“needs to be treated with kid gloves”
“big end failure at 16K”
“threw a conrod”
“they're cheap for a reason”

“gave me nothing but trouble”

“ one killed its crank, rods, barrels, pistons, rings, head and camshaft”
“Front caliper also seized solid”
“Cam chain tensioner. I was adjusting it every week or two”
“a hand grenade looking for a war”
“notorious for their badly designed oil pick up”
“rarely been more glad to see the back of a bike”

Really? Are they really that bad? Can they be that bad? How come they're that bad? Eh?

It's all in the (flawed) design, the poor thing was stitched up with two stupid features - a plastic oil pump gear drive wheel, and a tiny oil pick up pipe in the sump.

If the plastic gear stripped its teeth (this does happen) then goodbye oil circulation, adios engine. If the oil pickup gauze/pipe gets clogged with gungy old oil, (normally these flare out into a big pan type entry) same thing.

The camshaft ran straight in the head, which never helps.

Both these parts seemed almost deliberately, defiantly cheap and terribly designed, and were never modified by Kawasaki.

“Your reputation preceeds you, Madame Hamilton"

Well Horatio Nelson must have stiffened at hearing this, dudes disrespecting his mistress, but you will hunt for a long time to find anybody who seriously defends the GPZ305 as a misunderstood gem.

Price, as we all know, is no guide to value. There are are a ton of desperate old clunckers which command top prices due to fashion, publicity and nostalgia. They are very often rubbish bikes.

But there are also a few bikes that are still cheap, despite retro chic and rose tinted glasses, and this is one of them.. unfortunately it would seem justified.

Our in-house Dispatch riding King said of the 305 - “One of the worst bikes ever made”!

Devil take the hindmost!

Hmm, ok.. well, in a spirit of bravado and “Devil take the hindmost”, I'm going to argue for the defence of this disadvantaged creature.


The GPZ305 is the forgotten jewel in Kawasaki's iconic and fast appreciating classic GPZ range from the 80s and 90s.

Like the well loved and popular GPZ550, feted and adored by press and public, the 305 offers the same looks and similar performance in a more nimble and svelte package - and with the huge benefit of belt drive, a technology which only 20 years later has been properly recognised and accepted as superior to the stone age exposed chain final drive. Belts or shafts are the way forward, needing far less attention all round.

Most riders nowadays are old. We don't thrash our bikes, we warm them up, we change the oil, we don't ride 50 miles at 80mph everyday through winter. Times have changed, our riding habits have changed, and so the time has come when the Beautiful and nimble 305 can have its second spring.

It doesn't matter if a bike has flaws, or has minor design issues - we don't rely on them for essential everyday transport anymore (I'm generalising here but you get my point). This is why every old British and Italian bike has gone up in value - they are now occasional sunny day bikes, and will never again pile on the big hard miles of yesteryear.

The sunlit uplands of acceptance!

Owners don't rely on them in the way they used to, and smaller lighter bikes are getting more popular as our muscles weaken and we get fed up with heaving monsters onto centre stands.

And so, from stage left, enters the GPZ305 into the sunlit uplands of acceptance!

Technically, the bike was impressive- unitrak suspension, twin front discs, decent peak power and speed, and the B model had belt drive.

Specs -
6 gears
18 inch wheels
air assisted forks (8.5-11psi)
Foam air filter
fuel gauge!


Thor in Valhalla!

To ride, the bike represented its time- the brakes were mild by modern standards (rated “superb” at the time), the power was flat for most of the rev range, comfort was ok, suspension worked. For the same money as a dirty BSA Bantam, you get a usable bike in the real world, with “Thor in Valhalla! I haven't seen one of those for years!” appeal.

When compared to it's rivals at the time , the GPZ seems even more attractive- remember the VT250 Honda anyone? Anyone love them? Thought not. GSX250 Suzuki? No thanks. XS250/400? Superdream? Bleurgh!

So, actually, it might be worth considering, especially if you are skint and like caring for engines, and like defying popular opinion. It's an underdog!

Anyone take issue with Jerry on this bike? Anyone agree with him? email us at


15/01/18 - I would agree with the content of the article in general although the comments highlighted in red at the beginning are a bit unfair.
I bought one new in 1985, a belt drive model, I put 27,000 miles on it without any mechanical issue, it was ridden hard but serviced regularly with oil changes every 2,000 miles rather than the recommended 3,000 intervals. If oil changes were neglected the strainer that you mention could become restricted.
This strainer was supposed to be removed and cleaned every second oil change, most owners and many dealers did not bother as it involved removal of the clutch side engine cover and oil pump and replacement of the associated gaskets, this was the reason why many suffered top end failure due to oil starvation.
Bottom ends could fail too as an oil gallery blanking plug that was used by Kawasaki could be up to 12mm too long and would partially block the gallery itself which was the main oil feed to the crank bearings. replacement or modification of the plug cured the problem.
Fantastic machine overall, lovely handling, good brakes, excellent economy and that belt drive. I miss mine so much that I have just bought one to replace it and relive my youth.

Posted by Jerry Rulf
for Wemoto News on 13 June 2014 in General News

Edited By: Daisy Cordell



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