I saw in a recent edition of Motorcycle Classics that editor Richard Backus’ first bike was a 1971 Kawasaki Bushmaster. So was mine. When I got back into motorcycling after a 35 year break to get married, raise kids, etc., the first thing I wanted to do was find and restore a Bushmaster like the one I had “back in the day.” I ended up finding two non-runners, which I intended to turn into one restored bike, but one thing lead to another and I ended up restoring both of them.
I recently rode the Bushmaster with the luggage rack on the VJMC’s ride through Death Valley. The ride covers 500 miles over a weekend, with some massive elevation changes adding quite a bit of extra difficulty. Despite having to transport my 250 pounds, plus some spare gas and a few other essentials, my Bushmaster came through with flying colors.
With a proper set-up and some decent maintenance, these Bushmasters were (and are) excellent machines. And the extra satisfaction gained from accomplishing an objective with limited resources is something I just don’t get riding a big bike. Everybody should try it! MC
Photo courtesy Bob Leonard: The search for one nice Bushmaster turned into two restorations.