By Gareth Charlton - 15 Dec 14
From the home of Cheese Steak Sandwiches and Rocky Balboa comes this tasty shed built 79' Kawasaki KZ650. Alex Veaone had been contentedly ripping about his city enjoying his first build, a fine blue KZ400 that featured on the 'Shed two years ago, but then came the itch for a fresh project, something that packed a more powerful punch. It wasn't always easy, but after a little over a years graft he has a new steed on which to cruise The City of Brotherly Love. First of all let's talk about the tank. It doesn't sit flush to the frame at the back. So the hell what? A week or so back the Facebook naysayers passionately bashed their fingertips against their keyboards criticising Vintage Addiction's XJ650 for the same supposed crime. So let's be clear, it is not lazy, shit or unfinished, it is a choice, made by the man wielding the spanners and twisting the throttle. The fitment of the old Kawasaki enduro tank utterly makes this bike, just look at the glorious top of that engine and the exposed frame rails, almost reminiscent of a hot-rod with a motor too big for a bonnet to contain. Irregularities are what generate interest and beauty, leave the made to measure computer enhanced lines to the manufacturers, let the shed builders express themselves any which way they like. Rant over. Back to Alex, "This build has a bit of a cursed story. I think the majority of it is my own fault. I have broken quite a few things while working on the bike, not on purpose..." When he built his 400 twin Alex had started out with a high quality donor and focused on the cosmetics, but with the 650 he had taken on an entirely different proposition. Found via Craigslist the KZ was in rough shape, but the price was right so the deal was done. Alex set to work, and then slowly made himself more work as he made mistake after damn mistake, "I think the engine is built out of 3 different ones. I have 2 extra sets of pistons, 2 heads, 4 calipers and rotors, set of carbs, set of forks, set of wheels and some other crap that doesn’t work or is damaged." But he persevered and kept learning with every failure. Sure enough the engine rebuild came together with new gaskets, rings, lapped valves and fully sorted carbs. Next up came the frame, he welded on a shorter rear frame loop and tidied away any superfluous brackets. While he was at it he fabricated a small battery box to fit under the seat which as well as housing an 8cell ballistic battery contains all of the simplified wiring and relocated switches. New electronic ignition and coils from Dynatek complete the electrical refurbishment. To get the stance just right Alex performed an 18′′ front wheel conversion and lowered the forks, new rear shocks maintain the equilibrium. All of the bearings on the machine were replaced and a dual front disk conversion was made to bring the whole thing to a swift stop when the situation demands, although the Kerker 41 exhaust should ensure any stray pedestrians are scattered prior to your arrival. Alex converted a vintage tractor spot light into the sleek headlight using an H4 bulb, the rear taillight was swapped for a discreet under the fender LED unit. This machine is completely clutter free, speed is guesstimated and signalling indicated with a tilt of the head. The saddle is built upon a freshly fabricated seat pan that was clad with three layers of thick yoga mat before shaping. Alex had it covered by Romeo’s Upholstery in the North East who he declares are great guys at a very reasonable price. The understated custom paint job was achieved using water slide paper and goes beautifully with the taupe frame colour. "I couldn’t figure out why nothing went smoothly. It could of been just the nature of this beast, It took me so many tries just to get the smallest thing accomplished. However, the feeling of completing this project was amazing and all the headache was worth it." It was definitely worth the effort Alex, it is a seriously stylish ride which should do you very well for at least another couple of years cruising, until you get that itch again..