Story and photos by Glenn Roberts
Curtis Beck has built around 20 bikes over the past several years – most of them streetbikes. He has also been an avid drag racer since 1991, and has purpose-built a couple of bikes for the drag strip.
While he would rather own bikes that he has built himself, he watched his good friend Ted Glinny build this bike from its beginning and lusted after it from day one. When the opportunity arose to acquire it, Beck jumped at the chance to bring it home.
Glinny is well known in drag-racing circles, not only for his on-track prowess, but also for his machining and engine-building abilities. What was once a Kawasaki 1100R, Glinny has transformed into a 1425 cc, fire-breathing speed demon for street or track.
According to Beck, the bike’s stout engine is a well-known drag-racing configuration. “Anyone who knows Kawasaki drag motors wants that motor.” Beck listed off a few of the more notable items, like Mark II cases, a modified J-model head with eight plugs – Glinny machined the head to accept the extra plug per cylinder – and it’s tuned to take full advantage of the bank of 40 mm Mikuni carbs, the Dyna 4000 ignition and a handmade exhaust (built for the left side, so as to not interfere with the kick-starter).
In his many years at the track, Beck has learned that to make the best drag engine, you have to mix different parts from various years. “Some years have better cranks, others might have better heads, better cases,” he said. Glinny has accumulated this valuable knowledge over the last few decades and knows which components work best to build the ultimate Kawi drag-race engine.
While Beck is enthusiastic about the engine work and the resulting 165-plus horsepower it produces, he is quick to point out all of the trick bits Glinny created or modified for the bike. Items like the billet-aluminum triple trees, headlight brackets, hand grips, mirror stalk, brake fluid reservoir, engine mount brackets – and the list continues to grow as Beck rhymes the items off. But without a doubt, his favourite part of the bike is the machining work Glinny did on the left-side transmission housing, clutch cover and shifter components.
While the liberal use of billet aluminum is more than adequate to show off Glinny’s talents as a hobby machinist and the magic he can do with a milling machine, it’s the serious weight saving that really shines as a result of his handiwork. By comparison, Beck’s purpose-built drag bike that he fabricated two years ago tips the scales at around 189.5 kg; this bike is only about 2 kg heavier. In addition to the billet aluminum, all steel pieces that could be drilled have been drilled. In fact, looking under the seat at the frame’s rear section reveals more holes than a block of Swiss cheese.
Beck will be campaigning his regular drag bike this year, but past years on this custom Kawi has rewarded the rider with quarter-mile times in the low 9s, and speeds in the high 140 to low 150 mph range. “It moves!” says Beck, flatly. Now, that statement doesn’t need any explanation…
|Time to Build:||One winter|
|Year:||Mixture 1973 to 1984|
|Lower End:||1984 J-model|
|Carburetor:||Mukuni 40 mm|
|Exhaust:||Custom left side|
|Swingarm:||Yamaha R1, extended 20 cm, internal air reservoir for air shifter|
|Modifications:||The frame is drilled out for weight savings|
|Triple Trees:||Ted Glinny custom machined|
|Painting:||Connery Paint, Scarborough|
|Tire Make and size:||Pirelli Corsa 17|
|Tire Make and size:||Pirelli Corsa 180/17|
|Essentials:||Custom billet lock-up clutch cover, billet handgrips, headlight brackets, triple trees, brake reservoirs, billet mirror, shift linkage, motor mounts, rear caliper mount, outboard support, chain guard. Full on-board air shifter, carbon-fibre fender|