Kawasaki Z1

The Kawasaki Z1 900 and 900 S4 (super four), later Kawasaki Z 900, is a motorcycle with a four-cylinder four -stroke engine that brought the Japanese manufacturer Kawasaki in 1972 on the market. The machine was a long time style icon for the Z series from Kawasaki.


  • Air-cooled four-cylinder in-line engine, mounted transversely, 79 DIN hp at 8,000 min-1 (Z 900 from 1975: 81 hp at 8,000 min-1 ); U.S. version: 82 hp at 8,500 min-1
  • 903 cc, double overhead camshaft (DOHC ), driven by a single roller chain, operated 2 valves per cylinder via bucket tappets
  • Bore / Stroke: 66/66 mm
  • Compression ratio: 8.5: 1
  • 4 Mikuni carburettor Ø 28 mm
  • 4-in -4 Exhaust System
  • Tank capacity: 16.5 liters which 3 l reserve
  • Fuel: Super 95 RON
  • Fuel consumption: about 8 l/100 km
  • Double-loop tubular frame front telescopic fork / rear swingarm with two spring legs
  • Kickstarter and electric starter
  • Rear-wheel drive via single roller chain 3/4 " x 3/ 8"
  • Hydraulically operated disc brake front ( a disc Ø 296 mm ) rear drum brake (Ø 200 x 35 mm)
  • Tire dimension front: 3.25-19 4PR / 4.10-19 / 90 H 19
  • Rear tire size: 4.00-18 4PR / 4.25-18 / 90 H 18
  • Weight: 246 kg ( 1975: 256 kg )
  • Load: 140 kg ( 1975: 130 kg )
  • Maximum speed: over 210 km / h ( according to vehicle registration )
  • Acceleration: 0-100 km / h in 4.5 seconds (according to the prospectus)


When Honda 1969 750 brought to market with the CB, the first large-scale production motorcycle with a transversely mounted four - cylinder four-stroke engine, the engineers at Kawasaki also had plans for a 750cc four-stroke model in the drawer. Kawasaki had been very successful so far with three-cylinder two -stroke engines as in the temporal sequence of Kawasaki H1 500 Mach III, Kawasaki 750 H2 Mach IV, 250 S1 Mach I, 350 S2 Mach II and the 400 S3 Mach II. The star of this fast, but because of their labile Suspensions infamous " missile " was already over and the four-stroke engines found more and more followers.

Initial work began in 1967 and were code named " NYS " what for " New York steak" stood. According to previously moderate success with the W1, W1S, W1SS, W2, W2SS, W2TT and W3 on the U.S. market was to get develop a bike with more style and technology. Participating were developers Yukio Ohtsuki, Osamu Tanegashima, Gyoichi Inamura, Toshio Togashi Norimasa Tada and Akihiko Kyohara, as well as the test driver Jyo Bito and Norihiko Takahashi. should the time ahead and pollutant standards more than satisfy.

The decision was first to use a four-cylinder engine with dual overhead camshafts ( DOHC) and 750 cc. 1968 work began on the construction and demonstration models were built. The designers were initially appalled when Honda at the 1968 Tokyo Motor Show presented his CB 750 Four.

After some time we came to the decision to analyze the market for the competition machine accurately. It was recognized that was on the motorcycle market, there is scope for more and larger machines. It was decided to increase the displacement to 900 cc. ( The 750 cc version with 69 hp should be for the Japanese market as the Z - 750 RS ( Z2) from 1973 to 1974 reserved, the successor was called until 1977 Z- 750).

Another 750 for the world market came for those responsible at Kawasaki out of the question - you wanted to be clearly different from rivals Honda. Two machines of the Z1 pre-series were flown to Los Angeles in early 1972 and subjected to a constant load. A long- distance test from Los Angeles to Daytona and back, with top speed driving on racetracks along the route have been completed. The machine went back to Japan to study and to further test again in the United States.

Kawasaki introduced the new Kawasaki Z1 S4 the international press in June 1972 in Japan. The bike was with his 82 HP ( U.S. version ) strong DOHC engine as a technical milestone. The design was so advanced that the engine with only minor changes such as the increase in displacement to 1000 cc in the successor Kawasaki Z 1000 1977 remained in Kawasaki 's lineup for twelve years.

In Europe, the machine was presented at the IFMA in Cologne in September 1972. The German model had 79 PS (at 8,000 min-1 ). In the brochure a top speed of 230 km / h was given. In a test conducted in early 1976 of the magazine " Motorrad" ( Issue 4/ 76) with the 81 -hp Kawasaki Z 900 has a top speed of 217.2 km / h (solo long lying) and an acceleration from 0 to 100 km / h in 3.5 s measured ( with pillion / passenger: 202.6 km / h and 5.0 s ). Franz -Josef Schermer test report on the performance of this time fastest production motorcycle had the headline " Frankenstein's Daughter".

The first " big bike "

The experts agreed to today: the Kawasaki Z1 was the first " big bike " and has defined the standards of a new motorcycle class. The machine was offered in 1972 in Germany for DM 7,200 including 11% VAT, which is about 11,400 euros today. It was thus only 600 DM more expensive than the 12 PS weaker Honda CB 750 Four.

Despite the 1974 due to the good sales figures in 1300 DM increased price it was in the spring of 1975 with DM 8,500 ( € 11,200 ) is still much cheaper than, say, 76 hp Benelli 750 Be with six-cylinder engine ( 9,690 DM/12.700 € ) or for DM 9,000 ( € 11,800 ) available Laverda 1000 with three-cylinder engine and 78 hp.

The frame numbers of the first series from 1972 ranged up to about Z1F - 05200, the '73 model to Z1F -20000, '74 Z1A to Z1F - 47500, 75 Z1B to Z1F - 85700th

Model maintenance and succession

The presented end of 1975 improved successor model Kawasaki Z 900 also cost DM 8,500, but had stable frame tubes ( wall thickness 2.3 instead of 1.8 mm) and a stronger front brakes (two discs Ø 296 mm - before a disc with Ø 200 mm), what driving safety improved markedly. The revised engine produced two more horsepower (81 hp). 1977, the engine capacity was increased by drilling to a 1015 cc and changed the name in Kawasaki Z 1000 (A1).

Until the " Z 1000 A2", which was from 1978 on the market, the typical design has been retained with the striking drop tank. Only at the end of the year 1978, with the Z 1000 Z1 -R satisfies the zeitgeist done and Kawasaki motorcycles were straight corners and edges.

This change in design Kawasaki moved in 1991 to build the models ' ZR 550 / 750/1100 Zephyr " that visually followed the line of the original and 10 years were also in the German program. In Japan there is still a " Zephyr X 400 ", which also carries the tank decor of the first Z1 and 4- in-1 has an exhaust system.

Since 2002, Kawasaki is once again building a 1000 under the legendary name, see Kawasaki Z1000.


With the resurgence of the Internet has not only in Germany, the "Classic Z Scene" is experiencing a veritable boom. Thus, various forums have emerged to replace those interested information, parts and screwdriver tips. In 2008, eight Z- meetings were held in Germany alone.