In the world of old, past-their-prime motorbikes, machines generally fall into one of two broad categories. If you’re lucky (and willing to pay for that luck, usually), you can find a machine that’s been well cared for throughout its life. You know, where the paint isn’t sun-faded, the clear windscreen isn’t all scuffed and yellowed, the seat foam isn’t disintegrating, and any bodywork present isn’t about to fall to pieces if you look at it wrong.
Then, of course, there’s the second category—which is filled with all the brilliant yet bad-tempered basketcases you’ve ever seen in your life. These are the bikes where you’ve convinced yourself that you can see their potential, if only you can patch or otherwise remedy all the gaping, rusty holes separating you from your completed project goals.
Money no object, the former bikes are obviously going to cause you the least headache. Unfortunately for most of us, money is usually at least some kind of object. In motorcycle world, what we lack in money is usually made up for in passion—and for many of us, the attitude that if we don’t go into a project already having certain skills, we’re plucky enough to figure them out (or learn from someone else) along the way.
All that said, if you’re the latter kind of person, and you haven’t watched any videos from Fingerprints Workshop on YouTube yet, then you’re in for a treat. It’s the trials and travails of a guy named Ronald Finger, who occasionally ropes his friends and loved ones into helping him, but mostly undertakes massive labor-of-love vehicle projects on his own. If you’re a fan of Pontiac Fieros, that’s probably the series for which he’s most Internet-famous. However, he also works on bikes—and has, in fact, steadily been bringing a 1986 Kawasaki GPZ1000RX back to life for over a year now.
If you’re the type of person to gain a certain level of spectator satisfaction from seeing someone rescue a truly trashed piece of classic machinery, then you’ll want to watch this series from beginning to end. Finger’s sense of humor, editing skills, ways of tackling the problems he encounters, and general attitude are both extremely relatable, and also satisfying to watch. It’s also fun to see him tackle a vintage bike like this with the aid of new tools that a 1986-era mechanic couldn’t have even dreamed of, such as 3D printing a missing and difficult-to-find tank mount.
This particular video features Finger’s first ride on his mechanically completed 1986 Kawasaki GPZ1000RX—although, as he points out several times, it’s far from cosmetically beautiful. Throughout the series, he’s mentioned that his intent was simply to get it rideable, and to enjoy riding it—not to do a full and painstaking cosmetic restoration.
However, by the end of this video, he does seem to be hinting at the possibility of at least prepping it for some basic paint. Right now, he’s riding around with a primer gray tank on a mostly-factory red bike. To be honest, I kind of like the primer tank, and its contrast against the red. It’s an honest bike, and even if it’s not objectively stunning to look at, the fact that it wouldn’t be anywhere near roadworthy today without the work of one dedicated bike nut is meaningful and admirable in its own right.
Will we see more of the GPZ1000RX in the future? It certainly looks as though we might—though, since Finger does have a life outside of YouTube, that may be some time in coming. Nevertheless, we’ll look forward to it and any other bike projects he cares to share with the world.