Kawasaki z400 (1976)

No, this isn't a pitcure of the bike I had — just one I managed to find on the cover of an old Haynes manual.

The z400 was my first 'real' motorcycle (after my Yamaha DX100 which, while a lot of fun, was hardly a machine that commanded respect!). I found it for sale in 1987, parked outside a roadhouse in Holbrook, NSW for the grand sum of $400 (which the astute among you will realise works out at a paltry $1 per cc). This seemed like an utter bargain to me, but being a hard-up student finding that sort of money was a problem. So I managed to lean upon a friend for a loan. Being a former bike-nut he understood my predicament and dug some money out of the till at his shop (let me hasten to add that it was his shop).

I rode this thing everywhere, including one memorable overnight trip from Sydney to Brisbane. You wouldn't think it possible, but yes, if you are tired and foolish enough you can fall asleep riding a motorcycle. Thankfully it was only a momentary lapse; I woke up with a start to find myself still very much in the centre of my freeway lane, and nearly in the centre of Brisbane. And also, a little bit wiser.

Unfortunately this machine was a bit 'tired' mechanically — especially by the time I had finished with it — and I didn't have the knowledge at that time to fix motorcycles properly. So that when I had a prang on it early in 1988, and let the rego. drop and was hard up for dollars, I went and sold it for $200 to a young bloke. Who no doubt thought that at 50 cents per cc it was a real bargain.

As soon as my budget would allow (ie. scrounging more money off mates, and for the first time, a bank as well) I went and landed a Yamaha XJ550...

For an excellent z400 site, you can't do much better than to go to Odd Ivar Bekkelund's site here. You'll also find a good load of pictures here at 'Classic Bikes'.


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