Hooniverse Two-Wheel Tuesday – The Bikes of Alfaheaven.com


It’s Two-Wheel Tuesday again, so let’s pay a visit to one of my favorite places, Alfaheaven. This is one very unique business, with ex-military vehicle sales combined with the love of the pre-Fiat Alfa Romeo, as well as vintage 70’s Japanese Motorcycle parts. So, why am I revisiting this place for Two-Wheel Tuesday? Two reasons: Alfaheaven will soon re-open their museum to visitors in the spring, with a dedicated motorcycle building filled with hundreds of vintage Japanese bikes. The other reason for this posting? They have two 80’s vintage bikes for sale. Are they reasonable, or crave-worthy? Only you can decide that.


According to an article in Motorcycle Classics, the Kawasaki KZ750, introduced in 1976, seemed to be a curiosity within the Kawasaki product line.

If ever a machine was worthy of Under the Radar status, it’s the big twin Kawasaki KZ750. Never heard of it? Don’t feel bad, because the truth is, most people haven’t.
Introduced in 1976, the KZ750 was the odd-man-out in Kawasaki’s lineup, especially considering the new bikes Kawasaki had planned for 1977, which included the 4-cylinder KZ650 and KZ1000. Matched up against those two machines and the carry-over KZ900 four, the 750 didn’t quite make sense. With its legendary 2-stroke triples a thing of the past, Kawasaki’s performance machines were being defined by four cylinders. So why a big twin?

You can read more of that article at Motorcycle Classics. Taking the classic British big-twin formula, and making it dependable seemed like the ideal formula for success, but apparently not this time. If you are looking for one of these beauties, Alfaheaven has this one for sale. According to the listing:

1981 KZ 750. Good tires. Recovered seat. Sissy bar. Crossover headers. 26,xxx miles. Bad battery, bad starter clutch (will not crank engine). Spare engine for parts included. Clear title.

Asking price for this classic Japanese Twin (with spare parts included) is $500. Yes, five hundred US dollars. Is this bike worth the asking price? Only our faithful motorcycle fanatics can answer that.

The Yamaha 750 Virago has the distinction of being the very first Japanese V-Twin motorcycle, introduced in 1981. According to the website Find Cheap Bargains:

The Yamaha Virago motorcycle has a great little history behind it! As the very first V-twin motorcycle of the cruiser variety produced by the Japanese motorcycle corporations, it was a substantial enough cruiser motorcycle to scare Harley Davidson into requesting that additional taxes be put on any imported motorcycle over 700cc in engine size. This tactic did not stop Yamaha from importing the Virago, however. By the time of the tariff’s introduction, Yamaha was producing a 750cc engine and 920cc engine for the Virago. So Yamaha did what most smart corporations do: they attempted to sidestep the issue by lowering the Virago 750cc to a 699cc.

So, this particular bike put the scare to Big Bad Harley-Davidson. This bit of information actually makes the next bike offered by Alfaheaven even more desirable, as its a 1981 Yamaha 750 Virago, and according to the listing:

18,xxx miles. Nice original paint. Excellent tires. Good brakes. Jardine exhaust. No battery. No battery cover. Needs carbs cleaned (runs but idles poorly, rear carb floods)

$1,500 takes this bike home, but is the bike really worth that much? I am no motorcycle expert, so I will leave that particular question in the hands of the experts, our Hooniverse fanatics. See both of these bikes here.

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  1. west_coaster Avatar
    west_coaster

    Meh. I love '80s Japanese bikes, but not these cruiser wannabes. I can just picture them back in the day, with some guy on top wearing gold chains, a black Members Only jacket, and snow white Reebok sneakers.
    Give me a Kawasaki GPz 750 or 1100, a Yamaha FJ1100, or a Honda CB1100F any day. Yeah, they're more expensive, but there's a reason a '57 Chevy Bel Air is worth more than a '57 Nash.

  2. Black Steelies Avatar

    $500 is about all I would want to spend on one of these. Certainly not the most inspiring bikes and I never liked those two-step seats, they just look terrible to me. $1500 is a bit much considering the miles on the Virago, and Japanese cruisers got better later.

    1. topdeadcentre Avatar
      topdeadcentre

      The two-step seat has a few big advantages, especially the big comfy seat on the larger bikes (I have an '83 Suzuki GS1100GL). For two-up riding with female companions, the positioning is both a lot more comfortable and a lot more, ah, friendly for both driver and passenger.

      1. Black Steelies Avatar

        Yea I know, and I've come to appreciate comfortable looking bikes now that I ride one. Now that big, cushy Goldwing doesn't look quite so… old. My Ascot FT500 has a slight step but it's not as exaggerated as these.

  3. safetystephen Avatar
    safetystephen

    As a fellow Japanese bike fan, $500 seems spot on for a tatty but intact bike that needs some work up front. My buddy has a 750 Kawa Twin and it looks like a fine, fun light bike. He paid the same money and the bike is way less porky than my four cyliner KZ750-N. Kawa's of this era are not hard to work on, and parts are common as mud. His was in a similar state of neglect, and he got it going on the cheap.
    $1500 for the Yamaha seems a bit steep unless the beast in tip top shape for spring. If you can just drop in a battery and a run some carb cleaner through it and get though the season, sure. But, if there are unaddressed electrical issues and it needs a full tear-down to clean and calibrate those carbs, beginners might want to steer clear, unless again they like tinkering/Haynes manual deciphering, or a hefty mechanic's bill. I rebuilt my buddy's brakes on his Yamaha 550 four cylinder and it wasn't bad at all, but I can't speak for their innards in depth. He got his for $700.

  4. topdeadcentre Avatar
    topdeadcentre

    $500 will buy a nice _running_ example of either of these bikes from a classified ad. If you're going to buy from a dealer, the bike should be road-ready.
    Cruiser-styled UJM's from back in the 70s and 80s are cheaper than the sport models and standards for many reasons, but they're also less likely to have been thrashed. The whole "metric cruiser" lifestyle market hadn't developed yet, and the bikes weren't very different than the standard models they were based on.
    Care must be taken when buying, but you can get a good bike for cheap. Careful about that parts availability, though!

  5. CptSevere Avatar

    Those Kawasaki 750 twins never really got much love back in the day, they didn't have much of a reputation for being fast, nor did they have the classic look and feel of the Yamaha 650. In 1981, you could still get a new Triumph, and lightly used Nortons were fairly common, so the Kawi 750 was no big deal. Still, 500 dollars is a good price for the bike. Fifteen hundred bucks for a Virago, though, is ridiculous. Sorry, I never liked them, even though I realize that it is a decent engine, and there's really nothing wrong with the bike itself. I guess I won so many stoplight races against them on the Norton that I never gained much respect for them.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Just for the record, Kawasaki 750 pictured is not the twin. It's a version of the four-cylinder 750 introduced in 1980.

      1. CptSevere Avatar

        Yeah, of course you're right. I was on my way out the door this morning when I wrote that, and it looked like the LTD to me, and I couldn't remember whether or not the twin came in that version. I don't think it did, and that's clearly the four, which had a reputation as being a better bike.

  6. dtargonski Avatar
    dtargonski

    I thought the Kawi 750 twin was a CSR, not a KZ

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