Kawasaki Z 900- Z 1000 – Brands, Myths and Engines

Comparison test: Kawasaki Z 900 versus Z 1000

Brands, Myths and Engines

The Kawasaki Z 900 Super Four was the over-riding motorcycle of the early 1970s. Powerful engine, shaky chassis. MOTORCYCLE veteran Franz Josef Schermer remembers her when he meets the current Z 1000. …

The history of Kawasaki Heavy Industries goes back to 1878. Company founder Shozo Kawasaki opened a shipyard for steel ocean ships. In 1906 the production of locomotives, freight and passenger cars was added, and in 1918 aircraft production. Mobility on water, on land and in the air! Today Kawasaki manufactures container ships, oil tankers, high-speed trains like the famous Shinkansen, helicopters and jets, complete industrial plants and power plants. Kawasaki made its motorcycle division a global trademark.

D.aran, the legendary Kawasaki Z 900 Super Four from 1972 played a major role. Their appearance meant a scandal: The four Japanese Honda, Kawa, Suzuki and Yamaha had made a "socially acceptable" gentleman’s agreement in 1970 and agreed not to build motorcycles over 750 cm3 – so as not to upset the non-motorcyclists of this world even further. And then that: At the IFMA in Cologne, the new Kawa four-cylinder, sales name Z1, outshone everything with 79 hp at 8500 tours (82 hp abroad), two overhead camshafts and a wonderful four-in-four exhaust system. The competitors were flabbergasted and we motorcyclists were enthusiastic or even electrified.

Comparison test: Kawasaki Z 900 versus Z 1000

Brands, Myths and Engines

Z 1000 from the 900s. I titled it "Frankenstein’s Masterpiece" (MOTORRAD 23/1976). Technically, the 1000 was more like a four millimeter drilled 900, just with a less stylish four-in-two exhaust system.


Design, technology and sound icon: beguiling oven-in-four exhaust system. This is how other drivers saw the Z1 at the time.

The impression of sheer violence from Frankenstein’s daughter and masterpiece has burned itself into my brain. With high handlebars you could drive around 140 km / h while seated, from 150 you lay flat on the long tank and held the throttle grip with the pronounced cross ribs firmly to the stop. In lower gears you could turn the engine up to over 9000 revs and then had a good connection in the next gear. However, the four-cylinder was not fully gas-proof for a long time. Gearboxes and alternator rotors resented this.

Today every mid-range motorcycle drives faster than the Z 900. And in front of me there is even the 139 hp Z 1000. It is 13 kilograms lighter than the old 900! And looks like it came from a Japanese manga comic. Were the Kawa designers on drugs? Even the fat upside-down fork is completely covered, looks like a rigid fork. AT battery of wobbly plastic particles is scattered over the machine. Unmistakable or over-designed? A matter of taste. But how it roars, the Z 1000, unbelievable! That engine noise, that’s Kawasaki.

And how she walks, pulling her arms out even in sixth gear. What a boost! If you turn the gears out, the Z 1000 accelerates like the devil. Technically, however, such a modern engine does not take full throttle wrong. You have the impression that you are always too fast and that you are turning up too badly. There are only 130 things and not even 6000 turns, as long as you can read the necessary data on the flat, newfangled “multifunctional instrument”. With a Z 900, we make the chassis fit with Ikon struts (successor to the Konis) and Bridgestone BT 45, build a flat LSL handlebar on it (Magura handlebars no longer exist), fill in Super Plus and shoot off. The nice thing about the 900 from 1973 today is that you can ride it comfortably at any time, it’s an old car, and today‘s motorcycle buddies don’t ask for any kamikaze heroic deeds, we’ve already done them. But when it comes down to it, the one in front who lets the gas stand the longest is always in front.

Today the engine of the Z 1000 is a real animal, Frankenstein’s animal, madness! It pulls and turns and pushes. Only the gearbox seems to have stopped somewhere in 1985 in terms of shiftability and shifting accuracy. As you can see when you brush 350 kilometers with the Manga-Kawa over first-, second- and third-class country roads: Michelin Pilot Road 3 make the 1000s really handy, almost over-nervous and wobbly. Standard ABS keeps your head free. It’s crazy how that slows you down.

Today’s Z 1000 is said to be fast at 245 km / h. And walk straight ahead really well. I haven’t tested it, it was too difficult for me. Today I don’t feel like riding a motorcycle anymore. How is it on my t-shirt? "The older we get, the faster we were earlier."

Motor technology


Kawasaki 900 Z1 engine.

Kawasaki 900 Z1 engine
A brilliant idea: Coupling four cycles with four cylinders in series enables a high level of smoothness with great top performance and very few components. All of this had existed in motorcycles since 1904. But it was only the oven Japanese brands that helped the transversely installed in-line four-cylinder to achieve global triumph. The Honda CB 750 came in 1969, the Kawasaki Z 900 in 1973. In contrast to the Honda, its air-cooled engine had two overhead camshafts; state-of-the-art actuated bucket tappets with two valves per cylinder. Further features: light metal cylinder with cast bushings, four round slide carburetors (26 mm dia.), Five-speed gearbox, kick and electric starter. With a 66 millimeter bore and stroke each, the engine was designed to be square and therefore very easy to turn. However, the rotors of the alternator annoyed rotating horrors in the long run: They flew apart. In an emergency, its seat core would weld on the crankshaft. Roller bearing crankshafts, contact-controlled ignition and short maintenance intervals of 3000 mm were the state of the art at the time.

Kawasaki Z 1000 engine
In 2003, Kawa continued its tradition with the Z 1000. The evil Japanese naked bike used the engine of the ZX-9R, water-cooled, with 953 cm³, 16 valves, injection, six gears – and four individual, slim stainless steel exhaust bags, as a tribute to the Z1. An intermediate model followed in 2007 with the same engine. In 2010, a completely newly developed 138 hp four-cylinder was fitted with a fully load-bearing new chassis with an aluminum frame. The liter displacement is now filled with 1043 cm3, the maximum torque of 110 Newton meters bearish. Today there is a short-stroke design and two balance shafts. The downdraft can flap housings carry computer-controlled, high-oval secondary throttle flaps. They should optimize the response to gas commands. In order to save construction width, the timing chain is no longer between cylinders two and three as in the Z1, but to the side. This saves a warehouse. Coated aluminum cylinders, high compression (11.8: 1; Z1: 8.5: 1) and plain-bearing crankshafts are modern. The service intervals are 6000 kilometers.

Technical specifications


The exhaust system just pretends: four outlets in two silencers. In the right there is a flap system.

Kawasaki 900 Z1 Kawasaki Z 1000 Type of engine Air-cooled four-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine Water-cooled four-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine
Mixture preparation Round slide carburetor, Ø 28 mm Injection, Ø 38 mm
coupling Multi-disc oil bath clutch Multi-disc oil bath clutch
transmission Five-speed Six-speed
Secondary drive 3/4 inch chain with O-rings 525 chain with O-rings
Boron x stroke 66.0 x 66.0 mm 77.0 x 56.0 mm
Displacement 903 cm3 1043 cm3
compression 8.5: 1 11.8: 1
power 58.0 kW (79 PS) at 8500 rpm 101.5 kW (138 hp) at 9600 rpm
Torque 74 Nm at 7000 rpm 110 Nm at 7800 rpm
Weight with a full tank 235 kg 222 kg
Top speed 217 km / h lying down (sitting: 207 km / h) 240 km / h
price 7200 Mark (1973) 11,695 euros (excluding additional costs)

Related articles

Related articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *