HUGE is not a big enough word for Kawasaki’s Z1300… even with us putting the caps-lock on!
It’s fair to say that Kawasaki’s amazing liquid-cooled six-cylinder monster was a beast, a behemoth, a leviathan of largess! And – while many said it was too big, daft, didn’t handle and (later) that it was an anachronism – it still managed to last in Kawasaki’s product range for around a decade and outlive its contemporaries.
The Z1300 came about, most probably, as a result of the superbike race begun by Honda in 1969 with its CB750. Kawasaki themselves would trump the Four with their 1972/73 Z1 of 903cc but as the 1970s progressed, so did cubic capacity… Honda released their 999cc GoldWing in 1974 and then the CBX1000 six-cylinder in 1978… which was ironically just a year before the Big K released their own six-cylinder effort, the Z1300…
Clearly both Jap sixes (let’s ignore the Benelli Sei yes?) were developed in an overlapping fashion, but while the CBX came and then (by 1982) went, the big Kawasaki lasted until 1989 in various guises. It was even made famous by the likes of stunt riders Arto Nyquist and Doug Domokos (go search for some brill old school footage of these two in action, on the six-cylinder Kawasaki…)
The bike itself was one heck of a machine. It weighed in at almost 300 kgs, it pumped out a not-too shabby 120bhp. The weight of the thing alone meant it would knacker rear shocks, fork seals, tyres wouldn’t go the distance and the first model had crank issues and yet we all loved it.
Want to be a spotter? Here’s the Z13 by the numbers…
Chassis number KZT30A-000101
This was the first model with angular side-panels and a step-up seat. Colour: Luminous Starlight Blue with gold pin striping.
Chassis number KZT30A-006201. Some of these will have the 4.5 litre sump upgraded to six litre sumps in light of A1 crank issues. Colour: Luminous Ruby Red.
1980 KZ1300-B2 Touring
Chassis number KZT30B-000001. USA model: Z1300A with fairing, top-box, panniers and touring seat. Colour: Royal Dark Red.
Chassis number JKAKZAA15BA-011501. Chrome grab rail, chrome engine cases and air-filter covers. Electronic ignition modified and air rear shocks fitted. This A3 model was now made in both Japan and Lincoln, Nebraska, USA (shades of Kawasaki following the Honda GoldWing lead here). Colours were: Luminous Holly Green or Ebony.
Chassis number KZT30A-014101. Improved CDI/new horn. Colours: Luminous Passion Red or Ebony.
Chassis number KZT30A-015901. Minor aesthetic changes to badges/decals.
Chassis number ZGT30A-000001 Minor revisions to badges and decals. Digital fuel injection fitted bring power up to 130bhp. Colours: Luminous Passion Red or Ebony.
Chassis number ZGT30A-002801. No effective differences. Colours: Luminous Passion Red or Ebony.
Chassis number ZGT30A-002801 Colours: Luminous Passion Red or Ebony.
Chassis number ZGT30A-003501. Colour: Ebony.
By now the Z13 was long in the tooth, but some old stock of this model was sold into the very early 1990s. Colour: Ebony.
Kawasaki ZN1300 ‘tourer’
This model was alongside the standard Z1300 from 1983. In a bid to take on Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki’s big-bore tourers (GoldWing, Venture and Cavalcade) this was most definitely a US-aimed version and therefore info is sketchy.
Chassis numberJKAZNAA1 DA000001. Colour: Ebony.
Chassis number JKAZNAA1 EB500001 (USA) or EA000401 (Japan). Colour: Two Tone Ebony.
Chassis number JKAZNAAI FB501501 (USA) or FA001301 (Japan) Colour: Two Tone Ebony.
Chassis number JKAZNAAI GA001501. Colour: Luminous Vintage Red/Metallic Graystone.
Chassis number JKAZNAA1 HB503301. Colour: Luminous Vintage Red/Metallic Graystone.
Chassis number JKAZNAA1 JB503701. Colour Luminous Vintage Red/Metallic Graystone.