Sep 09

Farkling My Drifter by Chris Kempling

Farkling My Kawasaki Drifter 800

by Chris Kempling


Chris Kempling’s super cool and hyper farkled Kawasaki Vulcan Drifter 800 draws admiring looks from bikers and non bikers alike.

Farkling… Cool verb. I’ve always liked the looks of the classic Indians, but who can afford a new or an old one?  Even if you could afford a classic, why deal with the reliability issues of the older ones?  So I found Kawasaki’s Vulcan Drifter, inspired by the 1940 Indian Chief. They made an 800cc model from 1999-2006 and a 1500cc from 1999-2005. I found my 800 on the Vulcan Drifter Riders’ website classified ads, in Redding, California. The original owner in New York state added the feathers and turquoise on the side covers, while the second owner added a shiny Kuryakyn Pro-R Hypercharger and two into one Roadhouse pipes with shark fin tip.

I decided to add some farkle of my own. That required a trip to the local craft store for some wooden and metal beads, cuz plain fringe is just too plain. Then I draped the highway bars with some genuine buffalo leather chaps from Chilhowee Leather in Grant’s Pass, OR. Still too plain. A huge bag of buffalo head nickel conchos from solved that problem. Hmm. More bling needed. Osprey Limited in Massachusetts makes a very cool 3-D pewter Buffalo head concho with a faux turquoise disk backing. Had to get six. I ended up backing them with a canning lid to get them to hang straight on the chaps.

The details in Chris Kempling’s Kawasaki Drifter 800 set it apart from the rest.

The Indian head light on the fender added by the previous owner was “too paleface” for my liking, so I discovered Zambini Brothers makes great 3-D tank emblems and fender ornaments. Those were a great buy and are real head turners. Despite the scorn of my wife and progeny, the bike still didn’t have quite enough fringe for me. Some brake/clutch lever leather did the trick. But they were too plain, so back to the craft store. Found just the right decor with turquoise and metal bracelets, which I wired to the fringe with copper wire.

I was using the bike for my daily driver, so a little storage space was necessary. There was no way I was going to cover up those gorgeous fenders with saddebags, so a Roadkrome Memphis Deluxe tailbag did the trick. A trip to my local horsey store scored a bunch of extra large rosette conchos, and supplied a bag of Indian themed US 50 cent piece conchos for the closing straps. My farkling was reaching the limit of available decoration space, but I managed to find space on the end of the handlebar brackets to glue two Indian Head/Buffalo silver rounds. A custom license plate (DRIFT3R) rounded out this farkling episode.

Some chrome lowers and an airbrush project for the rear fender are future farkling projects.


Chris Kemplings’s quest for farkle perfection with his Kawasaki Drifter 800

Words and pictures by Chris Kempling, Kamloops, BC Canada

[important]Farkle My Ride thanks Chris Kempling for sharing his “Farkling My Drifter” story and photos.  Are you a motorcyclist and would like to share a review on a favourite farkle, riding gear, or even just a cool road trip or motorcycle video?  Click here to learn how to share your knowledge with the riding community on Farkle My Ride. [/important]


    • Anonymous on October 15, 2016 at 10:45
    • Reply

    Very nice bike I have one as well, but in standard form

    • Anonymous on October 30, 2016 at 21:21
    • Reply

    I have one ‘zactly like it except only lightly farkled.

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