The Kawasaki Z1 was simply amazing when it was first introduced in 1972 and is still amazing
It has become one of the most iconic of classic Japanese motorcycles.
It may not be as fast or handle as well as modern motorcycles of similar capacity, however there is something about
the timeless styling of the Z1 that went on to influence many motorcycles thereafter.
For the UK and Europe, Kawasaki produced the Z1 in two colour schemes.
These were Candy Orange / Brown and Candy Yellow / Green.
Candy Orange / Brown was the most popular option and was the only option for the USA.
In Kawasaki's description of the Z1 colour schemes, the base colour was shown after the secondary
colour of the stripes and tank panel.
The fuel tank's base colour was contrasted with a large panel in the secondary colour covering
most of the tank's side profile.
The panels on each side of the tank were edged at the top and bottom by a thin stripe, also in the
The panels and stripes from each side of the tank merged at the top of the tank just ahead of the
chrome fuel filler cap.
The KAWASAKI badges on the fuel tank had upper case
lettering in white surrounded by chrome and set on a black background.
The KAWASAKI badges were 155mm long.
The side panels were in the base colour and the panel badges had the
'900 DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAMSHAFT'.
Thenumberswere white and edged in chrome while theletters
were just chrome.
The numbers and letters were then
set on a black background with a chrome
The Z1 tailpiece was in the base colour.
There were three
stripes in the secondary colour, the middle stripe being broader than the outer
The stripes ran
along the bottom edge of each side of the tailpiece and then curved up and over the top at the rear
to meet in the middle.
A chromed passenger
grab rail complemented the design of the tailpiece.
The heart of the Z1 was the 903cc four cylinder double
overhead camshaft engine.
The bore and stroke were 'square' at 66mm x 66mm.
The engine produced 82 bhp, phenomenal in 1972.
The crankcase, cylinder block and cylinder head were painted
The outer edge of the cooling fins on the front and sides of the
cylinder block and head were a contrasting bare metal finish.
The Z1 had four 28mm Mikuni carburettors.
The alternator cover on the left side of the engine, and the ignition points cover on the right
side were both finished in polished alloy. Both had the legend DOHC in silver lettering with a black
The large clutch plate cover on the right hand side was also finished in polished alloy as was the outer front
sprocket cover on the left hand side.
Also in polished alloy were the top half of the camshaft end caps and the top covers and float
bowls from the outer two carburettors.
The Z1 had a five speed gearbox operated by a left foot gear lever in a one down, four up pattern.
Final drive was by chain. A drive chain lubrication system was used. This comprised of an oil tank behind the left
side panel and an oil pump on the left side of the gearbox by the clutch adjuster.
The four into four exhaust system was an artistic masterpiece and was one of the Z1's most
Each silencer was welded to its relevant downpipe before being chrome plated.
The frame was a duplex cradle design made of tubular steel finished in gloss black.
The frame number, beginning 'Z1F' was stamped into the headstock.
The riders footrests on US models were of the folding type. They were fixed on UK models.
The front fork sliders were chrome whereas the fork legs had an alloy finish.
US models had a cicular orange reflector at the top of the fork leg on both sides of the
The reflectors were replaced by aluminium discs on the UK model.
The front wheel comprised of a 19 inch Takasago chrome rim laced to the black painted hub with
forty zinc plated spokes.
A single hydraulically operated 296mm disc brake on the left side of the motorcycle was standard.
Twin discs were offered as a factory option.
The standard front tyre fitted to the Z1 was the 3.25H x 19 4PR Dunlop Gold Seal.
The rear shock absorbers were chromed.
US models had a circular red reflector fastened to the upper part of the rear shock
absorber, again on both sides of the motorcycle.
The UK model shown here did not have the reflectors.
The rear wheel comprised of an 18 inch Takasago chrome rim laced to the alloy
finish hub with forty zinc plated spokes.
A 200mm diameter single leading shoe drum brake was standard.
The standard rear tyre was the 4.00H x 18 4PR Dunlop K87 Mk II.
The seat pattern on US models was the same as that on the UK model, however the UK model also
featured a leather strap across the mid point of the seat.
The Nippon Denso instruments on the Z1 comprised of a speedometer on the left
and a tachometer on the right. The speedometer was calibrated to 160mph in increments of 20mph. The tachometer was
calibrated to 12000rpm with the redline starting at 9000rpm.
Between the two gauges was a console featuring the ignition key
barrel and four instrument warning lamps, each with a descriptor above the lamp. They showed, from left to right, NEUT (green), FLASH (orange), BEAM (blue) and OIL
All Z1s featured a chromed rear mudguard. This was shorter on US models than on the
UK model. Many UK models have since been fitted with the sportier looking US rear
Thanks to the following for their permission to use the photographs on this page.
Click the image to visit the Z-Power website home page.
Joacim Larsen of
Click the image to see more photographs of Joacim's Z1.