1997 Kawasaki Zephyr 750
Proper old school bike, and because of that it stands out from the crowd
Clutch cable snapped at 34,000 miles.
This was a great bike. I'd been out of bikes for about 20 years due to marriage, mortgage and kids. I remembered the Zephyrs when Kawasaki released them; they reminded me of my biking days when I dreamed of owning a Z1000. So I saw this bike in a showroom, it was proper old school, had the chrome spoke wheels and the brown and orange paint job from the early 70s Z900. The man wanted £1,500, I handed over the cash and it was mine. I was now a forty-something born-again biker.
Now it had been ridden through several English winters - which are not kind to Japanese machinery. I'd ridden in winter when I was much younger, I didn't like it then and I didn't want to do it again, so I decided to spend time returning it to former glory. I got the alloy engine casings and front forks mirror polished, the wheels had tubes of chrome polish rubbed into them, the frame was painted, and after a year of fettling, tinkering, cleaning, polishing and restoring, it looked amazing.
As said it was proper old school, and would often fool people into thinking it was a 70s bike rather than a 90s retro. It was completely reliable, always fired up on the button, and the only fault was a snapped clutch cable, which was an easy fix. However, I soon got used to the 750's power, and with only five gears it would rev too high when cruising on the motorway for my liking; a shame it wasn't the 1100cc lump. So I fitted a smaller cog on the front sprocket, which reduced the revs at high speed. I lost a bit of acceleration, but I was never one to scream my bike away from the lights... I like to cruise my bikes and I hate hearing an engine under stress; also the different ratio seemed to smooth out the ride at lower speeds too.
Everything on this bike was made of steel and alloy, no plastic, so it was heavy and that made the 750 work. The engine was noisy at tick over - top rattle, but apparently that is common. It handled great, but the seat was damn hard and your rear end needed a break after an hour in the saddle.
One day while out on a ride, I stopped at a bike dealer - to rest my rear end - and in his show room was a blue and white Suzuki GSX1400 K4 standing there seducing me. I was weak and unfaithful to my Zephyr, I traded it for the GSX. I am but a mere man, I am unable to control my animal desires.
On the day I traded it in, I rode it to the dealer, it was a cold but dry and sunny October day, the Zephyr was looking its best. I pulled up outside the dealer and left my faithful old steed standing there while I rode off on the GSX. I felt so bad, how can a machine make a man feel like that?
Dealer told me he sold it less than a week later to the first bloke who came to see it. Bet it doesn't shine anymore.
Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 20th November, 2013