Iconic Models

Throughout the extensive history of Kawasaki there has been a wealth of iconic motorcycles:

1962

1962
B8125
The line of B8 motorcycles was the first to carry the full Kawasaki name. Based on it's predecessor, the Meihatsu B7 which used Kawasaki engines but their own frame and running gear, Kawasaki’s B8's were very popular in Japan because of their durability and low cost.
The 125cc two stroke engine produced 8 horsepower at 8,000rpm and was designed based on technical knowledge garnered from the development and production of aircraft engines. In fact, the tank badges read "Kawasaki Aircraft". 

1963

1963
B8M
Known as the "Red Tank" the 1962 B8M was created specifically for the motocross championships in Japan.
In 1963, it proved itself a strong performer, sweeping the podium by finishing in 1st through 6th place.

The B8M was the first racing motorcycle to be built by Kawasaki and it was the first model to be sold as a production racing machine. Based on the 125cc B8 street bikes; it had an increased 12 horsepower (over the street bike’s eight) and was coupled to a 4-speed gearbox.
The success of the B8M began a legacy for Kawasaki racing performance. 

1966

1966
W1 650
At the time of its launch in 1966, the parallel twin 650cc air-cooled W1 was the largest capacity motorcycle produced in Japan. Its reputation for durability and performance made it very popular both in Japan and in export markets like the USA where Kawasaki were keen to establish a presence.

The W1 continued in production for some considerable time and was even produced in later life as a police specification machine complete with front twin disc brakes.

1969

1969
H1 500
Starting on the drawing board and tested by KHI at Kyoto university as first a large air-cooled twin, a V-3 configuration or parallel triple, the H1 as we know it was eventually created as a high performance three cylinder, piston ported two-stroke. Early testing dictated the innovative use of electronic ignition to deter low speed plug fouling and the design goal of 120bhp per litre was achieved.

The H1 was hailed as the “world’s fastest accelerating street bike” producing 60bhp from 500cc and achieving 13 second standing quarter mile times.

As famous for its “interesting” handling as its sheer outright performance, the H1 was gradually refined and finally phased out in 1976 as the KH500 due to stricter noise and exhaust emissions legislation

1971

1971
Dave Simmonds H1R500
Based very much on the early 1970’s H1500 road machine, the H1R racer was ridden to great success by British rider, Dave Simmonds. Winning Kawasaki’s first ever 500cc Grand Prix at Barcelona in 1971, the H1R was an air-cooled three cylinder machine which sported un-silenced expansion chamber style exhausts.

Developed and modified by the factory and Simmonds himself, later versions of the H1R were also raced by the likes of Kork Ballington in his native South Africa, and Mick Grant, who raced a water-cooled version to victory in the Senior race at the 1975 Isle of Man TT. 

1972

1972
H2 750
Big brother to the H1, the 750cc three cylinder air-cooled, two-stroke first hit the streets in 1972 as the Mach IV. With more torque than the 500 it was, for many, easier to ride - even though the power delivery of early models was still fierce with H2R style cylinder porting.

Spawning the H2R racing machine made famous by the likes of Mick Grant, Paul Smart and Yvonne Du Hammel, the street H2 added to Kawasakis reputation for cutting edge style and ground breaking performance. With its disc front brake, electronic ignition and steering damper as standard, the H2 was said to capable of passing anything… except a petrol station

1972

1972
Z1 900
One of the true icons of motorcycling, the Z1 900 was initially designed as a 750cc machine then enlarged to 903cc when a competitor launched a 750cc four cylinder.

The double overhead camshaft engine and dramatic four exhaust pipes stunned the world’s press and motorcyclists so too did the 80bhp power output and speeds of over 120mph from standard showroom machines. Its distinctive “duck tail” rear end has become part of the motorcycle design vernacular and so too stories of its reliability,

The Z1 almost single handily created the deserved Kawasaki reputation for “bullet proof engineering” that lasts to this day. Evolving into to the Z900 in 1976, the 903cc Z1 engine finally made way for the Z1 based 1015cc Z1000A1 in 1977. 

1973

1973
H2R and KR750
The demonic howl of a three cylinder 750cc two stroke Kawasaki racer once heard is never forgotten. Piston ported, and working best in across a narrow power band, the air-cooled H2R and later water-cooled KR750 engines did their best to tie the tubular steel chassis of these iconic lime green race bikes into knots.

When they went they really went. Mick Grant was speed trapped at 191mph on the Isle of Man TT circuit on his KR750.The mean and mighty 750’s diced week in, week out in the 70’s Grant against Sheene’s Suzuki, Ditchburn against Haslam’s Yamaha and everyone with their fingers resting on the clutch lever “just in case”. 

1975

1975
KR250
Conceived in an attempt to create a powerful Grand Prix machine with a narrow frontal area, Kawasaki created the KR series of both 250 and 350cc machines with the water-cooled cylinders one behind each other, rather than side by side. Effectively two single cylinder disc-valve engines, the crankshafts of both were joined by gears creating a twin with a characteristic “KR drone” exhaust note.

Achieving multiple world championships in the hands primarily of Kork Ballington and later Anton Mang, the KR250 was also raced at Daytona by Eddie Lawson. Still Kawasaki’s most successful tarmac racing type, the KR250 and 350 machines achieved more success over a longer period than most other racing machines.

1975

1975
KT250 Trials
The mid 1970’s witnessed a world wide craze of off-road motorcycle sport - and not just motocross. Trials also became highly popular. Kawasaki sought to acquire a place in the market which had previously been dominated by first British and then Spanish made machines.

Working in partnership with world famous trials ace, Don Smith, Kawasaki created the KT250 machine complete with its twin spark plug cylinder head and quick release rear wheel and hub. An accomplished machine in the hands of Smith and many others, the KT250 also featured a drip feed drive chain oiler with a reservoir in the swinging arm and a lighting kit for road registration p

1975

1975
World Endurance Machine
Swiss rider Alain Genoud, and his French riding partner, Georges Godier, were rebuffed by one Japanese manufacturer before striking a deal with Kawasaki to contest in the World Endurance Championship.

Based on road bike engines, the rules allowed special frames and suspension in the most competitive class and the Z1 900 engine proved an ideal Endurance tool. Easy to tune and get high horsepower from, the engine also proved hugely reliable and practically unburstable. With many features common on today’s’ road bikes such as single shock rear suspension and floating brake discs, the Godie/Genoud machines also featured such endurance necessities as easy to remove and replace batteries, quickly detachable wheels and special fast fill petrol tanks.

And the rewards for their dedication to Kawasaki? The 1975 world endurance title and a raft of wins under their own steam and with an impressive cast of world famous endurance riders in the years 

1977

1977
Z650 B1
At its launch in 1977, the Z650B1 was dubbed “Prince of Princes” in direct comparison to the Z1000(A1) which earned the equally royal epithet of “King of Kings”.

One of the last machines to leave the pen of legendary
Kawasaki engineer “Ben” Inamura – who also designed the Z1 900 – the Z650 had a 64horsepower engine and, as importantly, a highly praised chassis and suspension set up which enabled the rider to make full use of all the Z650’s available power.

Possessing the agility of a 500cc machine with the performance of a 750cc, the Z650 became deservedly popular with the biking public.

1977

1977
Z1-R
Launch of the 1015cc Z1-R.

An unmistakeable look and genuine cafe racer personality, the Z1-R’s appearance still looks fresh today.

1979

1979
Z1300
Reckoned by many to mark the end of the “largest is best” race of the late 70’s and early 1980’s, the Z1300 was certainly an imposing beast with its bank of six water-cooled cylinders across the frame and a huge expanse of fuel tank in front of the rider.

Utilising shaft drive and air assisted twin rear shock absorbers, the Z1300 started life with three twin-choke carburettors eventually evolving into a 120bhp fuel injected machine. 

1980

1980
KR500
With an engine using technology from the all conquering KR250 tandem twin racer, the KR500 was far more than a four cylinder version of the same machine.

Bristling with new ideas and concepts, the KR500 was Kawasaki’s test bed for all manner of future technologies. Sporting a sheet aluminium monocoque chassis, the KR derived much of its look from Kawasaki aircraft wind-tunnel experience.

With a range of steering and chassis adjustability not yet seen on a racing machine, the KR500 achieved it's greatest success in the UK in the hands of Kork Ballington who won the Shell 500 Championship on the machine who’s chassis technology would later manifest itself in the ZX-12R Supersports machine.

1980

1980
Top Fuel Bike
Dominating Top Fuel drag racing in the States in the early 1980’s, the combination of Bo O Brochta and the Terminal Van Lines Kawasaki was almost unbeatable.
The measure that everyone else had to beat, the Z1 based bike was one of the first to run a reversed cylinder head with forced induction up front and exhausts exiting from the rear. His achievement of a 7.08 second quarter mile time at Ontario Motor Speedway in 1980 was a milestone in drag racing. Racing in both America and undertaking guest tours to Europe and the UK, the Terminal Van Lines bike marked the peak of air-cooled Kawasaki drag racing development before a raft of water-cooled and special one-off machines became available in the mid to late 80’s. 

1980

1980
Z1000H
Created at a time when carburettors were still dominant, the fuel injected Kawasaki Z1000H was a first for Kawasaki and among the earliest Fi equipped street motorcycles.
Mixing a dash of style with sophistication, the distinctive gold wheels were matched by an imposing black and gold paint scheme marking out the H as something special among its peers. Still utilising the ubiquitous 1015cc air-cooled Kawasaki engine, the Z1000H laid the foundations for all future fuel injected Kawasaki motorcycles.

1981

1981
Lawson Superbike Z1000SR
The original “Superbike” series was an AMA Championship in America based solely on modified street bikes that retained their “showroom silhouette”. Fabulously popular in the States, the bikes were hustled round American tracks by the likes of Freddie Spencer, Wayne Rainey, Wes Cooley and

“Mr Kawasaki”, Eddie Lawson. Making the race number 21 his own, Lawson and his “sit up and beg” Z1000SR became part of Superbike racing legend and it was no surprise to see the styling and many features of his winning machine become part of the established Kawasaki road bike range in the following years.

1981

1981
GPz1100 B1
Granddaddy of the justifiably famous GPz range was the GPz1100B1, the original twin shock red missile. Production raced with some success, the sit up and beg “eleven” was fuel injected and gained Uni-Trak rear suspension later in life.

The essential maxim of there being no substitute for cubes was never better manifested than with the big air-cooled GPz.

1982

1982
AR50
Known primarily as a maker of lager capacity sports machines, the early 1980’s saw a raft of new machines from Kawasaki in the smaller capacity classes and particularly in sectors favoured by those new to two wheels.

The AR50 exuded style and featured such desirable standard features as cast alloy wheels, front disc brake, a bikini fairing and Uni-Trak rear suspension.

1982

1982
AE80
Adding a dash of performance – and at the same time, an alternative to the road styled AR range - the AE80 catered for the fashion for off-road style machine among those taking their first tentative steps in the world of two wheels.

A capable green lane machine, the AE80 was, for many, their first machine and, as importantly, their first Kawasaki.

1984

1984
GPz900R
The world’s first water-cooled, across the frame four cylinder superbike, the GPz900R - or Ninja as it was dubbed in the USA - created a sensation at its launch and moved both motorcycle performance and styling to a new level.

Equipped with Kawasaki’s trademark Uni-Trak rear suspension, hydraulic anti-dive front forks and camshafts driven from the side of the cylinders rather than the centre as was common practice, the performance and handling of the GPz900R set standards that the competition took years to match.

1984

1984
GPz 750 Turbo
The last of the Japanese “big four” to create a Turbocharged street machine when they were in vogue during the 1980’s, the GPz750 Turbo quickly established itself as by far the best bike of its type.

Early development 650cc versions were soon dropped in favour if the 750cc capacity and the adopting of an IHI turbocharger, mounted as near as possible to the exhaust ports to reduce “Turbo lag”, was the icing on the cake.

A 750cc machine with the acceleration and top speed of an 1100cc normally aspirated motorcycle, the Turbo continued Kawasaki’s reputation as manufacturer of the most extreme performance motorcycles. 

1985

1985
GPz600R
Forerunner to the Ninja ZX-6R, the GPz600R singlehandedly created the middleweight Supersports class, and in so doing, proved that large capacity engines were not necessary for high performance.

With its trademark perimeter frame joining the headstock to the swinging arm pivot point in the straightest possible line, the GPz600R handled as good as it looked and surprised many with its astonishing turn of speed.

1990

1990
ZZR1100
Still as potent a weapon today as when it was launched way back in 1990, the ZZR1100 set performance and durability standards that its forbears like the Z1 would be proud of.

At one time, the world fastest motorcycle, speed was not the entire story of the mighty ZZR. Comfort, handling and the ability to cross continents with ease made the ZZR1100 a machine against which all others in its class were measured.

1991

1991
KX500
Born out of the KX420, the mighty KX500 was – and is – a fearsome beast. 500cc’s of two stroke MX power, the big KX was raced by riders with big hearts, big hands and even bigger… well you get the picture! Initially an air-cooled twin shock machine, the KX500 was eventually water-cooled and came with Uni-trak rear suspension.

What never changed was the need to have mighty respect for a machine that could kick, punch and bully any rider into submission. Among those that mastered the 500 was American MX legend, Brad Lackey and Brit Team Green rider, Paul Malin, who, at the tender age of 19, became the youngest ever MXGP winner in 1991 in France. 

1995

1995
VN800
A big, lazy V-Twin is the archetypal Cruiser engine format, but for a long time the entry level Cruiser class was neglected by motorcycle manufacturers.

The VN800 from Kawasaki righted that wrong had all the looks and style of a far bigger machine, but in far more manoeuvrable and light-weight package. For some at the time a stepping stone to the bigger VN1500 series, yet for many “all the motorcycle they ever needed”, the VN800 oozed charm and quality and gained a loyal following among “metric cruiser” owners. 

1996

1996
ZX-7R
Perhaps not among the very fastest machines in its class, the legendary 750cc ZX-7R more than made up for this with stunning handling and highly responsive suspension. Raced to countless wins in its racing ZX-7RR form, the water-cooled 750cc machine quickly gained praise for its on-road abilities and handling poise – especially in wet or low adhesion conditions.

The last of Kawasaki’s 750cc Supersport road machines, the ZX-7R gave way to the smaller ZX-6R which itself went on to dominate its capacity class.

1998

1998
W650
Evocing Kawasaki's famous W1 of the 1960's, the W650 four-stroke twin looked and felt genuinely authentic.

An instant classic with features such as a bevel driven camshaft and it sold in great numbers to mature fans re-living their motorcycling youth plus younger fans discovering this highly rewarding type of machine for the very first time. 

2000

2000
Ninja ZX-12R
Benefiting from the firm’s aircraft technology, the ZX-12R – or “Project 320” as it was termed at the factory – was Kawasaki’s performance signature piece.

With 200 horsepower fed through a cast and fabricated aluminium monocoque chassis, the ZX-12R rode on specially developed tyres and even featured unusual “winglets” on its fairing lowers and front forks to disturb oncoming air and lower the slippery machines already low coefficient of drag further still.

2001

2001
ZRX 1100
On the back of the look and feel of Eddy Lawson style "sit-up-and-beg" AMA Superbike machines, the ZRX was equally evocative of the Café Style Z1R.


Appealing to riders with an equal love of retro style and modern engineering, the ZRX generated a fiercely loyal fan base.

2003

2003
ZX-6R
Vanguard of a new, fresh Kawasaki line for 2003, the ZX-6R had the "Go" to back up its considerable "Show".

A 636cc powerplant offered stunning performance while its chassis was thought by many to be simply outstanding.

2004

2004
Ninja ZX-10R
With a reputation for performance stretching back to the 500cc H1 of 1969, Kawasaki Supersports machines exemplify a hard edged, no compromise attitude loved by experienced motorcyclists around the world. Even so, the arrival of the ZX-10R in 2004 still surprised many.

With 184 horsepower on tap, and the steering geometry and suspension dynamics of a full on superbike racer, the ZX-10R was designed for supremacy at the hands of racers and the most committed road riders.

Quickly establishing a reputation as the most extreme litre class Supersports machine of its time, the 2004 ZX-10R has acquired rightful status as a machine that exhibits absolutely no compromise.

2004

2004
KX250F
Four stroke, then two stroke and finally four again. The world of motocross – or scrambling as it was called way back when - was initially dominated by four stroke machines, and the majority of those British.

With the advent of the expansion chamber exhausts, two stroke machines made considerably more power and were much lighter, so the world abandoned four strokes. Recently though, MX has gone full circle and for noise and emissions reasons, four stroke is King once more.

 Top 250 in the eye’s of many pro and amateur riders is the KX250F. Considered pretty much perfect “straight from the crate” the 250F is now in its seventh year and keeps on improving. With a great turn of speed and handling to match, the KX250F is a modern day MX masterpiece. 

2004

2004
Z750
A sales success from introduction, the Z750 soon became the basis for many riders to create their own personalised machines giving birth to a vast "Supernaked Subculture".

Top selling machine in many European countries, the Z750 featured on many social network picture sites and owner forums, truly a mid capcity icon for a new age of motorcycling. 

2004

2004
VN2000
The largest capacity mass-produced Cruiser ever at launch, the VN2000 was more than mere numbers.

With its distinctive "Gattling" style multi-bulb headlamp plus many complimentary engineering ideas, the two litre VN
re-established Kawasaki as a cutting edge player in the Cruiser market.

2006

2006
ER-6n
Compact and with an easy to handle nature, the ER-6n caused a sensation at its launch and has continued to impress ever since.

The ZX-12R derived 650cc water-cooled, parallel-twin engine is housed in a simple yet effective tubular chassis and, along with its launch "signature" colours such as bright yellow, the ER-6n (and its siblings, the ER-6f and Versys) have won an equally loyal following with commuters and those new to two wheels alike.

2008

2008
1400GTR
One of many examples of Kawasaki creating a new market segment, the 1400GTR has practical genuine touring touches and Supersport performance and technology.

With monocoque style chassis and variable valve timimg it is an engineering tour de force. 

2008

2008
Ninja 250R
Taking the famous Ninja brand to a new audience, the Ninja 250R broadened Kawasaki appeal further still to groups such as new riders and women.

Using a highly durable engine and chassis package plus highly accepted Ninja looks, the 250R paved the way for the even more focussed Ninja 300.

2010

2010
Z1000
Style and substance, the 2010 Z1000 draws on influences of the past and brings them bang up to date.

Praised not only for its avant garde styling, the Z1000 comes equipped with an advanced aluminium chassis, top class brakes and a 138 horsepower engine.

2011

2011
Z1000SX
In a class of one when launched, the Z1000SX combines genuine sporting perfomance with practical touring features appealing to many existing Kawasaki fans and also bringing new riders to the brand.

2011

2011
Ninja ZX-10R
Formidable as a road machine, the Ninja ZX-10R created a great base  for Tom Sykes' 2013 WSBK Championship winnning machine.

As sucessful in Stock class racing as it is loved by road riders, the mix of high technology and pure Ninja is addictive.

2012

2012
ZZR1400
King of the ZZR series, the ZZR1400 provides class beating acceleration and fast highway thrills.

With the thoughtful introduction of electronic rider aids and brake/suspension upgrades, the mighty machine is justifyably regarded as a Kawasaki and motorycling icon.

2012

2012
KX450F
For top class MX racing you need a top class bike, the mighty KX450F. An established podium chaser in MX1, the KX450F is one half of a world beating Supercross combination alongside multi AMA Championship winner, Ryan Villopoto.

2013

2013
Z1000
Harnessing a new engineerign and styling approach dubbed "Sugomi", the 2013 Z1000 pushes the boundaries of Supernaked styling and engine character to new heights.

Offering instant throttle response and a highly specified chassis, the Z1000 has been positively judged as a "real riders" machine - a typical Kawasaki.