Kawasaki VN750 Forum banner

454 LTD Build

17636 Views 57 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  MadKat
Hey guys,

Still working on my VN750.

Just got a bunch of supplies and parts in the mail. Hope to have an update on that one soon.

I recently picked up a 1989 Kawasaki 454. It's old and beat to hell and it's going to be a fun project. I would like to start a build log, and wanted to know if y'all would be okay with me posting in the builds section or if that would be considered in bad taste.

The 454 was produced for 5 years before being reintroduced to the market as the Vulcan 500. She's basically a baby 750 and I'm pretty stoked.

Anyways, let me know! Thanks.

Edit: Here she is! Lets get this party started.

She came with a pile of parts. She seen better days.
See less See more
41 - 58 of 58 Posts
Made some more progress. Decided to hold off on rebuilding the front end until I have the bike running properly. I mounted the front end from the VN750 to the 454, then removed the wheel, brake lines etc to get stuff out of the way. Ive mounted the bars, choke cable, and Tachometer. I still need to install the throttle cables.

For now I just wanted to get the bike to where I can verify the wiring is good, the bike starts and runs well, and I can sync the carbs with it on the lift. I was having an issue where the starter button wasnt working, so last time we started it we jumped the solenoid.

After checking diagrams, connections etc I figured it must be one of the safeties. Checked the kickstand and brake switches.. finally realized it was the third safety at the clutch. I hadnt mounted the controls for that side and sure enough once I plugged it in the starter button started clicking the starter no problem.

Heres how she is sitting right now

I went ahead and scrubbed the airbox to get it nice and clean before installing. I actually ordered this from Europe, it just happened to be the best one available on Ebay at the time that had the filter housings and clips also. A nice little bonus is that I dont have to get a rubber plug for the hole from the emissions tubing because this model did not have emissions installed, so theres no hole in the airbox.

I ordered new oil filters and new air filters, and I received my new airbox in the mail.
Next on the list is to put fresh coolant in, new oil and filter, and install the air filters / airbox.


Once that is done, I will return to the front end. Plans for the front end look like this:
1) Swap triple trees. The VN750 and 454 Triple trees are compatible size wise, but I need to use
the 454 lower triple because the frame stops are different on the 750. The upper triple tree has a
crossthreaded fastener, but I may be able to tap it instead of replacing.

2) Disassemble forks. Send fork lowers and triple trees to shop for blasting and powdercoat.

3) Rebuild forks, replace seals, Steering Stem bearings, etc.

4) Reassemble front end.
See less See more
Hey Guys! Im still alive. Barely haha. Went through a real bad motorcycle wreck in July of 2018 and Ive been off the radar for a while.
Life is going well and getting back to normal, and Im starting to wrench again, Have some updates for yall.

The 454 is coming along nice. Didnt touch it for a good year, came back with fresh eyes. Fixed some things I did wrong in the past,
and have a new vision for it going forward. This bike was initially going to be a gift for a little brother, but he has since picked up a
nice Honda Shadow, and the 454 is too small for him anyways.. Hes tall haha.

Ive decided the direction Im going to go is more sporty, almost a scrambler style, Instead of dropping the back and bobbing it out
like I did with the 750 I built. Id like to put a mean rear tire on it, custom fender, moto style bars instead of apes, etc.

On to the updates!

The 454 didnt have an ignition and I was hot wiring it to start it. I got a used VN750 ignition with a key off ebay for $35.
I found however that the 750 ignition had 7 wires, where the 454 had 5. After tracing the wiring diagrams, I found that
two of the wires were for functions that the 454 didnt have. (cant remember off the top of my head what they were,
Id have to dig up the manual and my notes to check again) I repinned the connector and stripped the extra wires out and
shes alive!

See less See more
In between other projects, finished assembling the RH Side foot peg mount, Brake pedal,
and installed new brake switch. The old brake switch had barrel connectors, the new one
had a molex. I chopped them both off, soldered in a waterproof molex and ran some split loom.

See less See more
The triple trees I have are all rusted out and some of the fasteners are crossthreaded from the previous owner.
I ended up just ordering a triple tree setup off of Ebay for about $40. Took it to a local shop and asked them if
they could remove the lower bearing but they were getting kinda squirrelly about it, so I used the Dremel and
a cutting wheel to remove it.

Now Ive got my upper and lower triple, top clamp, and headlamp brackets ready to go out for powder coat.
Way stoked.

See less See more
Parts are at the powder coater and im awaiting anxiously.

Ive got new bar that arrived in the mail, along with some used parts:
the master cylinder and clutch from a 2017 z650 that im going to mount
to the new bars, designed for dual calipers and a little sleeker design, also
will allow me to use shorty levers which I really like.

Ive been looking at options to replace the controls as well. If I use the controls
from the EN500, it looks like they are pretty much a direct swap - wiring diagram
is the same and they have the choke integrated to the left controls, but they are
a little sleeker and more modern.

I am considering using the controls from a newer ex650 or z650, they would match
the fancy master cylinder and levers im installing, and they have a hazard switch I
could splice into the existing turn signal wires (the 454 doesnt have hazard function),
but the headlamp wiring would be a little different and im still trying to wrap my head
around that.

One more thing - Powder coating and rebuilding the trees, gauges, controls.. wanted
new fasteners too. Ive compiled a list of the fasteners that are used on the triple trees
and have ordered new ones. Wanted to share the info here in case it helps anyone.

Looks like the triples for the 750 and the 454 are damn near identical, the only difference
I am really seeing is the location of the stops that bump the frame when going all the way
left or right, those are on the lower triple for the 750 and absent on the 454.

The 454 comes with a single brake caliper, but shares the same two fasteners on the front
of the lower triple, it just used them for the horn instead of the brake splitter.

I didnt want to put rusty beat up old fasteners onto freshly powder coated parts ya know.

See less See more
Hey yall, Im still alive. Been a few years since I did anything bike related. I was in a bad accident that kept me out of riding for a year or so, and right around the time I started to ride again, my brother got in a bad wreck. At that point, I sold all the bikes except for the 454 this thread was built around. That was... probably 3 years ago? Over this last year I have started tinkering with the 454 again.

I will likely take it on a few rides when its done and then sell it, just so I can stop riding on my own terms, not because of fear. Dont want to really get into being a serious rider again, that would kinda be a big middle finger to all the family and the lady that supported me through all this. Jeep`ing has filled that space in my life these days :ROFLMAO: Either way, this build needs to get finished; so I can have some closure, and also because its a damn shame to have this pretty thing reduced to a laundry rack.

SO, without further rambling, back to the build. Things that Ive done recently that havent been posted yet:

  • Got all the VN750 triple tree bits back from powder coat and reassembled.
  • Had the VN750 front forks and calipers rebuilt by a local shop, reassembled the front end.
  • Replaced the old OEM brake lines with a custom Galfer kit with a shortened line from the splitter to the handlebars.
  • Fork swap is complete!! 454 officially has a vn750 front end & dual calipers.
  • Installed the "new old stock" gas tank I got off ebay, ordered a used gas cap off ebay as well and had it keyed to match the ignition key.
  • Installed aftermarket mufflers and baffles from ebay.
  • Aftermarket handlebars + Clutch and Master Cylinder from a 2017 Z650 & aftermarket shorty levers.
  • Sportster style mirrors and turn signals gifted from the lady for Christmas

Ill update with some pictures soon.
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Turn signal adapters!

Measured the headlamp mounts, modeled these adapters in Fusion 360 (CAD Program with free license available for Hobbyists) and ordered them to be 3D printed from Shapeways in Glass Filled PA12.

Rectangle Wood Line Font Circle

Tire Wheel Automotive tire Motor vehicle Tread

Test Fit:
Automotive tire Automotive lighting Motor vehicle Hood Motorcycle

Automotive tire Motor vehicle Automotive lighting Automotive design Motorcycle
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Put a few layers of Forever Black on these (Black Dye for automotive trim) then sprayed with clear coat

Food Ingredient Font Cuisine Rectangle

Hand Automotive lighting Automotive tire Helmet Finger

Installed to the bike with aftermarket Sportster turn signals:
Vehicle Automotive lighting Motor vehicle Fuel tank Automotive tire

Tire Wheel Vehicle Fuel tank Automotive lighting

Wiring Diagram Notes - This was made for the turn signals I purchased, others may be different, but this might be helpful for someone so posting it:
Rectangle Font Material property Parallel Slope
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 2
Wow, that's been quite an endeavor!
This year has been off to a busy start, but making some progress here and there.

I wanted to ditch the OEM fusebox with the glass tube fuses, so did some measurements and mocked up a replacement in Fusion 360 CAD. I ordered blade fuse holders from Digikey and fasteners / inserts from McMaster, both of which provided CAD models of their components to help with design.

Simple, but it worked. I used a fork mount set to relocate the horn and the fusebox. Ended up having to add a coupling nut behind the fuse box for clearance issues when the forks were turned lock to lock, but it worked.

Handwriting Motor vehicle Automotive tire Automotive lighting Font

Font Circle Input device Audio equipment Electric blue

Land vehicle Tire Motorcycle Vehicle Fuel tank
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 2
Been busy with life and work and school, past due to update this.

Made some custom mounts to attach the rear turn signals - wanted to used sportster turn signals like in the front, I had a full set of front and rear that I got as a gift. After much time sitting in the garage staring at the bike and contemplating ideas, I ended up 3D scanning the bike using an app called Polycam, then exported a .STL mesh, imported that file into Fusion 360, and scaled everything to the appropriate size. I then modeled the turn signal adapter to use an existing threaded bore in the frame and to lean on the boss for the upper strut mount fastener as an anti-rotation feature.

Textile Art Paint Painting Wood

Photograph Font Line Art Pattern

If I can handle this, I should know better than to take pictures of a computer screen, but Im too lazy right now to pull all this up in the program and take screenshots haha.

Here you can see the backside of the mount, the nut is for the threaded stem of the turn signal, fastener exposed would thread into the bike frame, and the notch at the top is for the harness to route out.

Automotive design Art Font Pattern Tints and shades
See less See more
3D Printed a rough draft of this in some cheap plastic material and did a test fit.

Automotive lighting Automotive tire Motor vehicle Automotive design Motorcycle

Ended up adjusting the model a bit - I made the whole thing less wide so it wouldnt abrade against the upper strut bushing and also to stiffen / strengthen (especially the upper face, it was really thin where the nut for the turn signal inserts).

Printed the finished version in some stronger / better quality material and installed:

Tire Wheel Automotive tire Motor vehicle Vehicle

Fuel tank Automotive tire Motorcycle Automotive lighting Motor vehicle
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 2
Nice work. I like the accents on the top. What printing method/material did you use for the final? I don't see any layers. Sintered?
Nice work. I like the accents on the top. What printing method/material did you use for the final? I don't see any layers. Sintered?
Appreciate that. I actually needed to thicken the top so it would print properly, the accents worked out nicely.
The finished ones were Selective Laser Sintering in Black PA12 from Shapeways - I did a few of the earlier pieces in Glass Filled (the front turn signal adapters) but I think that was overkill and I was able to save a few bucks going regular PA12 instead.
  • Helpful
Reactions: 1
Doing the common Suzuki Savage seat swap on this bike.

Originally had a large fender and king/queen seat like the VN750 - swapping for an ebay universal fit fender that Ive modified and a suzuki savage seat that I modified to install like a harley sportster seat (front tab / rear bolt).

Due to the original setup, Ive got a ton of extra wire in the harness. 3D printed a plate that would attach to the frame under the seat and used adhesive backed zip tie pads to anchor wires in place. Cut out inches of wire from many of the wires and rerouted them to service the new turn signals / plate frame setup.

See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Piece of scrap from the garage and some 90° brackets for the front seat tab. This part isnt winning any beauty awards but it works gosh darnit :ROFLMAO:

See less See more
Rear seat mount:

$10 Harley Seat Bolt Replacement Kit from Bezos:

See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
3d printed a "fairing" to fill the gaps in the universal fender and put some edge molding on it - not sure if this part will last but well see:

Chopped / bedline`d / reinstalled fender / applied edge molding:

See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 2
41 - 58 of 58 Posts