An 80s sports icon

Kawasaki GPZ900R: Fire­blade of the ’80s

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Buying & Selling -

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

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