2017 Japanese Bike Show – from concourse to crazy, Z1s and more bask in Swan River sunshine

CAPTION: We all know what happens at bike shows, right? The guy with the biggest wallet and the most anal approach to spoke polish always wins the prize, with a bike that doesn't look any different than it did when it sat on the showroom floor 30 years ago, right? Well, not always. This is Mike Page, and the bike he's leaning against is his customised, supercharged 1976 Honda CB750 Four, fitted with ceramic-coated pistons, Ducati Darmah front forks, a GoldWing clutch, BMW indicators, a Rickman frame, Norton Manx fuel tank, and Moto Guzzi rear discs. Oh, and a 2" SU carburettor from an old Jaguar, breathing through a Honda CR250 air filter. Today Mike won a big trophy, and a bunch of fans.

FROM better-than-new to what-the-hell-were-they-thinking?, Perth bike buffs rolled out their most spectacular made-in-Japan machinery today for the ninth Japanese Bike show.

A steady flow of traffic rolled through the Burswood Outdoor Theatre venue, with most patrons spending as much time ogling one another’s daily-ride bikes in the carpark as they did drooling over the concourse-to-crazy customs behind the gates.

 

This year’s event paid tribute to Kawasaki’s venerable Z1 900, the bike that dethroned the Honda 750 Four in 1972 as the world’s greatest superbike and has gone on to become arguably the most collectable Japanese bike of all time.

And weren’t there some superb examples sun baking by the Swan River today? No-one dares chop, cafe or otherwise customise Z1s any more (well, no one we know anyway), so today’s line-up all looked gloriously stock, beautifully polished and maintained to a standard that approached obsession.

Greg Haylin’s jaffa-coloured 1973 Z1 took top mark from the judges, while Peter Watts’ candy super blue 1975 Z1B got the nod from the crowd to win the People’s Choice award.

CAPTION: Northam truck driver Peter Watts, that’s him on the left, bought his 1975 Z1B in 1976. It’s been rebuilt once, five or six years ago, but is still wearing it’s original paint. The bike has won half-a-dozen or so trophies in recent years, including best Japanese bike and best overall at the York show-and-shine two years ago, and ‘Peoples Choice’ award today at Burswood.

 

CAPTION: A day in the sun for the much-loved Z1.

But there was a lot more to the show than Z1s. One row back was a trophy-winning Z1300 alongside a very nice Z1R (both from the shed of Causeway Kawasaki’s Norm Larkin), as well as a six-cylinder Honda CBX, an early GoldWing, a beautifully restored 1972 CB250 and an unmolested CB450 Bomber.

We gave the Nikon a workout to collect the shots below, and spoke with some of the owners.

CAPTION: Norm Larkin’s Z1300.

CAPTION: We had a good chat with the owner/restorer of this stunning 1972 CB250, expat-Irishman Bill Falconer. Bill found the bike on eBay in 2010, languishing under a pile of dust in a NSW shed where it had been parked by it’s original owner 20 years earlier. The bike was complete and original, but in a very sorry state. Bill did the rebuild himself, right down to re-lacing new rims with new spokes, rebuilding the engine and, perhaps most impressively, picking up a spray gun for the paintwork: two-pack paint with clear coat. It was Bill’s first effort at painting and it came up a treat. “The only thing I had to get done was the chrome work,” Bill said. “When I finished the restoration, I sent some photos across to the original owner, now aged 80. He was delighted the bike was back on the road.” We were surprised to see the twin-leading drum front brake on a 250, but Bill assured us it was standard fitting. The bike took out the trophy for Best Stock, pre-1980. Bill also has a 1972 CB175 and a 1967 twin-cylinder Honda SS125A. Nope, we’d never heard of one, either.

 

CAPTION: Stunning early lightweight Honda twin looked like it belonged in someone’s lounge room. With white carpet and red leather lounge chairs, we reckon. Beautiful.

 

CAPTION: Sparkling ’84 CR250 was one of very few dirt bikes on show. Dirt bike, you say? Dirt? No dirt here, pal — she was spotless.

 

CAPTION: There was a class dedicated to race-bred two strokes, and it brought out some beauties. All four cylinders here, from left, RZ500 Yamaha, RG500 Suzuki, and RD500LC Yamaha.

 

CAPTION: Perth is home to some stunning Katanas. This one’s been modified with a bunch of modern parts — take a close look at that front end — but has managed to maintain the classic look. Very nicely done.

CAPTION: A pair of prehistoric T-series Suzukis, a few Kawasaki triples and some GT Suzukis  reminded us where the Japanese two-stroke genius came from. Gotta love the lines on that yellow tank!

CAPTION: What the world needs is a few more Hayabusa street fighters running on NOS. You’ll be pleased to know the nitrous kit boosts the ‘Busa’s power output by 40hp. Check out that back tyre!

CAPTION: Yes, THAT back tyre.

CAPTION: Mick Page bought his CB750 new in 1976. He’s ridden it around Australia twice and rebuilt it three times. When he rebuilt it the third time, he wanted to build “the ultimate” Honda Four. “It’s got 72mm pistons instead of the standard 61, and a 69mm stroke instead of 63, giving the engine 1150cc,” Mick told us. “But I wanted to do something really special. Then it came to me. ‘I’ll supercharge it!’ So I did.”

CAPTION: Mick was well aware that supercharging a 40-year-old engine was, shall we say, not without risk. “I did everything I could think of to avoid the engine hand-grenading,” he says. “It’s early days, and I’m only running 5psi at this stage, but no problems so far.