Time To Build A 1981 KZ 550 Bobber!

by Alex V
(Olympia, WA)

1981 Kawasaki KZ550 F

1981 Kawasaki KZ550 F

1981 Kawasaki KZ550 F
After a little tear down
Another angle
This is some of the parts that came with it.

I'm a barber in Olympia, Washington, and was recently given a 1981 Kawasaki KZ550 F by one of my customers! The first picture This is the bike pretty much as I picked it up.

He had started to work on it before it was given to me, so it hasn't run since I have had it, but he said if I wanted to hook up the old harness it would start right up.

He was planning on building a wiring harness for it and removing all the unnecessary parts and hiding the harness, so it was disconnected, along with the controls on the bars, and gauges. Several other parts are removed but came with the it.

I want to make it a hardtail bobber, but IM am not sure about the differences to other bikes since it is a shaft drive.

Along with looks, I want to do whatever performance upgrades are feasible for what I am working with.

I have been a mechanic all of my life, but this is my first serious foray into building a motorcycle, so any tips or part suggestions would be much appreciated!

Comments for Time To Build A 1981 KZ 550 Bobber!

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Jun 28, 2014
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Detailed picture...
by: Anonymous

Show use a lit Picture in detail of rear suspension as stock with frame height and measurements. Both from left and right rear sides of bike

Jun 28, 2014
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Little help...
by: Anonymous

If it is shaft drive, making hardtail not to difficult.

First you would need to insure frame is staight and Plumb. Get your heigth you need and set rear axle adjusts to fit with diameter tire/rim you plan to use. Also this is the time to set fork widths and get tire centered.

Since there is little or no torque movement with fixed axle/driveshaft. set engine output shaft height to be centered with rear axle or no more then a max of two inches below. This will let you lower center of gravity of bike, You can also lower seat position to help with being top heavy.

Never have output shaft above rear axle!!

Remember to make room for 4 tube header exhaust to clear under frame... I would personally keep 4-5 inches of ground clearance, for clearing speed bumps.

I think you could use hardtail plans from this site to create frame. Making to fit 16/17(D) inch 80/70(H), 140-160(W) tire with a rim 3.00 - 4.5 inch width would handle any power you feed it and look good! I would use steel Chrome, spoked rim.

Take a good look at engine offset mounting on original frame. This allows for shaft/tire clearance. You could add one inch to offset to accomodate wider tire...Then balance weight with battery mounted opposite side. also add extention to air cleaner on same side as battery to move the look to be balanced. This will correctly position your legs to actually make you sit correctly. You could also exit headers 2 to 1 on right side so you would have same look (2 Side pipes) as chopper. If these ae all done on side opposite from output shaft. Outset will have little or no effect on handling. Actually increase comfort!! from Stock!!

Luck with your project!
David

Jun 28, 2014
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Keep it
by: Tufdog

Keep it, fix it, make it yours ! The journey will pay off in the long run. With the experience you'l gain, knowledge you'll acquire, and with the creative juices flowing, There's no telling where this will lead you.

Check out MrMaxStory on YouTube, He's a wealth of information about these kind of bikes.

Best Luck & Cheers,
Tufdog

Jun 27, 2014
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Harley
by: Anonymous

Throw it away and buy a real American bike like a Harley or an Indian much easier to get parts for it and much cooler.

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