By Ross Sharp - 30 Aug 14
There's a common theme running through our scene, yours not ours as in ours, you know what I mean. People out there in all walks of life are loving what they see on Bike Shed, Pipeburn, BikeExif etc and figure, why not have a crack themselves. The bug bites, the virus sets in and despite the antidote of family, children, perfectly good jobs and life's general constraints, rational and logical grown ups everywhere are wondering how they can scratch a living by building bikes. Yup, I can hear the groan now from the old guard and well established; but why the heck not? The world needs more carpenters, welders and mechanics so why not customisers too. We'd all be better off not having to look at hum drum, plastic clad monotony on our roads. Chris Langer and Yana Tzanov, Newfoundland natives based in Ontario, Canada are two such sensible guys who are infected with the custom virus. They run a design studio in Toronto so at least they have something to to keep beans on the table while they indulge this new found passion. This 1979 Kawasaki KZ750 B Twin was found on a farm, needing a little TLC to say the least. But before this could begin Chris and Yana made the most of Canada's short summer, fitted new tyres, a pair of drag bars, a fresh battery and enjoyed 4 weeks of riding before wetness and cold arrived. To be fully prepared for the winter strip down a workshop manual was purchased and many hours of Pinteresting, Googling and searching ensued until a shared vision was mapped out; a raw and simple Cafe-Tracker would be the goal. In a now decidedly chilly garage the engine was removed and the rest of the bike stripped down to the frame, which had pillion pegs, unwanted brackets and lugs ground off, and the new rear loop welded in before painting. Whilst at it the engine was given a coat, with the fin edges shaved afterwards for a more pro look. Carbs and stater motor are rebuilt but the engine was low mileage and sound so a service and tune up all that was required. DimeCity and TownMoto came to the rescue with multiple deliveries of upgrade parts; Mini gauges, rear shocks, bar end mirror, switchgear and headlamp are all lighter, better made and cooler looking than stock parts, as are the Emgo Shorty Mufflers. Knee indents have been formed into the original tank, beneficial to ergonomics and to maintain visual flow through to the seat. Titanium silver metallic paint is snazzy yet subtle at the same time, with Chris' design handiwork on the side in place of original decals. The wiring harness had been chopped, bodged and extended a few times since '79 so hours labouring over a soldering iron and accompanying electrical schematics were needed, with perseverance all conquering. The same diligence is on show with the saddle, an old leather jacket offered a new lease of life as a very fine looking, and ready patinated seat pad. Added to somewhat of a rarity on customs these days, carbon fibre. Using a shop bought kit of weave and resin the guys have fabricated a very tidy tail and seat pan, top marks, especially as this is their first attempt, not helped by freezing garage temperatures nearly halting curing of the resin. After much hard work, long cold nights, lessons learned and good times had; Chris and Yana are over the moon with their KZ. "For a 35 year old bike, she rides a bit better than expected. When we replaced the suspension it increased the height of the back-end by 2 inches, giving more pitch in the front, it makes the bike handle corners and turns much better. She has quicker handling and is much more responsive than she was pre-build. The engine idles well and just sounds amazing... not too loud and she has a unique rumble.. and it's a comfortable ride." With no cure for this customising virus, the guys are eager to start their next bike which I'm sure we'll feature in The Shed before too long.