Bike of the Month May 2012.
Owner: Brent C, Canada.
This is the story of my 1983 KZ1000J3 Canadian. I purchased the bike approximately 13 years ago and ever since have been restoring and upgrading it. This journey until a year ago was complete more or less to stock condition, but over the last year I have gone a little further and added some performance (and aesthetic) upgrades to give the bike a look similar the KZ1000r without compromising it’s original appeal . I can now happily say it is pretty much where I want it to be.
Although the J3 is the bike featured on the front of the Kawasaki service manual which we have all come to know, it is interesting due in part to it’s rarity, unique retro ‘Ebony’ colour scheme and of the J line, the J3 was the only model in its three years of production that got the GPZ/ELR style tank. The colour scheme depicted here too was only available to Canada. The J3 at the time was also available in Europe and Australia in two other colour schemes including Candy Cobalt Blue and Metallic Starlight Black. It was not available in the US. The production numbers on this particular bike are very low based on research I’ve done and is considerably rarer than the KZ1000R2. Because of its lower monetary resale value to the R; of those acquired over the years, I suspect many have been purchased and parted out to keep genuine R’s roadworthy and used for R clone builds. Although I have always wanted an R – and I may do something about this soon - my feelings for this bike have never waivered. Not only does it sound awesome, it also looks great in black with its fall colours and unique graphics - I believe Dickie touted them as ‘bitchin graphics’. The 1000 on the rear cowl really sets it off.
In thinking back to the purchase of the bike in ’98, it really was a compulsive unplanned buy. A buddy of mine mentioned the bike(s) (there were actually two), that were displayed at a local motorcycle shop and suggested we go take a look. When we got there we learned they were not for sale and were part of the owner’s private collection. After some discussion, he agreed to sell me one; the one purchased here was a higher mileage example though cosmetically better. Mechanically however the bike needed some work. Today the owner of that same shop still has the other bike. I saw it a couple of years ago tucked away at the back of his store covered in dust. Since ’98 I have only seen two other in person examples of this bike with the original paint scheme; one from Quebec in my travels and another in Ontario. There was also one for sale in Nova Scotia a couple of years ago and Dickie recently sold one. The Nova Scotia bike is the same bike that is depicted on You Tube. Search ‘KZ1000J3 Canadian’.
Once I took possession of the bike, I must have spent over 40 hours cleaning it. As I mentioned when it was purchased, cosmetically it looked very good but upon receipt I knew with some spit and polish it would really set it off. Beyond this, since I’ve owned her, I’ve also had the following work done (beyond periodic maintenance). Financially I could have purchased an R with all the money I have put into this bike and netted a better return if I ever sold it, but with the repairs taking place over a long period it was a situation I think where I just got in deeper and saw no point getting out! Only NOS OEM Kawasaki parts have been used unless otherwise noted:
- Top end engine rebuild including new pistons, rings and valve guides (about 7500 kilometres ago). This was done the first year after I got the bike;
- New clutch (with Barnett springs);
- Replacement steering head bearings;
- New front rotors;
- Complete re-build of carburetors including new air boots at air box and carb holders;
- New stator/regulator;
- Replacement rear turn signal mounting bracket with signals;
- Installation of a Kerker Megaphone racing system with a 2” competition baffle. This replaced the MAC exhaust I had put on with the initial purchase. When I bought the bike it had the original exhaust on it which I still have. It is a very good example of a stock J3 system;
- Ohlin rear dual racing shock set with progress shocks in the front. I’ve always liked the piggy back shock look. Stock shocks have been packed away;
- ELR seat purchased from Dickie. Still have stocker as a spare;
- Replaced tank as the one that came with the bike had some internal rust issues. It was later lined. Its replacement was a NOS ‘green’ KZ1000R2 tank which I had painted. Sorry to deplete your stock guys! I should mention too when I bought the bike, the tank had the J3 graphics painted on it – it was never decaled. A great amount of care was taken using whatever pictures I had of the original J3 Canadian to get the graphics on the tank correct as they were a little off on the original tank;
- I also recently replaced the rear cowl with a new NOS cowl and had it repainted with period correct graphics. My original cowl that came with the bike had the OEM graphics on it which acted as the template. These unfortunately started to peel off so I had them painted on the original cowl which later developed stress cracks. One thing to note here with painting the graphics on the tank and tail, I exhausted my search to find reproduction graphics – they just do not exist however they are available for the 750 and 500 of the era that had a similar paint scheme;
- New decals on front shock, rear brake foot peg mount and on light control housing (HI/LO);
- Replacement tank cap and rubber washer;
- New oil cap o-ring
- NOS upper front engine mount bolt, washers and nut. Assembly on bike was originally incorrect;
- New breather hose clamp. When I bought the bike it did not have one;
- New grips;
- New handle bar cowl;
- Rebuilt fuel petcock;
- Replacement rubber boot at front brake reservoir;
- Completed tool kit.
The one thing I would like to acquire and am still looking is for an original owner’s manual for the bike. I’ve seen ones for the J1, J2 and R models only. If anyone has one or knows were I can get one, please let me know.
Although the KZ is not my only bike; I also have a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-12R B2, if one had to go the choice would be very clear. My first bike was an ’83 GPZ 550 and from that point I have always loved the rawness, sound, smell and look of these iconic inline fours and have a lot of respect for their place in motorcycle history.