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Should I rescue it? KZ400 on Portland CL. 13 Feb 2023 07:48 #880124

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"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. "

Ok, I get it too. 
 I was always intrigued by the late nineties to early 2000's zr7/zr7S Kawasakis. Why on earth would Kawasaki introduce an air/oil cooled bike (using the 750 from the gpz line), right in the middle of a horsepower war?
In 2002 I gave the zr7S a good look in the showroom when I picked up my brand new ZRX1200.
 So a couple of years ago I was perusing Craigslist looking for a winter project when lo and behold there was a 2001 7S for sale located not far from me. (You almost never see them around here). It was in nice shape. I struck a deal and picked it up.
 I paid $1450 and sunk another $1300 into it (including nearly $500 into the forks to improve handling) and now have a perfectly running, really comfortable and dare I say it, cool bike. The styling of the zr7 and especially the zr7S looked ancient even when new. My riding buddies love riding it. 
 I searched around this site and saw no topics on this bike, which is understandable being a site dedicated to the old Z's, but the zr7 series are THE last bikes of an era.
 My point is, you have a much newer platform to work with and still have an "old" bike. You get a stronger frame with a sportier head angle, 41mm forks, single shock out back and 80's era brakes (unfortunately) but they stop well enough. 
 If you keep an eye out you can find these bikes cheap and being a cradle frame bike they’re easily customizable. 

 I thought I would go through the 7 then give it to my nephew if he wanted it but no, I friggin love this bike, all 65rwhp of it. It’s a keeper.

Heres a zr7
www.cycleworld.com/sport-rider/common-de...nator-kawasaki-zr-7/

 
"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. 13 Feb 2023 10:14 #880133

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Kawasaki loves to get mileage out of their motor designs, that’s for sure. Seems like as long as the molds are still good, they’re gonna come up with a bike to put any old motor in. 

I like the ZR7S, I wouldn’t say no to a good deal (at the right time) on one of those. 

But I think it’s also important to look at project bikes a certain way. Like I think part of it is that the bike should start off in some kind of need for work to be done. Like the KZ400 I started this thread with (it’s still listed for sale at this point) is pretty obviously in poor neglected condition. It needs a lot of work just to be ridden, let alone to look good. There’s no telling if for example the side covers are any good, and if they aren’t, it’s probably not worth replacing them. So it’s that situation where I could go nuts customizing it and not feel guilty that I’m ruining a classic bike. 

I mean I’d love to find an early Z1 in the same sort of condition and at that price point, but that would have to be a strict as close as I can get to period correct restoration, with no mods. You don’t mess with perfection right? 

You can see what I’m getting at, it’s sort of about having a platform to explore creative motorcycle design, and just have something one of a kind. 
A breeze from the west.
‘90 ZR550 Zephyr (x2)
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Should I rescue it? KZ400 on Portland CL. 13 Feb 2023 13:30 #880141

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Yeah I’m getting it. Even the 400, being old, probably would have more value than a zr7 because of its age.
Im just a practical bike guy. I’d rather start with good reliable bones, frame included.
I love the idea that Kawasaki put a 1980's engine in a 2000's bike. Too bad they didn’t use the 1000 instead of the 750.
Im sure there’s a zr7 sitting in the weeds somewhere that can be bought cheap and brought back to life cheap. They’re as simple as the old seventies bikes.
 
"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. 13 Feb 2023 16:46 #880159

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What about a ZR7 based ELR clone 

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Should I rescue it? KZ400 on Portland CL. 13 Feb 2023 17:17 #880160

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I've always had an affinity for smaller bikes, having owned Honda CL360, CB400F, and CB400TII; Yamaha RD400, XS400, and XV550 Vision, a Suzuki GS450, a couple of GS550's, and a GPz550.  I was never interested in a KZ400, since they were pretty much bottom of the heap in the class.  The engine seems to be based on the Honda CB350, only Kawasaki had the sense to add balance shafts.  Honestly, though, they were never particularly good bikes.  Sorry for the harsh assessment, I love my KZ, and don't want to diminish the brand.  It's just that Kawasaki never seemed to take the small bikes seriously, and it showed.

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Should I rescue it? KZ400 on Portland CL. 13 Feb 2023 18:30 #880162

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What about a ZR7 based ELR clone 

~~~> Yes. Or a ZR7 based ZRX clone. The two frames are similar. I’d bet the ZRX tank would fit on a ZR7 frame better. Or/Then use the rest of the bodywork from the GPz. 
Hmmm… sounds like a disaster. Never mind.
 
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Should I rescue it? KZ400 on Portland CL. 13 Feb 2023 22:46 #880168

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I was never interested in a KZ400, since they were pretty much bottom of the heap in the class.  The engine seems to be based on the Honda CB350, only Kawasaki had the sense to add balance shafts.  Honestly, though, they were never particularly good bikes.  Sorry for the harsh assessment…
I mean you’re not wrong, there’s certainly nothing special about it in that sense. I wouldn’t even be considering it if the price were any higher. (For that matter, if I were to make a move on it I’d probably only wanna pay $200.) Kawasaki seems to always have a few low-tier bikes in their lineup, and I can acknowledge that the KZ400 was probably one of them. But on the flip side of that, desirable or not, the KZ400 did get high marks for reliability back in the day. So sure, not a performance engine, but if it’s unkillable, it still makes a good commuter bike.
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Should I rescue it? KZ400 on Portland CL. 14 Feb 2023 08:24 #880181

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  Honestly, though, they were never particularly good bikes.  Sorry for the harsh assessment, I love my KZ, and don't want to diminish the brand.  It's just that Kawasaki never seemed to take the small bikes seriously, and it showed.
It was a commuter bike. Solid and dependable if not exciting. I enjoyed riding mine. 
Jim
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1982 GPz750 R1
1974 Kawasaki H1
1976 Kawasaki KZ400
1979 Yamaha XS650 cafe'
2001 KZ1000P
2001 Yamaha YZ426
1981 Honda XR200 stroked in an '89 CR125 chassis
1965 Mustang
1967 Triumph GT6
1976 Bronco
"If you didn't build it, it's not really yours"

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Should I rescue it? KZ400 on Portland CL. 20 Feb 2023 20:03 #880544

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  Honestly, though, they were never particularly good bikes.  Sorry for the harsh assessment, I love my KZ, and don't want to diminish the brand.  It's just that Kawasaki never seemed to take the small bikes seriously, and it showed.
It was a commuter bike. Solid and dependable if not exciting. I enjoyed riding mine. 
 

That was really the point of the 400 from what I understand: they were UJMs that were meant to be almost like appliances, so people could commute on a gas-sipping bike rather than filling the tanks in their cars. And the LTD models let people with shorter legs commute on gas-sipping bikes. :)
1979 KZ400 Gifted to a couple of nephews
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1981 KZ440 LTD project bike
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Should I rescue it? KZ400 on Portland CL. 20 Feb 2023 21:08 #880546

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I'm found of bikes in the 300 -500cc range. Light weight, nible. What a motorcycle should be. I use my big Magna for longer, interstate highway trips, but for everyday riding around, I jump on the KZ305.
94 KE100
81 CM200t
82 KZ305
79 KZ400
85 VT 500c
85 VF1100c

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Should I rescue it? KZ400 on Portland CL. 21 Feb 2023 16:36 #880602

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Just to add a bit of balance, for perspective: the 400s/440s are not great bikes. They (as well as old parts) are currently overvalued.
They are fun, no doubt. I've got one for that reason. I'll keep it as long as I can. 

You ask anyone who rode the old (small) Kawasaki strokers back in the day, and they were pretty gnarly at speed. This is because there's a lot of flex in the frames. Overtaking at 90+mph was not exactly relaxing...

Now look at those frames and the KZ400 frame, or the non-LTD 440 frame. It's almost identical to the frames of the old strokers - Kawasaki were a highly efficient industrial operation and they used the same designs, tooling and materials for various different bikes. It's not a great frame. The down tubes are pretty close together, and there is little gusset reinforcement around the headstock. This doesn't make them weak frames - far from it. They're incredibly strong. But the geometry and flex makes some speeds unpleasant. The LTD frame, if you look closely, fixed some of these issues.

Engine: too many frigging chains. The dual balancer system is bad because it sits there wearing out the cases, it's difficult to access and service. Even the clutch is difficult to service, and you have to carefully remove the mechanical ignition timing unit. The cam chain tensioner is in an odd place and it's an odd design, too. Sort of in between manual and auto tensioning. Do you trust it? 
Rockers have a lot of play in them because when the engine is hot they still need to be able to move. This means not only noise but uneven wear on the tappet adjusting screws. Where do you get those?
Primary drive chain - difficult to access, etc. but things like that can be replaced (like mine has). But eventually the crank will have play, and these engines will need really expensive remachining. While that's possible, the resale values make it impractical. 
There are differences in design between model years. Some models have the old pushrod clutch activation, and others the slightly more modern clutch pulley rod. Also, the cylinder heads differ slightly. There is very poor documentation for the 400s and 440s. The information available is of very poor quality, and the manuals are full of errors. Even down to the number of final drive chain links, the quantity of oil they take, the hp ratings, etc. Information is a problem with these bikes now.

Just to say, these bikes exist at a low resale value point, while needing expensive servicing. There will come a point when even us avid hobbyists will lack the tools, machinery and skills to keep them on the road. Part of the reason for this is that the engines are in-between engines and a part of the history of the evolution of motorcycle engine design.

These bikes were actually designed to compete with very good small Hondas and with Harley Sportsters of the late 70s and early 80s. Their performance and gearing actually win that game. However, in the modern world they've got weaknesses. 

Just to play devil's advocate... There are engines for these bikes going for the equivalent of hundreds of dollars, on Ebay. But the successor water-cooled 454 and 500 twin Kawasaki engines were so much better, it's not even funny. And the same goes with frames, brakes, etc. It was a time of incredibly rapid R&D, in the world of motorcycles.
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Should I rescue it? KZ400 on Portland CL. 18 Mar 2023 21:12 #881744

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Its still available!  I think 200 is the right price too, but I'm not looking for that kind of project. I'm looking for a few hundred dollar 440 that just needs a few hundred  to get back on the road.

I haven't seen that the 440s are overvalued, I've seen some 400s listed for absurd prices though. From my perspective as a 305 owner, parts for the 440's are plentiful! I almost had a pretty but nonrunning one for 300 bucks last summer but the owner flaked on me and sold it to someone else. Still looking

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