Tagged: Back to the future.
12th October 2019 at 10:07 am #25287
I bought my first Z750 new in October 1976. Now I am buying another one, but more later.
I have been riding since 1963 and had been running a Norton Commando 850 Mk2A Interstate for 2 1/2 years. I loved it and a few years later had another one, my Norton interest remains and I still have the 650SS I have owned for 52 years. However then I was riding a lot and touring, plus being somewhat depressed at the destruction of Norton by the sit-in at Triumph and deciding that the next new bike couldn’t be a Norton and it certainly wouldn’t be the inferior T140. My brother’s brother in law bought one of the workers’ co-operative Bonnevilles new and it was badly made unreliable junk, so no way. Kawasaki had recently brought out the Z650 and I really wanted one. About then Birmingham Superbike (didn’t survive very long) had just opened in classy new premises on the Bristol Rd. in Birmingham. I cannot remember the name of one of the key partners, but another was Roger Slater of Laverda fame. It was a Kawasaki dealership but also sold Laverdas and BMWs. I’m not a BMW fan now but then I loved the R90S but it was too expensive. I rode a Laverda 750SF and liked it, but then saw the Z750. I had realised that the Z650 was on the small side for two up touring with a load of camping gear, but the Z750 was spot on, so I bought one instead. OOH338R, probably long gone. I rode it home on a crisp sunny late October day, parked it and saw oil dripping. Couldn’t believe it, but it was coming from the sight glass. I went straight back to the dealer and they sorted it. That was the only problem I ever had.
At first I was disappointed because it felt gutless after the Commando, but as I got used to it it I liked it more and more. It actually wasn’t lacking in torque and had good all round useable power. The only negative was an unexpected high frequency vibration through the rubber mounted handlebars at high cruising speeds, which was probably exaggerated in my expectations by the experience of Commandos which are vibrationless above tick-over speeds because of the Isolastics. However because of the wish to gain a bit of weather and wind protection I fitted an Oxford Cockpit fairing, which was just like on the R90S and was easy to mount from the handlebars. They worked amazing well in spite of the small size but the unexpected side-effect was that the vibration disappeared completely! It was clearly due to the weight on the handlebars changing vibration frequencies, I have no doubt that bar end-weights would do the same thing.
To add to the interest my brother bought a Z650 at the same time and we rode a lot together so could make comparisons. That was a fantastic bike and exciting, but in practice it’s higher top speed made little difference on the road and there was no doubt that for long distance touring the 750 was the better choice.
Performance-wise the road tests in MCN and other publications reported a top speed of 108 mph. I found that I could easily get 110 on the clock without being flat on the tank so it was about right. I have seen 106 and 103 quoted elsewhere. It handled very well and although not so good by today’s standards, I found the brakes to be quite good enough and already knew how to avoid problems with wet weather braking. Fuel consumption was all round about 50 mpg. In August 1977 I toured the West and South coasts of France chasing the weather, because it poured down most of the time, even on the Côte d’Azure. I did 2,900 miles with wife on the back and full camping kit using luggage rack and panniers. The bike was perfect riding through the Massif Centrale and could cruise all day at an indicated 80/90 mph on the auto-routes. It never missed a beat and there were no oil leaks from anywhere.
Shortly afterwards we started a family and after 8,000 miles I just couldn’t get out enough so regretfully sold it. A couple of years later I got going again with a 1975 Commando Mk3, although young family restricted the touring opportunities. Since then I have owned a Yamaha FJ1200A, three Honda VFR800s, two VFR1200s, a VFR800X and currently, realising the futility of increasingly big and heavy bikes on modern roads, am thoroughly enjoying myself on a Honda CB500X that in the last twelve months has taken me on trips to Orkney, Brittany and Western France. Brilliant and amazing frugal on fuel, 77mpg to Orkney and back isn’t bad, no oil consumption and with a ScottOiler the chain never needs adjusting.
Now back to the future by re-visiting the last. I have fulfilled my lingering interest in the Z750 by buying an imported American bike from Z1 Classics in Derby. It is a 1980 B3 that has 16,500 miles on the clock and clearly has been dropped because of light cosmetic damage and never ridden again. The paint is faded but all of the chrome, including on the rims and fork stanchions, is perfect. On Monday Mavericks Motorcycles are collecting it to begin a restoration to my specification. I am looking to have it on the road in spring 2020. Watch this space.23rd October 2019 at 9:09 pm #25297
welcome to the Lonesome Twins and thank you for your introduction.
Looking forward to see pics of your Twin.
Best regards, Michael23rd October 2019 at 10:09 pm #25306
Nice to hear from you. I have tried to upload photos but no success so far, clearly I’m doing something wrong. Any advice please?
Colin.4th December 2019 at 3:50 pm #25366
Further to my earlier posting, when I received the documentation for the bike it turned to be registered in June 1978, which fits for a B3, in Dover, Ohio. It looks as if it only had one owner and was last ridden in 1991. The recorded mileage is 16,500 and I believe it’s genuine. There was mild scuff damage on the right side and a broken front brake lever, it looks to me as if the rider has had a minor “off” and the non-replacement of the brake lever says it hasn’t been ridden since, but has been laid up somewhere dry. Mavericks have checked it thoroughly and there is no damage to frame, forks etc, it is simply mild cosmetic to the headlight rim, a scuff on the front mudguard and light abrasion on the underside of the brake pedal. It is now completely stripped down for restoration, but before doing so Mavericks fired it up and it sounds fine. After stripping there are no signs of significant wear and there are no score marks on the pistons or cylinder bores. It looks very promising. I have pretty much completed the process of tracking down the parts I need to restore it to as-new UK specification. Also I was very lucky to be put in touch with Andy Eaton, the originator of this site. Andy confirmed that the B3 was never sold in the UK which only saw the B1 and the B2. That means it never had the UK spec longer rear mudguard. However what I am aiming for will be a B3 in full UK trim, as it would have been if Kawasaki had offered it here. As sales in the UK were never great I imagine that they decided not to continue it here once stocks of the B2 had been sold. I am really looking forward to seeing this completed and rising it home. I would put some pictures up but still haven’t been successful in doing so.
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