The Printz KZ1000

In 1977, my brother Ken ordered a brand new Kawasaki KZ1000 Ltd motorcycle. At the time, this was probably the most powerful machine on two wheels. When it arrived in the local dealership, and Ken picked it up, he was also given the following plaque.

Ken enjoyed this motorcycle for several years traveling far and wide. In the meantime, Yamaha introduced the XS1100, displacing the KZ1000 as the king of motorcycles. Ken couldn't stand it, so he traded in the KZ1000 for a brand new Yamaha XS1100 Special in late 1980 or early 1981.

Ken and his KZ1000 circa 1980

Ken traveled far and wide with the KZ1000

Unbeknownst to Ken, his brother Jay had been coveting the KZ1000. When he found out that Ken had traded it in, he rushed down to the Yamaha dealer and purchased it for himself. The next couple of photos below were taken during Jay's ownership.

Jay's KZ1000 sitting on the front lawn at 119 Daly Ave in Hamilton, MT.

This photo was taken on a trip Jay took with Cheryl.

Kevin, who had been riding dirt bikes since he was about 9 years old and had been riding a 1977 Honda 750 since he earned his drivers license in 1979, had also always coveted this motorcycle. Somewhere around 1985, when Kevin was on leave from the Navy he purchased the KZ1000 from Jay and rode it back to California. He stored it in my garage until he got out of the Navy in 1987. He had been saving up his money while he was in the Navy and the first thing he did when he got out was to invest most of it into his motorcycle. He spend considerable money on a big bore kit, a high performance cam, and some machine work on the valves and heads. He also installed a four-into-one exhaust system. When he was finished, this motorcycle was at its peak.

Kevin's completely rebuilt KZ1000

Kevin getting his KZ1000 ready for a trip to Montana circa 1987

Kevn headin' out for Montana circa 1987

During the next couple of years Kevin really enjoyed this motorcycle. He, Linda and I went on many motorcycle trips. We traveled to Montana a couple of times and we made many trips to the coast. Many a Sunday afternoon was spent exploring the backroads of the Gold Country. One ride that sticks in my memory was one that he and Debbie joined Linda and me touring some of the backroads around Fiddletown and areas east of Plymouth.

Kevin's interest in motorcycling, however, had to take a back seat to his career as a fire fighter and he found himself riding it less and less. He and Debbie then married and with a family to support, it became even harder to justify his motorcycle, so he pretty much parked it. Unfortunately, he and Debbie were living in apartments in their early years, and the poor motorcycle sat out in the weather under a tarp for several years. Machines don't like to be neglected and it became a sorry shadow of it's once majestic self.

Eventually, however, Kevin became secure in his career, purchased a house with a garage and decided that he was going to put the KZ1000 back on the road. He disassembled it to the last bolt with the idea of completely rebuilding it from scratch. At the same time, he was trying to build a little free-lance welding business on the side. He needed room in his garage to house all his welding equipment and material for some of the projects he was working on. Since the motorcycle was a long-term project, he asked if I would store the disassembled KZ1000 until he had room and time to finish it off. I agreed and soon found myself with several boxes of motorcycle parts. He also asked to store a lot of stuff from his Navy days.

Unfortunately, Kevin was soon sidetracked with Forrest's illness and this little project was completely out of his mind. Shortly after he died, I was out in the garage going through some of Kevin's things and remembering some of the good times we had shared. When I came across the pile of KZ1000 parts, I decided I was going to get this bike back on the road in his memory. I wasn't exactly sure what Kevin had in mind, but since he had already powder coated the wheels black, I decided to powder coat the frame the same color and paint all the bodywork midnight black.

Even though Kevin had painstakingly labeled each part, I needed a lot of help getting it back together. Shawn, at Mike's Cycle in Placerville helped me assemble the frame, swing arm, forks and wheels and John Proto of Performance Cycle in Diamond Springs installed the engine, wiring and completed the project. Without Shawn and John, it would still be just a collection of parts.

Newly resurrected KZ1000 at my home in Latrobe in 2002

Kyle, a motorcyclist in his own right with a lot experience in dirt bikes and a couple of trips to Montana on the back of my Goldwing, was thrilled to see his Dad's motorcycle back on the road. I told him that if he kept his nose clean through high school, that he could have it when he was 18.

Kyle, trying it on for size

For the next six years or so, I kept it road worthy by taking it out about once a month and riding it around a 30 mile loop to the cemetery to show Kevin, then continuing on around to our old place in Latrobe where it sat for several years before coming back home. I must say that I spent a lot of time thinking about Kevin on these rides - fond memories revived. Every year, in the springtime, I took it in to John Proto for a complete servicing and tune-up. He's kept it running like new.

This is the day Kyle took possession of the KZ1000 - July 16, 2008

Kyle washing and checking out the his KZ1000

On a ride east of Foresthill - Kyle, Grampa, Julie, Garry
July 20, 2008

On a ride east of Foresthill - Kyle, Grampa, Julie, Garry
July 20, 2008

At Sugar Pine Reservoir east of Foresthill
July 20, 2008

To Be continued ...............