Camchain and tensioner seen up close in a cutaway bike engine

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Jade's Kawasaki Zephyr 550 Custom Chop

Post Date - 21 February 2017

By Jade Lloyd

Jade sat on her Triumph Street Triple smiling with her helmet on

Where did it begin? The love for motorcycles has been innate and it has surrounded me by living in a biker family.

Being the only daughter in a biker family I always felt I had something to prove. Especially to my father, who has been my main influence within the bike world.

I rode off road bikes as a kid and as soon as I turned 16 I did my CBT and at 17 passed both tests first time and got my 'BIG' bike licence. What a proud moment for me that was - and my mom, she had already told everyone before I had chance to scream motorcycle!

I went from a TS50 to an EN125, I then had a few bandits - one 400 and two 600s. I then purchased a Kawasaki Z800 and currently still have a Triumph street triple and my Kawasaki Zephyr custom chop. I refer to my chop as ‘The Beast’.

The chop as featured in a magazine looking excellent

The beast was a gift from my dad, who is a member in the National Chopper Club and therefore loves customs himself. I grew to share this passion!! And every chance I got to shadow the mechanical work my dad did in his garage I was there, and then I would go straight off to the chop to do the work on that.
The beast was completely stripped from its frame, it became a shell. The back foot pegs were ground out and welded back to a smooth frame which alongside its wheels were then powder coated matt black and the engine resprayed. A spray job to the tank and mud guards was done in a black base with emerald green micro flake and a black tinted lacquer finish. All the rusty bolts were replaced or wire brushed back to silver. The brake lines were replaced to match the colour scheme of the bike as well as the levers, mirrors and even down to the dust caps (great green smiley's). The single seat was re-upholstered and the clutch casing was engraved with a lion beauty beast design. Headlights with integrated indicators on the front and back made this bike look stealthy with the addition of micro switches to make the handlebars look switch free.

Smiley face valve cap and an exhaust ready to be fitted

With the bike being a custom chop I found it difficult to insure as I was under 25 years of age at the time of insuring it (and still am). There are only a few companies that will insure me. This was frustrating as I just wanted to get out and ride it. Eventually after ringing around and having to send in images of the bike I managed to get it insured with Ramasis, who also did me a great deal with a multi-bike policy when I added my others.
Riding the bike is amazing although long journeys are not so comfy, in fact neither is the M54. Not having shocks means my lower back takes the bashing but it's worth it, especially for the look I get when I pull up. I'm sure people expect a hairy bloke to step off it and then there I am, a small blonde usually with my array of coloured Doctor Martens! Although nine times out of ten they're my green ones as it matches the paint job, after all girls will be girls.
The relationship with this bike is a love hate one, I love riding the beasty machine but I hate that something always brakes after riding it. It was rideable for one day and then off the road for weeks. So with encouragement from my partner that's when we decided to strip it and rebuild it to give it a fresh lease of life hoping it would diminish the brake downs - so far, its worked!

The frame, motoe, wheels and fork all stripped down in the workshop
montage of the chop in various stages of build

Give it another year or so and I’ll no doubt have it re stripped for a freshen up again but this time there will be a complete engine rebuild and maybe a paint change.

Despite the ups and downs with the bike, the Beast has been blessed to have:

  • Best Ol’ Ladies Bike Trophy at the National Chopper Club August 2015 Run.
  • Best Custom Bike at the Stone Cross MCC 2015 Event.
  • Best Ladies Bike Trophy at the National Chopper Club March 2016 Run.
  • Best in Show at Lynx MCC 2016 Custom Show.
  • Front cover and a six page feature, including the poster in Back Street Heroes Magazine.

The cover of back street heroes magazine featuring Jade and her chopper

Having the the chance to strip and rebuild my chop was a fantastic achievement. It then gave me the inspiration to strip and change a helmet to a style that I liked. So I found my old helmet, sanded it back, glued on the colour coordinating gems and spikes and lacquered them in. The result was actually better than I imagined.

Montage of the helmet changine from flower pattern to crazy spikey and encrusted

Have you built your own custom/chop/rat/bobber/etc? We'd love to feature it here. It could be a brief explanation and a few images right through to several pages following every detail. Click Here.

Reader's Comments

125Tony said :-
Hi Jade, nice write up and thanks for sharing. Although not my personal thing I do appreciate the work involved having helped a couple of mates with theirs. Might I suggest the next time you freshen it up you incorporate either plunger rear suspension or at least a sprung seat. Either I think wouldn't spoil the overall appearance, especially if you're feeling it in the lower back now. I know too many old bikers, blah blah blah....
21/02/2017 04:23:18 UTC
Jade Lloyd said :-
Hi 125Tony,
Yes, good idea, That is always something to consider.. Thank you. :-)
21/02/2017 06:03:22 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Hi Jade.

BIG big big thanks for sending this to Sharon so we can publish it. This is just the kind of thing we want more of on the site. Love it :-)
21/02/2017 06:15:22 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Not really my style either but congratulations on a job well done. I know how much work goes into something like this.
22/02/2017 11:44:33 UTC
Bob said :-
A neat build, I've had 3 hardtails and prefer the lowrider (feet under your bum) as opposed to the feet-forward position.
I put sprung saddles on mine and ran the rear tyre at about 10 psi but in the end the state of the roads round Sheffield and my advancing middle-age made me move onto something more comfortable!
22/02/2017 12:10:38 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Having started my riding career surrounded by friends with chops, rats and ratty choppers I have a deep appreciation of this kind of bike. I always thought when I "grew up" I'd have my own chop or customised bike of some kind. What I learned over the years is I have neither the skills or the patience to create my own "Beast" in any style.

Unless you've been involved with the kind of people who build these things I guess most folks won't know the energy and love put into these things. I'm not talking about those who go to a custom shop and shell out cash, I mean those people who have a frame on the kitchen table, a motor in the shed and design decisions made over a brew and a smoke.

Having briefly ridden a hardtail once I think "sprung" anything is a good idea.
22/02/2017 12:49:49 UTC
Jade Lloyd said :-
Thank you all.. it is lovely to herbour comments. A lot of hard work, blood, sweat & tears went into this & I am so proud to be able to say he's mine.. :-)
23/02/2017 06:44:35 UTC
Ren - The Ed said :-
Ahhh, blood sweat and tears. Translate that to chaffed knuckles, hauling motors out of frames and lying in bed wondering if it will ever ever ever be worth it.

I can imagine the sense of satisfaction you get when you step back at the end and say "I made that".
24/02/2017 03:15:18 UTC

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