|2017 Kawasaki H2R 998cc
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|A huge company which produces boats, trains, planes and
motorcycles. The motorcycle division is actually quite small
compared to the other huge segments and was only really started to
increase the value & awareness of the brand among the people. In
1960 their first motorcycle rolled of the line - a 125cc two stroke.
|Helped by the knowledge of the Meguro company, which Kawasaki
had taken over (Meguro was the oldest motorcycle company in
Japan), the company moved into the production of big bikes around
1966. The model was called the W1 (650cc)
The W1 wasn't such a success because all the rival bikes were still
faster, lighter and better steering. So Kawasaki developed two lighter
versions A1 Samurai (250cc) and the A7 Avenger (350cc). Which
ended up being a little more successful.
|In 1969 Kawasaki started to develop a name for itself with bikes with
very high performance, the start was the H1 model (500cc) also
known as the Mach III. However the H1 was excellent for wheelies due
to its backward weight layout. It gulped a lot of fuel and had a hard
core reputation. Two smaller versions were also released the S1
(250cc) and the S2 (350cc). In 1972 a bigger version of the original
was produced called (surprise..) h1 or Mach IV (748cc). The
production stopped when emission rules got too strict in the mid 70s.
Even if the H models didn't handle well, Kawasaki developed a super
bike which no other manufacturer could compete with at the time. The
Z1 from 1973 was a 903cc engine but it was first planned as a 750cc
engine. Kawasaki waited and improved the engine because of the
Honda CB750 introduction in 1968. Z1 had a great reputation and was
very popular due to the price and performance ratio. The name ‘king’
was its alias. In 1976 the Z1 became the Z900 and the engine was
improved. Later the Z1000 was launched with more engine power.
|Towards the end of the 1970s Kawasaki developed a few smaller ‘zed’
bikes like the Z650 which was introduced in 1977. The big ‘zed’ Z1300
which was also partly engineered to out-perform the other Japanese
companies with a bigger, stronger, heavier bike. But Japan still had to
learn that bigger wasn't always better and the Z1300 wasn't a big
success for the company.
Kawasaki built a nice, full fairing bike with a strong engine and an
outrageous performance called the GPZ900R (908cc). It was very
popular both on the race track and on the road. It was a comfortable
The beginning of the 1990s all the Japanese manufacturers were
competing very hard in the super bike models and any advantage
above the other would bring credit and success. Kawasaki stepped
right up and took that credit with the development of the ZZR-R1100
(1052cc) which was launched in 1990 and became the fastest
production bike for 5 years .
The ZZR-R1100 was popular not only for its speed and power. The
strong frame and good suspension made it a good tour motorcycle…
but also very fast. In 2002 Kawasaki replaced it with the ZZR-1200,
designed for more middle end power and better handling. And a
smaller ZZR 600 had also joined the lineup of ZZRs earlier on in the
In 2000 Kawasaki had already launched an ultra super bike called the
ZX-12R (1199cc). Its pure weight, unique frame and 176 bhp was
enough to blast most bikes away.
Kawasaki had lost some of the reputation for performance by 2000
but Kawasaki president Shinichi Morita had promised that Kawasaki
would be back. With the arrival of the ZX-12R and the ZX-6R Kawasaki
did make a nice comeback.
|The ZX-6R was already launched in 1995 but the 2003 new ZX-6R
(636cc) had been truly redesigned and engineered to a new aggressive,
fast, racing machine. Kawasaki has taken many aspects from the racing
technology and integrated them into this new bike. In 2003 Kawasaki
launched a street bike model called the Z1000 with a funky styling and a
flexible powerful engine. Kawasaki was/is winning its power name back.
Kawasaki does not release sales figures. We found them anyway. As of
2016 motorcycle sales were up 10.2% from last year.
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