Kawasaki Kz1000

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1979 KZ1000LTD.jpg
Manufacturer Kawasaki
Parent company Kawasaki Heavy Industries
Predecessor KZ900
Successor KZ1100

1,015 cc (61.9 cu in) 4 stroke DOHC air cooled Inline 4,

Bore x stroke 70.0 mm x 66.0 mm, Compression ratio 8.7:1
Top speed 132 mph (212 km/h)[1]
Power 83 hp (62 kW) @ 8,000 rpm (1977), 90 hp (67 kW)(1978)[2]
Torque 8.1 kg·m (59 lb·ft) @ 6,500 rpm[citation needed]
Wheelbase 1,505 mm (59.3 in)
Dimensions L: 2,210 mm (87 in)
W: 880 mm (35 in)
H: 1,200 mm (47 in)
Weight 245 kg (540 lb)[1] (dry)
563 lb (255 kg)(½ tank)[1] (wet)
Fuel capacity 16.7 l (4.4 US gal)
Fuel consumption 45 mpg-US (5.2 L/100 km)[1]
Turning radius 2.4 m (7.9 ft)

The Kawasaki Kz1000 or Z1000 is a motorcycle manufactured in Japan by Kawasaki released in September 1976 as a 1977 model to replace the KZ900/Z1 in the Z series.[3] It has an in-line 4-cylinder engine and a 5-speed transmission, in a 'one down and four up' configuration. Producing about 90 hp, it was the fastest production motorcycle of the era.[1]

In 1979 Kawasaki introduced the Z 1300 liquid-cooled, 6-cylinder engine, which became the engine for the Voyager touring series. Both models were available for several years. The police model continued in production until 2005.

The Kz1000 was featured in the television show CHiPs, wherein it was ridden by the protagonist characters Ponch and Jon, two California Highway Patrol officers. The bike was also used in various other TV shows and feature films such as Great Teacher Onizuka (a Japanese anime series) and Chain Reaction (Keanu Reeves' character's bike). The Kz1000 was also featured heavily in the 1979 movie Mad Max, in which a 1977 Kawasaki KZ1000 was ridden by the Main Force Patrol officer Jim Goose, played by Steve Bisley.[4]

Some of the significant differences between the Kz900 and the Kz1000 include that the latter of the two has a heavier crankshaft for less engine vibration, smoother acceleration and a larger displacement. There were various configurations of specifications and assembly, such as having the choice between chain-drive and shaft-drive. The more cruiser-like US version was called 1000 LTD in European markets.


The KZ900 and subsequent 1000 are often credited[by whom?] with heralding the era of modern superbikes, being the first production "literbike" inline fours.[citation needed] With a factory quarter mile times in the low 12 second range,[citation needed] the KZ's enjoyed many years of straight line domination on the street.

Kawasaki swapped the traditional 4-4 exhaust (available on Z1 and Kz900) for the cheaper 4-2 exhaust. The Kz1000 series came in either a chain drive or shaft drive ('79-) to turn the rear wheel.

Tires and rims[edit]

The Kz1000P (police) sits on 18 inch wheels with Dunlop run-flat tires. The front tire is size MN90-18, and the back tire is size MR90-18. They came in either a cast magnesium or chrome-plated wire spoke rims.


The Kz1000 came optional with a Windjammer brand fairing, saddle bags, a sissy bar and highway bars - all of which were removable without any interference with performance or function. The fairing and saddle bags were molded fiber-glass resin made by Vetter, while the sissy bar and highway bar were chrome plated to accentuate the look. Highway bars were also used for comfort on long trips that didn't require constant shifting or braking and usually held additional lighting, in combination with the single 7-inch (178 mm) halogen head lamp.

Ride, comfort and size[edit]

A Kz1000 today, with some customization

The Kz1000 series weighed about 525 pounds dry and could approach 140 mph.[citation needed] Compared to modern superbikes, handling and braking only barely accommodated its monstrous power. As a 'middle child' (not a fully loaded cruiser and not a lightweight), the Kz1000 rode smoothly and easily took to the open roads for long trips or local errand running.

The frame on the Kz1000 is a very conventional featherbed design, but has not been significantly changed in over 30 years of production.

Police use[edit]

As a fast, reliable, and relatively maneuverable bike, the Kz1000P was a favorite among some Police Departments that utilized motorcycles (Kz1000P and Kz900P were used as the police bikes in the popular TV show C.H.i.P.s.). However, it suffered from a number of technical problems, including electromagnetic interference between some radios that caused problems for the ignition system. In addition, the combined set of equipment mounted at the rear (and particularly the placement of the radio on the rear rack) caused high-speed handling difficulties.

Its quick acceleration, quiet exhaust and relatively light weight made sure that a running criminal wouldn't get very far. The officer would be able to use his radio, and if the officer dumped the bike over at any time, chances are, he'd be able to pick it back up without any help. For this and other reasons, caseguards are often seen on these models, protecting the lower engine casing from sustaining any damage or potential oil leakage from falls. The Kz1000 can be outfitted with police gear.


Reg Pridmore's 1978 AMA Superbike championship winning Kawasaki Z1000
Moriwaki Kawasaki Z1000 ridden by Wayne Gardner in the 1981 Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race

The Z1000 was successfully raced in European, Australian, American and British Superbike racing. A Z1000 ridden by Reg Pridmore won the AMA Superbike Championship in 1977 and 1978.[5] Pops Yoshimura first began to make his reputation in the mid-1970s by fielding fast, reliable Kawasaki Z1000s in the AMA Superbike championships.[6] Kawasaki Z1000s tuned by Mamoru Moriwaki were successfully raced in the Australian Superbike championships in the late 1970s by New Zealander Graeme Crosby.[7] John Cowie riding a Z1000 for the Pecket & McNab team, won the 1978 British ACU Formula One championship for production bikes.[8][9] Freddie Spencer rode a Z1000 during the 1979 AMA Superbike Championship, winning two races and finishing third in the final championship points standings.[10] Wayne Gardner and co-rider John Pace qualified their Moriwaki Kawasaki Z1000 on pole position at the prestigious 1981 Suzuka 8 Hours, ahead of all the major factory racing teams.[11] Also in 1981, Eddie Lawson won the AMA Superbike Championship for Kawasaki on a factory-backed Z1000S.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e Robert Smith (November–December 2009). "Kawasaki Kz1000 Z1-R". Motorcycle Classics. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  2. ^ Ker, Rod (2007), Classic Japanese Motorcycle Guide, Sparkford, UK: Haynes Publishing, pp. 126–127, ISBN 1-84425-335-X 
  3. ^ a b "40 years of Kawasaki's 'Z' sleds". iol.co.za. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  4. ^ http://www.madmaxmovies.com/mad-max/mad-max-cars/goose-kawasaki-z1000/index.html
  5. ^ "Reg Pridmore at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame". motorcyclemuseum.org. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  6. ^ "Pops Yoshimura at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame". motorcyclemuseum.org. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  7. ^ "Wayne Gardner's 1980 Moriwaki Kawasaki". ma.org.au. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  8. ^ "Peckett and McNab, a brief history". f1network.net. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  9. ^ "British Motorcycle Champions - 1970s and 1980s". pressreader.com/uk/classic-motorcycle-mechanics. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  10. ^ "Freddie Spencer at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame". motorcyclemuseum.org. Retrieved 1 February 2016. 
  11. ^ "1981 Suzuka 8 Hours qualifying results". motoracing-japan.com. Retrieved 1 February 2016.