Muzzys Pipe Dream

They just started out to make a set of pipes that enhanced the Vulcan 1500 Classic, but once Kawasaki's championship-winning factory team started they had to add a little more... From the February 1997 issue of _Motorcycle Cruiser _ magazine.

What sort of custom do you build if you have won a fistful of world and national Superbike championships? That's was the question facing Muzzys, the Oregon-based organization that has built and run Kawasaki's factory Superbike machinery for the past decade or so, with more than a little success. Though the technical know-how and excellence that bred that success has also be translated into exhaust systems and performance parts for Kawasaki and other sportbikes and, more recently, a limited-production Muzzys ZX-7-based sport machine, the Muzzys organization's interest in motorcycles is much broader than just sportbikes. With the arrival of the new breed of Vulcans, Rob Muzzy and Doug Meyer, Muzzys Product Marketing Manager and a land-speed-record holder, saw an opportunity to vent their artistic sides. We uncovered Meyer's unique, head-turning Vulcan 800 at Daytona this past March. Now Muzzys have gotten their wrenches on a Vulcan 1500 Classic.

Piped Aboard

The bike that you see here started out as a set of fishtail exhaust pipes that Muzzys was developing. But no sooner had they started thinking about how the pipes should be styled to fit the Classic's lines than they began seeing other places that seemed to beg for cosmetic attention. The exhaust system set the direction, and, once rolling and pointed, these guys build speed in a hurry.

With the pipes finalized, Meyer wanted to recontour the rear fender. Some of the inspiration for the revised lines came from a renowned three-window Deuce coupe, the California Kid. Meyer shifted into second. The stock taillight was sent to the shelf and a taillight from a '38 Ford was molded into the stock rear fender. The license plate was hung on the left side in the classic chopper style of the 1960s and '70s. One-off billet turn signals were carved to fit the fender.

Next Meyer turned his attention to the front end. He wanted to fill in the headlight area, to give it some weight. The hand-formed headlight nacelle, which simply snaps in place, fulfilled this goal and emulates the look of a classic, faired-in headlight. A Kawasaki spotlight bar, available through Muzzys, completed the filling out of the front end. The lower fork legs, top triple clamp and floorboards went to the polisher and Muzzy's neoprene-coated stainless-steel brake and clutch hoses were fitted. The front fender is stock.

Hot Stuff

To complement the bike's classic lines, the Muzzy team wanted traditional graphics, and there is simply no more traditional customizer's paint scheme than flames. They were ignited by Joe Cook of Sacramento, California. The wide Corbin seat with its white piping also suggests a 1950s custom. Traditional leather saddlebags were another timeless graphic element—as well as a great place to carry stuff.

But there are also reminders that the bike is thoroughly modern. The speedo housing was given a carbon-fiber treatment. And, although trhe Muzzys technical guys have thus far refrained from tweakling the engine's internals, they did drop in a jet kit to make the most of the stock engine and the pipes that started the whole thing. There will also be other exhaust styles forthcoming.

Most of the pieces Muzzys developed and used—the saddlebags, headlight nacelle, the classic engine guard, the headlight visor, the brake lines and others—are or will be available directly from Muzzys and its dealers. And of course, the pipes (which like all Muzzys pipes are bent and assembled entirely by hand in Oregon), were always intended to be offered for sale.

With people like the reigning national champions behind it, this flaming hot Vulcan Classic is unlikely ever to be finished. We'll be watching to see what they dream up next.


Joe Cook

(63017 Sherman Rd.,
Bend, OR 97701

For more articles on custom bikes and articles about how to customize and modify your motorcycle, see the Custom section of

Photo by Gary Alves, Studio 7
The pipes that started it all. Photo by Mike Pons.