By Anthony van Someren - 19 Mar 12
There comes a time when your pride & joy gets too pretty and too special for the daily five-mile commute thru dirty ol' London town, especially on rainy days. (Italian electrics on my Duc too, remember), so after offloading the Superduke R to a lovely fella down South, I've spent the past few weeks cruising the small ads with a pocket full of readies and a knowing smile on my face, waiting for something to catch my eye... ...and then something did, but having lusted after cafe'd-up Guzzis and Flat-trackers, it was wasn't quite what I'd been thinking of. The big Zed weighs a lot, and it's double cradle frame, with spindly forks and narrow wheels is no match for it's 1015cc in-line four, but there is something just so right about the looks and lines of the late 70s models, before the 1980s turned up and everything automotive went square-shaped. At first I thought it was a z900 - the pick of the bunch in terms of looks, - but a bike too pretty to chop up or customise, plus you'd kill the resale value. This bike, with it's huge ugly King/Queen seat, is actually an imported Z1000Ltd (B2) with a z900 paint job, so the good news is that I can chop it up without offending too many Zed aficionados. My excuse is that back in the early 1990s I actually owned a coupla Zeds. I traded-in a tatty ex-courier GT550 for a stripped down black Z1R with open Harris pipes, and a few bikes later I found myself a dark green z650, painfully pretty, but totally gutless. I guess they left their mark on me. In fact the guy who sold me this new-old Zed is the same guy who used to service my Zeds back in the day... (total coincidence) The plan is to have a daily runabout that I can abuse, leave outdoors overnights, and generally not worry about being dirty or suffering from daily London life in the way that the Duc might. But I didn't want a Honda Hornet or Fazer, however smart that would've been - whatever I ride has to have some character.
Photoshop peek at the half-way house...Obviously she can't stay looking like this, with a seat built for large American backsides, high rise bars and indicators larger than some headlamps, so off with the lot. I could try to describe the look I'm after, but the Wrench Monkees have saved me the trouble by building me a bike to copy.
Wrench Monkees' minimalist, badass Big ZedTheir Zed is all murdered-out in nasty matt black; a bike that looks like you don't wanna mess with, parked outside a bad-ass biker bar, but I'll be keeping the polished metal on mine, with a smattering of chrome and that z900 paint job, but the rest will feature flat, downturned bars (Renthal), tiny indies (Shinyo, short-stem, fluted), rearsets (probably Raask), cheap small clocks and I plan to completely strip the back end and side panels. I may go for the full brat-style look, like this WM bike, or I might try to use the OEM seatpan and shorten the tail by about 4 inches (from the bit under the seat), finished off with a small LED tail light, but we'll see how it looks when I start the strip down. The good news is already has K&N filters on the Mikunis, with a V&H open 4 into 1 pipe. She sounds beautiful on full-chat and pulls like a lazy train. Anyway, right now, it's just a smelly old relic, watch this space, and with a bit of help and advice from the guys at Spirit & Untitled, I'm gonna see ho good I can get it to look, on the cheap. It probably won;t feature on EXIF anytime soon, but you'll hear it blasting through Camden and Soho on shitty days.