The world of the Superbike is a fast moving one. The pace began to warm up around the late 60’s, gathering momentum throughout the following decade and really kicking in during the 80’s and early 90’s. History tells us of quantum leaps around the launch of Honda’s Fireblade in 1992 and then again two years later with the Ducati 916. In reality these battles were being fought, albeit unwittingly, many years before. On paper at least, the formula for a sports bike is a relatively simple one to concoct. Just take the latest engine technology available and place it in a strong chassis with some fancy suspension keeping the dangly bits in place. Within a space of four years, between 1984 and 1988, the game had moved on so fast that one of the leading protagonists, Kawasaki, was completely out of the equation almost as soon as their model was launched.
Unusually for a manufacturer at the very forefront of the game the GPz750R is an unfortunate mix of early 80’s technology and thinking, powered by a motor too small for the weight and size of the chassis. The bikes that the Kawasaki had to challenge when it was first conceived was the likes of the CBX750 Honda and Yamaha FZ750, who could have foreseen Suzuki’s next take on the same set of parameters. When the 1985 spec GSX-R arrived on the scene the game moved on a notch or two and the Kawasaki was left sadly lacking. The Kawasaki does save the day in the handling department, never attempting to be a racer on the road the frame is total overkill, having been designed to harness the 900 engine, all the running gear is equally as beefy so the Kwak goes where you want it to and stays there. The anti dive forks work very well too, a simple valve is operated by the action of the brake fluid stiffening up the front end to match the force of the stopping power, basic but no less effective a preventing front end dive.
No doubt encouraged by the enthusiasm and praise heaped upon the GPz900R, the Kawasaki team designed an all new, short-stroke, 750cc power plant and dropped it straight into the otherwise unaltered 900R chassis. The resultant machine, although a great motorcycle in its own right, simply didn’t cut it among the new crop of three quarter litre machines. The chassis is simply too large and too heavy to be effective on such a machine so short of power. It worked beautifully with the 900R, that machine has stood the test of time becoming one of motorcycling’s greats, while its baby brother became an also ran among an emerging sea of pure race replicas. Weighing in some 33 kilograms more than the GSX-R it isn’t hard to see why. With twenty BHP less to push it along, the poor old GPz is left a little behind in every round of the title fight. Even so it is the better ride and, without a doubt, the one to win a long distance haul challenge. You would find yourself trying to wrap around a warm coffee cup in a Little Chef, racked with wrist and back pain, a lot sooner with the rest of the race reps than you ever would, if at all, with the tourer styled Kwak.
Kawasaki did save the day in the speed and power stakes with the introduction in 1987 of the GPX750R. The new, three quarter litre, machine, with its GPz600 derived set up, was lighter and far more powerful, producing an altogether more sporty ride and even cutting the mustard in the heat of WSB competition. The GPX taking a single win, in the hands of Frenchman Adrien Morillas, during the 1998 season.
The first of the aircooled Gpz 750 appeared based heavily upon the KZ750 from the year earlier it sported the now familiar nose fairing shape. A turbo model was introduced too but the writing was on the wall for the old way of doing things. The engine produced 85bhp at 9500rpm with 49.7 ft-lb of torque at 7400 rpm
Soon after the launch in 1983 of the GPz900R, an all-new liquid cooled 749cc engine was fitted into the larger machines chassis to create an identically sized, albeit underpowered, 750 sports machine. This was known as the GPZ750 G1.
The model ran unmodified for the next two years but was not a stunning success and few were sold compared with the 70,000 or so GPz 900R’s sold during the latter machine lifetime. The 900 also stood the shift, from sports bike to enthusiastic tourer, when other machines swamped it in both performance and handling, whereas the smaller capacity GPz didn’t stand a chance of pulling that stunt off.
Production of the GPz750R ended in this year with the G3 version
The GPX750R arrived, it did transform the brands fortunes, eventually leading to the stunning ZXR series, the first of which was seen during 1989.
Kawasaki GPz750 Specifications;
- Engine – liquid-cooled, four-cylinder, DOHC 16 valves
- Capacity – 748cc
- Bore & stroke – 70mm x 48.6mm
- Compression Ratio – 10.5:1
- Carburation – 4 x 32mm Keihin CVK carburettors
- Max Power – 90bhp @ 10,000rpm
- Torque – 47ft-lb @ 7000rpm
- Ignition – Kawasaki CDI
- Transmission – 6-speed wet clutch chain final drive
- Frame – Kawasaki Diamond spine pressed steel and tube
- Suspension – 38mm hydraulic fork anti-dive Uni-trak rear
- Wheels – 120/80 x 16 130/80 x 18
- Brakes – 2x 270mm discs single-piston floating calipers, 256mm disc single-piston floating caliper
- Wheelbase – 1495mm
- Weight – 228kgs
- Fuel capacity – 22 litres
- Top speed – 140mph
Kawasaki GPz750R Gallery