Wild File: Tokyo Retro Superbikes

Nouveau Retro Superbikes From Japan

By Aaron Frank, Photography by Laurent Benchana

Japanese motorcycle enthusiasts have a unique obsession with '70s and early-'80s superbikes. It's a classic "forbidden fruit" fetish: Many first-generation Japanese superbikes, like the Kawasaki Z1 and Honda CB750, were built for export only, making domestic fans crave what they couldn't have. Today the tables have turned: Japanese manufacturers now make numerous retro-style standards that are only sold in Japan. Meanwhile, on the Japanese custom scene, vintage machines (often imported from the U.S.) updated with modern mechanicals are the hottest trend. Here are three particularly fine examples of the breed, spotted at this year's Tokyo Motorcycle Show.

Bull Dock Kawasaki Z1100R
Japanese tuning firm Bull Dock is slavishly devoted to big-bore Kawasaki fours. A quick scan of its website (www.bulldock-mc.com) reveals an amazing array of Z1s, Z1Rs, Z1100Rs and GPzs, all impeccably turned out and equally ready to take on a bike show or racetrack. This iced-out Z1100R is typical of the company's GT-M (Genuine Tuning Machine) methodology. The tank, engine cases and frame are all that remain of the original bike, with nearly every other component replaced by modern superbike kit like Marchesini wheels, Brembo radial brakes and an Öhlins fork. The Keihin FCR 37mm flat-slide carbs are a nice nod to the past, however.

Bull Dock Kawasaki Z1R
Another outstanding old-school Z1R showcases many aftermarket parts Bull Dock offers for the slab-sided Kawis. Options include the slimmer racing tail, tank and other replacement bodywork, oversized billet triple clamps that accommodate a stiffer, modern fork, rearsets and countless other bits of billet hardware. We're not too keen on the "Vantastic" candy-apple red paint-one '70s reference we feel is best avoided-and please kill the violet and turquoise anodized accents. What's wrong with, say, tradtional Kawasaki green? Everything else on this machine, however, looks right and tight.

Old Style 70s Honda CB750
As you might have guessed from the name, this firm concentrates on '70s Honda Fours, and its website (blogs.yahoo.co.jp/cycle_tony/59364598.html) showcases everything from all-original K0s to tastefully updated supersports like this 750 Four. Featuring an oversized endurance-racing tank from a later-model CB1100R, a beefy box-section swingarm, modern superbike wheels to fit wide rubber and four-piston Brembo brakes, this one offers a level of spec that supersport buyers could only dream of back in '77. Handmade components like the titanium exhaust system, rearsets and oil cooler show impressive attention to detail, too.

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