Z1 Moriwaki Kawasaki

Z1 Moriwaki Kawasaki

Moriwaki KawasakiGordon Pantall – The Man

Gordon Clive Pantall started racing in 1964 at nearby Aberdare Park although it wasn’t the best of starts as the young welsh rider crashed in his first event. The bug had bitten hard however and Gordon quickly got to grips with staying on and aiming for the front. He rapidly became known for being both fast and safe, two attributes that rarely mix well and was awarded with the Newcomers award for a fie 11th place in the 1965 junior Manx GP. In 1967 he raced Ray Cowles machine to an impressive 2nd place in the senior Manx GP; he was no slouch on the short circuits either despite his shaky start, that same year Gordon finished 2nd in the ACU Clubman’s race at Oulton Park and nearly went one better by leading the 500cc race before crashing out.

He never did win a TT race but came close on many occasions, with 2nd in the 1968 Junior and 1969 Senior Manx GPs, and the again in the 1970 production and 1971 Junior TT races. To further compound this record he was forced to retire from the 1974 senior TT while in a solid 2nd place

Z1 Moriwaki KawasakiIn 1975 Gordon finished 13th overall, 4th in his class, in the production TT sharing a Z1 Kawasaki with Tony Newell while the following season year he bought an ex Tepi Lansivouri TZ700 from Percy Tait. Gordon took this machine to a fine 9th place in the 1976 classic but this was to be the 37 year old Welshman’s last season, it was fast becoming a young mans game and when the Pantall family started to grow, the leathers were hung up and his attention turned to backing up and coming riders.

By now Pantall had become something of a motorcycle dealer with a burgeoning Kawasaki empire in Gorseinon, near Swansea in South Wales and the first rider to feel the benefit of support was Clive Offer. Kevin Wrettom followed, as did the switch from Yamaha to Kawasaki machinery, to be more in keeping with Gordon’s business activities. The Formula One class was a fast emerging, and popular series, the Pantall equippe loaded Kwak engines into Harris chassis for the 1978 season, and it was this move that brought the Moriwaki tuning parts to Gordon’s attention.

MoriwakiThe opportunity to acquire the Graeme Crosby Moriwaki Kawasaki came about early in the 79 season, the speed of the Moriwaki was never in question and having watched the New Zealander ride a fully faired version to a staggering 4th place at the TT of that year, Pantall knew he needed that sort of power. Gordon approached the Crosby team with a view to getting his hands on an engine and ended up talking with the man himself, Mamoru Moriwaki, about buying a machine. It was agreed that Pantall would have first refusal should the machine be up for sale at the end of that year, and sure enough at the last meeting of the year Graeme Crosby, having just finished 2nd behind the works Honda of Ron Haslam in the UK Formula One championship, rode straight off the track and handed the machine over to Pantall in hot and race ready condition. Minutes later, the New Zealander arrived back at Gordon’s van armed with a host of spares including some special Moriwaki engine components. “It was a package worth half as much again as the price I had paid for the bike,” recalled Gordon “ And easily enough to keep the machine running for a whole season and beyond. I ended up becoming the UK importer for Moriwaki parts so it was a happy time all round. Then came a call to get the bike back, Crosby wanted to ride at the Gauloise Powerbike meeting at the end of that season and didn’t have a suitable mount. It was going to be a big event, promoted as GB versus the rest of the world, with the works Suzuki team of Wes Cooley and Dave Aldana coming over from the US, and all of the usual GB front runners entering too, so I agreed to take the Moriwaki down to Brands on the Wednesday for the team to fettle it ready for Croz. It turned out to be a great race with Crosby getting boxed in midfield for the first part before pulling through, much to the delight of the huge crowd. Going into the last corner it was Aldana, just ahead of Crosby, with Cooley in 3rd, Croz very nearly did it but crossed the line in 2nd place in the end. The crowd went wild anyway, and Croz posted the fastest lap of the race.

“After then the bike wasn’t raced again and the engine came out to be placed in one of the Formula one bikes, I had Steve Manship and Chris Guy riding for me by then and I’m pretty certain it’s the engine Alan Jackson used to finish 4th in the F1 TT of 1980 while my other TT rider of that year, Ian Richards, retired with a blown big end.

Moriwaki Z1 Kawasaki“That was a controversial race, because the works Honda of race winner Mick Grant only did the one fuel stop, while everyone else including my riders had to do two, so in reality Grant should have been in 3rd or 4th place if he had stopped twice. To put this into perspective, the 2nd place man Crosby was a mere 11 seconds behind Grant after the six lap race, while Jackson was only 1 minute and 20 seconds adrift, so the result could have been oh so different. I was certain the Hondas were running bigger tanks than the permitted 24 litres, and talk of Grant hitting his tank on the last lap, allied to a large dent in the Honda, prompted me to lodge a complaint. As it turned out the Honda had been released from the Parc Ferme before the protest was officially lodged, but the Honda rider did admit the tank was a 28 litre one that had been filled with ping pong balls and other such items to bring the volume down to the 24 litres required by the regulations. The protest wasn’t upheld, a dented tank was measured two days later and found to be 23.7 litres, and Grant was awarded the win.

“In 1981 the correct engine was returned into the high bar Moriwaki and it sat on display in my shop for the next half a decade before I sold up in 1987, and rented the property out. With the shop now gone, the Crosby bike was dismantled, and parts were spread across several garages. It was only a chance meeting with George Beale in 2006 that prompted the restoration. Many, including Croz himself, thought the bike was long gone, having been parted out many years since, when in fact, it was all there and just needed reassembling.”

Moriwaki Kawasaki Z1Gordon began the work in August 2006 and had the bike finished, complete in the livery and race numbers it last wore when Crosby rode it back in 1979, in time the TT Centenary the following year where Pantall rode it in the Lap of honour. “To cap that, Graeme rode it at Donington Park for the 30th anniversary of the track in 2008.” Gordon added “ and I now ride it whenever I get the opportunity, having recently swapped the modern Avon rubber for more period looking Dunlop’s.”

The Bike; sitting up, but hardly begging

To anyone outside of the racing world, it reads like a script from a Hollywood movie albeit panning out far better than any screenwriter could have imagined. A little known New Zealander arrives in the UK, en route to the US, to take part in the fast emerging Superbike racing. Not only is he a relative unknown, but also he has an unlikely looking mount in the shape of a Moriwaki Kawasaki, known in Japan as the Monster Z1000.

The bike was naked, save for a handle bar fairing and rather ungainly looking, but none the less effective in the right hands. While in the UK, he takes part in a one off ride and finds himself pushing the best in the business, beating most and challenging for overall victory. This prompts a re think and, having finished 4th in his first attempt at the TT, with considerable help from Mike Hailwood who talked the TT official into letting the Croz race without doing the Manx GP first, the young rider from the southern hemisphere opts to stay in the UK, take the runner up spot in the hottest class around.

Kawasaki Z1 SpecialWithin months he has a factory Suzuki ride and is ranked amongst the highest in the game. Croz went on to win the Senior TT in 1980, and finished runner up in the controversial Formula one race of that year too, eventually making it into GP racing in double quick time, finishing 2nd in the world 500cc title hunt in 1981, just two seasons after his stunning arrival upon the world scene.

Graeme Crosby takes up the story “I arrived in Japan in 1978 for testing prior to the first Suzuka 8 hour event and was given a Moriwaki Kawasaki Superbike to ride. I could not believe how fast and stable it was. First time out I was 2 seconds under the lap record. This bike was a real cracker. Tony Hatton and I then rode the bike in the 1978 Suzuka 8 hour race and finished in 3rd position. Despite Tony running out of gas and having to push it back to the pit area, we had a ball. That bike formed the building block for my attack on the UK racing scene in 79 and I stuck a similar one on pole for the Suzuka race in that year too.

“The English tabloids all played on the theme that I had a “Sit-up and Beg” bike as it had high bars and not the traditional clip on’s. Well, it definitely made lots of people sit up and take notice. I finished 2nd in the TTF1 British Championship without having to change the bars to clip-on’s despite many suggesting I do so. Phil Read even offered to buy me the clip ons so the bike would look right but I suggested I need the money more for food than unnecessary bike parts. That bike put me into a factory ride the following year.”

1979 Z1 Moriwaki Kawasaki Specifications

  • Type – Air cooled DOHC 2 valve per cyl. Four stroke.
  • Capacity – 1103cc
  • Bore x stroke – 73 x 66
  • Compression ratio – 11.5 to 1
  • Fuel system – Keihin CR100 racing carbs 32mm bore. 80mm Long Bellmouths.
  • Primary – Gear driven. Final drive – DC 530HD non O ring chain.
  • Clutch – standard Kawasaki Z1 with H/Duty Springs.
  • Gearbox – Kawasaki 5 Speed Close Ratio.
  • Electrics – 12v – 10AH Supply with Electronic Ignition.
  • Frame – Lightweight Tubular Steel with reinforced steering head & Down Tubes
  • Front Suspension – 36mm Kayaba Forks with 800mm stroke.
  • Rear Suspension – Needle roller Box Section Swingarm. 330mm stroke & 9 position spring setting. Kayaba Shock Absorbers.
  • Brakes Front – Duel 300mm discs with 2 Piston Lockheed Calipers.
  • Rear – Single 230mm disc with 2 Piston Lockheed Caliper.
  • Wheels – Front – 3.00×18 Morris Mag. Rear – 4.00×18 Morris Mag.
  • Tyres – Front – 3.50/3.25 x 18 Dunlop Racing KR 124. Rear – 3.75/5.00 x 18 Dunlop Racing KR 164.
  • Wheelbase – 1500mm
  • Fuel Capacity – 24 Ltrs.
  • Top Speed – 150 mph (depending on final drive gearing)
  • Max Power – 125 bhp @ 9000rpm

Moriwaki Z1 Kawasaki Gallery

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