With today’s specialized frames, wrapped around the specific engine they were designed for with no room to spare, we seldom see builders mixing and matching in a way that was common in years past. There are exceptions, like Norm Wilding’s Kawabusa, for instance, a ZRX with Hayabusa power, but most of the customs work with the engine they came with.
Mick King, whose NSU powered Norton we recently wrote about, built another Norton framed custom he called the NorKaw, this time with Kawasaki Z1 power. At the time it was built, in the early 1970s, the Norton featherbed frame was held in high regard and the brand new Kawasaki Z1 was impressing everyone with its inline 4. Mick thought the two might make an interesting pair so he introduced them to each other in his shop and the NorKaw rolled out.
The frame is from a 1968 Norton Atlas with Commando forks and a Yamaha TD3 hub laced to a 19 inch rim. Instruments and electrics are Z1 except for the Commando headlight. The lower frame tubes had to be dropped about 2 and a half inches to accommodate the new engine. The header pipes were Siamesed to clear the down tubes and run into Dunstall silencers.
The finished bike weighed 450 pounds, about 50 pounds lighter than the Z1, and with the Z1’s electronic ignition, brought higher reliability than you had with the stock Norton. Mick says the handling was superb.
The whole project took only about 350 hours and cost, in 1974 dollars, was only 2500 bucks. Looks like a winner. I like it!