Kawasaki Café Racer by Seth Hensler

It’s always great to discover an amateur builder who’s talent is easily on par with the larger custom motorcycle garages, Seth Hensler is a stand-out example of this breed of home-based vintage café racer builder.

This bike started life as a 1978 Kawasaki KZ400, it was discovered by Seth 3 years ago sitting in pieces in the front yard of a Frat house he drove past each day on his way home from work, it wasn’t long before he went and knocked on the door, offered the guys a hundred bucks for it and wheeled it home to begin creating a café racer.

With a small machine shop in his basement Seth set about fabricating all of the custom elements on the bike, from the rear sets to the clip-ons, everything was made by hand in the winter of 2011. The fuel tank was pulled off an old Honda CB350F and the rear cowl was custom moulded from fibreglass using an old BMX helmet to get the shape.

By far and away my favourite feature of this particular café racer is the speedometer. You probably haven’t noticed yet, but it’s an airspeed gauge off of an old propeller plane. It’s fully functional and Seth installed the required pitot tube underneath the headlight on the left hand side to ensure accurate airflow readings. This is quite possibly the coolest thing I’ve seen on a motorcycle since Françoise Hardy.

The speedo is an airspeed gauge off an old propeller plane. And it actually works.

If you’re interested, you can follow the build process in detail from start to finish here, courtesy of the Do The Ton Forum, easily one of the best café racer forums on the intertubes.

Published by Ben Branch -