Page 1 Page 2 MWAsAKl KZ440`DI BELT DRIVE I Specials

Page 1 Page 2 MWAsAKl KZ440`DI BELT DRIVE I Specials
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MM Specials, Customs,
L-models and various (To.
choppers in elevator a
shoes have been with =“
us for some time now,
and continue to do
very well in the mar-
ketplace. Some peo-
ple like them and
some don’t, but Te
everyone has had a chance to make up his
mind. The buyer who approaches the Ka-
wasaki 440 LTD on the showroom floor
won't need any help deciding if it looks
like something he wants.
Style scrutinized and accepted, func-
tion is the only other thing that matters.
The motorcycle has to work right and
provide enjoyable riding for the owner.
Kawasaki’s new medium weight Twin
does both of those things, though not with-
~ out flaw, and includes belt drive as a tech-
nological bonus.
That's right, belt drive. We now have a
third contender in the chain vs. shaft com-
petition. Like the new Harley Sturgis, the
KZ440 LTD, subtype D1, comes from the
factory with final drive via Gates Rubber
Comany’s patented Polychain toothed
drive belt. The belt is a synthetic com-
posite of Kevlar tensile cords faced with
nylon teeth that ride in wide aluminum
sprockets. Among the belt’s advertised ad-
vantages are its 8000 Ib. tensile strength,
its refusal to slip even when wet or oil-
soaked, infrequent adjustment, quietness,
long life, and best of all, a willingness to
spend its entire life without lubrication.
Toothed drive belts are not that new;
| they've been around for years driving
overhead camshafts on cars and bikes,
water pumps on Formula Fords, motorcy-
cle dynamometers, and the rear wheels of
drag bikes. Aftermarket suppliers have
been selling Harley belt drive conversion
kits for some time. But this is the first year
.we've had new factory models released
with belt drive. Of Kawasaki's three
К 7440 models only the LTD D1 is belted,
so the factory has found a safe spot in their
1980 lineup to test the waters of commer-
cial acceptance. Dealers tell us that, so far,
those waters are more than just lukewarm.
People are interested.
Beneath the new styling and belt drive,
the 440 is essentially the trusty old KZ400
with bigger pistons and improved cam
chain. A 3.5mm overbore has raised the
398ccs of the 400 to 443cc. A slightly odd
displacement perhaps, but it probably rep-
resents the largest practical bore increase
allowed by the KZ400 cylinder barrels
and the strength of the bottom end, a lim-
iting factor with many current bumped-up
models. Kawasaki’s figures show an in-
crease of 4 bhp and 2.1 lb.-ft. of torque at
8500 and 7000 rpm respectively over the
smaller engine, and this with compression
knocked down from 9.5:1 to 9.2:1 on the
440. The increase in performance can be
easily felt on the road and measured at the
drag strip. The 440 is almost a second
quicker and 7 mph faster through the
quarter mile than the last KZ400 we
Kawasaki makes two other models of
the KZ440; the Bl, a stripper model with
wire wheels, no centerstand, front drum
brake, chain drive and traditional Ka-
wasaki styling; and the Al LTD, nearly
identical to the D1 but with chain drive.
LTD in the title indicates the machine is
equipped with a plump-hand-of-luxury
double stepped seat, teardrop tank, fat 16
in. rear tire, cast aluminum wheels, front
disc, and handlebars that look like a jump
rope frozen by photography.
In addition to larger pistons the 440 en-
gine features the same Hy-Vo type cam
chain now used in the KZ750/4. Longer
service life and less gnashing and clanking
from the internals are behind the switch
from single-row roller chain, and a new
tensioner is used. The tensioner is a spring
and ratcheting rod affair, again like that
used on the 750. It bolts to the front of the
engine and has a lock screw to restrain the
tension rod if the cam chain is slackened
for upper end work. A single overhead
cam turns under caps directly on the alu-
minum cylinder head without benefit of
separate bearings. The cam operates two
valves per cylinder with rocker arms and
shafts fixed in the valve cover. Oil reaches
the upper end through an external oil line
complete with banjo fittings and protrud-
ing oil pressure warning switch—a feature
to warm the hearts of British buffs who
have a fondness for exposed, self-explana-
tory parts. Always nice to see which pieces
do what.
Bottom end is virtually unchanged ex-
cept for the new chain sprocket on the
crank. Stroke is 62mm, same as the
KZ400; rods, gears and clutch parts are
all interchangeable with the earlier model.
The engine retains its two chain-driven
counterweights to cancel out the vertical
and horizontal shakes that come free with
every 360° vertical Twin. They do their
job well. The engine idles smoothly, once
warm, and produces no unseemly jittering
or vibration at any road speed. For an en-
gine full of chains (primary drive is by Hy-
Vo) it is also quiet; no spoon-down-Insin-
kerator clatter at idle.
Ignition defies glamour and unrepaira-
ble complexity by triggering itself with
breaker points. One coil is fired by a single -
set of points at the crankshaft. Both plugs
fire each revolution, with a waste spark at
the top of every exhaust stroke. Points are
simple to gap and allow timing to be set
easily and accurately. This traditional ig-
nition setup fits right in with a motorcycle
that also allows its owner to adjust his own
valves with nothing more than a feeler
gauge, wrench and screwdriver.
Speaking of maintenance, the belt drive
KZ introduces a new tool to the plastic
bag of leaden-colored potmetal under the
seat. It’s a small cylinder, about the size of
a screwdriver handle, with a spring-loaded
plunger rod sticking out the top, like a
child’s toy dagger with a retractable
blade. Placed between the drive belt and
swing arm, the rod compresses into the
handle. If belt tension is correct, a section
of rod between two engraved marks will
line up with the handle top. Only takes a
second. No more flexing the drive chain in
mid-air and trying to eyeball imaginary
fractions of an inch from the side. A neat
tool, but if the belt needs adjustment infre-
quently as claimed it won’t see much use.
The belt is supposed to stretch about 0.5
percent in its life, needing only one or two
adjustments, vs. an average of six for a
roller chain.
- Kawasaki won't commit themselves to a
mileage figure for the belt, saying only
that it will last “as long or longer” than a
good quality chain used under the same
conditions. At our local Kawasaki dealer
cost of a new belt is $45; or $9.57 more
than their retail price on the factory re-
placement chain for the other two 440
models. Not a prohibitive difference if you
like the idea of belt drive.
A belt change on the 440 demands re-
moval of the rear wheel, swing arm shaft,
one bottom shock bolt and the coun-
tershaft sprocket cover. That cover also
houses the clutch release mechanism,
which is a ball-and-ramp unit that pushes
the clutch release rod. The rod must be
slid out of the case to remove the belt from
the countershaft sprocket. This all sounds
more complicated than it is. It’s a matter
of some easy bolt removal and 15 or 20
min. of basic wrenching. Takes longer
than installing a chain with a master link,
but is essentially the same job as replacing
an endless chain. Side benefits come in the
form of cleaner hands and no greasy
sprocket imprint on the leg of your most
faded blue jeans.
The belt is clean and dry to handle com-
pared with a chain, and has no spare lubri-
Photos by John Ulrich and Peter Egan
A Black Belt for the Final Drive, a
Black на for the Carbs and
a Gold Star for Handling.
cant to throw all over your rear wheel,
luggage or the back of your jacket, so
cleanup chores are simplified. Add that to
reduced unspring weight and notable re-
duction of noise and drive-train slop, and
we can’t find much bad to say about belt
Wish we could say the same for the
carbs. Two 36mm Keihin CVs. Once again
the EPA has played a game of Stump the
Manufacturer and won. The KZ440 chal-
lenges our other recent test bike, the
Suzuki GS4508S, as the cold-blooded mo-
torcycle of the year.
This is a bike you’ll want to start in the
morning and leave running at fast idle
while you go back into the house to read
the paper and have a cup of coffee. Maybe
two cups of coffee. And some eggs, not too
easy over, with a side order of grits and
bacon. If you read and eat slowly, the KZ
will be nearly warm enough to ride when
you come out again. This sort of cold-
stumble behavior is unfortunate in any
bike, but especially so for a light or mid-
size machine because its quick-errand ad-
vantage is badly compromised. For any
short run, it makes taking the car seem
like a better idea. Five or 10 min. on full
choke knocks the whim out of riding.
At least with the 440 your great pa-
tience is rewarded. Once warm it runs just
fine. It takes off briskly from stoplights
and accelerates through the gears without
a flat spot anywhere. A nice strong mid-
range, which begins just under 4000 rpm,
provides plenty of power right where you
need it and makes the bike a delight toride
through traffic or up the nearest bent road.
That last part of the KZ’s temperament
was its most unexpected virtue. We took it
on a weekend trip through the mountains,
two up, and found to our surprise that the
440 was a competent canyon performer.
Steering was light and precise, allowing
easy mid-corner line changes around dead
armadillos and at least one Corvette with
serious understeer. Heeled over to the
pegs, which provide good ground clear-
ance, the KZ handled fast sweepers with
commendable calm. The strong midrange
pulled well out of corners and enabled the
440 to negotiate the twisties on almost
equal footing with a hard ridden KZ650.
The 650 had more power but required
hanging off and other theatrics to corner
at 440 speed and angle of lean; not an easy
thing to do with a very alert (not fright-
ened) passenger on the back. No acrobat-
ics were necessary with the 440. An
exemplary case in point for those who like
narrow Twins.
Low seating on the LTD contributes to
its cornering stability and easy handling.
Unfortunately the seat ends in a 5-in. step
up to the passenger portion, so no fore and
AUGUST 1980/55
rare Svea
aft rider movement is possible. You sit
down on the bike and that’s where you'll
remain until you get off, backache or no.
As cruisin’ style motorcycles go, however,
the LTD offers better than average com-
fort. The bucko bars terminate at a fairly
natural wrist position and the footpegs are
not absurdly far forward. The seat, which
Kawasaki advertises as “dual-density
foam rubber,” does its job well enough so
you don’t notice it’s there. Absence of pain
is a high accolade in the world of motorcy-
cle seats.
Our passengers reported a similar com-
fort level, but complained that the novelty
of good forward vision from the grand-
stand rear seat wore off as wind fatigue
and howling helmet noise set in. One of
our test riders, an older person, also men-
tioned that the footpegs were too close to
the low seat and caused a cramping of the
legs, though no one else noticed the
The belt drive LTD uses a final reduc-
Tool kit stows nearly under bottom of seat, along
with usual collection of info and warning stickers.
Keviar and nylon toothed
rear sprocket supported by steel spokes and
side plates.
Drilled front disc brake was strong, positive,
helped KZ440 stop in record distance.
tion ratio of 2.72:1 rather than the 3.00:1
on the chain drive model. This slightly
higher gearing makes the belted LTD a
relatively serene cruiser on the open road.
Counterbalancing and the less frequent fi-
ring pulses of the Twin (vs. Four) enhance
the feeling. The Kawasaki also projects a
slightly different exhaust note and engine
resonance than the other Japanese mid-
size Twins; it produces a rumbling rather
than a whirring sound, giving it just a hint
of Big Bike ambiance. В
Shift lever action is succinct and posi-
tive, and we have to give Kawasaki a gold
star for leaving off the dreaded starter/
clutch interlock. You can start the 440 and
operate the choke (which certainly needs
to be operated) using only two hands. The
six-speed transmission has a positive neu-
tral finder to keep you from kicking back
and forth between 1st and 2nd in diligent
search of a green dash light. On our test
bike it was possible, with a little fiddling,
to shift from neutral to 2nd with the en-
The 400 becomes a 440, with bigger pistons,
larger and leaner carbs, improved cam chain and
automatic tensioner.
Countershaft sprocket is a tight fit behind clutch
release rod. Belt drive parts are directly inter-
changeable with roller chain and sprockets on
non-belted 440 models.
gine off, unlike most bikes with a neutral
finder. A good thing, because when the
battery runs down there is no kick starter,
and 2nd gear is best for bump starts.
Out on the open road we were fre-
quently surprised to find a leftover gear
while upshifting; a nice change after some
of the more buzzy Fours which leave you
‘stabbing for another cog that isn’t there.
The D1 is geared better for road riding
than it is for the killer quarter mile.
Which is why it’s the slowest of the 400
to 450cc road bikes we've tested. The
Honda CB400T Hawk and the Yamaha
XS400F are both marginally quicker in
the quarter mile, though the KZ 1s about 2
mph faster, at 88.06 mph, than the Ya-
maha. The Suzuki GS450S is a second
quicker and 6 mph faster through the
traps. All those bikes are geared lower,
however, and consequently cruise at
higher rpm in top gear. Both chain driven
models of the 440 are likely to be quicker,
but judging the 440 LTD on its drag strip
Spring-loaded tool is provided to check belt ten-
sion. Tool fits between belt and swing arm, com-
presses rod to area between engraved lines
when tension is correct.
Hy-Vo style cam chain replaces roller chain used
on KZ400. Stamped steel dish under right cam
lobes retains oil when bike is on side stand.
times is a little misleading. We've tested a
couple of bikes this year whose all-or-
nothing carburetion and high power band
have made them fast, but unpleasant to
ride in traffic. The 440, in keeping with its
marketing profile, provides a strong, more
laid-back midrange and power where you
need it.
Brakes on the 440 are predictable and
hard-stopping. In fact they hauled the
bike down from 60 mph faster than any-
thing in class, the 129 ft. stop nipping 2 ft.
off the late Yamaha RD400’s old record.
Not bad for a single disc and rear drum.
The 440 weighed in at 390 Ib. with half a
tank of fuel, which makes it exactly the
same weight as the Yamaha XS400F and
the 1968 Triumph 650 Bonneville (as long
as we're talking vertical Twins), 8 lb.
lighter than the 400 Hawk and a full 32 Ib.
less than the Suzuki GS450S.
Relative lightness, as well as lean jet-
ting, did no harm to the KZ’s mileage. We
got 66.4 mpg on our normal test loop and
60.5 mpg flogging the bike two-up on a
long climb through the mountains. The
3.2 gal. tank is not overly large in this era
of the closed gas pump. A pity, because the
teardrop tank could probably stand en-
larging without damage to its clean lines.
The tank gives you 156 miles before stum-
bling over reserve and another 54 after
that. The more traditional B1 model of the
440 has a 3.7 gal. tank, which is no giant
but adds another 33 miles in range. The
B1 is also 22 Ib. lighter than the LTD,
which should give mileage another boost,
or at least allow for a larger, better-fed
Overall, the 440 works pretty well. The
belt drive seems like a good idea, and the
local dealer tells us he has more orders for
this model than he can fill. What the bike
does not do well, of course, is warm up and
run without reminding the owner that life
is slipping by, summer is short, and youth
is ephemeral. It takes too long; a problem
which hovers on the un side of accept-
ability. Warmup is a hassle the owner is
going to have to face every time he takes a
ride, and after a while it’s going to get old.
Kawasaki, of all manufacturers, has gen-
erally done the best work meeting emis-
sion laws and retaining good rideability.
The KZ550, 650, 750, 1000 and 1300 are
all much better than the 440, so Kawasaki
knows how to make good running bikes.
Perhaps if the KZ440 used Kawasaki's air
suction emission system the carb jetting
could be richer and the warmup would be
Beyond that, the 440 grew on us, its
function outweighing the style. After rid-
ing sport bikes that don’t handle as well as
the 440, cruisers that aren’t as comfort-
able as the 440, big bikes that can’t carry
two people as easily as the 440 and small
bikes that use more gas than the 440, it’s
hard not to like the small Kawasaki. In
spite of the carburetion. 9
AUGUST 1980/57
Front. 3.25S-19 Yokohama
Rear 130/90-16 Yokohama
Front........ 10.8-in. disc
Rear........ 7.2-in. drum
Brake swept area..114.5 sq. in.
Brake loading (160-Ib.
cetpice LE $1829 Standing %-mile...... 14.62 sec.
ВПО Воли sohc Twin @ 88.06 mph
Bore x stroke ....67.5 x 62.0mm 10 pee | re == —T—T—T—13000 Top speed in Y:-mile ....98 mph
Displacement.................. 443cc - Fuel consumption ....66.4 mpg
Compression ratio ............ 9.2:1 Е ti = ca + Range
Carburetion ....(2) Keihin 36mm т + (to reserve tank) .......... 156 mi.
CV > - Acceleration:
MENS: = NA oiled foam 125 2500 0-30 mph................ 2 3 sec
N En battery, points E z 0-40 mph................ 4 3 sec
Claimed power...... Fae a E т 0-50 mph................ 4.7 sec
Claimed torque......... 26 Ib ft. 6 i pos pd ai : ; vo
DAMON: £] 2000 OUT 4 2406 11.2 sec
Lubrication................ wet sump Le Ve mi. Z ES |
Oil capacity .................... 3.1 at. e an /s Se Re ow
Fuel capacity ................ 3.2 gal. Е / 8 | "0 Dear ca een:
Starter ...................... electric 3 ST АННО RENE A Tes
Electrical power ............... Ее : / N Eee
Battery — a 12v 12ah E 7 Maximum speed in gears:
Headlight...................... 50/35w ; / À Isto 40 mph
Primary drive ........ Hy-Vo chain y 2nd... en euu 58 mph
Élutch 75 multi-disc wet Е 2 War 76 mph
Final drive Polychain drive belt Е 4 ae 91 mph
Gear ratios, overall:1 jo OID EAT a at au 105 mph
un 221 AN 5.81 A 1 ACES 115 mph
ENE OR Sail Pl ah 6.35 B Speedometer error:
ENT nse a i 7.27 E 30 mph indicated 28.66 mph
ve 8.74 3 60 mph indicated 59.48 mph
O ANTE NE da 11.62 25 Braking distance: |
d ist... Rte gate 16.86 q from 30 mph................ 28 ft.
uspension: я
PONTE telescopic fork 7 o e TA bits
Ni сто | menses sico NA rene
BRENIG) este Ces Cl 3.5 in. y 3 = e 3
der. ol, ha 4.8 Ib./sq. in. 36
Wheelbase .................... 54.7 in.
Rake/ Trail ............ 27.5% /4.4 in.
Handlebar width .............. 28 in.
Seat height ..................... 29 in. 24"
Seat width... 10.5 in.
Footpeg height................ 12 in.
Ground clearance ............ 6 in.
Test weight 12
(w/half-tank fuel) ...... 390 Ib.
Weight bias, front/rear,
DENceNt:= ve ree 47/53 E
OVW Ga se 745 16
Load capacity................ 355 Ib 5 e E e oo pf Tos 9e
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