Kawasaki meets Suzuki in Jason Fullington’s Kawazuki.
When you learn that Jason Fullington and extreme stunt rider Jason Britton of Team No Limit fame once roomed together, it’s no surprise to discover that Fullington likes his motorcycles, well, a bit extreme.
“We’re close friends,” Fullington says of Britton. Close enough, in fact, that when Fullington started a stunt cycle team in Japan in 2005, he asked Britton if he could call it No Limit Japan. “He ecstatically approved,” Fullington says.
Although he’s been riding since the tender age of 4, Fullington, now 32, says his interest in extreme motorcycling came much later, starting in 1996 when he got tuned in to the Japanese bike scene while stationed there with the U.S. Air Force. In 2001, Fullington was out riding when a car pulled a U-turn in front of him, landing him in the hospital. Three weeks before, Fullington had been ripping his Honda CBR900RR through the mountains around Okutama, northwest of Tokyo. “I’d been photographed by Road Rider because I was the American kid scraping my knees around,” he says. “While I was recuperating someone brought me the magazine, and they kept in contact.” He didn’t know it then, but that accident would change his life in more ways than one.
The resulting contact with industry insiders launched Fullington into extreme motorsports hyper-drive. He started working with extreme motorcycle events promoters (he helped Red Bull with its Japanese launch), and communicating with other riders and industry contacts about motorcycle gear in Japan. Fullington put that exposure — and his fluent Japanese — to good use.
In 2005 he left the Air Force and founded No Limit Japan, before becoming a Parts Unlimited dealer in 2006. Today, he heads up Parts Unlimited’s Icon Motorsports international operations in Oregon, with the Japanese market central to his efforts. “I almost got killed on a motorcycle, and now I work for probably the best company in the world for motorcycle safety products,” Fullington marvels.
As part of Icon, Fullington gets to play a little bit, and he’s turned himself into sort of the unofficial/official custom builder for Icon. Bikes to date have ranged from a wild custom Honda Reflex scooter to a hybrid dirt/supermotard based on a Yamaha TT500 to a Ducati Supersport 900 that’s been turned into the ultimate urban assault weapon. And then there’s his latest creation, Kawazuki.
“It’s got the best of both worlds,” Fullington says. “It’s an older bike with status, but with more power and with modern stuff.” That “status” comes from the bike’s foundation, a 1979 Kawasaki KZ1000 LTD, while the “more power and modern stuff” come thanks to Fullington’s artful grafting of a 2001 Suzuki V1000 front end and a 1992 Suzuki GSXR750 swingarm and monoshock rear — and a healthy dose of custom engine work, including a WISECO 1,075cc big bore kit courtesy of Chris Vandervoort, one-time mechanic to Superbike Champion Miguel Duhamel and, as it happens, Fullington’s neighbor.
Fullington says the bike is a tribute to Bull Dock, a group of extreme riders in Japan whose name was supposed to be Bull Dog, but in a classic case of mispronunciation Bull Dog became Bull Dock, and it stuck. “They make the most fabulous KZ1000s I’ve ever seen,” Fullington says. “Every bell and whistle on a modern bike, they have on a KZ. They’re the reason I’m into old bikes now.”
Although Fullington’s proud of his earlier projects, he considers Kawazuki his first proper build. “Prior to this, they were mostly cosmetic re-dos,” Fullington says. “This was the first one where I really got my hands dirty, where I was manipulating other parts to fit where they shouldn’t. Before, it was just getting in there and remaking what was already given, I was just repainting the picture. This time, I wanted to use what I wanted and be able to say ‘that’s me, it’s mine.’”
And don’t be fooled by its looks; spectacular as it is, Kawazuki wasn’t built to be a show bike. “It’s a daily rider, I won’t hesitate to take it anywhere,” Fullington says, adding, “I go up in the mountains and rip the twisties and get all kinds of crazy looks from the guys. It’s phenomenal.” And with its KZ1000 underpinnings, it’s reliable, too. “I trust it almost more than I trust a new bike,” he says. “Any problem I run into with this bike, I can fix.”
Kawazuki may not appeal to every classic bike fan, but extreme or not, there’s no denying Fullington’s artful blending of old- and new-school elements, creating a package that does a whole lot more than simply look good.