I traded my Gold Wing in at Steve Rhodes Motorcycles for a second hand early model GT750 shaft drive Kawasaki. It was fitted with a nice set of Sigma hard panniers so once I had fitted a suitable screen I had the makings of a good Rally bike.
I wanted something I could use all the year round that would be a bit newer and faster than the old 500 four Honda that I was using as my solo bike.
The GT750 had a superb engine, a GPZ750 detuned for more mid range power. I was a bit concerned at first by an occasional cam chain rattle when I first started it up. I found out that there was a modified cam chain tensioner fitted to later bikes and that it was cheap and easy to fit. That was the only engine problem I had. They were a dependable bike, Alan Barclay did well over 100,000 miles on his with few problems.
The brakes were strange, very good in the dry but even better in the wet! The early sintered brake pads were evil. After nearly falling off due to the front wheel locking up a couple of times in the wet I changed the standard Kawasaki pads for organic pattern ones and it cured the problem. After a couple of years the superb looking black chrome silencers started to sound a bit sporty. When I had a feel round to find a hole I put my fingers through them, the black chrome was like an eggshell and was the only thing keeping the silencer in one piece! Fortunately I managed to find a bright chrome standard exhaust system in the small ads of Motor Cycle News so that cured the problem.
The bike always had slightly dubious handling at higher speeds, a sort of a weave/wobble that gradually set in above about 90ish. This was not a bad thing really as it helped keep the petrol consumption acceptable. The bike was quite lively though and could eat back tyres if you were using the performance. One year I had put a new back tyre on to go to the Isle of Man then after a week back at work I went up to Scotland with Jim Waugh to take pictures for the Castles photographic competition that Jimmy Twaddle used to run. We also went to the Mad Scots rally in Glen Coe. On the way home I had canvas showing in the middle of my rear tyre, it was less than a month old and had done just over 2000 miles.
Another problem I had also happened in Scotland. I had stopped to fill up with petrol and when I restarted it only ran on two cylinders. One of the twin coils had failed. We were half way between Edinburgh and Berwick. I knew there was a Kawasaki dealer in Edinburgh but we needed to take a picture in Berwick - the Castles competition again. So we carried on on two cylinders and the next day rode back to Edinburgh, still on two cylinders, where I bought a new coil. The fact that they had one in stock tells you something! However, spares prices for Kawasakis seemed almost reasonable, I am not sure if they still are.
I liked the GT a lot but eventually due to the winter salt etc it was looking more than a little scruffy. I considered doing a cosmetic rebuild, but as by then I had bought myself a BMW R100RS that needed some miles putting on it, I decided it made more sense to just sell it.
- Ted Trett