Showstopper

/ / ■ 'd been looking for a Z650 for B three to four years. I'd been I watching eBay, small ads, the usuals, but I was looking for the Z650 that to me looked right. Then this one came up on eBay and I immediately liked it. But for some reason I didn't bid and it didn't sell. So I called the owner a week later and arranged to travel from my home in Stoke-on-Trent to Reading to see it. The poor thing had been standing outside for about seven years, under a tarpaulin. It looked a sorry state: yet to me it looked so I right, I thought 'this is the bike I want to work on'."

Dave 'Bongo' Ball, 44, ex-Glam-rock covers band guitarist (that's where the Bongo moniker comes from) now father of two and salesman with a home electronics distributor, had selected Mis first restoration project. He'd owned a Kawasaki Z400 back in his college days, before the eternal T-junction car-bike collision significantly shortened both that relationship and the wee Zed's wheelbase. But their time together had at least germinated a love for air-cooled Kawasaki Zs of the 1970s. So, nearly 20 years on, 'Bongo' wanted a Z650 particularly because, to his eye, proportionally it was nigh on perfect, "the lines just flow".

Bongo's Z650 when he bought it in June

2009 wasn't so different to what it is now, in terms of modifications. It already had the Metmachex swinging arm, the 29mm Mikuni smoothbores, the Harris four-into-one. And ".hat's why he bought it.

"I specifically didn't want a standard one. I wanted something that looked cool, but not garish." In Bongo's glamrock terms, then, "something more Que than T-Rex".

Initially Bongo merely cleaned the Zed up enough for an MoT: tyres, brakes, chain and sprockets. He then proceeded to enjoy it for their first summer, riding his local country lanes. Winters, though, are rebuild time, and so, wth much help from his trusted mechanic, Rik Pye from Singles to Superbikes (Bongo: "I'm better as a project manager than as a mechanic - best plcy to your strengths!"), the Z650 was broken down nto so many boxes. The various parts were then sent tc the various specialists for refurbishment.

Seven months later the Z650 was complete again. In the process it lost its pillion pegs, "the brackets were rotten through so we cut them off and made a custom bracket to mount the exhajst". And there'd been a month's setback when curiously the fitting of rearset footrests necessitated a rebuild of the starter motor!

"I'd bought Raask rearsets from M&P as I thought they really set the bike off. They fitted perfect y, then I realised the right peg obstructed the kick-start. We contacted Raask for a solution - their reply was to suggest mending the electric start! Of course the electric start needed work that we'd been masterfully avoiding as the Zed started so well on the kck-starter. So then we had to bite the bullet and get the starter clutch repaired."

The project was finished on July 11,

2010 - Bongo, true to his word as project manager, recognised the official completion. The work that went into the rebuild was impress vef and is easily overlooked. There's the cleaning up and powdercoating of the frame and subassemblies. The Dream Machine repaint on the bodywork. The ultrasonic clean and rebuild of the carburettors. Rechroming of the stanchions, not to mention the mudguards, levers and such. Even the oeriod Giuliari seat got new foam. And every home mechanic's worst rightmare - there's now an all-new wiring loom on the Zed, created from scratch. No bolt was left unturned.

In the process the Zed became 'Gordon', following the night Rik t.exted Bongo to report the first fire-up of the rebuilt engine, 'Gordon Ives!' read the text, aping the famous scene from Flash Gordon. Always the glam'.

Comoleted, the Z650 - Gordon if you prefer - is now doing as Bongo intended, enjoying casual ride outs to gatherings like Matlock Bath where it always attracts a crowd, and for cruising around the Peak District.

"It's got the 720cc Wiseco kit but at anything over 80mph there's too much windblast to be comfortable. But that's fine by me, I didn't build it to go fast, it's fo' riding on sunny days on nice roads, looking just so sweet." The result of all this? The bike scooped Best Custom machine at the recent CMM Stafford show - testimony to the effort that has gone into it. G

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