Some bikes that are built out of more than one motorcycle are given composite names from both marques that sound dead right and roll off the tongue like a lap dancer’s G-string. ‘Kawabusa’ is a made-up name for a made-up motorcycle that is right up there with ‘My round’, ‘I don’t have a headache tonight’ and ‘Both lines are for you’, for sounds that are pleasurable to the ear. Not unlike the war cry of a bunch of cartoon reptiles that had kids the world over demanding pet turtles (ninety-nine percent of which were flushed down the shitter as soon they got big enough to bite), it’s a word that almost demands an exclamation mark every time you write it, and an expressive shout to relay it orally. You could even add an expletive mid-word for greater effect without losing the ambience of the idiom, as in ‘Kawa-fuckin-busa’ … you'd probably need a bigger tank though.
Text: Clink & Norm Wilding | Pictures: Clink
No stranger to modified motorcycles or expletives (and maybe even turtles for all I know), Norm Wilding is an émigré Londoner who now resides in the wilds of Missouri, he also built this Kawasbusa. Norm’s Kawabusa II (yep, this is the second one), is so professional looking that it’s subtlety is lost on many Americans, most of whom walk past it without realising just how special a bike it, much to Norm’s amusement. And, despite abandoning his home country, Norm still sounds like he’s just got off the bus from London with the sounds of Bow Bells still ringing in his ears. So, ‘Fahkin ‘ell mate’, I’ll pass the pen to Norm to give you the rest of the tale. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.
I grew up in the '60s, just outside London, England, and bikes were everywhere. I used to sit in the window of my local greasy spoon caff and watch the old farts ridin’ by in their Belstaff jackets sitting bolt upright on their Norton Dommis, Royal Enfield 700s and A10 Beezers etc. And I’d snicker, coz sittin’ outside the window was the latest Triton I'd just put together. I started with a Wideline Featherbed, turfed out that 600 Norton motor and slid in a pre-unit T120 with a slickshift gearbox, all craftily bolted between two quarter inch hand-cut (with a hacksaw), aluminium engine plates. I swear the longest and hardest part of the conversion was sitting at the drill press with a wire brush in the chuck moving the plates uniformly a bit at a time to get that swirled machine-look finish. A five-gallon fibreglass tank and bucket seat were added, but to get that final ‘racing’ look the clip-on handlebars were fitted just above the bottom yoke of the Roadholder forks, the gear shifter was reversed and the rear pegs became the front ones. The whole point of this set-up was to look like a racer while burning up the Mile End Road on my way to the Ace Cafe.
Fast forward forty years or so, and I’m still building hot rod bikes. I still love riding and I still love laughing, but now I’m laughing at myself as I’ve become one of those ‘old farts’. I now own and operate a small independent bike repair shop in Columbia, Missouri, and I often get the opportunity to test ride a customer’s Hayabusa and I've always been impressed with the torque of that big ‘Busa motor, but at 55 my old bones ain’t so keen on that bent over riding position.
I've owned several Kawasaki ZRX1100 and 1200s since they started selling ‘em in the States and just love the riding position (the motor ain’t bad either), but being a hot rodder (and English), I just can't leave anything stock. So for the past six years I've been putting USD forks and monoshock rear-ends on my own and customer’s ZRXs (checkout www.midmomc.com), which certainly makes them handle better, but I couldn't stop thinking about the power the Suzuki Hayabusa has. So out came the trusty hacksaw and I was at it again.
This is actually Kawabusa II. I built another one a couple of years ago, but it was stock green with all the original bodywork and a bit more of a sleeper. When I built the first Kawabusa I had no idea how the finished bike would handle, I didn’t know if it would be a wheelie machine or maybe it would just sit there and spin the tyre. Whatever it did there wouldn’t be much that I could do about it because the engine had to go where it is. It’s pretty tight in there and not a lot of room to move it forward or back if it didn't handle well. But, as luck would have it (and it was more luck than anything), the bike handled perfectly. The front end stays down and the rear tyre doesn't break away, it just shoots forward as fast as you want to nail the throttle.
I started with a super clean 2003 ZRX1200R with only 4,300 miles on the clock and fitted the complete engine, wheels, brakes, inverted forks, monoshock and swinging arm, and the wiring harness and ECU off a 2005 Hayabusa GSX1300R with even less miles than the ZRX (2,500). The right side frame tube on the stock ZRX (the removable section), is originally aluminium, but to be super safe I replaced it with a new piece I made from 3140 chrome-moly steel, and lowered it about an inch to clear the Hayabusa clutch cover. On the first Kawabusa the injectors came very close to the underside of the tank so I had to cut a section out for an airbox, which lost tank volume (and was a lot of work), so on this one I fabricated some angled intakes which bought the injectors down to the more conventional ‘carb’ location that allowed me to fit some bell mouths.
The carbon front mudguard is Coerse (only available in Japan), and the rear carbon hugger is from Pyramid in the UK. The gauges and instruments were from a ‘02 European GSX1400 (similar to Bandit clocks, but with the addition of a fuel injection light), and the headlight unit is from an ‘04 Suzuki Bandit. Handlebars are Renthal low bars on LSL mounts and all the brake lines are Goodridge braided stainless. The oil cooler is from a ‘05 GSX-R 1000, as is the complete tail section, and the tyres are Dunlop Qualifiers with a 200mm on the rear. I colour matched the stock (I don’t use that word often), tank to the colours of the Gixer tail in metallic blue and pearl white using Color-Rite materials.
I wanna say a big thanks to HMF Exhaust of Indiana, coz I phoned ‘em up and said could I have one of their Big Bird twin outlet headers for a ‘Busa, but I wanted two #2 and two #3 header pipes and I wanted it unwelded so that I could build my own system to fit the frame. Not only did they say ‘Not a problem’, but it all arrived at my shop in three days. After I finished making it fit on the bike I gave it a buff on the old polisher and added a couple of Yoshimura carbon cans originally designed for a ZX-14. I fitted a Power Commander USB, and another big thanks must go to Jamie at Fuel Moto of Wisconsin (who supplied it), for his ‘telephone tuning’ advice and help in writing the fuel map - which needed a LOT more fuel in all areas because, believe it or not, the injectors breath better where they are now than in the stock position.
Finally I just gotta say this thing is a blast to ride, and the other night I happened to pass a bunch of squids hangin’ out at the local Steak and Shake … and I'm sure I noticed them larfing at the old fart sitting bolt upright on his ‘standard’ bike.
Norm Wilding, Missouri, USA.
2005 Suzuki Hayabusa GSX1300R with Power Commander USB, inlet manifolds by owner, injectors fitted with anodised aluminium bell mouths, 2005 GSX-R1000 oil cooler, modified HMF Exhausts Big Bird exhaust header pipes welded by owner, Yoshimura carbon fibre exhaust cans for Kawasaki ZX-14.
2003 Kawasaki ZRX1200R modified to accept 2006 Suzuki GSX-R1000 rear subframe, new removable right hand side frame section fabricated in 3149 chrome-moly steel by owner.
2005 Suzuki Hayabusa GSX1300R USD forks, yokes, discs & calipers, Hayabusa top yoke modified for conventional handlebar clamps by owner, 2005 Hayabusa brake & clutch master cylinders, Goodridge braided stainless steel lines, Renthal braced lo-rise handlebars, Hayabusa wheel, 120/70ZRx17” Dunlop Sportmax Qualifier tyre, aftermarket headlight brackets.
Modified 2005 Suzuki Hayabusa GSX1300R swinging arm, ‘Busa shock absorber, disc, caliper & master cylinder, Goodridge braided stainless steel line, Hayabusa wheel, 200/50ZRx17” Dunlop Sportmax Qualifier tyre.
2003 Kawasaki ZRX1200R fuel tank & side panels, 2006 Suzuki GSX-R1000 seat unit, Coerse carbon fibre front mudguard, Pyramid carbon fibre hugger.
2005 Suzuki Hayabusa GSX1300R wiring harness modified by owner, 2004 Suzuki Bandit headlight, GSX-R1000 rear lights & indicators, aftermarket front indicators, Hayabusa switchgear, 2002 Suzuki GSX1400 instruments.
Paintwork by owner.
All work by Norm Wilding at Mid Missouri Motorcycle Customs, Columbia, Missouri, USA.
“HMF Exhausts in Indiana & Jamie at Fuel Moto of Wisconsin for his ‘telephone tuning’ advice & help in writing the fuel map for the Power Commander.”