I’m a fan of riding older motorcycles

Posted On 17 Aug 2023
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This entry is part 37 of 44 in the series AusMotorcyclist Issue#1

The Timeless Charm of Riding the Classic Kawasaki KZ900

If you’re a fan of motorcycles, there’s something truly special about riding older models. They possess a unique character and charisma absent from modern bikes. While advancements in technology have undeniably brought superior performance to newer models, there’s an undeniable charm in the quirks of vintage bikes.

The Kawasaki Z1, for example, is an absolute classic. Born between the years 1973 to 1977, this flagship model stood proud in Kawasaki’s lineup throughout the 70s. It symbolized a crucial period in motorcycle history when the rivalry between Honda and Kawasaki was intense. While Honda had initially set the bar high with the revolutionary Honda CB750 in 1969, Kawasaki was not to be outdone. Responding with the Z1, they outperformed by introducing a 900cc inline four-cylinder engine, dubbing it the “New York Steak” project.

By 1976, there were some modifications to the Kawasaki Z1, leading to the introduction of the KZ900. This particular model carried forward the lineage with minor tweaks, solidifying its place in the annals of motorcycle history.

Technical Insights into the 1976 KZ900

  1. Engine: A 903 CC inline four-cylinder engine producing a powerful 82 brake horsepower at 8,500 RPM.
  2. Carburetion: Four 26 mil Mikuni carbs that offered enhanced low and mid-range power.
  3. Suspension: The front featured a conventional telescopic fork with a 19-inch spoked rim. The rear had a dual-sided swing arm with twin shocks, complemented by an 18-inch spoked rim.
  4. Brakes: A single 11.5-inch disc on the front for the US models, while European and Australian versions sported a twin-disc setup. The rear came standard with a drum brake.
  5. Weight: A sturdy 232 kilograms when dry.
  6. Fuel Capacity: A nearly 18-liter fuel tank.
  7. Colors: The 1976 model came in two distinct shades – Diamond Dark Green and Diamond Brown.

This bike didn’t just impress with its specs. The KZ900 was awarded the ‘MCN Machine of the Year’ from 1973 to 1976, emphasizing its iconic status.

Riding the Classic KZ900

Riding a classic motorcycle, especially one as iconic as the KZ900, is an experience unlike any other. The bike requires your complete attention. You can feel its every move, hear every piston, and even get a whiff of the oil and fuel. You’re not just riding; you’re interacting, connecting on a deeper level.

However, this connection comes with its set of challenges. Classic bikes, while full of character, demand more maintenance. It’s crucial to stay updated with regular check-ups, especially for essential components like tires and brakes.

But despite these challenges, the reward is unparalleled. The KZ900 is a genuine head-turner. Its design, from the four headers converging into four exhaust pipes to the classic tank and iconic Kawasaki ducktail, is a testament to classic motorcycle artistry.

For any motorcycle enthusiast, the KZ900 is more than just a bike. It’s a statement, a piece of history, and most importantly, an unparalleled joy to ride.

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About the Author
Australian Motorcyclist Magazine is Australia's leading motorcycle travel magazine.
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