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Cult bike Kawasaki ZXR 750 from 1989

Superbike for the masses

Don’t stand on the hose any longer, sit behind it. For example on the first affordable super sports car of the modern era, the Kawasaki ZXR 750.

In 1989 Kawasaki brought a sensational technological highlight to the motorcycle world: the "dynamic pressure ventilation on the top of the engine". It’s just a shame that the motorcycle world didn’t want to really open up why a valve cover should be blown in addition. Instead of awe-inspiring amazement, the air ducts, which looked hard to look like racing but were completely superfluous in the standard trim, were just ridiculed. Even today, every over 40-year-old sports rider knows which motorcycle model is meant when the keyword “vacuum cleaner hoses” comes up Kawasaki ZXR 750.

Cult bike Kawasaki ZXR 750 from 1989

Superbike for the masses

Kawasaki ZXR 750 deserves significantly more respect, but even on its 25th birthday, so far only a small, conspiratorial group has valued its true qualities. Every bet that in ten or 15 years it will have been: "Oh, if only I would have bought one back then …" The ZXR 750 is already a milestone from today’s perspective, because with an entry price of 15,150 marks it made the topic of superbikes for affordable for the masses.

Inline four-cylinder of the GPX 750 R served as the basis

At the end of the 1980s, anyone who wanted a thoroughbred racer that was to be taken seriously and matched the Superbike World Championship that started in 1988 had to pay between 24,000 and 36,000 marks to buy a Suzuki GSX-R 750 R, Yamaha FZR 750 R (OW01) or even a Honda VFR 750 R (RC30) to get hold of. As the smallest of the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers, Kawasaki was a little late. With the GPX 750 R presented in 1986, they were the last Japanese supplier to have a 100 hp 750 cc in their range – a more touring 750 cc. As a basis for the Kawasaki ZXR 750, however, its inline four-cylinder was always suitable.

And so the Kawasaki technicians planted a new cylinder head with speed-friendly bucket tappets on the practically unchanged GPX crankcase, and gave the crankshaft a lower flywheel,
strengthened the clutch and did a lot of detailed work. The open 107 hp engine, which was still very powerful and ingeniously sounding even after the revision, ended up in a completely new, state-of-the-art aluminum frame knitted according to the ZX-10 model, in which two aluminum profiles led from the control head to the swing arm bearing – the first edition was ready for the 1989 season the Kawasaki ZXR 750 (type H1).

At 234 kilograms heavier than the competition

Compared to its direct competitor, the Suzuki GSX-R 750, the Kawasaki ZXR 750 weighed 234 kilograms and was ten kilograms heavier, but it offered a more humane workplace, a more stable chassis and better performance. That did not change the fact that their motorsport merits were initially quite clear and that a major revision was due in 1990. The second edition (type H2) got some parts of the 1989 racing kit, larger carburettors, a larger radiator and a modified swing arm.

It slimmed down a bit and no longer had to deal with the H1 teething problems (including fork seals, brake pads), but with an open 108 hp it was only marginally stronger. Just one year later, the J-model was completely redesigned, and the Kawasaki ZXR 750 remained in the range until 1995. The irony of history: the American Scott Russell did not become World Superbike Champion on a Kawasaki until 1993 – the first year in which the street version of the ZXR 750 competed without vacuum cleaner hoses. Many survivors of the H1 and H2 models are no longer there. The motto is therefore: Save the hoses!

Information about the Kawasaki ZXR 750


Four-cylinder in-line engine based on the GPX 750 R, aluminum frame construction modeled on the ZX-10 – and Kawasaki’s discount racer is ready.

Data: water-cooled four-cylinder four-stroke in-line engine, 748 cm³, 74 kW (100 PS) at 10,000 rpm, 72 Nm at 9500 rpm, six-speed gearbox, double loop frame made of light metal, weight with a full tank 234 kg, front tires 120/70 VR 17, rear 170/60 VR 17, tank capacity 18 liters, top speed 236 km / h, 0-100 km / h in 3.6 seconds.

Literature: The Bucheli repair manual, volume 5105, was published in 1991, but is still available for 29.90 euros. For roughly the same price there is also the even more detailed, but English “Haynes Service & Repair Manual ". A detailed used purchase advice can be found in MOTORRAD 20/2004.

Specialists: In principle, any veteran Kawasaki workshop can screw the Kawasaki ZXR 750 properly. For example, Heller & Soltau in St. Michaelisdonn in northern Germany, Kawa dealer since 1987 with a big heart for well-hungry athletes and for over 20 years a reliable MOTORRAD contact when it comes to the Greens.

Market situation: The Kawasaki ZXR 750 is still waiting to be discovered by the youngtimer scene. There are currently more used machines than used machines on the market. A 100 percent original condition is the very big exception. It starts well under 1000 euros, solid goods with a valid HU are available from 1300 euros, and even (very rare) cream slices hardly cost more than 2000 euros.


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