By Ross Sharp - 11 Mar 14
In a time when we are lucky to be presented with a constant, multi-channel, extravaganza of fantastic creativity and engineering prowess, it’s easy to get complacent sitting behind screens and smartphones adding a ‘like’ here, a disparaging comment there or simply wishing you could join the tribe and put your own stamp on something designed for the masses and built in the thousands. After years of drooling over the plethora of custom bikes on the internet; brothers Pedro and Jose from the Costa Blanca, Spain, set up a blog Retrocustomracer in 2009 to feed their and others daily habit for two-wheeled wonderment. The time came for them to get out from behind the zillion-pixel Retina display and see the world in full-on Technicolour, by building & customising a bike of their own. With limited budget and mechanical facilities they enlisted help from those more capable and found some locals to help out, which meant keeping a tight handle on the Euros. They have smooth glistening roads winding through the beautiful mountains to ride, with the hot Mediterranean sun beating down on their backs, my heart isn’t exactly bleeding for their ‘predicament’. Back to the bike. Its a ’77 Kawasaki KZ400, the Japanese manufacturers answer to the VW Beetle which was built in huge numbers. As a result, by 1977 they were pretty unbreakable with a well proven 400cc twin. Jose and Pedro had their chums iron out some minor mechanical gremlins and repair the wiring loom before stamping their “post-apocalyptic, industrial design” on the KZ named Kazuma. New side panels were fabricated with recesses to feed air to the cone filters and what looks like the pocket from Pedro’s trousers fixed to the right hand side. Presumably for a stash of gas money, or perhaps a pair of speedos should they get bored of the mountains and need to hit the beach. Not envious at all!! The seat has been recovered and left in comfy mode with plenty of foam while modified Harley-Davidson Sportster shocks firm up the ride. Below that, a pair of Fishtail mufflers from a Ural side car outfit ensure Siesta time is not spoilt in the mountain villages. Rubber is a Pirelli MT043 at the back and there’s a Bike Shed pop quiz for you tread geeks out there as to what the front is. New indicator units front and back keep everyone else aware of Jose and Pedros’ plans while the low mounted mirror gives the other perspective. Kind of makes sense really to look down to try and see an approaching car bumper rather than attempting see through your own elbow and your passengers shoulder. We are spoilt by visual offerings from Wrenchmonkees, El Solitario, Kevils, Spirit of the Seventies et al but sometimes you’ve just got to get out there and ‘do it’ whatever your skills, budget or circumstance. And frankly, I’d be pretty happy giving Jose and Pedro’s KZ a blast from Alicante to Albacete and back. ...The guys are now selling ‘Kazuma’ to fund another build so keep an eye on the Bike Shed classifieds or drop them a line if you're interested.