Personally, I have always harboured a soft spot for those high bar monster muscle bikes that the yanks seem to have so much fun racing on throughout the 70’s and 80’s. Unlike the UK on the other side of the pond “proper” fully faired race machines regularly did battle with high bar naked monsters.
Tag Archives: Kawasaki Classic Bikes
There can be no better way for any bike manufacturers to enter a new decade than with a highly developed and ground-breaking machine. Kawasaki not only achieved this task with relative ease but also added a new category in the biking world line up when they effectively stuck the attributes of a sports bike and tourer together to form the tag Hyperbike.
Kawasaki’s two-stroke Superbike, known in the factory as the 602, came out of the period immediately following the furore created by Yamaha TZ750. Shortly after the introduction of the big Yam, in the October of 1974, the homologation rules were changed meaning manufacturers only had to produce 25 machines thus making machines not based upon road based engines more feasible.
Revealed to a stunned European motorcycle audience at the 1972 IFMA motorcycle show in Cologne, the impact and significance of the Kawasaki Z1 cannot be underestimated. Marking the emergence of Kawasaki into the large capacity four-stroke multi-cylinder market, the Z1,…
In standard form the Kawasaki Z650 is a perfectly able machine. Its chassis is competent, and the engine willing to rev on, making it the almost ideal B-road scratcher for the late 70’s. However, like most bikes from the period, a standard Z650 does show its age in more modern times and as seen here by choosing a few areas to improve the middleweight Z can be transformed.
Unlike today, there was little choice in 70s motorcycling and any desire to ride something that bit different meant creating it yourself after the donor bike had been acquired or buying a ready modified model.
If you wanted to emulate to the look of the GP race machines there was only one route to down, the fibreglass body kit; held in place by ugly metal brackets and heavy beyond belief, the body fit added kudos to the humblest of machinery and trapped your thumbs on a regular basis too.
During the birth of the modern day motorcycle, no one had any hard and fast ideas about its perfect shape and form. When Honda created the inline four cylinder Superbike in 1968, the rest of the leading protagonists shot off in different directions simply to avoid copying, all to return at some point, some within a few short years and others around ten years later.
The ZXR750, first seen in 1989, is a beautiful machine even by today’s standards. It is sleek and very business like looking. Lavishly finished in a thick coating of paint that is so typical of Kawasaki’s top bikes from the period, the livery mimics the racing styling perfectly.
Mad as a junkyard dog First of all came the light switch power delivery of the 500cc Kawasaki H1 of 1969, then common sense prevailed and things calmed down considerably. Engines grew in capacity, and became tamer too, but still…
Big capacity, air-cooled, muscle bikes had become the norm and most expected this march to gain momentum, few however expected Kawasaki’s next move and the result changed the face of the Superbike forever.