EVEN IF YOU know very little about Kawasaki’s history, you probably know about the KZ1000R Eddie Lawson Replica. Released in 1982, it was a limited edition motorcycle based on the one that Lawson won the championship with. Essentially a production bike with new paint and some upgraded parts, it was special, but not overly so.
If you wanted something truly special (and with a bit more pep), Kawasaki had the KZ1000R S1—an almost exact copy of Lawson’s actual GP bike. They built about 30 S1s, and if you knew the right people, you could buy one for around $11,000. Understandably, they are astonishingly collectable; some have been sold at auction in recent years for ten times that.
It’s easy to see why S1s are so collectable—but not everybody has six figures clogging their bank account. Which is why Tony Bucci at VSB Moto in Canada decided to build this very convincing Kawasaki KZ1000R S1 replica. Vintage superbikes are Tony’s forte, so who better to do this iconic machine justice?
“We really liked Kawasaki’s 82 KZ1000R offering, but we also really liked the original Kawasaki Factory S1 race bike,” Tony tells us. “We basically blended the best of what both bikes had to offer to build our S1 Street Replica.”
VSB Moto started with the KZ’s improved stablemate, the 1982 Kawasaki GPZ1100 B2, as a donor. The frame was in tip top shape and needed nothing more than a fresh coat of powder—but the full bike took almost five years to build. Part of the challenge was finding authentic parts to kit it out with.
“We started collecting parts for the bike years ago and we are just thrilled with some of the pieces we were able to source,” says Tony. “Period correct parts are getting extremely hard to find as this bike is now 40 years old! We were very lucky to find the final components that we needed.”
The parts list is as extensive as it is impressive. Tony bolted on a set of 18” six-spoke aluminum EPM wheels, preferring the look of them over the three-spoke Dymag hoops seen on the S1. A set of reproduction stainless steel brake discs were fitted to the wheels; 330 mm up front and 250 mm at the rear.
The front forks are original KZ1000R units, rebuilt with new tubes and upgraded internals. The swingarm is a genuine Calfab S1 braced unit, complete with eccentric axle adjusters. A cush drive setup and period-correct Works rear shocks were also sourced.
VSB rebuilt the GPZ1100 engine with slotted cam sprockets, degreed cams and back-cut transmission gears. A set of VM33 Mikuni carbs was restored, and fitted with K&N high flow pod filters. A Kerker-style race exhaust with a 50 mm baffle, and an APE manual cam chain tensioner were added to the build sheet.
The billet oil cooler take-off manifold is custom, and feeds oil to an Earles cooler, mounted on custom brackets with braided lines. A Dyna 2000 ignition system and Dyna coils were fitted, receiving power from a new stator and regulator. A slew of billet parts adorns the engine to finish it off.
VSB Moto also treated the Kawasaki to new superbike bars and controls, with a quick-action throttle, Oury grips and KZ1000 clocks. There’s LED lighting all-round too, and a set of S1 replica rear sets.
The attention to detail on this restomod is incredible. VSB Moto even employed an old trick used by AMA Hall of Famer, Rob Muzzy; they raised the rear of the tank by an inch to replicate the correct S1 styling. A period correct fairing, seat, tail and livery drive the point home.
Tony is proud as punch, and rightly so. “It is a dream to ride with the 18” wheels, has very nimble handling, the suspension is firm and progressive, and the seat and controls are comfortable. The engine produces 100 hp at the wheel with 89.5 Nm of torque, and pulls hard to the redline—we’re just blown away by how well it rides.”
And we’re blown away by how good it looks.