Meet the family - Kawasaki Z900

The Z900 was a memorable moment in Kawasaki's history as one of the motorcycling milestones of the past fifty years

Of all the bombshell bikes launched in the last fifty years, Kawasaki’s 1972 Z900 (becoming the Z1 in 1974) is a milestone machine.

Kawasaki decided to trump Honda’s CB750 by launching something else altogether. With double overhead cams to the Honda’s one and 903cc to Honda’s 736cc, the Zed offered more of everything.

As the advertising blurb had it: ‘We created the Kawasaki Z900 for expert riders who want to move up to a bigger, stronger motorcycle.’

It was speed tested at 132mph – enough to render many people unconscious with disbelief. A Yoshimura-tuned version was clocked at 170mph at Daytona.

The engine was designed by Gyoichi ‘Ben’ Inamura, and the layout is still the basis of most UJM (universal Japanese motorcyle) fours. Inamura also saw to the 1984 GPz900 and 1994 ZX-9R. But it’s the Z1 that he’ll be best remembered for.

The Zed is now a great grandparent to a fine lineage of two-wheeled children. The latest member being the new Z1000, but there is also a wider history to the manufacturer with a look at the Family Tree of Kawasaki.