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Should I rescue it? KZ400 on Portland CL. 08 Feb 2023 11:53 #879910

  • Wookie58
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Try to "squirrel" away a little cash every week / month so when the right bike comes along you are ready for it.
Granted you are in school and on a tight budget- we used to buy cars for under $500 when I was in college! 
I seem to remember recanting the stories of what we used to pay for a cheap car "back in the day" at a gas station the last time it cost me £108 for 55ltrs of diesel 

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Should I rescue it? KZ400 on Portland CL. 08 Feb 2023 12:15 #879911

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No, I didn’t. At least not yet anyway, but probably never. A few of the votes opposed here, and a couple of my moto buddies convinced me it wasn’t a good idea. Additionally, the timing is not right for me financially. 

I’ve got a lot going on right now, with work, being back in college, and hunting for a new job. Besides so many other things though, I have found that my motivation for a project bike is one of the few remaining constants. So while it may not be this bike, I am thinking I’m gonna have to pick one up eventually. 
 

That's fair: everyone's situation is different.

Despite the objections here, KZ400 parts are readily available (unless you're doing a 100% correct factory restoration). True, it wouldn't be worth a whole lot once it's back together but that's not the point of a project bike. :)
1979 KZ400 Gifted to a couple of nephews
1967 Yamaha YCS1 Bonanza
1980 KZ440B
1981 Yamaha XT250H
1981 KZ440 LTD project bike
1981 GPz550
2013 Yamaha FZ6R

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Should I rescue it? KZ400 on Portland CL. 08 Feb 2023 15:12 #879922

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I can see an easy $1500 to $2 grand provided the gas tank isn’t rusted through. Does it have a seat?
If money is tight and this isn’t your dream bike, I’d pass.
Its true though, saving a bike which is headed to the dump is very satisfying and could well become your favorite bike but it’s best to start with one you’d really like to own to get you through the frustrating parts. Such as a broken engine. Or the next CL ad has your name on it.
"Swim against the current, even a dead fish can go with the flow"-somebody (I forget Who)

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Should I rescue it? KZ400 on Portland CL. 10 Feb 2023 05:15 #879980

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How close are you to Tustin, CA ?
www.smartcycleguide.com/L52520108
"Swim against the current, even a dead fish can go with the flow"-somebody (I forget Who)

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Should I rescue it? KZ400 on Portland CL. 10 Feb 2023 07:48 #879984

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Well my brother lives there, but I’m up in Washington state. 

What I want to do with a project is beyond restoration. Not talking about another chopped cafe racer either. It can’t start as a cruiser bike, though. 
A breeze from the west.
‘90 ZR550 Zephyr (x2)

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Should I rescue it? KZ400 on Portland CL. 10 Feb 2023 09:11 #879987

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I’m generally not crazy about anything "LTD" but the engine specs are probably similar. Then it’s just the seat and handlebars.
The one listed looks like a runner tho. That’s a big plus.
And, to me, the cast wheels are a big plus also when it comes to flat tire time.
"Swim against the current, even a dead fish can go with the flow"-somebody (I forget Who)

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Should I rescue it? KZ400 on Portland CL. 11 Feb 2023 07:53 #880004

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I like the unfashionable looks of the LTDs. They're the polar opposite of the looks everyone seems to go for these days (X-ray, cafe racer, scrambler, etc.) They're firmly seated in a world that hasn't existed for a long time (the CB350 world of the late 70s and early 80s). But in my opinion they're strictly for messer abouters - not for actual restoration. If you're going to restore a bike it makes more sense to put a couple of grand into a basket case GPZ or Z1 or Z650 than one of those. Purely in financial terms. If you're going to pour money into an actual restoration (all original paint, seat, etc.) then something like a Honda CB500T (same class of bike but better tech - DOHC) looks like a better bet for future value. The parts situation for the KZ400s and KZ440s isn't going to get any better either.
KZ440A LTD (1980)

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Should I rescue it? KZ400 on Portland CL. 11 Feb 2023 08:39 #880006

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I’m generally not crazy about anything "LTD" but the engine specs are probably similar. Then it’s just the seat and handlebars.
True, but there’s also wheel sizes which tend to be pretty different from their standard counterparts, and sometimes odd sizes with hard to find tires.
A breeze from the west.
‘90 ZR550 Zephyr (x2)

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Should I rescue it? KZ400 on Portland CL. 11 Feb 2023 08:55 #880008

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It costs surprisingly a lot to restore a motorcycle for what it’s resale may be later on. The same can be said of cars only it’s a LOT more expensive, so car guys are careful to pour tens of thousands only into cars they know they can get it back on. Like muscle cars.
But the beauty in spending $2+ grand (plus all your labor) (on a bike that would sell for half that) is the fun of resurrecting a junk heap and the good feeling of making it your own.
"Swim against the current, even a dead fish can go with the flow"-somebody (I forget Who)
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Should I rescue it? KZ400 on Portland CL. 11 Feb 2023 18:04 #880034

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The above is absolutely true. Positive cash flow + cash buffer + investments/retirement plan should be at the forefront of one's mind, when dealing with this type of project. It's not a sexy subject, but there it is. A lot of the collectors and enthusiasts are seriously hard-nosed people. People in the business routinely scrap bikes, with no sentimentality at all. They'll put 8 bikes on the scrap heap as scrap iron, after paying $1K for them in an estate sale, and then take from them the parts to make one pristine $5K bike. The fake sentimentality comes out when they're trying to sell something (business is business). They'll say they just found Jesus again or something, and they'll swear blind that whatever they're selling is their dream bike (while having Lamborghini in the garage and just acquiring their 15th rental property)... But it's important to take care of number one. That's the priority. KZ440s and KZ400s are total loss projects. If money is a consideration, you have to be hard-nosed. As a rule of thumb, whatever bikes the VJMC people have are less financially burdensome than anything you think you want. All sorts of Kwak 2-strokes are highly sought-after. Also, the aforementioned Z900s and GPZs. A pristine Kawasaki 2-stroke dirt bike? Maybe. In all other cases, you're basically messing around with disposable income, and you have to be prepared for the fact it's likely to be a waste of money. Not a sexy subject but there it is. My KZ440 project is complete, and it's a keeper because of the massive time investment I put into it. You don't get your time or money back, with project bikes.
KZ440A LTD (1980)
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Should I rescue it? KZ400 on Portland CL. 12 Feb 2023 21:42 #880105

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I have no doubt that you guys are correct. The idea of restoring or customizing a bike to then try and sell and come out on top is basically not even part of my consideration. I full well know how much of a money pit a project bike is, I’ve already lost money on two other bikes in the past. 

For me I just like projects, I like working with my hands, making things work, or making them cooler than what they were. Something like this KZ400 has a low initial investment, and I figure it’s a twin, not too complicated, and can probably get started and run reliably relatively easily. I haven’t painted anything in a long time, and I like painting. Sanding, polishing, stuff like that I find meditative. Frustrating sometimes too, but then I get out the power tools, lol. 

Plus like I said already, I wouldn’t want to do a standard restoration, or another cafe racer hack job. I’ve been dreaming about a retro sport bike, or maybe get crazy and go full bosozoku. Pink glitter flames and everything. Doesn’t hardly matter what it started as when it’s a ridiculous show bike. 

Granted, starting with something better to begin with will always make the finished product more desirable. But with that comes the higher original purchase price tag, so I’m just sort of weighing all those things. 
A breeze from the west.
‘90 ZR550 Zephyr (x2)
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Should I rescue it? KZ400 on Portland CL. 13 Feb 2023 00:39 #880110

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I get you, my project started as the unloved 82 Ltd but when finished will be unique

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