Bob Leonard’s Kawasaki Bushmasters


I saw in a recent edition of Motorcycle Classics that editor Richard Backus’ first bike was a 1971 Kawasaki Bushmaster. So was mine. When I got back into motorcycling after a 35 year break to get married, raise kids, etc., the first thing I wanted to do was find and restore a Bushmaster like the one I had “back in the day.” I ended up finding two non-runners, which I intended to turn into one restored bike, but one thing lead to another and I ended up restoring both of them.

I recently rode the Bushmaster with the luggage rack on the VJMC’s ride through Death Valley. The ride covers 500 miles over a weekend, with some massive elevation changes adding quite a bit of extra difficulty. Despite having to transport my 250 pounds, plus some spare gas and a few other essentials, my Bushmaster came through with flying colors.

With a proper set-up and some decent maintenance, these Bushmasters were (and are) excellent machines. And the extra satisfaction gained from accomplishing an objective with limited resources is something I just don’t get riding a big bike. Everybody should try it! MC

Photo courtesy Bob Leonard: The search for one nice Bushmaster turned into two restorations.

10/17/2019 10:27:28 PM

I had one of those. Great little bikes, really pretty colour too. Rode it for a year or so and traded it in on a Kawasaki G4 100 Trail Boss. That bike went everywhere till I needed a roof and sold it and bought a VW Bug for 3rd yr University. Glad you restored the bikes Richard, nice job.

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