Classic Scrap: Honda CBX1000 vs. Kawasaki Z1300

In 1984 if you wanted to go faster, you needed more cylinders. Honda’s CBX1000 and Kawasaki’s Z1300 are 12 pistons of sheer muscle.

Posted: 18 January 2011
by Simon Bowen

At the time of writing, and to the very best of my knowledge, the world has yet to come to an end and doesn’t seem likely to over the next few days either. So the prophets of doom will soon have to cease their bleating and start picking on next year. Neither have we succumbed to life in a bleak dystopian nightmare monitored closely by a big brother totalitarian government, though some may argue that we’re heading in the right direction.

The only Armageddon approaching my direction is in the form of two very large motorcycles, at war with one another for some time, and both desperate to settle this row once and for all. Honda’s CBX1000 and Kawasaki’s Z1300 - what a lot of metal.

The two contenders are representatives of sparring Japanese giants, both too pig-headed to let the other win what is perhaps increasingly becoming an exercise in futility, and both proud enough to continue with their technological flag-waving that fewer people happen to notice each year. It’s true to say that since their respective launches neither manufacturer has sold the level of units that they had envisaged. (Even the gas-happy Yanks voted with their wallets for the more nimble alternative, and globally, the winner of this war is already Suzuki’s ultra-capable GS1000, so we’re almost fighting for a second place here). Nor have they changed forever the direction of top-end performance motorcycling. What they have done is unleash two of the most wonderfully potent, inspired, ingenious and insane muscle-bound masterpieces that motorcycling will be eternally grateful for. We can’t afford to buy them and we certainly can’t afford to run them, but God, how we want them.

Brave Benelli have limped off to lick their wounds, but these determined manufacturers have stuck to their respective guns and stubbornly moved forward in their own directions to inevitably meet up in this head-to-head with new, improved armoury. The sportier CBX has, admittedly one year ago, shed its brutal naked appearance in favour of a sleek, super-modern aerodynamic set of bodywork. It also boasts their Pro-Link mono-shock suspension system. Is it still the howling beast of old or are we witnessing the arrival of fancy plastics and a more touring-focused swan song?

Kawasaki, in a show of huge confidence, has left the Z1300 pretty much alone, sticking to what it knows best – making big muscle. This year’s model flaunts the future, digital fuel injection, and not a lot more save for slight modifications to the engine cases. Will it make the difference to keep the performance advantage over the aggressive Honda, while their owners are left trying to set up their bank of carburettors?

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unless you have rode both, ( and i have ) . the z1300 is most definatley the best......

Posted: 28/12/2008 at 17:43

I have also ridden both, the CBX before it's pro-link and 'softer' engine incarnation. In my view the CBX was definitely the better bike. The Z1300 always seemed to show its size and weight more than the CBX. But then as now it always comes down to personal preference. 


Posted: 29/12/2008 at 22:26

i haven't ridden either but i have always wanted a z1300.there's a lad on here who still has one.

Posted: 29/12/2008 at 22:43

When this was playing our I had a CB900 and then a CB900R both better than this pair to ride but everytime I look at the CBX it's just so cool and of course reflects Honda's 6 cylinder racing heritage. The Kawasaki team did a good job of putting a car engine into a bike, it wasn't until the GPz90R that they really designed a liquid cooled 4 stroke engine especially for a bike.

Posted: 21/01/2011 at 05:12

If you want to see some fantastic Z1300 and CBX's try to get to the Classic Bol Dor, at Magny Cours, there are parade laps prior to the races and there are loads of real class bikes of all types, but you will see/hear loads of trick CBX's and the odd Z1300, i have seen CBX's with straight through pipes, ear bleading noise's but some how worth  the pain

Posted: 07/03/2011 at 16:04

Why bother comparing the Z1300 against the crappiest CBX ever!!! It's horrible. The CBX Z would have torn it a new arse and looked ten times better doing it. The Z13 is a six so it's kind of cool but its ugly as shite, weighs a ton, handles like puss like all Z's do. Add the fact that it's shaft drive and you've got yourself one huge gay bike!

By the way I own a CBX Z so suck it!!!

Posted: 19/08/2011 at 06:32

An interesting discussion for me as I own 1979 versions of both the CBX and KZ1300. I've read the opinions of 2 authors and have heard the comments of another collector who all, like myself, own both bikes. All four of us would sell the CBX before we'd get rid of our KZ1300's. My reason is that I enjoy relatively high speed 200 to 400 mile runs with a standard bike's upright riding position (easier on my back) and the KZ1300, as such, is unmatched for riding comfort and stability (especially in windy areas) by anything else I've experienced.

I'm very fond of both bikes, but rarely see in print their two most important pieces of info. In 1980, Kawasaki had to increase the engine oil capacity of the big KZ by approx. 40% as riders were burning up engines. So watch the oil level in 79 KZs! The CBX, if left in the sun on its side stand, may create gas fumes in its high side cylinders (six carbs) that, on ignition, can blow out the top end of the engine.

My bikes are both basically stock (yes, original exhaust pipes) due to my interest in the history of motorcycling. However, the CBX is blueprinted, has the Hondaline fork brace, & steelbraded break lines. In reference to Easytarget's comment, I enjoyed riding an 1985 version of the GPz900R for many years (mine was originally a Canadian bike) and found that, like the CBX, it felt much lighter than it you might imagine.

In comparison, the CBX/KZ1300 are very different bikes. In 1979 the CBX was a pure sports bike with better acceleration and cornering and is very easy to ride. The big KZ is, in a number of ways, a handful to ride and has bad cornering ground clearance but a slight top end edge on the CBX and is a very comfortable high speed tourer in the tradition of Kawasaki high performance sports tourers.

Posted: 31/07/2012 at 21:00

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