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Bike Profile - Posted 20th April 2012

1974 Kawasaki Z1B: Kev's Klassic Kawasaki, Part Three...
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RC message board regular Kevin had lusted after a Kawasaki Z1B for many years, so when he spotted a bargain on eBay he couldn't resist the 'Buy It Now' button. Is it finally finished?

At the end of last year I finally got hold of one of the very last NOS parts I have been looking for, the top brake hose with wire surround. This has been a hard part to track down, but track one down I did; it even had a 1975 date tag. I had troubled myself over this hose, and wondered about fitting a 36 year old rubber part to my bike. I need not have worried; the pipe has been sat on a shelf and is still supple, and has no signs of age or perishing. I see no reason not to fit it; yes, I know you can buy new top hoses, but they don't have the wire surround on the ones I have seen.

Note wire surround and 1975 date tag 1974 Kawasaki Z1B Brake Hose. The stuff of restoration...

A couple of days later the bike was done, finished, complete, ready to ride. The master cylinder was removed, stripped and cleaned, and a new overhaul set fitted. Then all the new brake pipes were fitted from master cylinder to caliper, with a new front lever adjuster fitted too. That was it, all done.

Then, last week, the planets finally aligned and the sun shone at the same time as I had a weekend off. I got up early and dragged the Kawasaki Z1b from its slumbers in my garage, out into the warmth of the early morning sun.

Planets aligned, sun shining, bike in lay-by... 1974 Kawasaki Z1B

Keys in, helmet on, fire it up and away...

No, I'm getting ahead of myself somewhat, it hasn't been quite that easy. In fact I dragged it out a couple of weeks back, but winter had paid me a bitter blow and the bike would only run on two cylinders. So it was down to my local garage where the owner allowed me to use one of his lifts.

Tank off and time to find what is wrong. Cylinders one and four were hot, two and three were cold, so a coil had failed. No problem, I thought, as I had already bought a spare new set of coils from eBay. After a quick trip home to grab the spare coils I was back and had them fitted in no time.

Tank on, fuel pipes connected, ignition on, hit the button, and it started. Oh yes, it started alright; it started blowing fuses! Now what, I thought to myself, so I checked the new coils, one was open circuit and the other had a very strange reading. So much for the new coils; they head for the bin and an order goes in to Zpower for some pattern replacements.

A couple of days later and the new, new coils turn up. They were soon fitted, but now one of the condensers had failed, probably taken out by the faulty coil. Another call to Zpower, another wait for replacements. A few days later and they arrived and were fitted, and the bike was once again up and running.

This time, surely... 1974 Kawasaki Z1B

Now, where was I? Keys in, helmet on, fire it up and away...

And sure enough that is what happened. I was out on my own Z1B, a moment I had looked forward to for a very long time. I headed off through town, and picked up a dual carriage way. It was busy, Saturday morning type busy, with a lot of traffic moving around town. I pulled out to pass a bus, opened the bike up, just got past... and the bike died.

I drifted to the side of the road, but couldn't find anything wrong, and it fired right back up, so off I went again. This time I was out of town, I hit the A33 towards Basingstoke, pile on the gas, just hit eighty and again the bike died, and again I drift to the side of the road. Again it fired right up, and I carried on to the next lay-by.

I kill the bike, remove my helmet and check everything over, and this time I find the problem. The tank is vacuuming, and I hear the tell tale hiss when I open the filler cap. I head back out but this time with the tank open, and no more problems. Back when I sealed the tank, some of the sealer had covered the tiny breather hole in the tank cap. This is soon removed and I once again hit the road, only this time the small country lanes, as I head back towards home. Problem solved.

Bridge not shown... 1974 Kawasaki Z1B
Z900s on Right Now......

The bike is still not perfect - it has a small stumble just as I open the throttle in traffic - so I have ordered some new pilot jets. But once you get on the throttle, it pulls like a train, and the sound from the four into one exhaust is electrifying. It's back in my garage now, but guess what?

It's going to be sunny again tomorrow.

Who can catch a Kawasaki...

Words and photos - Kevin Dean.

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