In the year 2007 I have been a quite happy owner of Yamaha XJ400 (later reborn as the “Eight Ball”). But in the middle of the year my mind was suddenly intercepted by idea of buying Kawasaki Zephyr 750. I just occasionally had a look at the picture of Zephyr and next day I was completely under influence of this bike.
I started my search of Zephyr 750 in Ukraine but there was no one D version (1996-1999, spoked wheels) and only one C1 (1991, cast wheels) in some 500 km from Kiev in Odessa. I asked one friend of mine who lived in the Odessa to inspect the lot. Results of inspection were disappointing, looked like that bike was regularly washed with solvent, so its aluminum parts were in obviously ugly condition.
So nothing was left for me except to spread out information about my search and then wait. And one day in August I’ve got information from one of my friends about new lot of Zephyr 750 for sale. That was one of twenty or so other used motorcycles brought from Japan.
Here I need to explain that in those years there were a law limiting the year of manufacturing for imported vehicles, so no any vehicle older than 7 years could be brought to Ukraine. But fresh (new) bikes after custom clearance and all fees were too expensive for most of Ukrainian motorcyclists. And, as we know, demand creates supply so a gray scheme of import from Japan rose on fertile ground of traditional Ukrainian corruption. By this scheme the motorcycle market of Ukraine was filled with legal but quite used internal Japanese bikes of different engine capacities and years of manufacturing united by the same feature: the year of manufacturing in registration certificate was moved forward to fit import limits. That means you could buy motorcycle with year 2000 marked despite of real 1992 on its registration certificate, and so on and so forth. But motorcyclists had the bikes which fit to their wallets and sellers had their profit. Of course, so did involved custom officials. Such schemes of bike rejuvenation worked for years until limits were canceled. This happened a few years ago and to those time Ukraine got a great load of old bikes from Japan. Some of them were similar to their European or USA kin except of speed limit set above 180km/h but there were many 250ccm, 400ccm inline fours or other internal Japanese exotics between them, and some were incredibly ridiculous, like Harley-Davidsons or even 400ccm Ducati.
But let’s return to our story. So, I had information about 1991 C1 Zephyr 750 which arrived between other bikes from Japan. That man who ordered Zephyr refused it after he looked at bike. And yes, the exterior was far from perfect: broken turn lights, oxidized aluminum parts, scratches and couple of dents on tank, rusty tank insides, some rust on other parts also, some corruption of varnish coat on aluminum parts like wheels and fork, lack of air filter and battery, crakes on tires and so on and so forth. On other hand, there was nothing I couldn’t bear, price was good, bike had low millage, only 11703km (which is common thing for such small country as Japan) and of course, there was an Ohlins rear shocks as a bonus. Later I found how well this shocks work and how expensive they are.
That’s how my Zephyr looked when I saw it in first time:
Then I ordered all parts I needed to return the bike on road again and spent another month and half working on Zephyr. I was used to such work even then, so there was nothing unusual in it, just a lot of cleaning and polishing, a little of painting and adjusting, inspecting and other kinds of maintenance.
A good amount of time took polishing of covers, fork legs and wheels. But inside of engine looked like new.
There wasn’t any unexpected issue except top yoke. When I installed it back after polishing and tighten the bolt of left tube the yoke just crack… But that was not a big problem. I drove it to welder and we reinforced broken place with good amount of aluminum.
In 2007 the main source of parts and accessories for motorcycles were mediators who had channels to bring things from catalogues like European Louis, Polo or some other from USA. There were no Wemoto, nor Japan Webike and even ebay was as far as a moon for ordinary Ukrainian motorbiker, so you could have ordered parts and waited for them for a good month or two.
So as far as I could remember, I had my first ride in the end of September and even then there was a lack of right mirror on my Zephyr. But riding with only left mirror was not a problem at all, so I got all pleasure from my first long Zephyr ride through first yellow leaves of autumn.
Such was beginning of my story of Zephyr 750 ownership and we had many of different minor and major adventures together for all these years, but I think I wrote enough for first part, so, to be continued.