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Second Chances: New Parts for an Old Kawasaki

Kawasaki z1 studio shot right side

For those who missed the mighty 900 Super Four/Z1 the first time round, Kawasaki announced it will now sell factory reproduction parts for the ground-breaking Kawasaki Z1 superbike.

In the early 1970s, most Canadian street riders were still divided into two camps: British or American. For those who fancied larger displacement motorcycles, the readily available options from the preferred brands came from one of those two countries. But times were quickly changing.

Honda had already staked a big claim to the street market with its 1968 CB750, when along came Kawasaki’s frightening 900 Super Four/Z1 unveiled at the 1972 West Germany IFMA Koln Cologne Motorcycle Show. From that point forward, everything changed. Hailed as the “most powerful Japanese four-cylinder four-stroke ever marketed,” the Kawasaki Z1 was an 82-hp monster with a 212-kmh top end. 

Within a year of its arrival, the Z1 had shattered lap and endurance records and mightily impressed everyone with its road manners. Here was a true superbike with power capable of being fully harnessed and realized on the street (unlike the Mach III two-stroke triple which came before it).

Kawasaki Z1 audio shot red left sideKawasaki’s original intent was to develop the Z1 as a 750cc model, but was beaten to market by the legendary Honda 750. Still, with electric start, crisp suspension, and fine handling, the bike was a charismatic new entry to the motorcycle wars of the time, and it claimed countless hearts. Kawasaki says the Z1 sold more than 100,000 units around the world. The era of total British and American domination was officially over, and today it’s become one of the most sought-after models on the vintage resto scene.

Those who still love the bike as an icon of their youth and who cherish dreams of restoring their old Z1 to its former glory will be happy to hear Kawasaki announced it will start reproducing cylinder heads for the 900 Super Four/Z1 and has established a dedicated online sales website to take customer orders: www.heritage-parts.khi.co.jp/en/

Kawasaki Z1 engine partsKawasaki says it will reproduce the cylinder heads “using current methods based on original part design plans and specifications.” The heads will be manufactured in Japan with plans to produce 1,000 units initially and step up production depending on order volume. The company says it will also consider reproducing out-of-stock parts of other historic Kawasaki motorcycles, depending on customer feedback.

For now, the parts list for the Z1 includes camshaft brackets, valves and peripheral parts as well as tappets. The list does not include camshafts, cylinder head cover, and gaskets but, again, Kawasaki says it is open to the idea of reproducing other parts, depending on demand.

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