When we think of classic motorcycles, we often think “British”. And you can't exactly blame us for our short-sightedness (Britain's motorcycle manufacturing history is incredibly rich compared to other kingdoms/countries). But, while it's true that we have produced many meritorious machines in our time, we can't forget about the beauties made by others that have also become “classic”.

And where better to look for this than one of Japan's most iconic classic motorcycles: The Kawasaki Z 900.

New York Steak
Although the first Z 900 wasn't produced until 1972, it was originally going to be released in the late 60s, as a four-stroke 750cc motorcycle. But with Honda's introduction of its CB 750 (1969), Kawasaki decided to shelf the project for a later date, giving them time to work on producing a higher cc model, which would not compete so heavily with Honda's latest production.

The production of the Z 900 was kept top-secret, and was even given a code name “New York Steak”. Kawasaki wanted this bike to be the most powerful Japanese four-cylinder, four-stroke ever marketed, and it certainly was.

Z1 – 1973
Produced in 1972, and ready to go on the market in 1973, the first Z 900 came in two colour options which were loosely named 'Candy Orange/Brown' and 'Candy Yellow/Green'.

It had a 903cc four-cylinder double overhead camshaft engine which produced 82 bhp and a top speed of 130mph; a five-speed gearbox; a bore and stroke of 66mm x 66mm; and the final drive was by chain, with a drive chain lubrication system.

Priced at £1,200 (the equivalent of about £15,200 today), it wasn't cheap, and only 44 were sold in the UK in the bike's first year. Despite this, the bike was hugely successful and was praised by many of its test riders.

Z1A - 1974
The second model in the series was visually akin to the first, the most notable change being the bare aluminium finish on the exhaust, which replaced the less durable black exhaust from the earlier model. Similar colour options were available. This model featured a modified and improved drive chain lubrication system.

Z1B - 1975
Two new colours came onto the market with the arrival of the third Z 900: 'Candy Super Red' and 'Candy Super Blue'. A self-lubricating O-Ring chain replaced the drive chain lubrication system seen on previous models. Fixed footrests – which were fitted on the earlier UK models – were replaced with folding ones. Lower handlebars were a new option but didn't prove to be very popular. Improved braking and suspension were other features. This model came on the market at £1,177, which is about £12,700 in today's money.

Z 900 A4 'Super Four' - 1976
Kawasaki celebrated its fourth year of producing the Z 900 with the conveniently named 'Super Four'. Again, two completely new colour schemes were offered: 'Diamond Dark Green' and 'Diamond Brown'. It was priced at £1,369 (about £10,300 today).

This final Z 900 model offered a slightly lower maximum speed but promised improved rideability and handling, with new – and smaller - carburettors and thicker walled tubing. New additions to the model included redesigned twin front disc brakes, electrical system, forks and front wheel hub.

Post Z 900 'Super Four'
Kawasaki's Z 900 was produced for four years in total; the following year saw the arrival of the Z 1000. Despite, or maybe because of, the fact that both production and sales figures for the four models were low, the bikes were highly-esteemed. The Z1/Z 900 won MCN's 'Machine of the Year' continuously between 1973 and 1976.

Z1/Z 900 motorcycles are still sought after today. They are as iconic, if not more than they were in the 70s.

Kawasaki Z 900 Specs
Years of Production: 1972 – 1976

Engine: Air-Cooled 4-Stroke DOHC Four

Capacity:  903cc

Bore & Stroke: 66 x 66mm

Compression Ratio: 8:5:1

Front Brakes: Single disc on earlier models, twin disc on 1976 model.

Rear Brakes: Drum

Final Drive: Chain with drive chain lubrication system (Z1 and Z1A), O-Ring Chain (Z1B and Z 900 'Super Four')

Have you owned or ridden a Z 900 motorcycle before? Tell us what you think of the bike at

28/01/16         Beautiful bikes..legends.

28/01/16         Great bikes.

28/01/16          one of the best looking bikes ever !

28/01/16         There should be a 'love' button ! (from Facebook)

29/01/16          Nice

29/01/16         Very very cool bike

29/01/16          Love that bike x

29/01/16         Z1B Fastest production bike in it's day.

29/01/16          Lovely bike, but gs1000 just as good, and the z1300 a lovely thing too but doesn't seem to be fetching z900 money

29/01/16           brother has had one since 79 / 80 lol californaian edition fastest production road bike at time went on back as a kid holy fuck! its green and lush!

          29/01/16           brother is a biker lol has a collection lol

                    29/01/16            I had bikes give them up when I got knocked of 3 times in 18 months twice working for dot2dot. I love them but I think my lives have run out.

                              29/01/16          my brother buys and don't ride lol this z900 has been under lock and key for years, comes out at shows lol

                                         29/01/16          Nice. I think my next 2 wheeler will be a scooter

                                                 29/01/16          id like a bsa lol

                                                           29/01/16          My grandad had bsa bullet, motor guzi and all sorts. But would never take me on them

29/01/16         Would have loved one of these......and an e-type!!!!!! Oh and a CBX and a Jota!!! Got a 1980 Z750 E1 in me garage that needs day!!!!!!!!

29/01/16          Love that! I had a 500 triple I used to tour the US (in a cloud of smoke) Also used a 750 four stroke imported from Japan. We all worshipped the Z900 however! I would still love to find a top condition 750 triple for those rare sunny days here.

29/01/16          Lovely bike

29/01/16           The 'Quakka 900' was my second bike back in Oz

29/01/16          Class

           29/01/16          Your not wrong there

29/01/16          I was lucky enough to have the Z900 when I was 18 straight after my US spec Bonnie.... What a awesome bike that was.....happy days back then

29/01/16          in '75 our club members were mostly riding Norton/Triumph/Matchless when one of my mates bought the Z1B. We were all blown away by the sheer power of this beaut! The GPz1100 was my first kwacka

29/01/16          BOOTIFULL

29/01/16           I had a Suzuki GT750 kettle back in 1976 loved it but then I rode a Z900 different class of bike altogether.. always loved the Z900

29/01/16           Beautifull motorcycle,would be a dream to own,ride one !.

29/01/16        The classic original Z1

29/01/16          What a beauty that is

29/01/16          They make lovely chops

29/01/16          My favourite bike happy days

30/01/16         Now that's what I call eye candy

30/01/16         Had a friend called Colin who worked at the Kawasaki garage near Gatwick will always remember him going passed me on my TS250 on his back wheel

30/01/16          I bought a Z1A for the summer of '76, (HAC 850 N), unbelievable bike, but a bit wobbly above 100. Don't know how I survived! Wish I still had it.

30/01/16           I recently sold my one, same colour as that beauty (pic at top of post), still one of the most gorgeous looking motorcycles ever produced. In my very humble opinion. ! D.

          30/01/16          I had one for years and did it up and looked similay to this one.... the 4 pipes were expensive !! I stupidly sold it a few years ago .... deep regret

                      30/01 16           I've had 2 z900 in my time one was as minted as the one in the pic,bloody great bikes,big mistake selling them

30/01/16         My dad had a Z900 in the 70's - a truly great bike. I went on the back to Brands Hatch to see the Transatlantic Race Series with him & saw Barry Sheen, Steve Parish, Pat Hennen, Roger Marshall, etc! Two strokes of course - very, very fast, light & wild! Plus the 2 stroke sound & great smell of Castrol R! But what a bike that Kawasaki was!

30/01/16          That z1 has classic lines & awesome character unlike todays bikes just a fairing !

30/01/16           IMHO the best looking bike ever made

30/01/16          I would love another one.

30/01/16        still prefer the suzuki gt 750

30/01/16          Great

30/01/16         Coool, my first (proper) bike in 1984!!!!

30/01/16         Great ride

30/01/16        sweetsville

30/01/16         Bike I've always wanted

30/01/16         Still wish I had mine great bike .

30/01/16          Bikes don't get better looking than this.

31/01/16          i ust to have a one of those z 900 what a great machine bullit proof engine

31/01/16         One bike i never got to own . Regrets !!!

31/01/16         And what about the Kawasaki 750 triple two strike? Dubbed the fastest camel on Earth.

31/01/16         I have always wanted one, one sexy bike.

31/01/16          This was my dream bike when I was in my teens. I feel the need for speed! !!!

31/01/16          always wanted a z1000 just purchased a 1997 zephyr750 for now

31/01/16        Loved these and the Z1300

31/01/16        I had one of them

31/01/16         I very nearly bought one of these a very long time ago

          31/01/16         Wowee! What made you change your mind?

                     31/01/16          I was 17

                              31/01/16          So, common sense or not enough dosh?

                                        31/01/16         the later

                                                31/01/16             No respect lost.

31/01/16          Proper bike. ..had a z650 brand new. Dropped it after 6 weeks. Oops

31/01/16          Yessssssss

02/02/16          Chuffing iconic is this bike love to own one but will have to make do with z500 , owned for 34 years . But when I get my state pension I want one yes

02/02/16?         The Z650 was my fave. Beautiful lines. This is nice, too!

Posted by Daisy Cordell
for Wemoto News on 28 January 2016 in General News



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