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From the Owner

The ups and downs of owning a classic motorcycle

Craigslist Steal: 1980 Kawasaki KZ650

Kawasaki KZ6501 

Rider: Rick Chalupsky, Antigo, Wisconson.

Age: 60 

Occupation: Retail

Rides: 1980 Kawasaki KZ650, 1983 Kawasaki KZ1100 LTD

Rick’s story: “I found this beautiful KZ650 when I was 56 years old, in June of 2009. I work retail and money is more often than not an issue, so I went on Craigslist hoping to trade for a Kawasaki project bike. After quite a few attempts I ran into a guy from Green Bay, Wis., (just 75 miles from me) looking for a good-quality digital camera. He was getting low-balled with offers for his KZ650. He was asking $1,500, so he agreed to trade with me for my nice-quality Olympus camera and some old stereo equipment. All I had were pictures of the bike, but I agreed to the deal. Since I had no way to get the bike home, he offered to bring it to me in his pickup for $10 gas! Well, he arrived, we made the exchange, and I ended up with a near-mint 1980 KZ650 with 4,500 original miles on it! With a clear title! At some point in its sheltered life it must have fallen over on its right side, because the points cover was scraped. I replaced it immediately with a NOS cover from eBay for $40. The right turn signal stem was broken and, get this, my local Kawasaki dealer had a brand new one on the shelf for $11.50! So now, 3-1/2 years later, I’m sitting on a near-mint KZ. It’s garaged right now, and I think the mileage is 5,800 miles, so I still need to break her in a little bit. It’s a trade-off between racking up the miles or keeping it as a low-mileage original. But I have a 1983 KZ1100 LTD with 20,000 miles that I’ve had longer that lets me decide my riding options. I’ve taken the KZ1100 on a road trip to Des Moines, Iowa, more than 1,000 miles round trip, and the only problem I had was a severe case of sunburn. I’m still looking for a project bike!” MC