Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 19th June 2008

Few vehicles cause peoples jaws to drop as the mighty, motorcycle engine trikes. usually featuring powerful litre plus sized engines, making them capable of tyre-smoking performance and banzai cornering, three wheelers are definite attention-getters.kawasaki z13 trike

What´s more you don´t even need to wear a crash helmet to enjoy this highway madness – respect to all the windswept trike-a-holics out there. Here´s the lowdown on a Kawasaki Z13 powered trike, with words by John Bolt.


There is probably no such thing as the ultimate engine, though each of us probably has their own opinion on what that would be. Neither is there any one custom that could be considered the ultimate, though in each category of custom bikes, we may see examples that are hard to improve upon. Chris Sadd set about building his own version of the ultimate bike-engined trike. Who would disagree that he has done just that?

There are bigger engines than the Z1300 of course, but these are invariably V-twins, producing a lot less outright power. There are more powerful multis, but these are physically smaller and do not have the presence of the big Zed – or as many cylinders! They would not fill out the engine bay quite as convincingly as this power plant does. Blackbird and Hayabusa motors are designed to fit in bikes that can be leant from side to side, and are therefore nice and compact. Chris has no intention of leaning anywhere. So, if you want a whopping big motor that churns out plenty of power, then look no further than Kawasaki´s water-cooled six.

There are of course quite a few car engines to choose from that are a lot bigger and have more cylinders to boot. These generally take on a different form to bike engined trikes though, often requiring steering linkages, beefed up front suspension, and somewhere to bolt on the various gubbins that usually get hidden below a bonnet. They lose the custom bike with an extra wheel look, and that is really what Chris was after.

His retains the classic custom profile of a raked out front end, and a nice swooping line from the top of the tank down to the low slung seat, which puts the rider low, and just forward of those fat rear wheels. Everything is kept clean and tidy, and rather than have a big bench seat on the rear for all his friends and family, he has used a more sporting one-plus-one affair. It is certainly the sort of trike that would tempt die-hard bike (or car) devotees to spend some time on three wheels.


Take a look from either end though, and a whole new dimension of the Zed is revealed. With those two huge wheels keeping everything sunny side up,Chris has taken the Opportunity to add a little width – but not fat – where the fancy took him.

The tank and tailpipes could be a handicap on a bike that needs manoeuvring at low speeds, or cranking over at high speeds – not a problem on a three-wheeler. Ironically, the tank looks sleeker in some ways than the fat-bob item on which it is based. The ratio of width to height is now greater, and the finished item has a less rotund look about it.

Those pipes, which are concealed beneath the bike for the most part, flare up outrageously, almost obnoxiously, at the back, where they can spew hot gas over anybody who tries getting too close to his tail-end. Together with the chromed diff and drive system, they provide a welcome injection of brightwork into a custom world that seems to have embraced drab finishes.

Likewise with the shiny headstock and Ness bullet lights at the front. If you have spent most of your life looking at the back of a plastic fairing, then you don’t know what you are missing, not having sat behind some lovely gleaming chrome as you plough your own particular furrow down a sunlit stretch of road.

There is no point in trying to put together a class leading custom unless the finish is worthy of the effort that has been put into the build. Chris therefore went along to see Ty Lawer of Pageant Paintwork in Norwich, and requested something appropriate.

With that lovely big tank and wide guards to let loose on, Ty has come up with another striking, faultlessly executed artistic tour de force. This is the point where you really do have to look at the pictures rather than the words. The multitude of intricate graphics applied over a red pearl base make the difference between a bike that is well executed, and one that is wild and wonderful.

There are plenty of neat and clever engineering solutions around the place, mainly executed by Chris himself, as he is the CS in CS Engineering.

These include the risers, which incorporate the digital speedo and junction box, the stainless airbox, and the 1170 Wiseco pistons which now act as instrument housings in their retirement. He extended the forks by three inches, and these sit rakishly at the front of the gracefully goose-necked frame.

At the blunt end, he is running a 3.77:1 diff ratio, driven by a one-off prop shaft. Shortened axles mate with purpose built carriers and
hubs, around which spin 12J Speedlines sporting rubber more commonly (relatively speaking) found on a Lamborghini Diablo.

After being meticulously constructed and machined, the various components were meticulously polished and plated, before being meticulously assembled. The result is a joy to behold. Less dramatic, but still quite jolly to look at are the multitude of brackets, clamps and cable holders that keep the standard of trike up there in the top drawer. All the wires are concealed in the frame, and where they have to make the leap twixt headstock and headlight, they run through braided stainless hose.

The finished article is something that would boost anybody´s street cred, and anybody with a passion for bikes would I´m sure, love to have a blast on it. If you had this parked up in your garage at home, you would surely spend all your hours waiting for work to end, or the weekend to arrive so that you could get it fired up for some serious hedonism.

Owners like their vehicles to make a statement about them, and apart from strapping a Saturn V rocket to the roof of your Ferrari, it would be hard to out-do the statement that this trike makes about the guy who rides it.

Get Kawasaki motorcycle insurance for the kawasaki z13 trike.