their clutches started to fail my bike had done near 60 000Km without a blink of wear on the clutch. Looking back, the clutch was replaced, only because I was bored. The clutch was also double the size of the Honda’s. A bike mechanic told me it was because of the high low-end torque. I tend to agree but the four cylinder Kawasaki’s also had bigger clutch plates than their Honda rivals and none of my mates with Kwackers ever had to change plates. I think the Kwacker was just built to last. Anyhows, I had the bike for a further year or two and then sold it off to an enthusiast who had the engine out in not time and thereafter I think it went to the Kwacker heaven in the sky. Apparently someone put sugrar in the tank. This made me think, should some people ever own bikes? These are incredible machines but I was the biggest sucker – I should never have sold. They weren’t made for racing, they were designed for long distances and effortless hill climbing. I sold the bike twice and twice it failed. If I ever come across another one, I’m gonna buy it.

Some links:

Owner’s manual, road tests etc, see below.

I’m hoping that this article strikes up an interest in these lonesome twins and we can add a vintage page section to Parts-ring in the near future regarding these bikes. That and of course the screaming triples and the breathtaking Z900. I’m by no means just a Kwacker junkie, Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha all made their own mark in the 60s, 70s and 80s – I rode the big twin and if there are any enthusiasts still out their riding a good condition bike I’d love to hear their story. Modern superbikes just seem to lack charisma – void of personality and dull.

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