Of all the Japanese brands, it seems that Kawasaki has the most loyal and hardcore following. The ‘Big K’ built a reputation in the 1970s for producing the most brutish and powerful bikes in the class. From the Z1 of 1972 to the ZZR1100 that defined the 90s, a ‘Big Z’ was the ultimate status symbol for big blokes wanting big bikes.
Although the smallest of the ‘Big Four’ Japanese manufacturers, Kawasaki continues to churn out some of the best bikes on the road and track. Want to know more?
Here’s some pub ammo to impress your mates with…
- Kawasaki is a common Japanese surname and the company is named after founder Shozo Kawasaki. It was founded in 1896.
- The first motorcycle by the brand was actually branded a Meguro and was a virtual copy of a British BSA. It appeared in 1960
- Motorcycles still only represent a small part of the business but are the most visible ‘consumer’ division. Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) is one of Japan’s biggest companies and makes everything from warships to planes and high-speed trains.
- Kawasaki’s traditional race colour is lime green (but then you knew that already, right?)
- The iconic GPz900R was famously ridden by Tom Cruise in the movie Top Gun. The same model won the Isle of Man Production TT in 1984, its launch year.
- The GPz900R also saw the introduction of the legendary ‘Ninja’ moniker, which is applied to the company’s sports models, such as the ZX-6R and ZX-10R. The other UK Ninjas is the new Ninja 300R (replacing the 250R)
- Big in the US and, confusingly, the models often carry different names than in Europe, with our ZZR and ER ranges running under the Ninja sub-brand.
- They formed a ‘strategic alliance’ with Suzuki in 2002, which resulted in the joint development of the KX250F four-stroke motocrosser and Mean Streak cruiser. The partnership ended after just four years.
- This year they introduced the new Z800. Based on the old Z750, it has been one of the revelations of the year and is proving to be a genuine rival to other middleweight naked, such as the Triumph Street Triple and Ducati Monster.
- Unlike the other Japanese brands, they have largely ignored small capacity motorcycles and scooters. While Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha have focussed their efforts on developing and marketing sub-200cc bikes for the Asian markets in recent years, Kawasaki has continued to develop bigger bikes for the American and European markets. As a result, bikes like the ZX-6R and ZX-10R have gone from being competitive in class to best in class in the past few years, while the revitalised Z800 and Z1000 are huge hits on the continent.
- Kawasaki has been the least active Japanese manufacturer in Grand Prix road racing, but was very successful in the 250 and 350cc classes in the late 70s/early 80s, winning four world titles in each class. They also won the 1969 125cc title.
- Kawasaki competed in MotoGP from 2002 to 2008, scoring a best finish of second in the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix.
- American Grand Prix legend Eddie Lawson won the AMA superbike championship in 1981 and 1982 for Kawasaki.
- Australian rider Andrew Pitt won the 2001 Supersport World Championship title on a ZX-6R without actually winning a race. He did however win twice the following year.
- Kawasaki dominated the British race scene last year. Shane Byrne won the British Superbike Championship on a ZX-10R. Kawasakis also won both the superstock 600 and 1000 championships.
- Kawasaki is the only Japanese brand to have a full-factory team in the 2013 Superbike World Championship, with Tom Sykes well placed to give them their first title in the class since Scott Russell in 1993.
- Today’s Kawasaki range includes everything from learner bikes (D-Tracker 125 and ER6), cruisers (VN series), adventure bikes (Versys) and tourers (1400GTR), as well as the iconic ZZRs, Ninjas, a full range of off-road tools and the retro W800.
With a strong following and good dealer network, Kawasakis remain a popular choice in the marketplace. Webuyanybike.com is always on the lookout for good, clean models so if you are looking to sell one. Why not get in touch to see how much we can offer you?