An 80s sports icon
Kawasaki GPZ900R: Fireblade of the ’80s
It’s been more than three decades since Kawasaki unveiled the GPZ900R and it was a groundbreaking arrival.
Contrary to what you’ve heard, it wasn’t the first Japanese 16v liquid-cooled inline four: that was a little-known Jap-market Suzuki GSX400FW, a year before the big GPZ.
In fact, there was no new tech on the 900R: it was a careful amalgam of all the best tech around, in a good chassis, compact, and with attention paid to weight-saving. It absolutely blew away all the wobbling old aircooled dinosaurs of the era, including Kawasaki’s own GPZ1100.
It was also reliable, and so good it outlasted its successor, the 1000RX, and even that bike’s successor, the original ZX10. It was in production for 15 years.
It led Honda and Yamaha (Suzuki took the oil-cooled route) into the liquid-cooled compact four paddock, it had a prominent role in the film Top Gun (though some say it was a 750) and it won races everywhere.
It’s an acknowledged classic. So why can you buy a nice one now for as little as £1500? Seriously: I’m looking at an ebay auction page for an immaculate standard A5 model, even on the stock exhaust (unobtainium, is that), with every single MOT, owner’s handbook etc, and it sold for just £50 more than that.
Well, the answer is that the very first A1 model, in red/grey, is The One To Have – they’re going for three grand. But the later models will be pulled up in its wake, just like the Z900 that followed the first Z1. Buy one now while they’re cheap.
Later GPZS are still cheap and make great projects
GPZ has real potential with a few tweaks
Water-cooled motor is smooth and strong