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Dreamin' Green with Muzzy's Dave Turner's 1982 Kawasaki KZ1000R—From The Archives.

Turner's dream of owning a KZ1000R became a reality one Monday morning

This article was originally published in the October 1996 issue of Sport Rider.

Dave Turner's Kawasaki KZ1000R
Muzzys’ Dave Turner built the big-bore Kawasaki KZ1000R of his dreams with a little help from his boss: The Man Himself.Lance Holst

The AMA Superbike wars of the early '80s were fought with fire-breathing, 1025cc beasts that howled the dying cry of an era coming to a close. By the 1983 season, the AMA had reduced the displacement limit to 750cc, and Superbike racing has never been the same.

The Kawasaki camp in the early '80s included an innovative tuner making the transition from dragracing and dirttrack to roadracing (Rob Muzzy) and a quiet dirttracking kid from California with a steely-eyed stare (Eddie Lawson). Together they would defeat Honda's mighty Red Army to win consecutive Superbike championships in '81 and '82.

Dave Turner and his '82 Kawasaki KZ1000R
Dave Turner and his ’82 Kawasaki KZ1000R S-1 replica.Lance Holst

During those legendary years, race fan Dave Turner looked on from the sidelines: "I used to stare through the tent at the nationals and watch Rob working on the bikes," Turner said. "I wanted [a KZ1000R] when I was younger, but I couldn't afford it." Years later, Turner, now working for Muzzys, was strolling through the parking lot at the AMA national in Charlotte and stumbled upon a clean KZ1000R with a "For Sale" sign on it. By Monday morning Dave's dream was reality.

Dave Turner's 1982 Kawasaki KZ1000R engine
The rainbow of colors running down the header pipes signal it’s titanium, and the emblem on the carbon-fiber canister says Muzzys—but it’s a custom one-off you won’t find in the catalog. An Arias big-bore kit with Carillo rods brings the displacement up to 1079cc and the compression ratio to 13.0:1 for added muscle—146 rear-wheel horsepower at 11,500 rpm, to be precise. The ported cylinder head breathes through a rack of 36mm Mikuni smoothbores and features a shim-under-bucket valve-spring kit from R/D Springs and Megacycle cams.Lance Holst

Being one of the more collectible Japanese bikes ever produced, most KZ1000Rs are gathering dust like they were savings bonds. Not Turner’s, though; he started racing it in the vintage class at Portland International Raceway, but disaster struck when the Green Machine hit the guardrail at 80 mph, totaling the bike. Fortunately, Turner was able to obtain the last remaining KZ1000R frame from Kawasaki’s inventory. The R model frames had 29 degrees of rake and a long 114mm of trail for locomotive-like stability versus 27.5 degrees and 99mm for the standard KZ1000J model. Then, as Turner described it, “I was putting it together and started changing this and changing that and, basically, this is what happened,” he said, pointing at the bike with a smile.

Dave Turner's 1982 Kawasaki KZ1000R speedometer
Those wide, spindly black bars are the same K&N units that Eddie Lawson sat behind while winning his Superbike championships in ’81 and ’82. The simple dash consists of an Auto Meter tach, an on/off toggle switch on the right and—something Eddie didn’t have on his racebike—a starter button.Lance Holst
Dave Turner's 1982 Kawasaki KZ1000R airbox
Though they look the same on the outside, these fork tubes are KZ1000 police-bike units with greater wall thickness and strength—an obscure fact learned from Muzzy—and are revalved by Race Tech. The bike’s triple clamps are rare KZ1000R S-1 factory race bike units that came from Dale Quarterley; the curved oil cooler is sourced from JBS of Japan.Lance Holst

Of course, with Rob Muzzy as his boss, Turner was able to learn a few tricks. Like the brake rotors, for instance—they’re KZ1000 Police Bike items, which are larger than stock KZ units, combined with AP four-piston calipers. The stronger-than-stock fork tubes come from the Copcicle as well. Muzzy installed a windage tray to reduce the power loss of the crank splashing through the crankcase oil and ventilated the cases between the crankcase and transmission to equalize the pressure between the two. The cam cover is from a Canadian model that lacks the reeds found on the American model. The net result is a surprisingly light 416 pounds (with 2.8 gallons of fuel), and 146 rear-wheel horsepower (within about 10 ponies of what Lawson’s motors made).

Dave Turner's 1982 Kawasaki KZ1000R carbs
No sissy pres­surized airbox here—just open velocity stacks on 36mm Mikuni RS carbs able to suck in low-flying birds in a single crankshaft revolution. It’s interesting that the carbs on Turner’s 1079cc engine are smaller than that of the current 750cc Superbikes, which typically run 39mm or 41mm carbs. Turner tried 40mm carbs previously, but switched to smaller carbs at Muzzy’s suggestion and claims to have picked up 12 horsepower as a result.Lance Holst
Dave Turner's 1982 Kawasaki KZ1000R rear wheel
Öhlins piggyback shocks bolt up to a no-longer-manufactured Cal-Fab swingarm. Early-’80s-era Dymag wheels look right and wear a Dunlop racing slick up front and a K591 DOT tire out back, both of which probably provide more traction than the Superbike slicks Lawson raced on 15 years ago.Lance Holst

The KZ1000R is now back on the track and running stronger than ever; it’s been clocked at 163 mph up Portland’s front straight, as a matter of fact. It’s nice to see a KZ1000R owner with Turner’s enthusiasm for riding: “I fell in love with these things [back in the early ’80s]. Lawson and those guys used to wheelie everywhere. Every corner they came out of they were sticking straight up in the air.” But even Turner is getting a little protective of his precious Eddie Lawson Replica: “It’s in semi-retirement now. I’m just going to use it for fun track days where I don’t have to worry about a bunch of 600s knocking me off the track.” Our concerns were put to rest, however, when Turner revealed his ulterior motive. “I’m working on putting together a monster [Ninja] 900 for Portland.” We can hardly wait.


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