Fair Value for Kawasaki KZ400 (Non-Runner)

Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by superslomo, May 23, 2013.

  1. superslomo

    superslomo Adventurer

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    So, a friend's stepfather is selling his former toy... Kawasaki KZ400 "ran when I parked it in the garage 23 years ago". I think he'd be happy to have someone who would make it a ridden runner again, and is willing to take any semi-reasonable offer.

    What should I look for/check for? Obviously, the engine has to be non-seized, maybe try to turn it over, but after that long the carbs are likely to be thrashed.

    Features to check for? Worth anything at all?

    This is sort of a project thing, I'm not expecting awesome transportation from it, I have my wee-strom for that, but my wife's been militating for a new motorcycle, and I'm wondering whether this might be a reasonable thing for the right price.

    So... what's a right enough price to make it worthwhile?
    #1
  2. Fleksta

    Fleksta Been here awhile

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    For a complete non-runner in good cosmetic shape I'd say a dollar per cc sounds fair. Its one of those things that could be cheap to get going again or cost more to bring back than the bike is worth.

    If it really hasn't moved in 23+ years you're looking at replacing any rubber seals, rebuilding calipers, replacing brake lines, rebuilding the carbs, tires/tubes, etc. It all adds up fast.
    #2
  3. superslomo

    superslomo Adventurer

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    Given that you can find a running UJM in adequate on-the-road condition for about $1000-$1500, this might not be a worthwhile endeavor. If I do it, it's as much to have the experience of tearing down and rebuilding a bike, which I've never done. The strom is pretty reliable, so I've been basically just doing oil changes and chain lubes.

    Are these a beast to work on, if I'm just figuring it out as I go along?
    #3
  4. jordan325ic

    jordan325ic Been here awhile

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    I love my little 79 KZ400. Great commuter bike and will do highway without drama. Designed with easy maintenance in mind, it was one of the selling points. Very simple to work on. However, they're not worth too much, I bought my pristine, great-running, low mileage KZ400 for $1400 and I was hesitant to pay that much. Twins from that era are growing in value but only the CB series seems to be something you could get your money back out of. But who knows, nowadays in my area people are trying to sell hacked UJM cafes for $3000 so it's anyone's guess.

    KZ400s from 1974-1977 have the earlier engine, which had a more classic look and external oil lines which have a slight tendency to leak. 1978 and after KZ400s have an updated engine with internal oil passages and a 6 spd transmission. There were a few trim levels, the "Special" - stripped down, no centerstand, no tachometer, drum front brake, for only $995! The "Standard" - centerstand, tachometer, front disc brake, and the "Deluxe" - Same as a standard but with factory hard-bags, vetter fairing and a sweet brown seat. The "LTD" was the factory chopper, similar to the standard but with cast wheels, stepped seat, fat rear tire and a different frame. None are collectable, they're all worth about the same.

    My biggest worry would be parts availability when doing a huge restoration. Old UJMs don't necessarily have terrific factory support after 30 years. Given the vast majority of rubber parts will be rock-hard on that bike I would see what small parts are still available new.

    It's all about the storage prep. If the tank had fuel when it was parked you might be searching for a new tank. If the bike was stored outside you'll be looking at water in the engine and lots of engine work, plus brittle plastics and rusted everything. Carbs will certainly need to be gone through regardless, and you'll probably be looking at aftermarket diaphragms and new float valves at the minimum. Petcock will probably need rebuilding/replacing. All hoses are probably shot at this point. New chain and tires. At least checking and re-greasing suspension bearings.

    See if the engine will turn over. If it turns over smoothly and doesn't feel like the cylinders are rusted, offer $100-$400 depending on condition. If it doesn't turn over... see if you can get a free project.

    This is the website for everything KZ400.
    http://www.kz400.com/

    [​IMG]
    #4
  5. KZDon

    KZDon Adventurer

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    It has a kickstarter, so consider a teaspoonful of oil or some WD40 down the spark plug holes, let it sit for an hour or overnight, then gently kick it, without the plugs in, to see if there's movement.

    I agree that you'll be changing everything rubber on it. It's all mostly available and the parts are very standard. If you can't find it through the KZ400 forum, try KZRider.com, Partsnmore.com and BikeBandit.com. You should be able to pick up a carb rebuild kit as well, and you'll want see if you can get petcock parts as the old ones will leak.

    For the tank, pour a bottle of CLR into it, swirl it around and let it sit over night. Rinse. Repeat. When the effluent is fairly cleanish, rinse with clear water then spray the insides with WD40 to displace the water and keep it from rusting while you do other work. I prefer this to having tanks sprayed or lined. I learned it from the former editor of Cycle Canada Magazine who wrote an article on resurrecting a less old KZ. I may be able to scare up the article if you PM me.

    As otherwise noted, this will be a labour of love and you might get to ride it one day. Keep posting updates if this goes through. It would be a shame to let it get junked.
    #5
  6. TonyKZ1

    TonyKZ1 Been here awhile

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    As stated above, hopefully it's a 78+ KZ400. I had a '75 KZ400D, I bought it in 2003 as a former running, ie. non-runner, for $300. Some parts were a little hard to come by sometimes as there were a few parts that were 74-75 only. However one vendor I had found that had more parts and was more helpful than any of the others was http://z1enterprises.com/.
    Tony
    #6
  7. superslomo

    superslomo Adventurer

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    More details have arrived: it's a 1974 KZ400S, kickstart, drum brakes front and rear.

    The owner (father of a buddy of mine) said he would take $100 for it, he just wants to know it's not going to be a parts bike or scrap. I'm possibly going to go have a look in person, but I'm ALSO going to look into how hard it might be to find parts. He seems to think the bike as a whole is in good nick, but would need a fork rebuild. That, and every bit of rubber in the place, and if that's ALL it is (along with probably a carb rebuild, tank cleanout etc?) it might be a neat idea.

    I'm a little tiny bit sketched out by the idea of front drums, but this would probably be a sort of gift for my wife, who wants an old, simple bike to get herself back into riding... the kickstarter is a bit worrisome, but might be a possibility as well.
    #7
  8. jordan325ic

    jordan325ic Been here awhile

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    Well, for a bike that's been sitting for 23 years, drum brakes are way easier to get working. A disk brake would likely need a full caliper and master cylinder rebuild. Drum brakes probably just lubricating the cable and pivot points and you'll be good to go (with new pads).

    My 79 is very easy to kickstart, can do it by hand. However when the weather is cold (45 or lower) I have never found any good way to start it with the kickstarter, it needs the starter to start in really cold or humid weather.
    #8
  9. TonyKZ1

    TonyKZ1 Been here awhile

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    I've still got a an oem air filter for it if you decide to buy the bike. I bought it for my '75 KZ400D, forgot about it when I sold the bike and didn't find it until much later. Let me know if you're interested.
    Tony
    #9
  10. superslomo

    superslomo Adventurer

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    Sounds awesome. I'm still hemming and hawing, I've got more projects than cash right now, but next time I have a truck and a ramp to borrow, I'm going to go down and kick the tires and pick it up, in all likelihood.
    #10
  11. JerryH

    JerryH Banned

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    Parts availability is the big problem with such a bike. Don't worry about the brakes, they are fine. IF you can still find shoes for them. Drum brakes get a bad rap, and some of them were pretty bad, like those on old British bikes, but the brakes on a '70s Japanese bike are fine. Takes a little more pressure on the lever, but not much.
    #11
  12. willis 2000

    willis 2000 neo-quixote

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    if it has pod air filters, it is worthless
    #12
  13. StreetBlighter

    StreetBlighter Jim

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    I just picked up a like-new kz400 with 3000 miles for $500. Starts right up on the first kick and is great fun. There are lots of these for sale in very good condition. That project might cost you more in parts replacement than just getting one in good shape to begin with.

    Love the bike though...light and fun and 50mpg

    Edited- 50mpg
    #13
  14. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    I am looking for a KZ400 or 440 (not ltd).
    Drum brakes and spoke wheels prefered!

    They seem like great bikes.
    I test rode a rust bucket and should have got it for $1000.00 but someone else snapped it up quick, even though it was a real mess.

    The engine was smooth and quiet, and ran quite well.
    #14
  15. HapHazard

    HapHazard Waiting for Gudenov

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    I sold a non-runner 75 KZ400 (with front disk) for $225. I was happy.

    I had gone through it in 1981 after it had sat for 5 years outside. My Dad wanted it after I finished it. He let it sit for about 25 years (inside) and it was about in the same shape as it had been in 1981. If I fixed it, I doubt I'd have gotten my money back ($700 parts cost), you can buy runners for that here.

    If it had excited me enough to keep it, I'd have fixed it. If you can get it for $100 and want to fix and keep it, go for it.

    You won't have to rebuild the master cylinder and caliper and replace the lines with the drum, and the disk wasn't exactly a Brembo setup, and when they sit, they are trashed.

    (I have a pair of OEM fork tubes for the KZ400 I'd give somebody a deal on - the stockers usually are pitted to hell).
    #15
  16. StreetBlighter

    StreetBlighter Jim

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    May be interested in those fork tubes when I get home. Currently riding my KZ400 from Lake Michigan home to New Orleans.

    This is a great little bike! I highly recommend buying one if you find one for the right price. Extremely nimble, quick, easy to handle. Feels as light as a bicycle compared to the r1100gs.

    One word: fun!
    #16
  17. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    Anyone make new stators for these bikes?

    Looking at the web info, I think I want a 1980 KZ440b, drum brakes, 6 speed trans, tach, better engine (oil leaks).

    There is a bad stator 1975 kz400 for $900.00 not so close to me...
    #17
  18. vanislejay

    vanislejay Been here awhile

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    Check the insurance rates in your state. When I lived in BC the cut off for cheap insurance was 400cc. The 440 would have cost me an extra $200 per year.
    #18
  19. zap2504

    zap2504 Dave E.

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    #19
  20. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    Thanks for that!
    #20