The Backup Bike

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I’m constantly messing with my ’96 Electra Glide. At the moment I’m suffering from a condition like writer’s block except applied to working on my hog. I can’t bring myself around to finishing the wiring for my new bars and installing a rear tire. So instead of stressing about it I did the sensible thing and just bought another bike! I need time to do things right and am sick of rushing to get back on the road.  Now I don’t have to!

Picked this unit up for $1200 in perfect condition.

1981 Kawasaki KZ1100

Kawasaki KZ1100

Kawasaki KZ1100

Kawasaki KZ1100

Kawasaki KZ1100

Kawasaki KZ1100

Kawasaki KZ1100

Kawasaki KZ1100

Kawasaki KZ1100

Kawasaki KZ1100

Kawasaki KZ1100

Kawasaki KZ1100

Now I just need some real bars.  These buck horns, or whatever they’re called freaking suck.  I feel like I have very limited control of the bike with them and can’t keep a straight line AT ALL.

Eric, what bars should I get?

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  1. Dont knock the buckhorn bars. I was leery of them on my 00 Dyna but find them very comfy. And since my Dyna has only a 28deg rake, I dont need a lotta leverage for quick steering. My brother had buckhorns on his 89 Softail Custom (w/a 34deg rake) and handling on that thing was beastly! YMMV of course.

    • I’ve had both (buckhorns and standard – as well as clip-ons) and it’s (as I see it) a preference issue as far as ergonomics, as well as the intended purpose … the way the bike will be ridden.

      Dom’s bike (like my Kz900) is more of a sport bike – even if it’s got the touring bags – and if you’re riding at a more aggressive pace, especially cornering, buckhorns are not the hot ticket. But, for gentler, long-haul cruising, they can be the ticket.

      Luckily, it is fairly easy and cheap to swap out one set of bars for another, so it’s easy to custom-tailor your machine to meet your particular needs.

  2. Ahhck, for some reason I thought of your kind of cool motorcycle photos and how certain people react to seeing one being ridden like they should, when I read this quote:

    “In this day and age people are alarmed when they see someone with what you have, … They don’t care what the law is.”

    Then I thought about all the machines I’ve seen guys posses and the similar reactions certain people have towards them.

    Can you see me shaking my head?

    I let out a PSFT! after reading this reaction:

    “That’s unfortunate because we always taught our kids to respect police officers.”

    However; perhaps some people can learn?:

    “Grisham said the events of last month have led him to question why he is still in the military.

    “It doesn’t seem like our rights are being respected,” he said. “For me, it’s a difficult turning point. I wonder what it is that I’m fighting for. If our basic rights are being violated this way — what is my purpose?””

    Yes, wHAt is your purpose?

    Perhaps it’s to quit your stinkin’ job, go home, and get a motorcycle like dom and the other guys have,… and ride?

    Pardon me if that messes up this thread.
    It’s a fine thread.
    The Backup Bike (the idea has been on my mind off and on a lot) if only everyone could be so lucky as to have one.

    • That guy got a rude – but important – wake-up call. Now he knows what time it is (as they say in the ‘hood).

      Hopefully, he’ll adjust his brain (and actions) accordingly.

  3. Dom: Welcome to the wonderful world of Kawasaki! I think you’ve made a wise choice. I like to remind hog owners that Kawasaki was actually established in 1878, so the company has been around longer than Harley. But I’ll concede Kawasaki was a shipyard back then and that they didn’t start building bikes until the ’40’s. 😉

    I’ve owned several Kaws over the years and they have become my favorite brand of bike (Yamaha is a close though). The second street legal bike I ever owned was a 1973 Kaw 125 enduro. I went all over the place on that little green machine, on and off road, and never had to do a thing to it other than routine maintenance. I owned a Yamaha and a Suzuki after that and spent quite a bit of time wrenching on both of them to keep them running (the RD-350 had a nasty habit of going out of time and eating points). Around 85 I bought a KZ-400 with a Vetter Rooster fairing and a stereo, just because it was such a fantastic deal. That litte twin wasn’t terribly fast or sporty, but it was more than adequate for a 60 mile round trip commute. And I even managed to outrun a county cop on it by accident one time. Small, yes. But it was still reasonably comfortable, as reliable as a crowbar and was great on gas.

    Both of my current bikes, as you know, are Kaws: a 2005 Z-1000 and an ’08 KLR-650. Both are reliable, well designed and suit me to a tee. Being “old school”, I had my doubts about single rear shocks, fuel injection and liquid cooling on motorcycles. My outlook has changed over the years. But my dream is still to fit an old H2 triple 2-stroke engine into, let’s say, a ’90 Ninja 600 or 750 frame & body work. I believe that was the last year the Ninja still had front down tubes vs. using the engine as a stressed member. I can only imagine what it would be like to put a totally uncivilized air cooled oil burner in a frame with reasonably modern suspension. Keeping it all Kaw of course. Hey, a man can dream can’t he?

    I know there’s a “lifestyle” surrounding hogs. But these days it seems to me that hogs are like assholes: every middle aged (and even geriatric) guy out there has one. So the old biker mystique is gone as Eric has so accurately pointed out. You don’t see too many of us “old farts” on a Zed (probably because many of my contemporaries’ bellies are too big for the gas tank). I’m a little too old for super-motard hooligan status. So for me, the outlaw / rebel persona is better defined by riding something that’s not too popular on this side of the pond; an eleven second naked bike.

    Allow me to reminisce. One night back in ’80 three of us were at Z’s gameroom in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. There was a biker out front kicking (and kicking and kicking) his Superglide. It would fire, sputter and die; he’d kick it again as his “ol’ lady” looked on. My compadres and I all gave our bikes (two Yamahas and a Kawasaki) one kick each and they all fired right up. I hollered over the ring-ding-ding of my 2 stroke, “You shoulda’ bought a rice burner!”. He never looked up. But his ol’ lady sure did some entertaining stuff, screaming obscenities, gesturing and pointing to features of her anatomy where she wanted us to apply our lips. He was still KHAO (kicking his ass off) while we were LOAO as we rode out of sight. Some things you’ll just never forget.

    And I know you’ll really like that old Kaw when you pull up next to a smug hog rider at the light. There’s just something totally satisfying about making a dude on a $20K+ bike watch your tailight disappear, despite all his S&S bling (or is that $&$?), on a 30 year old bike you have less than two grand in! Enjoy!

    • Dood, I got 7k in the engine 6k in the tranny and primary setup, and 8k to purchase the hog. I’m not even mentioning random odds and ends! I put $1,200 down on the Kaw, $150 in gas to pick it up, and $20 worth of oil and filter. The Kaw will eat my hog’s lunch! Too much fun. Plenty of torque for low rpm cruising too!

            • If he gets the antique tags, which I urged him to do, I am pretty sure he’ll avoid paying any property tax at all. And no annual registration fees, either. The tags are permanent.

          • I am going to order the antique tags this week, then transfer this tag back onto the hog. Tell ya’ll what, the air adjustable shocks on the rear of this unit are the shit! Actually the suspension all the way around is pretty awesome considering it’s a 33 year old setup. The positive feel in the corners is absolutely sick. This bike is chilling at any speed! It walks past 100mph without breaking a sweat!

          • Dang it.. Now I’m looking forward to having the hog back on the road so I can tear into the Kaw and pump it up! Pipes, jets, cone air filters, etc.. It’d be sweet to find a spare engine!

            • Don’t sweat it,mang – those hop-ups take an afternoon, if that. Replacing the pipes – an hour, maybe. Two bolts per pipe at the flange – a single bolt for the muffler hangar.

              Jetting the carbs is easy, too. You can do the main jets without removing the carbs. Just pull the fuel bowl covers and unscrew/replace. If the bike starts up right away (and the plugs don’t show lean) you might not even need to mess with the pilot jets.

              One thing on the pods (cone air filters). They’re exposed – and that means if you ride in the rain you might have an occasional issue with them getting soaked. I have heard this – never experienced it. But then, my Kz never, ever goes out in the rain!

  4. Yo Dom. Glad you got the backup bike home. Sorry I couldn’t meet up with you. I had to work all weekend. Those handlebars do suck. A friend of mine bought a Honda Shadow Spirit 1100 last year and I took it out for a test ride. The bike had very similar bars on it and I was not digging them one bit. I’m a big fan of drag bars so I’m going to say go with some drags with risers.

    • Hey Geo D, nice seeing you on this site! That area you live is freaking beautiful and awesome. One of the coolest places I’ve been in a long time. Really low key, green, and mountainous.

  5. Cue The Vapors…. Dom is turning Japanese!

    For the rest of you: Dom and I talked about this bike before he got it. I own a similar bike – this bike’s earlier iteration – a ’76 Kz900 (same basic bike as the Z1900). I told Dom I thought he’d be very happy with the power of the big Kaw four – and he is!

    My bike has the straight bars – which will probably fit you right because we’re about the same height. There are other options, too – similar to what I have but “LTD” style that are raised up a little higher than the stock Z1900/Kz900 bars.

    Pictures to come.

    Z1 Enterprises is a great resources for parts; lookee here:

    For the bar options:


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