Vetter/Pridmore Kawasaki KZ1000 Replica

Mike DiSabatino pays tribute to Reg Pridmore by hiring Thad Wolff to replicate the famous Vetter/Pridmore Kawasaki KZ1000.


| November/December 2011



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Mike DiSabatino's Vetter/Pridmore Kawasaki KZ1000 replica.

Photo by Mike DiSabatino

Although it’s easy to forget, the American road racing circuit hasn’t always been dominated by Japanese motorcycles. In 1976, Reg Pridmore rode to victory in the first-ever American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Superbike Championship riding a BMW R90S.

It wasn’t until the next year, 1977, that Pridmore became the first rider to win a U.S. Superbike national race on a Japanese motorcycle when he won the AMA Superbike race at Pocono that year, piloting a Pierre des Roches-tuned Racecrafters Kawasaki KZ1000 to victory. Running #163, Pridmore went on to win the championship on the Racecrafters Kawi in 1977, and then again in 1978 on the Team Vetter Kawasaki KZ1000.

When vintage race bike enthusiast Mike DiSabatino decided to build a tribute vintage racer honoring the early days of Superbike racing, he couldn’t think of anything better than to honor the Kawasaki KZ1000 and Reg Pridmore by making his own rendition of the famous #163 Vetter Kawasaki KZ1000. His personal twist was to make it street legal.

Coincidence or fate?

DiSabatino didn’t come to this lightly. A CPA by day and avid motorcyclist when time allows, DiSabatino was the founder and developer of SportbikeS.com, once the highest-trafficked motorcycle site on the web. He’s also the executive director of Riders University, a registered public charity for the benefit of training motorcycle riders.

Once he’d decided to do the build, DiSabatino started looking for someone to handle the actual construction and discussed the project with several willing wrenches. The project eventually caught the attention of Thad Wolff, an ex-AMA Superbike racer and motorcycle restorer with more than a few projects under his wing.

Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Wolff battled the likes of Freddie Spencer, Wayne Rainey, Eddie Lawson and Wes Cooley. He was AHRMA Superbike Champion in 2007, and stays active as a track instructor and professional rider today. “When I met Thad, I asked him about his abilities as a mechanic. His response was vague and he steered the conversation to, ‘show me what you want done.’ Thad never told me his history as a racer. He never even told me of his personal experience with this era of bikes, never mind his current racing career,” DiSabatino says. As they were to discover, DiSabatino and Wolff’s paths had crossed before.





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