Tag Archives: Kawasaki 454 LTD

Dragon Fire Kawasaki 454 LTD

When I was in college I owned a Kawasaki 454 and loved riding that bike. It is the bike that I learned on and got my license with. That was 20 years ago. That motorcycle was sold to pay bills and rent when I got out of college. Since that time a motorcycle has always taken back seat to other needs. But the desire to ride never went away.   For years I have been watching biker build offs and the guys at Orange County Choppers on television.  I often searched eBay dreaming of getting a bike, but the money always seemed to go to something else.  Then one day I found a 454 for sale for $500 on eBay.  I found myself hitting the bid now button.  It was a basket case, but I saw what it could be.  It wasn’t a Harley, but I knew it could turn heads and would be a fun bike.

Pulled from years sitting in the weeds

Pulled from years sitting in the weedsCleaned up and running again.

Here it is cleaned up and running.

Here it is cleaned up and running.

Proud that is runs again after the first test ride

Proud that is runs again after the first test ride

Gas tank with big dent and lots of dings

Gas tank with big dent and lots of dings


Rust and oxidation removed from the engine and pipes

Rust and oxidation removed from the engine and pipes

White oxidation buffed off of the engine

White oxidation buffed off of the engine

Now that the bike was running and cleaned up, it was time to do some customization.

The Painting Begins - First a coat of black

The Painting Begins - First a coat of black

Dents filled with bondo and dings filled in. Painted with black

Dents filled with bondo and dings filled in. Painted with black

The front fender was torn and had to be repaired with fiber glass and then painted black

The front fender was torn and had to be repaired with fiber glass and then painted black

Notice here too that the front mag wheels were sand blasted.  Parts of them were then buffed out to a chrome shine.

This is a photoshop rendering of one design idea.  I wanted to incorporation a dragon theme into the bike.

This is a photoshop rendering of one design idea. I wanted to incorporation a dragon theme into the bike.

This was the final design I painted on the gas tank.  The words Tae Kwon Do in Korean are on the top of the tank.

This was the final design I painted on the gas tank. The words Tae Kwon Do in Korean are on the top of the tank.

The tank back on and new handle bars

The tank back on and new handle bars

The engine was buffed up to a chrome like shine.

The engine was buffed up to a chrome like shine.

The Brakes which was originally black was also polished up to a chrome like shine

The Brakes which was originally black was also polished up to a chrome like shine

The cables were covered in stainless steel mesh.

The cables were covered in stainless steel mesh.

A nice upgrade to the look is covering the old black cables with stainless steel mesh.  The least expensive way to do this is to get stainless steel covered water lines from Home Depot.  You can easily remove the mesh from the plastic tubing and then slip it over your cables.  This really looks sharp and protects your cables.  You can also see the new turn signals in this photo.

The steel mesh taken from a water line

The steel mesh taken from a water line

If you are going to do restoration work, having all of these tools really helps getting things to shine again.

If you are going to do restoration work, having all of these tools really helps getting things to shine again.

Here it is with the tank and front fender painted.  My Mustang I painted sits behind.

Here it is with the tank and front fender painted. My Mustang I painted sits behind.

The tank and bars.  The caables were also covered in stainless steel mesh.

The tank and bars. The caables were also covered in stainless steel mesh.

The New Fiberglass Fender

The New Fiberglass Fender

I found this fender for sale on eBay.  It is a nice gel coated heavy fiberglass fender.  I am not sure what it was originally designed for, but with some modifications I can see it looking nice on my bike.

I purchased a fender from eBay that I liked.  Here I am starting to work on how it fits.  Needs to be trimmed.

I purchased a fender from eBay that I liked. Here I am starting to work on how it fits. Needs to be trimmed.

Here the fender has been trimmed and fitted into place.

Here the fender has been trimmed and fitted into place.

A new seat was also found.  Here they are just positioned to test.

A new seat was also found. Here they are just positioned to test.

Here is how the fender was cut to fit in place.  The other peice will hold the passenger seat.

Here is how the fender was cut to fit in place. The other peice will hold the passenger seat.

The fender secured in place.

The fender secured in place.

Seat mount

Seat mount

I wanted the passenger seat to be raised a bit and I also wanted something to mount my tail light to.  I used the piece of fender that had been cut out to made this part.  Then end of this piece was fiberglassed for the taillight.

The passenger seat is attached to the fiberglass peice I fabricated and the taillight is attached to it.

The passenger seat is attached to the fiberglass piece I fabricated and the taillight is attached to it.

The fender is then airbrushed with the real fire flames.

Here is the first pass of candy red.  The flames are roughed out.

Here is the first pass of candy red. The flames are roughed out.

The first pass of orange is airbrushed on the fender

The first pass of orange is airbrushed on the fender

Here the air covers are ready to be painted as well.  Here are the tools to paint the fire.

Here the air covers are ready to be painted as well. Here are the tools to paint the fire.

The flames take on more depth after about 3 more passes of color.

The flames take on more depth after about 3 more passes of color.

The old sissy bar supports are cut and reshapped.

The old sissy bar supports are cut and reshapped.

I fabricated a new sissy bar out of steel.  Notice the Yin and Yang.

I fabricated a new sissy bar out of steel. Notice the Yin and Yang.

Here is the final product with the new fender.

Here is the final product with the new fender.

The next step in this project is to turn it into a real chopper by extending the forks.  Doing this is not as easy as just putting long tubes in.  Care must be taken with the geometry at this point.  You need to look closely at the triple T’s and their connection to the frame.  You need to calculate out the rake and trail that the geometry creates. You want to extend the forks forward and make sure you keep positive trail, but not so much that it makes it hard to steel. If you alter the tripple T’s instead of the steering neck, its easy to end up with negative trail which is very unstable.

From www.customchoppers.info

If you would like to know more about rake and trail this link is a good start.  Click here