Flatiron Mike's KZ1000


We started the week with a grip of shovelheads; we're ending it with one mean KZ. Flatiron Mike is an East Coast-based builder and bikerider whose machines have graced our home page on several occasions. This Kawasaki is Mike's first foray into the "cafe" realm, and we think he nailed it. Nothing too frilly or fragile. Just a fast machine made even more fun by some easy garage-based tweaks. We'll let Mike tell his story…

Budget builds are the best. They force you to be creative, not only with purchased parts, but also when fabricating components. On this redux, I used simple materials and spare parts lying around the garage (even some H-D parts—oh, the horror!). The most expensive upgrades to this build were the adjustable Tommaselli clip-ons, and new tires. The only other changes were simple performance modifications to the carbs and muffler and (less) bodywork.

This machine started life as a 1981 Kawasaki KZ1000 LTD model—a stodgy, inglorious, plain-Jane model. It had been languishing in the back of my garage for over three years. I felt it needed only some minor mods to unwrap a fast and nimble machine from its sheepish facade.

After stripping off all the non-essentials (and even some of the essentials), I needed to get the stance right. The stock wheel setup is a 19-inch front and a 16-inch rear. To my eye, that just doesn’t work. I sourced a ‘70s vintage ZR1 18-inch rear wheel on eBay to "right the ship." Bridgestone Spitfire treads give the wheels a retro, cafe racer look. Next were the clip-ons. Not only do they add to the cafe look, they were necessary to accommodate my 6-foot-four-inch frame.

The rear deck and seat fabrication was an easy solution to the stock, two-up "loaf of bread" seating. I simply hand bent and welded a sheet of 1/8” thick aluminum flat stock and bolted it to a fabricated steel support that rests on the upper frame rails. The leatherwork is hand stitched and mounted on thin padding atop a steel seat pan. I made a conscious effort to align the seat pan lines to the gas tank lines for a seamless look. I replaced the stock cast foot peg mounts with quarter-inch thick steel flat stock and run-of-the-mill H-D pegs. Finally, I tweaked the Kerker 4-into-1 exhaust by lopping off nearly five inches at the muffler tip and fabricating a reverse cone. With the new peg mounts in place, I was able to articulate the muffler up into the frame for a tighter look.

This bike has been nothing but fun to ride and was a joy on last year’s Gypsy Run. And for the investment, there’s a lot of bang for the buck. Enjoy. Or don’t.



Builder: Mike Camillo

Shop: Flatiron Motorworks

Bike: 1981 KZ1000 LTD


• Tommaselli adjustable clip-ons
• Vintage H-D / Tommaselli 7/8” throttle and grips
• Bates style 5-3/4” headlight
• FIM fabbed rear deck and leather seat
• FIM fabbed peg mounts with good ol’ H-D footpegs
• Progressive shocks
• '70s vintage Kawasaki ZR1 18” rear wheel
• Bridgestone Spitfire SR11 tires
• FIM tweaked Kerker 4-into-1 exhaust
• Dynojet stage 3 carb mods
• Pingel petcock
• Accel high output coils
• Emgo air filter pods
• FIM cheapo $6 auto parts store taillight


Follow Mike's musings on his blog, Flatironmike Customworks.

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Comment with Chopcult (18)

Commented on 4-13-2012 At 05:52 am

Dig it! I love kz ltd's

Commented on 4-13-2012 At 07:30 am

hot bike. looks really fun

Commented on 4-13-2012 At 09:02 am

Awesome bike , mike ! Looks fast as hell .

Commented on 4-13-2012 At 09:50 am

It's real nice to see something so different on Chopcult.
"A lot of bang for the buck(s)"
Mike, what kind of money do it take to build one of these things?
I'm thinking "daily driver" as I'd bet you were

Commented on 4-13-2012 At 10:45 am

Nice ride, In the midst of a budget build myself so great timing. Ill have to keep a hold of your mods list as I just grabbed an 81 kz750 H1.

Commented on 4-13-2012 At 11:41 am

feeling it.

bet it's a blast to ride too...

Commented on 4-13-2012 At 11:50 am

...and now I will spend the rest of the day muttering
"I'm a little pimp with my hair gassed back"
in the best Beefheart I can muster
HotRats indeed

Commented on 4-13-2012 At 01:34 pm

I'd ride it.

Commented on 4-13-2012 At 02:49 pm

I remember seeing this on his blog and thinking damn that's a sexy bike.

Commented on 4-13-2012 At 04:20 pm

My lil bro has an 80s KZ750 he never rides. Ideas!!

Commented on 4-13-2012 At 06:28 pm

Bike looks like fun and Mike has a purty mouth............

Commented on 4-14-2012 At 03:22 pm

Flatiron Mike: cigar and pizza connoisseur, jack pursell hoarder, and master bike builder.

Commented on 4-14-2012 At 05:41 pm

I just have to ask how often do you get "what year is that Sportster?"
From those folks that think anything that they don't know what it is is a Sportster :-)

Actually, and I don't know why, it does kinda remind me of a XLCR.
....Sportster :-)

Commented on 4-15-2012 At 01:53 pm

thanks, kids (except Eric!). have fun out there and pizza 'n cigars on me!

seriously, thanks for the love to HWM, Biltwell and the 33 faithful.

(hmmm, not one 'nice sportster!' out on the road yet... still waiting)

Commented on 4-15-2012 At 08:11 pm

I'm convinced, FIM can't make a shitty looking bike. Simply awesome.

"(hmmm, not one 'nice sportster!' out on the road yet... still waiting)" That hurts Mike...I've been riding mine for weeks. :(


Commented on 4-16-2012 At 08:28 am

i would shred the hell outta that bike!

Commented on 4-18-2012 At 05:59 am

gawd damn that thing is super bad ass.,

Commented on 8-25-2013 At 10:49 am

That's pretty bad ass! Love the idea of it being done on the me hope in inspiration to finish my KZ pile!

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