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Kawasaki KZ400

  • Motorcycles
  •  | 
Don't Call it a Comeback
Words by Kurt Diserio — Photos by Alexa Diserio
Pennsylvania ranked fifth among all states in rider crashes in 2017. Motorcycles are dangerous. We’ve heard this far too often. What’s more dangerous? Other people in cars. Getting into an accident isn’t something you can plan for, especially if you’re unfortunate enough to get rear ended by a drunk driver. After living in Pittsburgh for only two months, that’s exactly what happened to Travis Gaines on Stanton Avenue while riding his 1979 Kawasaki KZ400. His back was fractured, and his bike was crushed. I wouldn’t call that a very welcoming incident.
Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer Pittsburgh Vintage Motorcycle
Travis originally picked up the bike for $750 near Cleveland when he was living in Sharon near the border of Ohio. Jason Slemmer from Tired Cycles did some of the work on the bike, including the front and rear fenders, rear frame hoop, and the seat design. Travis added a new triple tree clamp and clip-on cafe bars.
After the collision and his recovery, Travis decided to fix up his KZ400 starting with the reconstruction of the rear end. New wheels were necessary, but he kept the original tank with all of the scratches from the accident just as a reminder. The side covers were ruined, so Mothership Moto on Penn Avenue installed a set of pod filters and worked up a pair of rear set foot controls, improving the rider position. The battery box fit nicely under the seat, along with many of the electronics.
His back still gets sore from time to time, but Travis is happy to have recovered and fixed up his cafe racer again. He’s still fairly new to town, so it’s been exciting to discover new roads to ride.
Stay safe out there!
Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer Pittsburgh Vintage Motorcycle
Kawasaki's KZ400 outsold Honda in the 400cc twin market in the 1970s.
Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer Pittsburgh Vintage Motorcycle
Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer Pittsburgh Vintage Motorcycle
Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer Pittsburgh Vintage Motorcycle
Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer Pittsburgh Vintage Motorcycle
Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer Pittsburgh Vintage Motorcycle
Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer Pittsburgh Vintage Motorcycle
Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer Pittsburgh Vintage Motorcycle
Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer Pittsburgh Vintage Motorcycle
Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer Pittsburgh Vintage Motorcycle
Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer Pittsburgh Vintage Motorcycle
Kawasaki KZ400 Cafe Racer Pittsburgh Vintage Motorcycle
  • Featured in Issue 003
  • 1979 KAWASAKI KZ400 CAFE RACER
  • Owned by
  • TRAVIS GAINES
  • Words by KURT DISERIO
  • Photos by ALEXA DISERIO
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