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BAR'S PROJECT IN HONOUR OF A FRIEND

JOHN BALL'S ELR REPLICA RACER TRIBUTE BUILD

Story and Build by Bar Hodgson
From right to left; John Ball on his Z1 900 Kawasaki, Bar Hodgson on his Bimota bodied Kawasaki Z1R TC, Jim Sinclair on his modified Yoshimura Honda 750 Photo from the late 70's.

From right to left; John Ball on his Z1 900 Kawasaki, Bar Hodgson on his Bimota bodied Kawasaki Z1R TC, Jim Sinclair on his modified Yoshimura Honda 750.

Taken on a riding weekend somewhere south of Algonquin Park. By the end of that weekend John was in the hospital with a broken back.

Lesson learned: never ride with your camera hanging over your shoulder.

One of my long time best friends, John Henry Ball, passed away a few years back and I ended up with his motorcycle, a 1982 Kawasaki KZ1000 'J' Model with silver paint. . . . Thanks, Colleen! . . . John bought it new in '82. He was a licenced mechanic and faithfully serviced the bike over its 40 year life, through all of its oil changes, filters, tires and batteries, and registered 38,061.4 km on its electronic speedo. John had never dropped it and every piece on it was still intact and original except for John's replacing the factory exhaust system with a Kerker 4-into-1 pipe: a top pipe for a top bike in its day. Kawasaki's J Model reputation was for having fast bullet proof engines and excellent suspension and brakes.

Winter was coming, and not having a shortage of motorcycles to work on, I put it away while I decided what exactly I was going to do with it. The only obvious work was to replace the silver paint as it had prematurely and badly deteriorated from a long life of exposure to sunlight. The Kerker looked perfect on the big Kawasaki as John was a big fan of all things engine driven and race cars & bikes.

In its day, the KZ1000 J was a top line bike at Kawasaki, directly descended from the legendary Z1 line and the Kawasaki racing department had hired a young, up & coming racer with a flat-track background, and now a roadracer, to contest the new AMA Superbike production-based series in America. Kawasaki's race department, underfunded and facing formidable opposition from Honda, Suzuki, and others, took the 1981 KZ1000 J Model and added specific styling and performance enhancing components from their new GPZ1100 model. They also ultimately pushed the performance out to 156 horsepower and hired the soon to be legendary tuner, Rob Muzzy, and added the eye-catching factory racing iconic green paint job to complete this David vs Goliath effort.

Eddie Lawson and Rob Muzzy with the series winning Kawasaki Superbike

This pic from the February 1982 issue of Cycle World magazine shows Eddie Lawson and Rob Muzzy with the series winning Kawasaki Superbike. Lawson was on the cover that month, with a great feature story on riding his 1981 Superbike.
Even though recognized as the underdog, Eddie Lawson rode the wheels off his KZ1000 racer to win the 1981 Superbike Series for Kawasaki. Kawasaki celebrated by creating an 'Eddie Lawson Replica', once again based on the KZ1000 J and with specific GPZ1100 components as a road bike at the end of '81 for the 1982 model year. Only 750 ELR's were produced and are all in the hands of collectors now after dealers sold them at twice the price of their standard models. This spawned a whole new concept of fans building ELR Replicas from the standard J Model, some with stock engines, some highly modified, and some street racers.

This is what influenced my decision, as a Tribute to my departed friend, to convert John Ball's bike into a visual but street replica of Eddie's 1981 Championship race bike. Kind of a 1st year Eddie Lawson Racer Replica before the factory invented the ELR. I am only sorry that I didn't think to do this for my friend while he was still with us.

John Balls Kawasaki ready for restoration, showing right side left side view of the Kawasaki project Bar has on the go
John's bike on the outside workbench. After a wash, degreasing, drying and WD40 spray, followed by a 3-stage toweling and polishing. A thorough inspection revealed little of concern other than normal servicing.

I started by removing the silver bodywork, cleaning the pieces up and taking them to Connery's Custom Paint. John Connery has painted many of these 'replica' replicas but never the 1981 unique racer paint job that predated the 1982 factory ELR's. Fortunately, I have built up one of the largest collections of post-war motorcycle magazines in North America, going all the way back to first issues as research resources and dug out about a dozen magazine with road tests, technical info and photos to assemble the correct information.

There have been so many homebuilt replicas assembled that the originality 'waters have been somewhat muddied', and researching factuality is a necessity when replicating or restoring.

A great example of a hand built from parts ELR Replica built by Peter Derry, ex-racer and licensed motorcycle mechanic, using using components that are either modified, fabricated or racing grade parts.

3 Photos by Peter Derry

Note the:
KR500 GP 13" Front rotors and alloy Lockheed calipers
Handmade billet lower triple tree
Fork Brace and steering damper
Racing oil cooler
2.75" wide EPM magnesium wheel with
110/70 x 18" Metzler Comp K tire
Note the:
1982 style Eddie Lawson Replica paint job by 'Skinny'
Mikuni flatslide carburetors
CNC engine mounts
Ignition nose cone
Custom made rearsets
Note the:
Fox Racing remote-reservior gas shocks
Huge Kerker exhaust exit
Suzuki GS1100 swingarm with custom cage
6" wide EPM magnesium wheel with
170/60 x 18" Metzler Comp K tire



While Connery's proceeded on the paintwork recreating the original 1981 style Eddie's Racer paint scheme by following magazine photos that I had supplied him, I continued by removing the footrest mounting plates and other items that I would need to modify as the factory had, or just to clean up separately, such as the original tool kit, etc. In the meantime Hedy researched the racer sponsor decals which she purchased on-line from eBay sellers or decal manufacturers. Eventually photos from Connery's popped up in my email inbox with a note saying 'come pick up your paint'. Things are getting exciting.

Custom Paint by Connery's custom paint based on the original Eddie Lawson factory racers colours
photo courtesy Connery's Custom Paint


Having picked up the paint from John Connery I did a fast trial mounting to see how things looked. Instant transformation!

Bar Hodgson's Eddie Lawson Replica Racer build project in progress Yes, when it comes right down to it, the visuals start with the paint job. Thanks Connery's! With the KZ1000 racer seat from my inventory installed you really start to see Eddie's racer coming to life. Note on the floor is one of the two original factory Works Shocks that after servicing I will be installing.

Both wheels are now off, and after disassembling rotors, sprocket, etc., and cleaning, the wheels are off to Connery's to match up the light gold paint the factory used only the ELR wheels along with the gold tops of the Works Racing Shocks.

Next I'll work on duplicating the Factory mods to replicate the rearsets, then paint and install them.


Built by Bar - the decal Bar Hodgson put on all bikes and engines he built for customers
Back in the 60s when Bar was building engines and custom bikes for customers of his "Bar's Custom Motorcycles" shop on Gerrard Street East in Toronto each engine and bike would sport the decal 'Built by Bar'. Some of those engines are still around.

All photos by Hedy Hodgson unless otherwise noted.



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