A few pictures taken of my KZ400 during my ownership
I bought my 1975 model
KZ400S back in 1996. It was imported from USA to Norway the same winter. I was
not looking for a KZ at that time. In fact I was at the dealer for a closer
look at a Yamaha R5 restore object when I spotted the KZ400. I got interested
in it and took it for a test run. The end of the story was that I got charmed
by the KZ and bought it.
And buying this bike in fact has changed my life. I have made contacts with a lot of people, other riders in my hometown and in the district I live in. Members in the Norwegian Classic Japanese MC Club, and all the contacts I have made through the internet all over the world.
The engine did not run good when I got the bike, and it leaked oil from the top end. The dealer gave me an offer to replace the engine with one from a parts bike he had, and then offered me to buy the original engine for a very low price. I took the deal and have never regretted it. Later on I traced the bad running to the carbs and the point’s plate. The pilot jets was far to big, making it run rich and fouling the sparks plug, the points plate and timing advancer was from a KZ750 twin, so I replaced them with the correct one, and the oil leak I traced to bad rocker arm shafts o-rings. Also the spark plug wires were in bad shape. I cut them an inch from the coil and spliced on new wires. It has worked ok so far. I dismantled the original engine and found out that it was in good shape so I put it back together and no I have got a running spare engine.
I have done a few modifications with the bike. I have fitted a windscreen, engine protection bars and an electronic ignition system from Boyer Brandson.
I am maintaining the bike my self and follow the book when it comes to service and oil and oil filter changing intervals. And I change the oil filter at every oil change. My philosophy is that oil is cheap, engine rebuilds are very expensive.
The engine that is sitting in my bike had run for 7000 miles when I bought it, and I have added 25500 miles to that over the years. My spare engine had 18600 miles when I got it, and I added 7500 miles to it while I was re-boring the cylinders on the other engine.
The bike has never let me down once on the road. I just start it up and drive. The total mileage on this bike is 52 000 miles (in April 2004), and 33 000 miles of them has been added during my ownership.
No problems? Yes, there has been some. Mostly routine things like replacing tyres, chain, sprockets, wheel bearings, rear wheel coupling bearing, clutch cable, battery and fuse holder. And there has been some trouble with the carbs. Most of it related to worn float valves and worn and dried out rubber o-rings. And adding fuel filters to the fuel lines was a great improvement. I have also replaced the stator in my spare engine. The engine had been sitting for some years, and there had been a condensation build up inside the cover and corrosion had destroyed the stator. I have also replaced the rectifier. Once in the past there had been a battery leak, and the acid had damaged the insulation on the rectifier.
The biggest problem I have had so far , was when I got a knocking sound in the top end a couple of years back, and I could not trace it. I put in the spare engine and gave the other engine a top end overhaul and re-bored the cylinders, put in new pistons and rings , lapped the valves and replaced all the gaskets and seals, only to eventually find out that the problem was a worn out rocker arm! I don't know why it got worn, but I have read somewhere that this wasn't unusual on the KZ400. And that might be correct, because I have got one more that are a bit noisy and will need to be replaced soon. And the primary chain has always been clattering at idle. I have checked the guides and chain for wear but they are well inside the service limit.
I also have some vibrations and a tiny rustle between 4000 and 4400 rpm when the bike are pulling heavy, but it has always been there, and like the clattering primary chain, it is mentioned in a road test back in 1974. But the rustle and clattering has increased a little, and I will be replacing the primary chain and the primary chain guides soon. And the speedometer got very erratic at 46600 miles, so I replaced it with a used one, since replacing the cable and the speedometer gear did not have any effect. Also the tachometer had the same problem and was replaced at the same time.
Otherwise, the bike works like a clock. I have become fond of the bike and I think it is a delight to ride. It handles quite well, and it is a joy to cruise in 55-60 mph. On narrow and twisty roads it is real fun to ride it. And it can easily cope with modern traffic. And my respect for the bike has grown during my ownership.
But the most important part is all the fun I have with it. Maintaining the bike, going to rallies, biker meetings and weekly rides with friends. And the feeling when someone comes over when you stop at the gas station and make comments like: "That is a really nice looking classic bike. It looks like a real motorcycle."
It was in pretty good shape when I got it. The fuel tank and the side covers had been re-sprayed and the chrome looked like new after a clean up and polishing. The frame had some scratches and peeling off, but could be repaired by sanding and re-spraying. And the seat cover and the carburettor intake ducts were in bad shape so I replaced them. But that was about it.
My name is Odd Ivar Bekkelund,
I am 49 years old, and I live in Kongsvinger, Norway. Kongsvinger is a town
in eastern Norway, 100 km east of Oslo and 35 km from the Swedish border, and
have a population of 18000. I have my daily work at the railroad station, where
I am working as a traffic controller. My main interests are motorcycles, fly
fishing, collecting smoking pipes, music and literature. I own two classic bikes,
KZ400, and a 1980 Honda CB650Z.
I got the idea for this site some time ago, but it took some time before I felt I had enough skills about computer programs, motorcycles and English writing, to start this project.
I bought my KZ400 back in 1996, a US import. And I discovered early on that there were very difficult to get information about this bike. Most of the books about classic bikes I have read, hardly mention it at all. And without the internet, it would still have been very difficult. It was this discovery that gave me the idea for this site, a database of information about the KZ400 as it is named in the USA and Canada, the Z400 in the rest of the world. And during the research I have found out that this is one of the few efforts made regarding creating a website about this bike. There are a few KZ400 homepages though, and I will try to put in a link to them.
I have tried to collect all the information I have been able to find, into this site and I will be very pleased if this information can be of any help for all the KZ400 owners and restores around the world. I have become fond of the little commuter bike, and I hope others will find the bike as charming as I do.
At last I would like to thank the fellow members of kzriders.com for being a great source of inspiration for this project. And a special thanks to Ian Powell for his contribution to this site.
I begin to realize that this project will be a never ending project. And this website will be updated continuous.
A few pictures from my hometown Kongsvinger
The river Glomma
The Railwaystation where I have my daily work
The church and the old city
And for those who would like to tour Norway on motorcycle, I will recomend the route named the "Golden Route", from Otta to Åndalsnes via Trollstigen and Geiranger.
A reminder from one motorcyclist to another
This is a letter of awareness that was written by a motorcyclist to all other motorists. The author has given permission to copy and use it to increase awareness of us. He tried to get it published in his local area paper but was unsuccessful. Feel free to do the same. I thought it was appropriate to put it here to make it available and to grant his wish to get it "published".
Dear Fellow Motorist:
I wonder if you realize how close you came to injuring or killing me today. You seemed completely unaware that you began to move into my lane when only half of your car had passed me.
If I had glanced at my mirror at that second, I probably wouldn't have been able to brake fast enough to keep you from hitting my front tire and throwing me off my motorcycle. I apologize for slapping your window and lecturing you. It probably seemed to you that some crazy biker was trying to terrorize you. I'm sure you're a nice lady and wouldn't want to hurt anybody, but your inattention nearly caused a collision that would have been a mere fender bender for your Mercedes Benz, but could have caused me to be killed, and that made me angry.
Perhaps you are not completely to blame. As cars get smoother, more comfortable and easier to drive, as they get quieter inside and come equipped with high-power, nine-speaker, surround sound stereos, as more distractions like cell phones and laptop computers become available for you to use while driving, its easy to forget that you are hurling two tons of steel and plastic down the road. Inside that nice new car of yours, you have air bags, seat belts and anti-lock brakes to keep you safe and since obviously have at least the minimum required insurance, a collision with a 600 pound motorcycle just isn't very threatening to you, but its life and death for me.
I ride a motorcycle nearly every day, year round, because I love the feeling of being in the open air, feeling the temperature changes and the bugs splatter on me, and of course the sunshine and wind on my face. I love the feel of leaning to steer and accelerating out of a curve. I love it so much that I not only ride to work everyday, I ride for fun on the weekends.
My idea of a fun vacation is riding my motorcycle to a rally in Arizona or Florida or even Texas. I'm very aware of the dangers and I have decided that, to me, the risk is an acceptable trade off.
And you must understand that regardless of how you feel about motorcycles, they are legal vehicles and are permitted to use the roadways. Regardless of your feelings about "bikers", I am a human being and deserve the same consideration that you wish to receive from others. And if you accidentally kill me because you weren't paying attention or didn't see me, you will have to live with the fact that you caused another human being to die. I can't believe you would want that to happen, so let me try to help you understand what I must do to minimize the danger of riding and how you can help me stay out from under your wheels and not come crashing through your windshield to die in your front seat.
First, you have to understand that the natural at-rest position of a motorcycle is on it's side. In order to keep it upright, I have to balance it. When I get it up to 35mph or so, natural forces help me to keep it upright, that is as long as the surface I'm riding on remains pretty consistent. But on those patched roadways, or worse yet those under construction, there are lots of hazards that can upset that natural balance. Raised surfaces, such as the edge of a patch that your car bumps over easily can drop a motorcycle in a second if not crossed over properly. Loose surface gravel and curves that are sloped in the wrong direction all pose potential hazards if I don't ride carefully and give myself enough space to react. I swear sometimes it seems like the highway department is trying to do me in. But I hope that they, like you, just don't understand that the dynamics of a motorcycle is different than that of a four-wheeled vehicle. With practice and concentration, I've learned how to keep the shiny side of the motorcycle facing up, as long as you grant me a few courtesies.
If I leave slightly more than a car length between me and the vehicle I'm following, it's so I have enough time to react to the piece of truck tire that is lying in the roadway. It's not an invitation for you to slip into the space while you're trying to leapfrog through heavy traffic. That forces me to drop back and open another gap that someone else will leapfrog into. And since I don't tailgate you, extend the same courtesy to me. If you need to look down to change the temperature on your climate control, you need to have enough time to avoid hitting me if the traffic suddenly slows.
When you see a small gap in the middle of a group of motorcycles, don't maneuver quickly into the gap. It's common for motorcycles to travel in groups its part of the fun. Needlessly splitting up the group is rude and dangerous.
These are common courtesies and safe driving practices for all vehicles and are particularly important to me as a motorcyclist. But in order for you to extend me these courtesies you have to be aware of my presence.
I know that a motorcycle can easily hide in a blind spot so when I ride behind you in an adjacent lane, I always try to ride so I can see you in your rear view mirror. That means that you can see me if you scan your mirrors regularly as they teach you in any safe-driving class. I always ride with my headlamp on to make more visible.
My last line of defense is a rather loud exhaust system. You may find that annoying, but if it makes you notice that I'm traveling in a blind spot beside you, I consider it a safety device. I try not to annoy my neighbors with the noise, but I use it on the highway.
Some motorcyclists ride aggressively and faster than the flow of traffic. Passing other vehicles can be safer than being passed by them in some situations. Maybe the biker that roars past you is just a sociopathic punk, or maybe he's trying to observe how you're driving and control the time that you are actually close enough to hit him. In either case, what can you gain be getting mad and returning the aggression?
Notice me, but please don't stare at me as you drive beside me. Remember that you tend to steer in the direction that you are looking. Let me have my lane.
You and I can share the road safely as long as you give your driving the attention it deserves and give me the same considerations that you would want from others. In return, I'll try not to vent my anger at you when another less considerate driver does something that endangers me. And when we get to where we're going I can take a smaller parking spot designated for motorcycles and leave the big space for your luxury automobile.
Sincerely, A Motorcyclist, A Voter, A Veteran, A Human Being
Ride safe out there!