Kawasaki Zephyr

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Kawasaki Zephyr ZR550
Kawasaki Zephyr 550.jpg
Manufacturer Kawasaki
Class naked bike
Engine 36.8 kW (50 PS; 49 bhp)
Transmission 6-speed manual
Wheelbase 1,435 mm (56.5 in)
Dimensions L 2,080 mm (81.9 in)
W 755 mm (29.7 in)
H 1,095 mm (43.1 in)
Weight 179 kg (395 lb) (dry)

The Kawasaki Zephyr is a range of retro-styled naked superbikes, manufactured during the 1990s. All models were built by Kawasaki with air-cooled, transverse inline, dual-overhead-cam, four-cylinder engines. There were a number of Zephyr models available, in four engine capacities - 400, 550, 750, and 1100cc.

The 400 was produced for Japan since 1989 due to the demand for 400cc motorcycles in that market. It was very popular. Many aftermarket parts were produced, with companies like Over Racing producing exhausts, swingarms, fairings and engine modifications.

Zephyr styling is roughly based on the old Kawasaki Z1, with twin shock rear suspension, a relatively upright riding position and air-cooled power units. The 400, 550 and 750 engines were developed from the old Z400/500/550/650/750/900 series. The 1100 engine is based upon the venerable air-cooled DOHC, eight-valve inline-four that traces its roots back through the GPz1100 to the Z1000. It is the only Zephyr built with two spark plugs per cylinder. The Zephyr offered the customer retro styling coupled with simplicity and reliability. Performance of the line was adequate for normal riding and the engines were tuned for low to mid range power.

The Zephyr started the Naked/Retro bike boom in the UK and Europe in the early 1990s and for a while moved Kawasaki to the 2nd best selling manufacturer of motorcycles in the UK Market.

The Zephyr Z750 engine reappeared in the late 1990s in the short lived ZR7.

The Zephyr 1100 had a Z1 restyle in its last year of sale including a return to wire wheels. Wire wheels also appeared on the 750. It was replaced in the Kawasaki UK range by the popular Z1100R styled ZRX1100 (later ZRX1200).

The ZRX series of motorcycles had a great impact on the growing market for retro style motorcycles, particularly in the United States. It was modeled after Kawasaki's superbike championship winning KZ1000R-S1 that propelled Eddie Lawson to Superbike dominance in the early 1980s and even spawned an international owners association known as the ZRXOA (ZRX Owners Association).

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