Kawasaki’s GPZ1100 for the modern world.
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.