Kawasaki Z650  

In 1981 I purchased a 1979 model Z650B2, reg BMG 646T, from Bikewise in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex for £795. It was my first venture into the world of 4-stroke biking having previously only owned 2-stroke machinery. The time was right to part exchange the Suzuki X7 I'd be running for a year as some of my previous speeding offences had just expired and I could get insured on something larger once again.

I significantly reworked my original B2 over the years and also owned a number of other different Z650 models. Eventually I swapped the frame for one which had just been powder coated. At that point the bike became XMB 890S. I'd be very interested if this bike is still around somewhere.

When I originally got the bike, it was a very low mileage bike and was pretty much in standard trim excepting a 4-1 and a K&Q seat.



My initial requirement was for something to take on holiday as well as traveling to work each day. The bike did this without missing a heartbeat.


Bike was nicked by some lowlife from the station one day. Eventually turned up some 9 weeks later abandoned in a hospital car park about 15 miles away. Minor damage only, but that's when I started to have a fettle with the basic model. I guess you always get to the stage with bikes where you need to make things a little more personal.

First up was the wheels and suspension. Always liked the look of Lester Alloys so they were the first purchase from MPS in Erith.



Then got a set of Marzocchis. They were designed for a 1000 Suzuki, but I got them to fit. Also fitted a fork brace to the front with stiffer springs. I then got a company called Saxon Engineering to build me a pretty substantial braced Swing arm. At the time this was a one-off, don't know if they ever made any more.



Next up was the performance. I got in contact with Dixon Racing in Goldalming in Surrey. They sold me a Yoshimura 716cc Big Bore kit and a set of R&T cams. They also provided bits and pieces for the top end rebuild. These were fitted locally and the head was flowed with larger valves fitted. I fitted a Boyer ignition system and then a set of 29mm Smoothbores. Also upgraded the clutch and tried a number of 4-1s including hybrid versions. The final one I ended up with, which was by far the best, was a black chrome Harris 4-1 system

Needed more brakes. Fitted a second disc up front and by using the caliper from the earlier B1 model turned around to fit the other fork, I now had twin disc conversion which was far better than the standard set-up.




I tidied up the look of the bike by painting the engine unit black and having a significant amount of the bike chromed (including, engine casing, cam cover, calipers, swing arm etc.).




The bike was many different colours over the years, but mostly plain black. Eventually got introduced to a guy who would do an excellent professional job in Red & Black.

I was always tinkering with this machine and rebuilt it on a number of occasions. The frame eventually started to show the ravages of time and was replaced with a fresher and newly powered coated one. This is when the bike become XBM 890S. The old frame was sold with a job lot of spares some years later when I was cutting down on my bike stock. Wonder if that's ever been rebuilt.

The bike looked good, or at least I though so, and went like stink for the time. It would keep up with most larger machines out there and also out handle the majority.





Then one day it went bang! Or to be more precise the No. 1 big end decided to let go. Guess I was pushing too much power and was using it too often. The problem was that this was not going to be a 5 minute fix, this was now my only bike and I needed transport. I therefore went down to the Suzuki dealership and paid £2999 for a brand new RG500 with the intention of fixing the Z up later.

Well that was the plan.

Fact is I was totally hooked on the RG, it was a totally bananas bike. I eventually fitted a new bottom end to the Z but had to put the standard top end and carbs on as I didn't have the kit to dial in the rave stuff.

The bike sat in my garage for a few years before a mate asked if he could buy it. It had no tax or MOT but he seemed keen and had the time to do something with it. I moved from the area several years ago and lost touch with the guy so don't know how the bike is nowadays. Dave, if your out there let me know how's she's running.


Some of the other Z's I had in 80's



Project 2005

Well it had to happen, I just spotted a Z in need of TLC locally and have now got another Z and another project!



Do you remember?

  • Hadleigh Custom in Southend
  • The name of the bike breakers at the top of the Bread & Cheese hill
  • West Road breakers in Southend
  • Dixon Racing in Godalming
  • The name of the old guy in the Suzuki Centre in Grays