The brand celebrates the 50th anniversary of their iconic Z line of motorcycles
In 1972, Kawasaki shook up the motorcycling world with the debut of their now-legendary Super4 900, otherwise known as the Z1 900. Many motorcycle historians refer to the Z1 900 as the first superbike, being the largest displacement and most powerful Japanese motorcycle ever built up to that time. Code named “New York Steak” while in R&D, when Kawasaki unveiled the bike in 1972 the Z1 900 rocked the motorcycle industry and sent the competition, both in Japan and in Europe, scrambling to catch up. Today these early 70s first-gen Zs are highly collectable and highly prized, fetching tens of thousands of dollars in good or better condition.
Kawasaki just pulled the wraps off a set of four 50th Anniversary Z models, commemorating the iconic original Z machines- the 2022 Z900, Z650, Z900RS and Z650RS. Kawasaki has long utilized the “Z” moniker to make the statement that like the last letter of the alphabet, the Z line represents the ultimate in motorcycling. Whether that’s true or not is in the eye of the beholder (and rider), but the Z bikes have always been dominators in their respective categories. This family of motorcycles has certainly grown into one of the brand’s core lineups.
Z 50th Anniversary Z900 and Z650
The Z 50th Anniversary editions of the supernaked Z900 and Z650 are painted in a “Firecracker Red” paint scheme, similar to that found on the dominant 1981 Z1100GP that pushed the limits of air-cooled high performance back in its day. This hue of red became Kawasaki’s signature color in the 1980s, and for these Z 50th Anniversary models was specially blended, making their aggressive supernaked Z styling even more striking, capturing that 80s vibe quite well.
The Z 50th Anniversary Z900 naked sportbike is equipped with a variety of advanced features and epitomizes Kawasaki’s belief of what the ideal supernaked should be. At 948cc with an ultra-lightweight chassis, every ride is met with exceptional power, responsiveness, and excitement. The Z900 features a 948cc liquid-cooled, in-line four-cylinder engine, fine-tuned front and rear suspension settings, Sugomi™-inspired Z styling, Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC), Power Mode and Integrated Riding Modes selection, Smartphone Connectivity via RIDEOLOGY THE APP, TFT Color Instrumentation, LED headlamp, position lamp & license plate lamp, and Dunlop Sportmax Roadsport 2 Tires. The Z900 50th Anniversary is available with an MSRP of $9,499.
The Z 50th Anniversary Z650 supernaked boasts the ideal blend of sporty performance and everyday versatility. Featuring a strong 649cc engine, the Z650 naked sportbike is a compact middleweight without equal. The Z650 parallel-twin engine is paired with a lightweight trellis frame, Sugomi™-inspired Z styling, LED Headlights, TFT color instrumentation, Smartphone Connectivity via RIDEOLOGY THE APP, Dunlop Sportmax Roadsport 2 tires, and increased passenger comfort. The Z650 50th Anniversary is available with an MSRP of $8,299.
Z 50th Anniversary Z900RS and Z650RS
We are partial to these RS models, as they evoke the classic look and lines of those original Z1 900 superbikes. Adorned in a 1970s- style “Fireball” paint scheme reminiscent of their acclaimed ancestor, the new Z RS bikes also feature “Double Overhead Camshaft” side cover emblems like those found on the original Z1 bikes, a commemorative Z 50th Anniversary tank logo, revised seat material with a distinct old-school texture and special color stitching, and a chrome grab bar. To the untrained eye, these could be taken for their grandparents, they look so good.
Adding to the Z 50th Anniversary Z900RS’ design are timeless design elements with minimal bodywork and no fairing for a pure retro-style look. The 2022 Z900RS features a 948cc liquid-cooled, in-line four-cylinder engine, Assist & Slipper clutch, horizontal back-link rear suspension, authentic retro styling, iconic teardrop fuel tank, sound tuned stainless steel exhaust system, round LED headlight, and bullet-shaped analog dials. The Z900RS Z 50th Anniversary is available with an MSRP of $12,049.
Just like its bigger Z900RS counterpart, the Z650RS tempts the eye with its timeless beauty. It distinguishes itself from its bigger sibling with a slimmer fuel tank and a shorter, more compact tail, which expresses its light handling and approachable character. It’s powered by a parallel-twin 649cc engine, Assist & Slipper clutch and held up by horizontal back-link rear suspension. The authentic retro styling includes an iconic teardrop fuel tank, tuned stainless steel exhaust system, round LED headlight, and bullet-shaped analog dials that feature dual-dial instrumentation with a multi-function LCD screen. The Z650RS Z 50th Anniversary is available with an MSRP of $9,249.
The 50th Annivserary Kawasaki Z650RS, Z900RS, Z900 and Z650, respectively.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. (KHI) started full-scale production of motorcycles well over a half century ago. The first Kawasaki motorcycle engine was designed based on technical know-how garnered from the development and production of aircraft engines, and Kawasaki’s entry into the motorcycle industry was driven by the company’s constant effort to develop new technologies. Numerous Kawasaki models introduced over the years helped shape motorcycling, not the least of which has been the famed Z line, and in the process have created enduring legends based on their unique engineering, power, design and pure riding pleasure. We certainly believe they have winners in these modern iterations of the legendary Z motorcycles of old.
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*All photos provided by Kawasaki.