Kawasaki’s were arguably the first to recognise the power of retro back in the xxx when they created the Zephyr, a bike perhaps best described as a homage to the original 1970s Z650 and Z900. But looking at it now, it does have some nice lines and we’re now starting to see a few more cropping up in the cafe custom scene, but this is one of the first Shed builds we’ve been sent. It belongs to 47 year old ex RAF-pilot, Ron, who has clearly found something useful to do since being medically discharged from the air force after 28 years of service. It’s not strictly a cafe racer, brat style, bobber or scrambler but it is tasteful, timeless and feels like it deserves a place in The Bike Shed.
“I’ve spent hours drooling over the bikes crafted by Sanctuary and Bulldock in Japan and longed to recreate something similar. You have to remember though, that these guys are quite well established and possess all the machinery and parts necessary to push out bikes of that quality, and what high quality they are too. However, never one for giving up, I got hold of a 1992 Zephyr1100 as a starting point. It was ridden hard first, around the Isle of Man during the Manx GP in 2011, then in November the same year, she was raped and gutted ready for my interpretation of what a Zephyr1100 should be.”
“I’m a custom Harley man now, and before that I’ve owned an MV Agusta, Ducati 888, Yammy R7 and lots more, but I have always had a soft spot for the retro muscle bikes. They just look right, but way too fussy if you know what I mean, so my idea was to clean it up and make it look simpler and this is the result.
The frame is standard but de-cluttered and the factory welds ground back then Stove enameled satin black. The engine is also standard but stripped, blasted and also stove enameled. It was re-assembled with new seals and bearings, not to mention the new stainless bolts throughout. The airbox was junked and a new tray under the seat was fitted, this holds the collector bottle for the rocker breather.”
“The front end on the standard Zeph always looked way too girly, (no offence to girls by the way), so I opted for the Triumph 955i forks/yolks, which were lengthened by 50mm and given a black Nitride coating. These hold one of the Aprilia RSV wheels and 955i calipers gripping a pair of Armstrong wavey discs.”
“At the back I fitted a CB1300 swingarm, which again was a beefier option to the thin stocker and had Hyperpro make me a pair of emulsion shocks, longer than standard for that raised rear look with RAL2009 orange springs. The wheel is a rear RSV job wearing a 180 Race Attack. Under slung rear brakes with a torque arm are a favourite of mine so that had to be made to, using the modified RSV bracket and a fabricated torque arm for the swinger.”
“Lots of other parts including the rearsets, longer stand, curved oil cooler were sourced from we-bike in japan that holds so much stuff for the Jap retro bike it’s unbelievable. Bloomin’ good value too, even with postage to the UK. The clutch and brake radial masters are from a Ducati 1098. Again so much better looking than the standard stuff.”
“The electrics were the only really tricky bit, because to me, electrickery is just plain voodoo, so I handed the standard loom over to a local auto-electrician to have the R1 switchgear woven in. A genius.”
Overall, this build cost Ron a lot less than the price of a new ZX10 and about the same as a new CB1000R, and he’s rightfully pleased with the outcome. “It’s a great feeling that this is the only one out there. Build it, don’t just buy it!”