Many years ago, blacksmithing was one of the most respectable trades a man could undertake, but the rise of modern technology is making it fade into obscurity. Automatization has been replacing manual labor at a rapid pace since the Industrial Revolution, and traditional metalwork techniques are slowly giving way to heartlessly precise machinery. This process will often cause trained forgers like Tom Simpson to shift their attention to other disciplines in our day and age.
In Tom’s case, mastering the art of motorcycle customization was an intriguing proposition. The English craftsman had been in love with two-wheeled creatures ever since his teenage years, so it made perfect sense for him to turn this passion into a full-time endeavor. “The seed of my bike obsession took hold when my dad brought home a knackered Suzuki GT250 Ram Air,” he recalls.
“He’d been given it as partial payment for some work but couldn’t get it going, so after a lot of pestering, it was given to me. My uncle and I got it to start, but a strip-down found a bent connecting rod. That was it for that bike, but I was hooked.” As of 2013, this whole ordeal led to the birth of Foundry Motorcycle in Chichester, West Sussex.
“Originally, there were two of us at Foundry, but my partner left when we discovered how hard it is to make a living in this industry,” says Simpson. Thankfully, the former blacksmith was determined to push forward, regardless of any hardships or financial troubles. In the following years, Foundry’s solo mastermind went on to create an abundance of bespoke head-turners, among which you’ll find this breathtaking 1976 Kawasaki Z650 B1.
When the classic UJM (Universal Japanese Motorcycle) landed on his premises, Tom kicked things off by rebuilding the samurai’s inline-four powerplant inside out. During the overhaul, the air-cooled fiend received a big bore kit that bumps its displacement to 750cc, along with a new crankcase vent and top-grade ignition coils from Dynatek.
The stock Mikuni carburetors have been thoroughly refurbished to bring about optimal airflow, while the standard exhaust system was replaced with a handmade stainless-steel substitute. Additional stopping power is accomplished thanks to a set of drilled EBC rotors, braided brake lines, and a repurposed master cylinder that hails from a Honda CBR.
With these components installed, Simpson turned his attention to Z650’s cockpit, where he fitted a Koso speedometer and adjustable Tarozzi clip-ons, which sport Motone switches and bar-end turn signals from Kellermann. Lighting duties are taken care of by a 7-inch headlamp at the front and a tiny LED taillight on the opposite end. Furthermore, you’ll find an assortment of aftermarket goodies from Motogadget’s range, including a keyless ignition setup and an m-Unit control module.
The bike’s hoops were revamped using stainless-steel spokes, premium Morad rims and a classy pair of Avon Roadrider tires. At the rear, Tom proceeded to upgrade the suspension with dual YSS shock absorbers and a fresh JMC swingarm. In terms of bodywork, Z650’s OEM-spec gas chamber was retained, but the same can’t be said for its fenders, side panels and tail. Foundry MC tweaked the subframe in preparation for a custom cafe racer-style rear section, and the fuel tank was topped with a shiny Monza filler cap.
In between these garments, we spot a new solo saddle that’s been upholstered by the leather experts over at Trim Deluxe. Lastly, AM Metal Polishing was tasked with bringing the raw sections to a mirror finish, while SJago Design took care of the paintwork. All things considered, we’ll always be fascinated to see just how far a one-man exploit can go when handled by the right person!