1981 KZ550 ... project? (Pics) - Page 3 - Kawasaki Motorcycle Forums
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post #21 of 142 (permalink) Old 01-14-2013, 10:14 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1981 KZ550 ... project? (Pics)

Yes I got them. Thank you for the info. A lot to think about. I finally got to look at the bike yesterday and check what may need to be some of the first things to do. It may have to be scrapped.
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post #22 of 142 (permalink) Old 01-14-2013, 11:19 AM
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Yeah, the fender & forks are a couple of good clues. A bike like that can be refurbished, but it will take a lot of time & money.
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post #23 of 142 (permalink) Old 01-14-2013, 11:43 AM Thread Starter
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Re: 1981 KZ550 ... project? (Pics)

The forks I was looking at a couple used Kz1000s for $50. So I don't think that's gonna be that much of a problem. I'm more worried about finding a good tank.
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post #24 of 142 (permalink) Old 01-14-2013, 01:44 PM
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If you're going to plunge ahead, before buying anything, get it running at minimal cost first. You need to be real careful about getting parts from a different model, especially a 1000. The closest match to your bike is the 80-83 550-Ltd chain drive. Bigger bikes are bigger. The 550 is a small bike.
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post #25 of 142 (permalink) Old 01-15-2013, 02:15 AM
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Re: 1981 KZ550 ... project? (Pics)

Quote:
Originally Posted by timberwoof View Post
The forks I was looking at a couple used Kz1000s for $50. So I don't think that's gonna be that much of a problem. I'm more worried about finding a good tank.
I'm in full agreement with Martin...Forks will be easy, so will locating a suitable tank...With the cancer thats on that bike, your going to need to essentially rebuild the whole bike! Lets say those KZ-1000 forks fit,(whitch they wont) your going to need bearings and races for the steering head, bearings for the axle, oil for the tubes, new pads for the brakes, a caliper rebuilding kit, a master cylinder kit, and you aint even got to the headlight and handlebars yet...$$$ Thats a doner/parts bike...Its a money pit and if you ever did get it running, it would very likely brake and hurt you costing you more money grief...Unless you have lots of money and time...then by all means! We'll stay right here and walk you through it... >>>----->"For Whiskey!" <-----<<<

"GHOSTRIDER" 1980 KZ1000ST-E2 ~Michael Hill~
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post #26 of 142 (permalink) Old 01-15-2013, 08:32 PM
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Re: 1981 KZ550 ... project? (Pics)

Hi timberwolf, I believe the bike has been sitting more than a couple of years. I really looks like it's been sitting since 1981. It takes quite a while for a fender to rust through. As some of the other guy said, I hope you have a lot of money to sink into that bike. If your lucky, you can get it running on the cheap, if you know anything about bikes, it's not a novice project. Hope you didn't pay much for it. A good Kaw shop manual will be of great value to you. Bob
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post #27 of 142 (permalink) Old 01-15-2013, 09:52 PM
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Re: 1981 KZ550 ... project? (Pics)

I had a 750 that I broke my bones on and learned sooo much with. The concept was to build a bobber. Everything from carbs to welding. I learned a ton about bikes and found a passion for them in general. I say tear into it and make it yours. The money you spend will be paid in full with the knowledge and experience of making that bike yours. I sold my first 750 that I completely rebuilt for far less than I had in it (and I'm still in trouble with the ol lady for it). But the lessons and confidence I gained she will never understand.
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post #28 of 142 (permalink) Old 01-17-2013, 10:09 AM
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Re: 1981 KZ550 ... project? (Pics)

I had an 81 KZ440 and an 83 KZ550 LTD (shaft). They are build really solid in general but the 550 is a lot more to deal with in terms of getting it running. I'd definitely pick up the bike if you have space and time, but also don't plan on it being a daily rider either now or ever. You'll make a ton of money off it helping other people rebuild their bikes by parting it out, but you might be able to get it running and drive it around the yard/block just to feel good about your work.

You are probably going to have about $1000 into the bike when it's done and probably $500 before it's reliable enough to commute, even if you get a lot of parts cheap. I wouldn't trust the tires or the brakes and maybe not the brake lines. The headers look good but by not having a stock air box it's going to be **** to get it running smooth (unless you really know what you are doing) and that might also point to a non-standard jetting setup.

It's all the little stuff that eats up money and then there are the bigger things that just can't be avoided like corroded or weak coils, soft rear shocks, compression problems and the like.

If I had the time, I'd park it in the garage and take off all the trashed and unnecessary parts (fender, seat, tank, etc) and then then carbs. If you can get them cleaned for free that's a great start. Check the coils, buy new wires and plugs and see if you can get it to spark. Don't spend too much time cleaning it or you'll get emotionally attached and will end up divorced and homeless with a $2000 bike that looks great and works when it wants to. good luck.

“There is nothing as deceptive as an obvious fact”

- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
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post #29 of 142 (permalink) Old 01-17-2013, 12:09 PM
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Re: 1981 KZ550 ... project? (Pics)

Sounds like you've got time, but no money- that means rebuild is possible, especially if you go cheap where you can, but not so much buying new parts and getting everything professionally done. Won't be free by any means, but possible.

First thing, obviously, is a good hose down. Don't pressure wash the engine, but you know that.

You said it cranks- do you mean it turns over with the starter, or does it have a kicker?

Good. Do a compression test. On a bike that's been sitting this long, it'll probably be horrible, but that's fine- the numbers will come up as it runs. As long as you're getting relatively even compression across the cylinders, you should be OK, at least for now.

Then- clean the carbs, clean the tank, change the oil, get the manual, RTFM, do a 3,000 tune up, and try to fire it up.

If yes- woo! On to the rest of the bike. If no- check your fuel, air, spark. We already know compression's good. Fix that. Fire it up.

Post video of the first start!
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post #30 of 142 (permalink) Old 01-17-2013, 12:36 PM
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Re: 1981 KZ550 ... project? (Pics)

Hey, I can't wait to see the result of that beautiful bike, good luck!
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