Thursday 18 July 2013

Kawasaki Rat Chopper

Kawasaki Rat Chopper
The straps on the rear mudguard were re-purposed toe-clip straps from a bicycle, There was generally a tool roll mounted here but this appears to be missing when this shot was taken.

This is another blast from my courier past. I bought this as a box of parts and built it over the winter of 1994/5. I ran it 'til sometime in 1996 when the motor, which had always been a bit rattly, grenaded in a fairly major way. 

The frame was a Z 650 which already had the frame rails chopped when I bought it. The forks were off some kind of LTD and the 18" front wheel was off a GPZ 305.  The rear wheel was a 16" which I presume was also off some kind of LTD. I believe the motor was a GPZ 750, however looking at the photos now, I see it has a kickstart - so who knows!  Oddly enough, all the Kawasaki parts bolted up together without too much difficulty. 

Kawasaki Rat Chopper
The headlights worked okay. One was high beam, one was low. The speedo was a digital item off a bicycle and worked okay too. I had so many arguments with so many traffic cops it felt like a full time job!

The tank was (I think) a genuine Harley Davidson item. I think I got the handlebars in Mountjoy Motorcycles - I have no idea what they were for, but they looked deadly! The left hand exiting 4:1 pipe (I think, made by a company called Alpha) was cut down and sounded pretty obnoxious!

If you look closely you'll notice that the bike has a hydraulic clutch. This was done by bodging a slave cylinder off a VT250 onto the clutch push-rod on the LHS of the motor and putting the cover back on! No machining required... The bike had stainless steel brake lines throughout. With blatant disregard for good taste, I painted these camouflage, along with everything else.

Kawasaki Rat Chopper
Note the skull on the clutch cover. I think I picked this up in Camden Market along with the 'Mutate and Survive' sticker on the CX. Couriers love stickers. If you ever encounter an angry courier, just give him a sticker...

The foot controls and pegs were part of a set of Raask rear-sets. They were removed from the Raask hangers and bolted into the the passenger footpeg hangers of the Kawasaki frame. Again, no machining. This, in combination with the deadly handlebars,  gave a pretty radical riding position - a cross between a drag bike and a cafe racer. it was fun, but it wasn't particularly comfortable for long periods.

During the summer of 1995 there was a heatwave in Dublin. It was sunny every day for 8 or 10 weeks. I used this as my courier bike during that summer and consequently I have very happy memories associated with the bike. Every day, I'd go to work in just a leather jacket, tee-shirt, jeans and a matte black open-face helmet and blue mirrorshades.  And pose around on my obnoxious camo chopper, basking in the sunshine and the peculiar smell of suntan lotion mixed with oily exhaust smoke and leaking petrol...

Kawasaki Rat Chopper
The motto on the number plate reads "Think about the Future... It's not what it used to be". I'm looking at this and wishing I'd taken my own advice and engaged in a little more future oriented thinking between then and now...

So one day I was on my way home from my parent's house, hooning along a country road at about 70mph when there was a very abrupt, metallic bang-crunch. The back wheel locked up but I  was able to disengage the clutch and maintain control of the bike before I even had time to process what was happening. 

I rang my Dad on my mobile and he came in a car and towed me back home. It turned out the primary chain had broken and the motor had dropped a valve - I'm not sure which happened first but I guess it was the primary chain. In any case, the motor was comprehensively destroyed.

I sold it on as another box of parts...

Apart from driving it around in the sunshine that summer (and crashing it on ice the following winter) I don't have any great fondness for this bike like I do my CX. I still like camouflage and I still like stripped down, purposeful machines, but I think if I were to build this bike now, it would look a bit different. I think the attitude would be the same though...

  • Frame: Kawasaki Z650
  • Motor: Z/GPZ 750
  • Front End: Kawasaki 750LTD Forks, Kawasaki GPZ305 Wheel
  • Rear End: Z650 Swingarm, LTD Wheel, Koni Shocks with MX Gaitors
  • Tank: Harley Davidson
  • Seat: Aluminium Road-sign Base, Camping mattress Foam, Courier-bag Seat Cover
  • Lights: Front - Cheap Off-road Spotlights, Rear- Yamaha DT
  • Foot Controls: Modified Raask Rear-sets
  • Exhaust: Alpha 4:1, Left hand exiting.
  • Wiring: Scratch built by owner

#Mercenary #MercenaryGarage

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave a Comment...