RETRO REBOOT

Kawasaki’s GPZ1100 for the mod­ern world.

Classic Motorcycle Mechanics - - CONTENTS - WORDS AND IMAGES: KAR LEE

We all re­mem­ber the 1984 GPZ900R – it rewrote the big sports­bike rule­book by be­ing more pow­er­ful than the 750s, yet was also more nim­ble than the litre-class bikes of the day. Bikes such as Kawasaki’s own GPZ1100 (both B and ZX vari­ants) were caught in the crosshairs and suf­fered on the sales floor. They were big, cum­ber­some and fea­tured tech that just didn’t work very well – the fuel in­jec­tion was tes­ti­mony to this – and fin­ish was poor. How­ever, the later ZX mod­els did away with the boxy styling in favour of swoopy lines, monoshock sus­pen­sion and a gen­er­ous half fair­ing. It wasn’t enough to stop the de­cline in sales to the new wa­ter-cooled march of the 900R though. We think there is a gap in the Kawasaki range for a light­weight sports­bike hooli­gan to take on the Su­per­duke and Tuono V4s of the world.

The pow­er­plant used in the ZX-10R ticks all the boxes. Big power (it’s knock­ing on 200bhp on the dyno) and com­pact with it, es­pe­cially in com­par­i­son to the orig­i­nal mo­tor which claimed 120bhp – 600c ter­ri­tory in to­day’s money. We don’t need peaky top-end power or a high top speed with our high-bars and half fair­ing so we’d re-tune for midrange and arm-wrench­ing torque. Own­ers of the orig­i­nal bike were so unim­pressed with the fuel in­jec­tion many of them swapped over to carbs to make the bike ride and idle prop­erly. No such is­sues here.

The tubu­lar steel frame is sim­ple and our mo­tor hangs from it, with sup­ports at the front be­hind the ra­di­a­tor, moved from the usual side mounts to keep the lines of the en­gine clear. Up­side-down forks, monoshock ris­ing-rate sus­pen­sion and stop­ping power from the 2015 ZX-10R are a far cry from the ’83 bike. While pil­lions aren’t a pri­or­ity, they are at least con­sid­ered with a gen­er­ous seat and rea­son­ably low pegs.

With styling cues from the ZX1100, to­day’s Z1000 and ZX-10R, we think we’ve man­aged to give the aes­thet­ics a 21st cen­tury twist while re­tain­ing some of the essence of what made the orig­i­nal lines so grace­ful. The screen and cowl are kept pur­posely min­i­mal – when the front wheel comes up it’s al­ways help­ful to be able to see where you’re go­ing.

What do you think? Is this the bike Kawasaki needs to be build­ing? Con­tact us at the usual ad­dress.

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