When Jose Andres Nollen (or Gato as he's known to his friends) came up with the idea of building his own cafe racer, the odds were stacked against him. For a start he is a dentist so he knew nothing about building bikes. But even more of a problem was the fact that he lives in Argentina, a country where imports are practically prohibited. But neither of these hurdles prevented Gato and his good friend, ''El loco Sabattini'' from working their magic on this Kawasaki KZ 750. They picked up a 1981 model with only 35000 km on the clock for next to nothing, and set about making pretty much everything by hand. A ban on imports means you need to get creative. So they started at the front and worked their way to the back. The tail unit and the side panels were handmade by a friend in fibreglass. The exhaust was handmade, the mudguards were handmade...in fact the only thing they actually had to buy was the speedometer, which was bought from a store in Buenos Aires for half the price of the entire bike! The relationship between the tank, side panels and tail unit works really well on this bike. No mean feat when you're making stuff by hand, it's a heck of a lot easier to let someone else do the design work and just bolt it on. The end result is a totally unique looking bike, with 40 kg less weight than the original. It also goes like stink and sounds pretty rorty too, apparently. The KZ is the first cafe racer in Gato's home town and seems to have sparked something of a movement. Five of his friends are now starting projects with the help of ''El loco Sabattini'' and the group are now hanging out together, shooting the breeze and talking bikes in the garage. The beginnings of Bike Shed Argentina maybe? Gato's next project looks like being a street tracker based on an unnamed Suzuki model. But he's keen to point out that nothing will replace his Kwaka. You never forget your first time. Thanks for sharing Gato, and more importantly, thanks for spreading the word across another continent. Photography by Dalmiro Quiroga
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