Sébastien Pellerin's 1977 Kawasaki KZ650 / by Evan Shay

Last summer, I had the pleasure of photographing the motorcycle of my friend and great bassist, Sébastien Pellerin. If you know me, you will know that I have an extreme passion for cars and motorcycles, in any shape or form. It is rare that this intersects with my music world, and this is one of those unique moments.  I talked to Seb about this relationship between the world of motorcycles and music. 

When did you get the bike? How long have you had it?

I got the bike in 2011, and it was stock (or of...). It was painted in grey, but nothing was modified. Looked at a ton of pictures, websites, videos, and I started picturing what my bike could look like. I found a guy, Jose Ortega, who modified the bike for me.

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What work has been done to the bike? 

Cafe seat (we bought it online and chopped some of it), new tail lights, new handle bar, new grips, new gauges, and some new parts like carbs, battery and filters. We got rid of a lots of metal, painted it British racing green with a yellow racing stripe, and replaced the 70's logo with a '61-'67 Kawasaki logo. Lots of hours...

What is the feeling of riding the bike?

It's a fairly easy bike to ride, but unlike new bikes, you have to work with it. It's still a bit heavy, but the acceleration is great. It has lots of torque from the 650cc engine. The bike handles well and the sound is just perfect. Loud enough when you're twisting the throttle!

What made you want to get a motorcycle, especially a vintage bike?  What drew you to the Kawasaki?

I've been riding with my dad since I was about 8 years old. He had a big Honda Gold Wing and then a Harley. My mom told me that when I heard a bike passing in the street, I would stop everything and look at the bike until it was gone. I did lots of mountain biking, but I only started to ride motorbikes at 28. I made my decision because I didn't want to be behind my dad's bike anymore. So I looked on Kijiji, found a cheap bike for 800$ (it couldn't even start when we looked for it, but we gave it a try), got my driver's license for it, modified it during the winter of 2011/2012, and i've been riding with it since then. Vintage bikes are cheap. Insurance and plates are cheap. Parts can be a bit hard to find (especially for Kawasaki), but it's the best bike to start with. I think you really learn the ''hard'' way with a vintage bike.


Do you ever relate riding to playing music? 

It sounds cliche, but I actually like riding because I don't think of anything else but the road. I could relate this to music too. If you think of something else while playing, that's it, you're in the ditch! I always try to find the best line when I'm taking a curve. I guess it's just like playing a bass line. You want to get from point A to point B as smoothly as possible. I'm always working on my riding technique, so as when I'm practicing or playing bass. Thinking about my position, my balance, shifting my weight, keeping my eyes active on every single details/drivers/holes in the street. I could say the same for music, but with my ears instead. After writing all of this, I guess i'm not just thinking about the road.  Still, it puts my brain in a different place.