Custom: Icon ZXR 14

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To help promote the brand at live events this year, Icon wrapped this lengthened, lowered 2012 Kawasaki ZX-14R in colors meant to replicate the 1991 ZXR 750. As simple as a visual concept can get, it’s nonetheless totally transformative, shifting the big kwak from overly-aggressive squidmobile toward something actually attractive and credible.

As you can see, Icon didn’t just create a “tribute” wrap, but actually adapted the ZXR’s colors almost completely to the ZX-14. That includes the black numberplate front and rear and even the “Kawasaki” logo placement and font. The only nod the “quaint” helmet mohawk crowd is some sort of texturing around the ZX’s side vents.

“It may surprise people to hear this, but we don’t usually have the opportunity to work with brand new sportbikes in the Slabtown garage,” says Icon’s Justin Knauer. “When Kawasaki offered up one of their prime street machines we jumped at the chance.”

“Both Kawasaki and Icon have been supporting the ‘street scene’ for a long time and this opportunity worked out perfectly with our 15 stop LIMITER Live tour,” continues Justin. “Our partners Leo Vince, Dunlop, Öhlins, Roaring Toys, Galfer, K&N, PIAA, PSR, and Saddlemen all stepped up and offered premium accessories to outfit the bike so that left Kurt [Icon's design director] with a really nice blank canvas to work with. Kurt has serious issues when it comes to ’80s and ’90s sportbikes and what you’re seeing is what the bike would look like if it was his. I think the only thing missing is the ram air tubes…and maybe a Turbo. Maybe we will see those on next years ZX14RR?”

Last year, JT Nesbitt suggested that ’80s Japanese superbikes could/should be the next big thing. Is this Icon evidence that bike culture could now be moving in that direction?

  • Mikesee

    Along with Kenny Loggins music and homoerotic beach volleyball games? Sweet.

  • Joe

    Cafe racers are completely played out. I say bring on the neon wave of 80s.

    I’m looking forward to see how the skinny jean and mustache crowd will handle the horsepower though.

    • Sean Smith

      When I started riding (in skinny jeans on a 100hp bike) I ended up in jail, then slid down the road and tore my jeans to shit. It’s not gonna be pretty.

      • Joe

        What should we call hipster squid hybrids though? This is a huge sociological event to have two divergent groups suddenly collide into one another.



        Rave Racers?

        These are the questions that must be answered.

        • Wes Siler

          Young people that are interested in riding motorcycles and that we need to help foster so they spend the rest of their lives doing so. Hmm, not terribly catchy though.

          • Jesse


          • Campisi

            Initiates? Apprentices? I dunno, man, I’m not good with labels. I’ve always called them “riders.”

        • filly-fuzz

          ‘not old people’?

  • Charlie

    This is almost so bad it’s good, in a sinister, gansta way. Close, but can’t overcome fundamental hideous nature

    • nick2ny

      Fundamentally hideous!

  • Roman

    On a ZX-6R the scheme might’ve looked kind of cool. But come on, a slammed ZX-14 with an extended swingarm? Not exactly shifting away from squidery is it?

    • Sean Smith

      How else are you gonna teach fans of slammed and stretched trailer queens about the coolness that is the ’91 ZXR 750?

      • Roman

        Some demographics are just beyond reach. Just hope they grow out of it…

        • Gene


    • holdingfast

      LOVE “squidery”! nicely done!

  • HammSammich

    Hmmm. I suppose the retro livery is an improvement, but the hulking, extended swingarm ZX-14R still feels more like a blinged out Monster Truck than a lithe Sportbike.

    Personally, I’d be more excited by a restored ZXR promoting Icon at live events…but maybe I’m just showing my age.

  • Case

    Love the retro paint scheme, loathe the stretched/lowered part.

    If Kawi showed sense and brought this color scheme to the new ZX-10R I would flip out.

    • ike6116

      “Love the retro paint scheme, loathe the stretched/lowered part.”


      • Bronson

        + 9,000

    • jonoabq


  • Tom Fiegener

    What about custom wheels fit for a chopper, blue seat, and a green windscreen doesn’t scream squid with a mohawk to you?

    Not sure what gloves with spike knuckles Icon sent you for posting this, but a stock ZX14 is way less gaudy…

  • Ax

    I understand “attractive”, but I’m still trying to find the “credible” part.

  • the_doctor

    It’s tasteful, though not to my taste. Try it on a ZX-6.

  • Bruce Steever

    I worked at 2 Wheel Tuner long enough to fall asleep every time i see yet another slammed Busa or 14. Yes, the graphics here are a cool flashback to the classic Kwack, but it’s still just another ZX-14 with paint and a swingarm.

    But if i had a clean ZX-9R right now, i’d be running to the painter with these pics…

    • Sean Smith

      I’ve always wondered: Does anyone actually ride those bikes? Like, at all?

      • Patrick from Astoria

        Ride – as in have it move under its own power to a place where others have the opportunity to see it – yes. The stretch along the East River in Astoria Park any given summer weekend likely has at least one, in its LED’d airbrushed chromed stretched borderline-unrideable sort of glory.

        Ride – as in live up to the implied straight-line performance that such an arrangement is supposed to indicate – well, that’s different. Mostly they just manage to not fall off.

        And their riders tend to prefer plastic yarmulkes and other dog dishes for headgear. The helmet-hawk types seem to prefer literbikes.

      • Gene

        I think so many of them crash in the Gap that Killboy now only takes pics when they *don’t* crash.

  • TheZakken

    Another knock on the helmet hawk? Thats like 2 in 48 hours. I sense some animosity. Never associated that crowd with stretched zx-14s though. I thought the helmet hawk crowd rode banged up 10 year old gsxr 750s with mismatched plastics and the 14s and busas were ridden by morons

  • Patrick from Astoria

    I’ll take the original, thank you.


    Nooooooooo. Uggo! Kill it!

  • jason

    Extended swingarm= extended penis.
    some people see it that way.
    Totally classless. Even worse all shiny chrome like a cheap vibrator.

  • Nick Hobbs

    The extent of Icon’s creative prowess summed up – should provide a very accurate representation of the brand, Icon is spelled s-q-u-i-d right?

  • Holden and Annette

    I practically got a hard-on watching that DR-Z400SM squeezing through traffic and going up and down the banks of the LA River in this week’s RideApart. This two-wheeled Lincoln Navigator is the exact opposite of the DRZ.


    Seriously, a guy who rides something like this modded ZXR-14? He takes steroids and has testicles the size of BBs.

  • Campisi

    The tufted blue seat confuses me more and more each time I look at it. It neither goes with the cosmetic theme they’ve chosen, nor does it (in my mind) fit the visually-incongruous slammed thing.

  • TheZakken

    “Last year, JT Nesbitt suggested that ’80s Japanese superbikes could/should be the next big thing. Is this Icon evidence that bike culture could now be moving in that direction?”

    Funny, on BikeEfix – the great bastion of cafeness – I just read:

    “If I had to pick the next trend in custom bike building, it’d be a move away from cafe racers on Firestones and towards chunky, purposeful tracker-style bikes. There seems to be increasing interest in this style, from the top custom shops right down to home builders.”

    So which is it? I did see an rf 900 that aged quite well, not quite 80′s but something in between:

    Hipsters will always latch on to some bullshit. They can’t come up with an authentic desire of their own, so the hive mind directs them to an object of lust.

    • Wes Siler

      Trackers already came and went.

      I’m sick of the hipster talk. Just call them, “good looking young people that like to have a good time,” if you need a label.

      • Ben W

        Turnabout is fair play, Wes.

      • Campisi

        They’re just jealous.

      • ike6116

        A little too close to home? In the absolute BEST possible scenario that’s what a hipster is.

        For your positive framing there is also a negative one:

        “Empty vessels grasping desperately thing for something that creates the illusion of authenticity”

        What’s next, you’re going to stop calling squids squids and start calling them “Young people with brass balls”?

    • Chris Hunter

      A year or so ago, around 5% of the bikes that got emailed to me at Bike EXIF were tracker-style machines. Right now, around 25% of the bikes coming in have a tracker influence.

      One of the big turning points was the Deus Mono SR542:

      It didn’t attract too much attention when it came out three years ago, but since then, it’s been referenced so many times it’s unbelievable.

      Personally, I think Nesbitt is a little ahead of time — retro themes tend to move in 40-year cycles, so I’m picking 70s superbikes to be the Next Big Thing once interest in trackers has levelled off.

    • Rick

      Hive mind…love it.

  • Rick

    As the past owner of a ’92 ZX-7R, with flat-slide carbs, hand-beaten aluminum tank, and genuine fiberglass tail section…THANK YOU.

    If ever a Japanese motorcycle demanded owner involvement in setting up and tuning the 7R was it. But the reward made it all worthwhile.