Zack's Website

My Egotistic and Esoteric Website


I can't remember the year specifically, but circa 1985 my parents bought me a Yamaha QT50 Yamahopper moped. These were interesting in the fact that they were two-stroke 50cc engines, but the Ohio legislature didn't consider it a moped because it didn't have pedals. I wasn't old enough to get my street legal motorcycle temps, so I was only able to ride it around the 5 acre property we had. (And the occasional sneaking it up and down the street.) It got close to about 45 miles per hour according to the analog speedometer it had (but I'm not sure I trust that - it was probably more like 38mph). That was pretty good for me. Eventually, I mastered jumping it over dirt mounds and locking up the back brakes and having a good time with it. It came to its demise when I took one last jump and the handle bar stem cracked at the front fork tube. That was it. I couldn't extract the long bolt holding it all together. It was dead. I tried reserecting it, but it just wasn't worth the time or energy.

Life took over for a few decades, then I decided to take the Ohio Motorcycle Written Test and take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Beginner Riders course. For anybody interested (regardless of age), I highly recommend this rather than having your buddy teach you or learn on your own and try to pass the DMV test. You're gonna learn a lot about different bikes (if you haven't chosen one you like yet), you will also learn to handle manuvers (life saving) such as high speed swerves, emergency braking, and in my case riding in nasty weather (35 degrees, torrential rain, and over 40 mile per hour winds) in April - not fun, but the classes usually sell out for the entire year by March. So you take what you can get! The class runs rain or shine - no exceptions! You really learn to trust the machine you're riding, the traction of tires, your abilities, etc.

A couple of tips - bring water and snacks - there are several 10 or 20 minute breaks while they change the course up for the next lesson.

Here's a sneak peak of what's on the final test - you'll notice I got marked off for stalling the bike during the first braking test. That was due to the weather and the bike still being cold (even with the clutch pulled in) - my punishment for going first. Hah! Hah! I've included a weather report too, check out the 40 degree temperatures and 20 mile per hour sustained winds. The wind chill with wet rainy weather sucked on Sunday, but riding the bike made up for it - pure exhilerating fun!

Another tip is do what I did - I watched people get on Honda Rebel's, Susuki TU250's and struggle the entire weekend with the longer front end. Not me, I took the Yamaha TW200. Looked, acted, and sounded like the old Yamaha Enduro dirt bikes. Made it a lot more fun - like I was on a dirt track!

Sport Bikes

Anyway, I've always loved Yamaha's stuff, but I always liked the Kawasaki Ninja line also. I figured, you only live once (especially if you ride motorcycles), so time to get back and start riding again. I wasn't getting a 1000cc roadster or anything and I'd just kill myself on a supped up Ninja 1000...I'm not on the racetrack anyway. I kinda liked the look of standard sport/naked bikes as they are called. I was looking at the Kawasaki Z650, but got a good deal on a 2019 Kawasaki Z400 (pictured below). Figured it's more fun to drive fast on a slow bike, then drive slow on a fast bike. The Z400 will do over 120mph and pull a wheelie with me on it - not that I'm going to admit I did any of those two illegal acts on public roads!

My only dream is that people stop driving like idiots and watch what the hell they are doing when they are driving. You'd be amazed at the people looking down at their cellphones, not paying attention at intersections, etc. It's like Brooks says in Shawshank Redemption..."The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry.". It's kinda sad we can't take time to just relax, settle down and enjoy life.

Kawasaki Z400-ABS Specification Notes

This is for my reference, but if you've got a Z400 and do your own oil changes, this might help you.

There seems to be confusion over the Oil Filter Number. Working in the automotive field, I've seen vendors ship filters double gasketed (which can blow off) and destroy your engine. I've seen mislabled and misboxed filters too....again destroying a perfectly good engine. So when I was doing oil changes on the Kawi, I wanted to make sure I matched everything up to OEM specs....and found out there is some confusion over the part numbers.

The 2019 Kawasaki Z400 calls for a "16097-0552" filter, but these are almost impossile to find

After some research, the part numbers are different depending on where they were manufactured

16097-0004 - made in Japan (useful for cross-reference)
16097-0008 - made in China (commonly available)
16097-0552 - made in Thailand (comes on the bike)

So that clears that're probably going to find the "16097-0008" filter and that is what ships if you order from Kawasaki directly. There are other aftermarket compatible filters, but be careful, as they do change some of the shapes, etc. and it may not seat flat causing MAJOR issues. So buyer beware!

Dirt Bikes

Oh, I talked about dirt bikes above...I also have a 2019 Yamaha TTR230 that I like to play with on the weekends. If you're a dirt bike snob, you're probably saying "That's a 4-stroke thumper, not a 2-stroke". Which, you technically would be correct, but I'm not a 14 year old kid anymore. You won't see me on the motocross circuit, but I don't mind doing some trail riding on the weekends. I pretty much stick to the ATV and snowmobile trails - no single track type of riding. My lower back can't take the abuse. For me, it's just getting out there and having fun, getting a little dirty and enjoying nature. This bike is the perfect bike for trail riding - It's reliable (not like a 2-stroke that you'd constantly be working on), is pretty light, and has enough power to get me around and have a little fun with.

In June of 2020, I also purchased a "China Bike" to play with and build. I figured it's a little 230cc that I can ride around town, down to the beach or over to the store or campsite. It's not going to win any speed contests as the way it's geared and setup with the carb it will only achieve a top speed of 65mph or so. Which is fine by me. I just wanted a new toy to play with and build myself. Gives me a chance to learn some bike building, carb tweaking and modification on a bike that doesn't cost a lot and the technology is circa 1980's Honda era - so it's actually pretty dependable for the cost. Again, it's just a fun project.

The bike literally comes from China via a warehouse in California and Texas, and drop shipped to your house on a semi-truck. The box comes pretty beat up and there's a "birth mark" or two, but those get covered under warranty by the company - so some new pieces and a gear shifter were shipped to replace them at no cost to me.

In June of 2021, I also puchased another "China Bike" to play with. These are typically called Honda Grom clones. Much of the body/panels and aftermarket genuine Grom parts work and fit these clones. This is expected to deliver during the first week of July. Stay tuned for updates on the build process.

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