Catalog Custom 1999 Kawasaki Nomad

Ride & Shine

1999 Kawasaki Nomad
We decked our stock Kawasaki Nomad with all the bells and whistles from Kawasaki's Fire & Steel Cruiser Accessories catalog.Dean Groover

This article was originally published in the February 2000 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser.

As motorcycling credos go, “Born to Ride” is getting a little long in the tooth. We’re thinking of slipping “Born to Customize” into the new cruiser vernacular. Doesn’t roll off the tongue as crisply, we’ll admit, but it suits our purposes.

Up until a few years ago, there was just a handful of shops cranking out aftermarket accessories for cruisers. And those were sporadic in their offerings, catering to only a few makes and neglecting many popular model lines. Metric customizers, especially, seemed to be left out in the cold, doomed to a life of ordinariness. They wanted to cruise the boulevard with a flashy chrome facelift; they clamored for augmentation, too.

Clamor no more! These days, the market's awash with a plethora of options for metric riders. The big OEMs have stepped up, with Kawasaki dedicating an especially healthy volume entirely to its cruisers. And we've been hankering to take a crack at a big Kawasaki ever since we sunk our wrenches into last year's Vulcan Classic.

So, it was while drooling over a pile of these catalogs that we realized we had the perfect victim—a naked Nomad—bucking impatiently in the Motorcycle Cruiser paddock. Hallelujah. We grabbed the latest edition of Kawasaki's Fire & Steel Cruiser Accessories catalog (Volume III), our stock 1999 Kawasaki Nomad (carbureted), an innocent shop foreman, and got down to nuts and bolt-ons.

1999 Kawasaki Nomad aftermarket
A quick foray into Kawasaki’s substantial aftermarket cruiser catalog yielded brilliant results with minimal wrenching. Note the sculpted lines of the chrome speedometer cover accessory.Dean Groover

Throwing A Wrench In It

We commenced the wrenching first on the bow of our fine frigate, where we bolted on Front Fender Trim ($110), two curved parallel tubes of chromed steel. We had these shiny rails installed in minutes.

Above decks, we covered the handle­bar mount with a Handlebar Billet Clamp ($70). This one was a solid chrome-plated brick with a ribbed, raised design in the middle. It simply dropped down over the stock part, tarting up the top center of the handlebar. Since this is the spot most visible from the driver’s vantage point, you’ll be admiring your handiwork plenty.

Toward the end of the bar, we pop­ped on a couple of Chrome Lever Reservoir covers ($18), agreeably smooth and polished alternatives to stock lids emblazoned with DOT graffiti.

A quick scan down the front of the bike uncovered an unsettling windshield assembly. We jacketed the unsightly screws jutting out from the mounting brackets with Nomad Wind­shield Mount Covers ($210).

We needed some function with our form so a Billet Light Bar designed for the Nomad ($315) was tucked underneath the stock headlight. Sealed beam spotlights on either end spat out enough candlepower to land a small plane, and the triple chrome-plated finish shone like Liberace’s piano. We liked the uncluttered design of this rack and the way it complemented the stock headlamp.

Journeying to the center of the front wheel, we slipped billet Vulcan Front Axle/Nut Cover plugs ($50) over the front axle. This simple bolt-on added an exclamation point to an area where there was only a dull period before. The stock in­strument housing atop the gas tank looked homely, so we jazzed it up with a Chrome Billet Contoured Tank Panel ($170), courtesy of Pro-One. A substantial, sculpted chunk of chrome with instrument identity symbols engraved directly into the metal, it replaced a humdrum stock item. This high-profile area tends to be scrutinized by the public and peers alike, and a brilliant touch such as this can really boost your social ranking at the local riders’ club/Espresso Barn.

Down below, we slipped a Frame Junction Cover ($15)—a simple spring clip in basic black—over the front frame section, to streamline the fissure between the lower right front frame and frame tube. The clunky Allen bolts around the junction had been annoying us for months. After this quick fix, we breathed easier.

Since we were already monkeying around in the middle, we yanked the stock Nomad saddle. It didn't meet the lofty standards we normally insist on for our boyish keisters, so we attached a plush two-piece pad from Mustang Seats to replace it. The Vintage Style seat ($359), which featured a clean, braided trim and came supplied with chrome mounting hardware, bolted on in minutes. We sank into leathery nirvana, at just the right angle for cruising. Our only com­plaint was the curved back section of the front seat. The angle of this rise made us feel our caboose was bigger than the rest of the train. Then again, it probably was.

In between the cylinders, we slipped on ribbed chrome Air Filter Covers ($158) over the filters on both sides of the bike (a carbureted Nomad, remember) to dress up the lackluster neigh­borhood. They screwed right into the existing assembly. And, since we were already in the ’hood, we thought we’d clip on a Water Pump Cover ($39)—chrome, of course. Both modifications are popular with cruisers because they’re simple and the results are immediate.

1999 Kawasaki Nomad saddlebags
Air filter covers add visual panache, especially to the staid left side of the en­gine. A plush saddle from Mus­tang cushions your keister. A chrome driveshaft cover and Kawasaki logo floorboards spice up a normally drab area. Saddle­bag rails frame the contours of the bags and add storage options.Dean Groover

Over on the other side of town, we wired the Billet Key Choke and Switch Relocator, Smooth ($130), a Pro-One item. Not only did this dress up the left side behind the engine bay, it relocated the ignition switch and choke to one, easily accessible location. You’ll need the corresponding Vulcan Classic choke bracket for the setup, and be warned—this step took several hours (see page 92 of our October ’99 issue for the sordid details).

Lurking below the engine and stepped upon their whole lives, the stock floorboards had no place in our shiny world order. We took ’em out, dressed ’em up with chrome-plated Driver Floor­boards and Chrome Driver Floorboard Sup­ports ($220 and $198), and stepped all over them again. We did the same with the rear footrests, replacing them with chromed-billet Nomad Passenger Floor­­boards ($270 with Kawa­­saki’s “V-Wing” logo engraved on the bottom).

Amidships, in the crotch of the crank­case area, we slipped on a Nomad Chrome Inner Engine Cover ($136). That erased the original, oddly contrasting, black-welded metal and extended the polished surface of the crankcase so that the whole area appeared as a single unit.

We sparked up the dreariness behind the engine in seconds, with a Chrome Drive Shaft Cover ($45) using only one clamp.

The Nomad’s uniquely sculpted saddlebags also needed a trim, but it couldn’t be a buzz cut. We selected the chrome-plated Nomad Saddlebag Top Rails ($210), which accented the subtle curves of the Deco containers while providing another surface on which to lash gear. They’re a tremendous bonus if you happen to be a chronic packrat. These rails were a bit trickier to install, since we had to measure up the bag lids before drilling, to ensure the rail unit was centered correctly. Finally, we mounted the Saddle­bag Side Rails ($220) on the lower part of the bags to highlight the bottom edges and to complete the shimmering effect.

Inside the bags, we stuffed a pair of Kawi’s new Nomad Streamliner Saddlebag Liners ($244). The removable combination organizers/soft luggage are a godsend for addled editors and absent-minded entrepreneurs on the go (one and the same, really). They keep most of your small essentials neatly packed in an easily accessible series of pockets.

Behind the rear seat, we pressed on a Nomad Rear Rack and Support Plates ($129 and $101, respectively), both chrome. The rack serves up yet another area to strap junk onto, if you can’t help yourself. A solemn sticker on the back of this formidable hunk of metal intones “Maximum load five lbs.” We hope that’s just dry Japanese humor. Atop the curve of the back fender, we drilled and clamped a Blind Mount License Plate Assembly ($143) of chrome billet, which effectively floated the license plate frame out over the taillight. It’s a beautiful, uncluttered design that solves the usually awkward game of “hide the license bracket.”

To tie it all up and show we had a vague sense of style, we chucked on the Nomad Rear Fender Trim ($136) thus matching our stern with the bow. These bolted in easily, the trim piece providing a nice complement to the saddlebag rails as well as the rear rack. And they guaranteed that you looked as good going as you did coming.

We had to stop ourselves from covering every solid surface with chrome, though the catalog contained enough options to fulfill that wish. By doing it our way, the Nomad sparkled in all the right places with chrome touches, but it wasn’t a faux sheen—it was the real deal.

Catalog Custom Kawasaki Nomad
Pluses:
Most items are painless bolt-ons, requiring mere minutes of your valuable time. How much? Give yourself about two days. Add nine hours if drunken pals are watching, deduct the same amount if trying to impress the girl next door.
Probably one of few instances in life where putting on weight might get you on the cover of a magazine.
Do it yourself, alone, at home. Strut swanky results out on boulevard the very next day to adoring glances. Com­pliments will rain down like panties at Tom Jones concert.
Bike’s facelift lasts longer than “The Macarena” craze.
Minuses:
No one said this would be cheap, but you’re making a killing on the stock market, right? Plow dividends into accessories. Help the local economy.
Grand Totals
Number of bolt-on parts: 24
Total price: $3695 (ouch)
Weight of bike, stock (wet): 775 lb
Weight of bike after metallurgy: 804 lb
Net weight gain: 29 lb