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  1. #1
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    Default KZ 900 what to look for

    Hello all, I am looking at a 1974 kz 900 choptrike and don't know shit about japanese bikes! Obviously a custom trike has a host of things to look out for.Is there any specifics I should check on this year motor etc ? Have always heard of high reliability on NON harley bikes with little wrenching so I am looking to get this for my Retirement years/ when I need surgeries etc..for when the two wheel fun cycles are unrideable for my body.(lots of broken bones/vertebrae etc..Im only 39 but its coming) thank you for any input.I am searching but finding little on the 900.

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    From my experience the KZ family of motors are all pretty universal. The first build I ever did was a KZ750k1 (belt driven model, only made for one year). Being an extremely rare model I was worried about being able to find any parts for it, but soon figured out that pretty much anything was interchangeable from virtually any other KZ motor. And they are easy to get running right. One of my favorite engines really.

    Trike stuff though I got no idea...

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    Thank you, helpful info right there.

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    Tough to find info for a '74 KZ900 because the KZ900 was a one-year only model in 1976, followed by the kZ1000 in '77. In '73 Kawasaki Heavy Industries (oceanliner engine builders) released the Z-1, which ended in '75, but same engine as '76, with a center chain-driven dual overhead cams, 66mm x66mm bore and stroke for 903cc and good for 85hp, with straight cut gears for the clutch and a 5 speed transmission that let it fly 130+MPH out the door of the factory. The roller bearing crank is bulletproof, (better than the Honda 750), and is had four 28mm carbs, which switched to 26mm for the KZ1000(with a 70mm bore, same 66mm stroke for 1,015cc) with a different style to allow better control of all four carbs reducing the need to synchronize them as often(same style on KZ900 in '76). I owned them all and built them too, the 900 had a lighter 'porkchop' flywheels, compared to the full circle flywheel of the 1000, which also had thicker cases, they said to make the transmission quieter. I slid the Z-1 crank into 1000 cases and topped it with a 1075cc Wiseco kit then dropped in an Amen Savior frame chop, then transferred that to a gooseneck Santee softail. In Fairview College, our prof and class built a '78 KZ1000 with a 1425cc Wiseco kit, then added nitrous, good for a 9.55 @155MPH in the quarter mile in Saskatoon, just welded crank pins to prevent twist of the pressed together crank. Our classmate Nic ran there too with his 1385 Wiseco Z-1 engine for a time of 9.011@149MPH in the quarter. Those engines can handle it, truly a add gas and change oil machines. Thier KZ750 twin is similar, but with a longer stroke - aa tractor. The only issue I heard of on that 4-cylinbder series was the charging system , but in 20 years, I only changed one rectifier/regulator unit, and I always ran stock ignition points. I kinda know 'em, hence the z in my name.
    I would not hesitate to get a KZ900 or KZ1000 engine in any machine.
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    Superb engines. If they were American instead of Japanese it likely would have killed HD or forced it to change drastically because unlike Harleys you don't have a shitload of factory mistakes/indifference to fix out of the box. I'd bring a compression tester and check all four cylinders cold (and inspect the spark plugs) then observe it start and run.

    Visit the (multiple) Kawasaki forums and read your ass off. Look for downloadable factory manuals and parts catalogs.

    What does the REST of the trike look like? Photos would really help us help you. You are wise to plan for old age since it arrives in a flash.

    If you post the engine number perhaps TNC can tell you exactly what that engine is from.

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    Great News on the overall drivetrain but questionable as to what year etc it actually is now. I will get a vin and check from that, getting a video of cold start and running around a parking lot in a day or two.From pics of good resolution it looks like a well done and cared for older build and is being sold as that. I can see light rust on the cheap import mirror clamp but the girder is clean chrome. If the video looks good I'm heading to check it out in person ($100 flight). Good help from here as always. I will post pics if I make it there.

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    KZ fours were fine bullet proof motors and only had a few differences between them like 'shim under bucket' vs 'shim over bucket' valve train. An owner would have to be a total twonk and try really hard to destroy one of these motors.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skjoll View Post
    An owner would have to be a total twonk and try really hard to destroy one of these motors.


    You got that right...... They are like the 70s and 80s Honda 4s............ They are very hard to tear up...

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    I'm living proof. A Z was my first bike back before I knew anything about motors. I basically made it run with plumber's tape and bailing wire. And when I did, I thrashed it.
    Today you would never know the difference, it's as solid as ever.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shank1kole View Post
    Hello all, I am looking at a 1974 kz 900 choptrike and don't know shit about japanese bikes! Obviously a custom trike has a host of things to look out for.Is there any specifics I should check on this year motor etc ? Have always heard of high reliability on NON harley bikes with little wrenching so I am looking to get this for my Retirement years/ when I need surgeries etc..for when the two wheel fun cycles are unrideable for my body.(lots of broken bones/vertebrae etc..Im only 39 but its coming) thank you for any input.I am searching but finding little on the 900.
    Every bike everywhere is better and cheaper than harleys. Only americans talk about "non-harley" reliability, for rest-of-world its harley in the bottom and the rest on top.

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    Is this it? Not many 1974 Z-1 900 chop trikes with girders for sale:

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    I see a 4-1 header, the '76 and later style carbs (easier to synchronize), frame around engine looks original, forward controls (look well made), beauty girder with shock and a (Hallcraft Son-of-a-Mini-Brake?) half-brake wheel (some rust on spokes?) with new front tire, triangulated swingarm, rear hydraulic (disc?) brakes, unknown rear diff/axle/brake assembly with dual shocks, nice rear rims and fat meat tires. I like it.

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    Could only get 5 pics/post, so one more:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Kawasaki Z-1 900 chop trike (6).jpg 
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  13. #13
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    yup, thats it.It has the stance. I have negotiated the price down some already. I have blown those pics up and all the small details have been done clean.I never see the small stuff done nice except on pro level builds.It gives me more faith in the value. I am waiting on a video, but man I want to get this girl and do a double roth/himsl body and flake the hell out of it! I am an intense person, so I crawl out of my skin when I want something(not helpful on the wallet). Trying to not have a panic attack waiting on a video.
    Last edited by shank1kole; 3 Weeks Ago at 6:54 AM.

  14. #14
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    Every bike everywhere is better and cheaper than harleys. Only americans talk about "non-harley" reliability, for rest-of-world its harley in the bottom and the rest on top.
    In the case of all those vintage Britbikes that killed their parent companies they're just babbling out of nostalgia for their very dead youth. Much love for my Nortons and Triumphs but they and BSA etc are truly hot garbage in every mechanical sense and weaker in every way. None of them can put out the HP of a built vintage stroker HD due to displacement limitations of their designs, weak aluminum connecting rods (though steel are available aftermarket) with plain bearings (which also life-limit crankshafts to x number of regrinds), poorly supported crankshafts (except Trident but everything else is delicate) etc. They didn't stand up to US highway use and promptly disappeared into garages and barns where we find them today. Good for me, bad for the original owners! I love their beauty but that's naught to do with toughness.

    Indians are beautiful works of art but their drivetrains make a Knucklehead look like a jet fighter by comparison. Three speed crash box transmissions, bushed bottom ends, flathead top ends etc ensured that company wouldn't survive except as a name. (I still want a Chief engine to put in an Indian Larry minimalist bike for giggles because they are so extremely simple but they are what they are.)

    Evos were quite reliable by contemporary standards.

    The Kawasaki is a far better engine and better than the CB 750 single cammers, especially cam chain longevity (and access, those kits to make CB frame tubes removable worked but on most I've seen the owners removed the tubes instead of pulling the engine).

    HDs are much easier to work on, big twin rear drive chain/belt swaps excepted, than most other machines. That's the secret of their longevity. They are uniquely easy to overhaul to new condition because nearly every wear surface is replaceable except the breather gear area and those can be sleeved. The Japanese classics are more work to rebuild and their wide variety of engines limited aftermarket support. Fortunately NOT a problem for Z bikes since the police models were made for so many years.

    If I had to pick a vintage Jap four it would be a Z or KZ and should have hoarded parts when they were cheap. Too bad so many were blown up by racers but they died gloriously!

    I saw some beauties here. If you can make Barber the vintage Japanese scene is growing rapidly and the swap meet has tons of bikes and parts.

    https://vjmc.org/event/15th-annual-b...tage-festival/

    Have some Rickman Kawi (the best of both worlds) porn:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NwyyZBwb1c
    Last edited by farmall; 3 Weeks Ago at 9:27 AM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by farmall View Post
    In the case of all those vintage Britbikes that killed their parent companies they're just babbling out of nostalgia for their very dead youth. Much love for my Nortons and Triumphs but they and BSA etc are truly hot garbage in every mechanical sense and weaker in every way. None of them can put out the HP of a built vintage stroker HD due to displacement limitations of their designs, weak aluminum connecting rods (though steel are available aftermarket) with plain bearings (which also life-limit crankshafts to x number of regrinds), poorly supported crankshafts (except Trident but everything else is delicate) etc. They didn't stand up to US highway use and promptly disappeared into garages and barns where we find them today. Good for me, bad for the original owners! I love their beauty but that's naught to do with toughness.

    Indians are beautiful works of art but their drivetrains make a Knucklehead look like a jet fighter by comparison. Three speed crash box transmissions, bushed bottom ends, flathead top ends etc ensured that company wouldn't survive except as a name. (I still want a Chief engine to put in an Indian Larry minimalist bike for giggles because they are so extremely simple but they are what they are.)

    Evos were quite reliable by contemporary standards.

    The Kawasaki is a far better engine and better than the CB 750 single cammers, especially cam chain longevity (and access, those kits to make CB frame tubes removable worked but on most I've seen the owners removed the tubes instead of pulling the engine).

    HDs are much easier to work on, big twin rear drive chain/belt swaps excepted, than most other machines. That's the secret of their longevity. They are uniquely easy to overhaul to new condition because nearly every wear surface is replaceable except the breather gear area and those can be sleeved. The Japanese classics are more work to rebuild and their wide variety of engines limited aftermarket support. Fortunately NOT a problem for Z bikes since the police models were made for so many years.

    If I had to pick a vintage Jap four it would be a Z or KZ and should have hoarded parts when they were cheap. Too bad so many were blown up by racers but they died gloriously!

    I saw some beauties here. If you can make Barber the vintage Japanese scene is growing rapidly and the swap meet has tons of bikes and parts.

    https://vjmc.org/event/15th-annual-b...tage-festival/

    Have some Rickman Kawi (the best of both worlds) porn:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NwyyZBwb1c
    Hehee, those old britbikes are cute and charming as well, just tie two or three together and they have the same displacement as one of those 1800cc knuck timebombs!
    Im sorry but pretty much everything needs to be new to use any hp from a 80 y.o bike engine, its a waste of time and resources in my opinion. If i wanna go fast, unreliably - theres always ducati. A 120hp 748cc full of ti bits would do for me.

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    Point being those Knuck and Pan and early Shovel strokers existed before there were more powerful options. Judged against their Indian and British contemporaries the only thing with more power was a built Vincent. They weren't elderly then.

    All that shit is historic today. The modern Vincent analog is something like a Kawasaki H2R with over 300 ponies but cheap (under 60,000 to start) for what it is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by farmall View Post
    Point being those Knuck and Pan and early Shovel strokers existed before there were more powerful options. Judged against their Indian and British contemporaries the only thing with more power was a built Vincent. They weren't elderly then.

    All that shit is historic today. The modern Vincent analog is something like a Kawasaki H2R with over 300 ponies but cheap (under 60,000 to start) for what it is.
    Im usually stoned enough to forget my point completely, just reacted to comparing reliability with harley as a starting point, when the japs have had the rest of the world beaten in that field since the 70s.
    I dont love old britbikes or harleys because they are good machines, its just that if i stop climbing up the hill of mechanical inadequacy i would get no more leg training and would probably have to get a gym membership or some crap like that.

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    I've got a relative who is always shaking his head at my 2 and 4 wheel projects and suggesting better engineered and built vehicles, usually Japanese or German but I tell him he misses the whole point of the hobby. The fun of making outdated machinery work to it's capacity or better and using it. I'ts worth doing and if we don't, who will? As to choppers, which this relative can not appreciate, it's folk art as I read Farmall say once. We're friggin artists and sensitive as shit, to quote John Lennon.
    Last edited by Nanonevol; 3 Weeks Ago at 7:12 AM.

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    Change the oil, shim the valves once in a while and ride it.
    I loved mine.


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    '76?

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