Detlev Louis is a German motorcycle riding gear manufacturer with more than 8 decades of experience under its belt. Unsurprisingly that makes it one of the the longest-running motorcycle apparel and accessory brands in the world. Created by part-time racer Detlev Louis and his then business partner Walter Lohmann in 1938, the business started out as a small workshop that grew to become Europe’s largest motorcycle apparel and accessory company.
Such was the success of the brand that Kawasaki partnered with Louis to unveil the original Z900 on their trade fair stand at the 1972 IFMA expo in Cologne. To commemorate that historic event and to celebrate the success of Kawasaki’s Z900 homage model, the Z900RS, Detlev Louis created a custom motorcycle that reunited the 2 brands.
“It was clear from the start that the conversion couldn’t be about making the Z900RS prettier. We wanted to create a unique piece that reflects our company’s tradition and the design language of the Detlev Louis Motorcycle Gear brand.” With that in mind, the Louis team drew up a concept that would showcase their range of parts and accessories without straying too far from Kawasaki’s Z900RS vision.
Being a German company Louis is very aware of the restrictions European riders face when modifying their motorcycles. Strict TÜV laws prevent many of the modifications that riders in other countries can perform. So to ensure their bike would be 100% compliant and road-legal they hired a local expert to oversee the build from start to finish.
Despite the restrictive TÜV rules, Louis was able to trim the Z900RS subframe to tighten the bike’s proportions. After removing the tail unit and trimming away the excess, a new hoop was added to close it off. With the subframe trimmed TÜV rules meant that the bike could no longer take a passenger. As a result, the pillion footpegs and brackets were removed and a new mounting system was developed for the exhaust muffler. During this stage, the Louis team retained the original seat mounting system which allowed them to utilize it for the fitment of an all-new seat. The new saddle follows the line of the new subframe and is finished in black leather with a diamond-stitched cover and a subtle DL embroidered emblem.
Louis continued to leave their stamp on the Z900RS using a range of parts from their 55,000+ item catalog. The bike now wears all-new lighting with a Gazzini Nino LED headlight in the front, Gazzani Bar end turn signals, and 2 tiny Gazzini Pepe dual-function LED lights fulfilling both turn signal and brake light duties at the rear. Sitting above the new headlight there’s a SW Motech small windshield and behind it, you’ll find a set of ABM Multi Clip Tour handlebars. Bar end mirrors from Gazzini give the bike a touch of cafe racer style and the Louis team added a set of their own LD-512 diamond patterned grips to round things off.
Aside from the revisions to the rear end modifications to the bodywork have been kept subtle. Both fenders are aftermarket items. The front is an SW Motech part specially made for the Z900RS and the rear is a modified and custom-fit unit manufactured by W + W for vintage Harleys. Louis also added a trimmed Bodystyle chainguard since the original was integrated into the fender design.
To keep the rear end clean, Louis pulled a favor from Gazzini to secure a prototype of a side mount bracket they had in development. The new arrangement relocates the plate to the left of the rear wheel where it sits vertically beneath an LED plate light. Bridgestone AX 41 S rubber on the stock rims add a chunky edge to the bike’s otherwise svelte silhouette.
The final stage of the build saw the Z900RS receive custom paintwork. The green, off-white, and black scheme has been applied in traditional Z style aside from the addition of Detlev Louis branding on the tank. The rims, brakes, and rear shock spring are powder-coated to match; and several parts have been blacked out too like the levers and clutch cover badge and the Zed’s highly praised stock exhaust system.
After the completion of the project, Louis offered their customers the chance to take this Z900RS home. The winner was drawn at the Glemseck 101 festival last month and we’ve no doubt the winner is very pleased with his stunning new ride.