Kawasaki Z 1000 Z1-R


Make Model

Kawasaki Z 1000 Z1R




Four stroke, transverse four cylinder, DOHC, 2 Valve per cylinder.


1015 cc / 61.9 cu-in
Bore x Stroke 69.4 х 66 mm
Cooling System Air cooled
Compression Ratio 8.7:1
Lubrication Wet sump


4x Mikuni VM28SS carbs


Battery & coil ignition
Spark Plugs NGK B8ES
Battery 12V 14AH YB-14L-A2.7
Starting Electric

Max Power

94 hp / 70.0 kW @ 8000 rpm

Max Torque

8.7 kgf-m / 62.9 lb-ft @ 7000 rpm
Clutch Wet multiplate


5 Speed 
Final Drive Chain
Gear Ratio 1st 3.17 (38/12) 2nd 2.19 (35/16) 3rd 1.67 (35/21) 4th 1.38 (29/21) 5th 1.22 (28/23)
Double tubular steel cradle

Front Suspension

36mm Telescopic hydraulics forks

Rear Suspension

Dual chocks, swinging arm,

Front Brakes

2x 296mm discs

Rear Brakes

Single 290mm disc

Front Tyre


Rear Tyre

Dimensions Length 2160mm / 85.0 in
Width     800mm / 31.4 in
Height 1295mm / 50.9 in
Wheelbase 1505 mm / 59.2 in
Seat Height 815mm / 21.0 in
Ground Clearance 125 mm / 4.9 in

Dry Weight

246 kg / 542.3 lbs

Fuel Capacity 

13 Litres / 3.4 US gal

Consumption Average

43 mpg

Standing ¼ Mile  

11.9 sec / 176 km/h

Top Speed

220 km//h / 136.7 mph


1979 Z1000-D2 Z1R

For 1979 the Z1R was fitted with the MK11 engine and all it's improvements. A four into two exhaust system was fitted and there was a move back to a nineteen inch front wheel. It was known as the Z1R-II but was not sold in the UK due to poor sales of the D1. Power was up to 94 bhp.

1980 Z1000-D3 Z1R
The only changes worth while mentioning on this model was the graphics and side panel badges. The UK still went without this bike.

Road Test 1980

The Z1-R has returned to Kawasaki's 1 assembly lines after a year's absence and finally there's more to excite you than the sleek lines of its quarter-fairing, tank and sidepanels. For the first time, the lines the Z1-R scribes through the corners are as finely drawn as those of the styling.

You don't have to look far beneath the deep black paint of the new Z1-R to account for its newfound ability. Kawasaki has combined the contemporary and performance-proven hardware of the current standard KZ1000 (called the MkII last year) with the speed-styled cosmetics of the Z1-R. As a result, the new edition of the Z1-R takes the corners like a thoroughbred instead of a rank mustang.

Though the new bike mixes many of the features of the KZ1000 with the old Z1-R into a new package, the 1980 version is more than just a rehash of old pieces. New steering geometry has made one of the largest contributions to the bike's cornering capability.

The story of the new bike's steering revision actually begins with the original Z-1 in 1973. The heavy, 903cc engine, larger than any previous motor in a Japanese bike, worried Kawasaki engineers. They felt the added weight would make the bike cumbersome at low speeds, so they dealt it unusually quick steering geometry. The small amount of trail gave the Z-1's steering a light feel, but the engineers didn't account for the after-effects of quick steering on a powerful bike that had stiff suspension, a marginal frame and a massive engine. Consequently, the Zee would have been a wobbler in any case. But the sensitive steering contributed to the problem by either inducing or magnifying wobbles.

This handling characteristic plagued big Kawasakis into the Z-1R's inaugural year of 1978, which didn't do much to hold up its sport-bike image. But Kawasaki's engineers had been attacking the problem for a few years and by 1979, on the KZ1000 MkII, finally eliminated the major wobble problem. Much of the MkII's frame and suspension technology has been applied to the new Z1-R to help cure its tendencies to wiggle. This included substituting the older's R's 18-inch front wheel with a more conventional 19-inch unit, and by reducing the offset of the fork's triple clamps, both of which are changes that increase front wheel trail.

For the Z-1R, as with all KZ1000s since 1979, the consequences of this change are significant. At high speeds, the Z1-R steers with the precision and quickness associated with the best high-performance bikes. The bike responds to your commands a little more slowly than before because of the increase in steering trail, yet the chassis still can clip apexes as tight as before. That's because a new swingarm has shortened the wheelbase a half-inch, making the bike more willing to change direction. As a result, the Z1-R answers you quickly, but without the initial suddenness that used to upset it. Unfortunately, the motorcycle feels top-heavy during low-speed maneuvers because even the new Z1-R handlebars don't provide the leverage of taller conventional bars, even though they're wider than the old Z1-R bars.

Improved steering geometry is only one of the benefits of using the KZ1000 frame. The double-wall tubing of both front downtubes locates the steering head more rigidly—which helps fight wobbles—but it also damps engine vibrations before they seep into the frame backbone and handlebars. The slightly beefier pressed-together crankshaft of the present KZ1000 engine with its new balance factor further helps refine the vibrations the original Z1- R was noted for. As a result, you can look into the new bike's mirrors and actually see the traffic behind you instead of colorful, fuzzy shapes.

The KZ1000 frame doesn't account for the improvement in handling all by itself, though. A good frame can't handle the road unless the suspension can. So Kawasaki scrapped the stiff-legged fork and shocks that belonged to the former Z1-R. The new fork began with KZ1000 specifications. The spring rate is the same, but preload has been increased five percent. Damping remains the same as that used on early Z1-Rs, though. Meanwhile, the new Z1-R's rear shocks and springs have been lifted directly from the KZ1000 parts shelf, and are much softer than the original bike's equipment.

In practice, the 1980 Z1-R's suspension provides greater comfort than before, but it's still calibrated for a hint of racetrack-quality stiffness. The fork feels a little stiff on the freeway or other choppy surfaces. Even so, suspension action fore and aft is much smoother and features far more compliance on small bumps. There's no comparison between this black-magic Z1- R and the 1978 silver edition during a tucked-in assault on your favorite bit of shadow-splashed twisting road. The wheels stay on the ground instead of skipping across the bumps, allowing you to find your apexes with confidence. The Kawasaki's suspension doesn't exactly deliver Suzuki GS1000S comfort or confidence, but you'll outdistance every silver Z1-R you encounter.

If you do decide to pick a fight with a Suzuki S-type, do it at the drag strip.

There, the Z1-R is no different from any previous KZ1000—it's got a muscle-motor that loves to growl at the opposition when the Christmas tree lights begin their countdown. By the time you trip the lights at the end of a quarter-mile, you'll have more than a tenth of a second advantage over a Suzuki GS1000S rider.

The engine responsible for the Z1-R's magic margin at the drags comes directly from the KZ1000, right down to the finned ignition and generator covers. Kawasaki has bolstered this engine with some newer technology, however. The four-into-two exhaust system that replaces the old four-into-one has twin power chambers tucked underneath the frame. The exhaust tuning it affords delivers one more horsepower than the standard KZ1000. You'll be most aware of its presence though, when it grinds into the pavement on right-hand corners.

Contributing to the Z1-R engine's substantial horsepower rating is Kawasaki's exclusive Air Suction emissions equipment. Four separate reed valves are located in a transverse housing atop the exhaust-cam cover. The vacuum created during the exhaust cycle sucks air through the reeds from hoses connected to the air-box. The added blast of air helps oxidize

the carbon monoxide and unburned hydrocarbons in the exhaust gases. This year the air-emissions gear is supplemented by an EPA-mandated preset air screw that cannot be adjusted for better response off-idle except by an authorized mechanic, who drills out the plug to retap and set the screw. Furthermore, the jet needles in the carburetors have but a single notch, eliminating the possibility of adjusting part-throttle response as well. In total, these changes mean that the Z1-R requires the choke in order to run cleanly during the first five minutes of operation after a cold start.

Once your morning warm-up is completed, though, the Kawasaki engine delivers all the tractability and responsiveness Z-1 motors have been noted for. It doesn't matter what gear you're in or what rpm the tachometer registers, all you have to do is twist the right grip and things happen quickly inside the engine. As the telephone poles streak by and you tuck behind the smoked windscreen of the fairing, you soon dismiss the possibility that the EPA might someday be able to outwit Kawasaki's engineers and hobble the fabled Z-1 engine.

To reinforce the sensations of speed the Kawasaki 1000cc four-cylinder produces, the Z1-R's final-drive gearing has been changed from the original. Like last year's MkII and the original Z-1, the rear sprocket carries two more teeth for a final drive ratio of 2.33:1. The shorter gearing reduces quarter-mile times and increases the amount of power available at any road speed. More engine rpm per mph might have been expected to hurt the Z1-R in terms of either engine vibration or fuel mileage, but the Z1-R cruises with nearly Suzuki-like smoothness and consistently pumps out more mpg than either the 1979 MkII or the 1978 Z1-R.

The Z1-R's powertrain deserves brakes with an equally impressive high-performance character, and it's got them. The Z1 -R has better brake response than a standard KZ1000, as a matter of fact, thanks to a less-sensitive brake lever. Kawasaki brakes in general make the transition from full-effectiveness to lock-up very suddenly. But the Z1-R won't do that unless you squeeze the front brake lever with both hands. The explanation lies with a cable-operated master cylinder. Because there isn't room for it on the right handlebar under the fairing, the master cylinder is attached to the left fork tube between the triple clamps. A cable runs from the brake lever (which is too far from the grip for me) to the master cylinder, which in turn operates the dual discs. Some riders prefer this desensitized system because they have more freedom to use the front brake while diving deep into the turns. And they don't have to be fearful of inadvertently locking up the front brakes and landing on their head.

It used to be that the Z1-R was the perfect selection for short rides because the hard seat made you butt-sore and the small, 3.9-gallon gas tank ran dry every 120 miles. The seat on the new Z1-R has been reshaped and repadded, but you won't want to spend more than an hour in the saddle even so. Still, if you can get used to it, the new gas tank has a gallon more capacity so you can ride nearly 200 miles without a pitstop for fuel.

There's no question the speed-styled Z1-R offers you more thrills and more comfort than ever before. Image bikes like this one have to offer you a lot more, too, to justify premium prices. The Z1-R delivers. First of all, the turn signals have two modes of operation, manual and automatic, making them the best I've used. The halogen headlight is stronger than that of a KZ1000. And at last, the Z1-R has V-rated tires consistent with the bike's top-speed capability (although they grip indifferently). The shape of the sidestand and location of the footpegs deliver more ground clearance in the corners than before. All of these modifications and features add up to an improved motorcycle while reinforcing the prestige personality of the Z1-R.

Taken as a whole, these changes define the new Z1-R as serious competition for the Suzuki GS1000S in the bid for riders who want Euro-style flash. In addition, the bike's combination of distinctive looks, exclusive features and KZ1000 performance will convince riders of even ordinary Z1’s to upgrade their mounts.

Still, the new Z1-R will find its warmest welcome among those who appreciate refined lines in styling as well as in the corners. For even if they prefer to hide their cravings under the plastic mask of a sleek quarter-fairing, they're still likely to be persuaded by horsepower that comes in large lump sums.


The original Z1-R drove me wild—with frustration. Its speediness was skin-deep, disguising an engine that vibrated like a refugee from a wrecking yard and a backbreaking ride.

And it was worth your shorts to scratch for the limit in the corners. Kawasaki's new Z1-R isn't the same motorcycle at all. It functions with the same grace as the current KZ1000, proving that a bike doesn't have to be nasty to deserve a high-performance image.

With its newly legitimate hyperbike status, the Z1-R finally has come together for me. I like the styling, I like the turbo fan noise from the engine, but most of all I like riding a bike that hasn't been tailored for the median motorcyclist. When I'm in this bike's saddle, it's clear that I demand a little bit more from a bike than the average guy. And with the new Z1-R, I get a little bit more, too.—Michael Jordan

Mechanically, Kawasaki has made all of the right moves with the Z1-R, from updating the chassis of this "orphan" of the KZ1000 line to assigning it less-primitive steering. With that sort of technological first aid, the Z1-R finally is as sporty in performance as it has been in appearance. Cosmetically, though, I wish that the original styling had been left alone. I'm aware that the bigger gas tank extends what was a ridiculously short range on the previous R-model, and I know that all-black motorcycles are extremely popular these days. But I liked the bike's proportions better with the smaller gas tank and the four-into-one exhaust system. And although there are numerous motorcycles that look elegant in black, this isn't one of them. Personally, give me a silver 1978 Z1-R anytime—with, of course, all of the 1980 goodies stuffed beneath it.—Paul Dean

Marketing experts opine that a black street bike will arouse far more interest than the same bike painted in another color. Consequently, a lot more superbike buyers should be queuing up at Kawasaki dealerships to get their hands on the new dark-horse Z1-R. And this year, the MkII derived package they'll get will come closer to fulfilling their performance expectations. The last Z1-R we tested would have satisfied only a profiler. In comparing the old model to the other manufacturer's flagship superbikes, the silver Z1-R ended up with the label "Penalty Box." It deserved it. That Kawasaki was a single-purpose Café showbike that made only a weak pretence at handling.

That situation has changed. This new-generation model marks the first time that the Z1-R's promise of performance is not a hollow one.—Larry Works

There was no doubt about which bike was king of the local roads when I was a bike-mad teenager back in 1978. I'd just graduated from a humble Honda trail bike to an old Triumph twin; my motorcycling mates had Japanese middleweights, mostly Suzuki and Yamaha two-strokes.

And one guy we'd see occasionally, though never get close enough to speak to, used to flash around the neighborhood on a brand new Z1-R. Some bike! To those of us brought up to regard Kawasaki's original Z1 as the definitive Japanese super-bike, the silvery-blue Café-racer factory special was one desirable piece of machinery.

This Z1-R and its rider certainly had quite a reputation in our biking circles. Unusually for those days, he rode in one-piece leathers—lime green and white ones, just like those worn by Kawasaki's road-race stars Mick Grant and Yvon Duhamel. But it was the bike that was the real star. As well as being the fastest bike in our \oca\ area, this was the most single-minded big-bore sportster that the Big K had yet produced.

Its powerplant was unchanged from that of the basic Z1000, which meant an air-cooled eight-valve, twin-cam four whose 70 x 66 mm dimensions gave a capacity of 1015cc. The standard bike's 26 mm Mikuni carbs were replaced by bigger 28 mm items, and the twin-pipe exhaust system was ditched for a four-into-one. Those mods raised max output by six horses to 90 BHP at 8000 RPM.

Kawasaki's awesome Seventies reputation had been forged by the power and strength of its engines, but the Z1000's chassis had come in for plenty of criticism over the years. Kawasaki didn't go to great lengths to improve matters, but they did add some gusseting under the headstock in an attempt to strengthen the twin-downtube steel frame.

There were also uprated swingarm bearings for '78, in an attempt to cure the high-speed histrionics for which big Kawasakis had become known. Suspension was much modified, the forks gaining longer springs and revised damping, and the shocks being fitted with dual-rate springs. Wheels were cast alloy instead of wire-spoked, the front coming down an inch in size to 18 inches in diameter.

What did most to make the Z1-R special, though, was its bikini fairing and the angular styling theme that was carried throughout the bike, from the coffin-shaped tank and triangular side panels to the long, thin seat and the tailpiece. The fairing was made of fiberglass, and held an ammeter and fuel gauge, as well as the normal clocks and warning lights. Behind it were bolted handlebars whose slight raise was in contrast to the standard Z1000's high bars.

This unrestored, 23,000-mile (37,000 km) R fired up enthusiastically, its motor rustling and whirring in familiar fashion. Despite its aggressive look, this bike was not really a racy special. Its bars gave a slight lean forward, not an aggressive crouch, and footrests were fairly well forward. At 255 kg (560 lb) wet, the R was barely lighter than the stock Z1000, and its tall seat added to the feeling of size and weight.

My Z1-R riding hero had seemed rapid through the local lanes back in '78, but minor roads aren't this bike's natural habitat. It was here that the bike's size and crude suspension were most apparent. Kawasaki's attempt to improve handling had involved the traditional Italian method of firming up the forks and shocks, to the poin where the R rode like a plank at low speeds, passing on every bump through bars and seat.

Despite having slightly steeper geometry than the stock Z1000, the R took a lot of effort to haul around, too, thanks partly to its high center of gravity. At least this bike's modern Dunlop/Avon tire combination was a big improvement on the rubber of old. And the Z1-R's stoppers worked fairly well, too, hauling the bike up abruptly despite all that weight.

Predictably there was no need to worry about what the big four-cylinder engine was doing, because it was always ready to get to work at the merest twist of the throttle. Response at low revs was instant, and the midrange torque was strong enough to send the R forward hard from below 50 mph (80 km/h) in top. This elderly motor was impressively smooth, too, tingling slightly at around 5000 RPM and then clearing as it headed for the 8500 RPM red-line.

Straight-line performance was impressive, with a top speed of around 130 mph (210 km/h) and a quarter-mile time in the low 12-second bracket. Back in 78 that was serious speed. Only the GS1000 and CBX could do better, and then not by much. On a straight road the Kawa had an important edge, too, due to its small but efficient fairing.

On the other hand, it's likely that the bar-mounted fairing was partly to blame for the high-speed weave mentioned in some tests. General opinion was that the R's upgraded chassis simply delayed the onset of the Z1000's old handling failings. On crowded roads this bike didn't have much chance to misbehave, but it raced up to an indicated 110 mph (175 km/h) on the shortest of straights, and felt as though it would have held that speed forever.

Or at least until the fuel ran out, for another of the Z1-R's weaknesses was its tiny tank, which allowed less than 100 miles (160 km) of hard riding. The inaccurate fuel gauge wasn't much help, either. In contrast the R's self-canceling indicators were a sophisticated touch, and its halogen headlamp was a revelation in '78.

From Super Bike, may 1978

"One moment the bike is behaving itself with panache and style, and you start to think that here is a new breed of Japanese motorcycle, one that actually handles, but then the depressing reality returns. Overworked suspension at the rear gives out with a gasp of exhaustion, and there you are, as if plunged into a time warp, wrestling with a bike that is just plain old oriental in habits and character, bucking like a-bronco.

The four cylinders with the DOHC produce the stunning power that The Big Zee is famous for, Not only does it launch the bike into near-orbit; around town the big four purrs as sweetly as a 500, providing tractable power with no strings attached.

Better late than never, Kawasaki. Keep it up and one day the usurpers to your throne will be taught that to overthrow a king you have to kill him absolutely stone dead, not just relegate him to third place."

Source Superbike of the seventies