2001 Kawasaki W650 “Merlin” by Old Empire Motorcycles

Kawasaki 2001 W650 by OEMIn any business, as well as very often in life, you can find yourself facing a choice – to accept the challenge that life has thrown at you or just give up without even trying. For some of us it could be a tough choice, but that’s how we grow and that’s what makes our life exciting. I truly believe that if you like what you do it’s much easier to achieve desired result whether it’s a fantastic career or a crafty executed bike build.

The OEM team says that they always aim high, so what they wanted the donor Kawasaki W650 to become is no more, no less, just “the best custom W650 in terms of design and functionality”. Whether the guys have completed the task – that’s up to you to decide.
Kawasaki W650 custom
Being well familiar with OEM’s previous bikes I find many simular features which make all their builds stand out. Yet “Merlin” is really special: this is the first parallel twin and the first Kawasaki W650 the workshop has dealt with, so everything had to be done at its best.

Kawasaki W650 “Merlin” was built for a customer from Amsterdam. The general idea of the bike – what it should be and how it should work – was discussed via email and skype, but it was left for OEM to decide about the bike’s design to, as they say, “take the W650 somewhere we felt it had not been before”.
Kawasaki W650 custom built by OEM
The significant amount of time was spent planning and arranging the right stance and nice visual lines. A few of the first things that needed to be done were the fork replacement and the front rim changing. The guys dropped the front a little bit by installing Ducati upside down frok, then replaced a stock 18″ rim with a wider item, so the bulky Coker tires of the same size could be successfully accommodated.

The rear end was raised with the help of pair of Hagon shocks and proper top line was achieved by preplacing the tank rear mount and installing the custom made seat, so now from the yoke to the cowl everything looks fluently.
Kawasaki W650 the seat
“Merlin” retains the stock controls, but the speedo was changed. The new grey-faced metric speedo was fitted right into the custom top yoke, what made everything above the big bates headlight look super clean. The turn-indicators were chosen and installed to be unnoticeable – just like the customer asked.
W650 instrumentation
The local firm took care of the engine and the frame. They both weren’t in the best contition and the guys got them soda blasted before started building up the bike. The curbs were rebuilt and fitted with custom air filters and the exhaust pipes are made from tubular blends.Kawasaki the engine
Greg from Black Shuck Kustoms takes credit for the painting. He “achieved the fantastic dark green, smokey, bare metal high gloss finish with gold pin striping you see here”.

Kawasaki W650 by Old Empire Motorcycles
I bet “Merlin” will be attracting a lot of attention on the streets of Amsterdam.
Kawasaki W650