Kawasaki motorcycles are manufactured by the Motorcycle & Engine division of Kawasaki Heavy Industries.
The Kawasaki Company was founded in 1896 by Shozo Kawasaki as a shipyard meant for building oceangoing steel ships. At the beginning they constructed marine steam turbines, locomotives, freight cars, passenger carriages and bridge girders. In 1918 the Aircraft Department is established and after prolonged research Kawasaki succeeds in building Japan's first metal aircraft. Then came 1949 and they turned towards the motorcycles industry by making engines suited for motorcycles.
Kawasaki Aircraft initially manufactured motorcycles under the Meguro name, having bought out an ailing motorcycle manufacturer called Meguro Manufacturing Co. Ltd with whom they had been in partnership earlier, but later formed Kawasaki Motor Sales. Some early motorcycles display an emblem with "Kawasaki Aircraft" on the fuel tank. Kawasaki motorcycles from 1962 through 1967 used an emblem which can be described as a flag within a wing.
Kawasaki came out with their first bike in 1954, called Meihatsu. This bike had Kawasaki's own KB-5 engine. An improved model of the Meihatsu, called Meihatsu 125 Deluxe, was introduced in 1956.
Kawasaki was producing bikes for a while without much popularity, but technically progressing. Kawasaki started to be noticed as a big player on the motorcycles market due to the release of the 500cc H1 model (also known as Mach III). In 1973 Kawasaki introduced their first superbike, the Z1 which had a 903cc engine.
One of the most notable bikes in Kawasaki history, the GPZ900R came in 1983. This was the first model ever produced by Kawasaki to have a liquid-cooled engine and to reach 250 km/h. A year later they started to sell this bike in the US and they renamed it Ninja, thing which proved to be very benefactor, registering huge sales.
Their first ever motorsports victories were obtained by Dave Simmons in the FIM World Road Racing 125cc Championship. He won the West German and the Isle of Mann TT races and the series championship riding a KR-1. Then came 1981 and Kawasaki won the manufacturer's title in the FIM World Road Racing 250cc Championship, courtesy of A. Mang who was riding the KR250. Kawasaki's most notable win in their motorsports history was the Le mans 24-Hour Race back in 1983. The model which participated in that race was the ZXR-7.
Sat, 08 Nov 2008 00:00:00 -0800
Last week I had the opportunity to ride one of the best tracks in the world, but you’ve probably never heard of it. It’s called the Autopolis International Racing Course and is located in northern Kyushu, Japan, a 90-minute bus ride from the nearest city, Kumamoto. Autopolis is a wonderfully flowing, 2.9-mile track that rises and falls like a symphonic overture, with inclines that range up to 7.2% uphill, 10% downhill.
Thu, 06 Nov 2008 00:00:00 -0800
Each week I’ll be cracking open the galleries of Motorcycle.com and ripping out the best high-quality images of motorcycles. POW! or Picture Of the Week will bring the best photography of Motorcycle.com to you in exclusive desktop wallpapers available only through The Sidecar.
Wed, 05 Nov 2008 00:00:00 -0800
I can picture it now:
You are out on your Kawasaki Ninja in the middle of the woods. You do a quick burn-out on the back of a small turtle and take off. You Weave left and right between the majestic pines and sorrow-filled willow trees as you speed along the mossy forest floor.
Mon, 03 Nov 2008 00:00:00 -0800
For as long as I can remember, motorcycle manufacturers have been playing fast and loose with regard to what they claim for the weight of their bikes. The “dry weights” they foisted upon us had little basis in reality. The “dry” part of that claim meant that listed weights on a spec chart were the result of all fluids being MIA from the bike, including necessities like engine oil, coolant and fork fluid (not to mention fuel), but even that didn’t fully explain the overly optimistic specs.
Mon, 27 Oct 2008 00:00:00 -0700
Kyle Dansie purchased his 1986 Kawasaki Ninja ZX 900 on eBay for $500. At the time, it had roughly 18,000 miles on it with only the tires, frame and suspension in working order. Kyle then managed to convert this motorcycle not only to run without gasoline, but to harness solar power to charge it.