DOING GOOD | Good Deed Garage Kawasaki Z500

Words: Cliff Overton Photography: Luke Ray.

It all started with a Facebook post. Ted Mayberry put up a free bike to the first person who said yes. It was a clapped out mostly there little Kawasaki two-stroke dirt bike and I had no clue how to fix it, but I eagerly said “Yes!”. Once he confirmed it was mine I started to think, “I just got a bike for free, how can I pay this forward and keep this generosity going”? I decided then and there to fix the bike up and raffle it off with all proceeds going to charity. I put the word out that this was my plan and straight away Phil Watkins gave me another little Kawasaki with a good engine to use for parts. From there it just grew.

As soon as I had the name up on a Facebook page, ‘Good Deed Garage’ took off. People put their hands up to do the powder coating, tank painting, photography, upholstery, donate spare parts, tyres, spokes, logo design, servicing and tuning and even money for more spare parts. Everyone chipped and the project started to come together.

Meanwhile I started having delusions of grandeur and imagined Good Deed Garage becoming this amazingly cool place with coffee and food and space to fix up bikes for charity, and a safe space for people to relax and talk. Then I realised it is never going to be a place. It will just be a way of doing things. Good Deed Garage has no base, it is shared by everyone who helps out and open for anyone to promote.

That Kawasaki G4TR took around eight months to put back together, in that time I decided that the money raised would go to the charity ‘Beyondblue’.  I was off work and getting treatment for PTSD so I figured Beyondblue was a cause close to my heart (or head). So, late December we held a raffle draw at the Suus venue in Collingwood, Melbourne. With the bike on display one lucky local won the bike and we were able to donate over six grand to Beyondblue so that made the whole thing worthwhile.

Not too long after the giveaway I had the G4TR on show at the Classic Japan car and bike day and a guy named Mark Morris comes up to me and says “Do you take bikes, I have this race bike I was building and …”.  That’s how we ended up with the 2016 GDG project – a Kawasaki Z500 with a GPZ550 engine in it.

I decided to go a little more custom this time round and build a street tracker of sorts. I had an idea for how I wanted it to look so once it was parked in my garage I got started straight away. I soon realised that this build was going to cost more than the last, but thanks to the generosity of the Melbourne motorcycle community it all came together.

Over the course of 2016 I have had three running bikes donated to Good Deed Garage to be sold off. This put enough cash into the build fund to get the Z500 tracker built. I also got major support from Motogadget who donated just about one of everything from their range for the project, so this bike is Motogadget equipped top to tail.

The ‘Motogadget’ Z500 tracker runs a Z550 engine with older style carbies that can run pod filters. This is how the engine came so I figured leave it as is. The frame got a bit of tail end custom work, lots of de-tabbing and a new rear hoop to support the seat pan. I chose the Ford ‘Ice Mint’ colour as I had just used it on another project and thought it would make the frame pop. The paint was done by Dan Henricksen and is supposed to be a subtle nod to the Kawasaki green, blue, white colour scheme but with an ‘80s graphic twist.

That full suite of Motogadget gear includes an m-unit, m-lock, m-button, m-switches, motoscope mini gauge, front indicators and rear integrated brake/tail/indicators. David Anderson from Keband helped me to seal the deal. He also spent quite a few hours patiently wiring it all up so it works with a swipe of the fob. 

Those lovely pipes are the work of Ben Doswell at DOZFAB up in Cockatoo. I gave him free reign to come up with a unique 4-into-1 system that would work with my muffler. Ben has done an amazing job and I reckon this work will have him busy building pipes for other customers for a quite some time. Further custom work includes a Honda CB360 tank that took several attempts to get mounted right, aluminium electrics tray and a fibreglass seat pan.

The bike is now in the final stages of shakedown before the raffle begins. I plan to take it to a pro mechanic for a careful once over to make sure all is put together right, tuned and running sweet (just to be extra sure). Then the raffle can kick off. This time all the money raised goes to the ‘Make a Wish Foundation’ Australia. I gave Mark the option to choose the charity since he donated the bike and hopefully we will raise 8 to 10 grand this time around.

What’s next? I plan to make it easy for myself, I have a lot of CB450 parts from my own previous builds. So I am going to donate them to Good Deed Garage to kick off the 2017 project. A scrambler this time, with a few custom twists. Meanwhile, I would like to organise a bike show maybe, call it ‘The Good Show’ and use that event to raise money for charities. So if anyone wants to help out you can connect with us by emailing gooddeedgarage@outlook.com.

This article first appeared in Tank Moto issue 11.

Follow Cliff: @good_deed_garage.