Retrospective: Kawasaki KZ750-E: 1980 — 1982 Rider Magazine

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Retrospective: Kawasaki KZ750-E: – 1982

July 6, 2012

Retrospective article was featured in the 2012 issue of Rider

Story and photography by Clement

Year/Model: 1981 Kawasaki

Owner: Franco Teti, Los California

Class distinctions by size are important, and are often by the numbers on a motorcycle’s side

In 1980 the Universal Japanese (UJM) design, with an overhead cam, in-line engine, was pretty much the industry, and while the difference a Honda 350/4 and a Yamaha was quite obvious, sometimes the were more subtle.

had never been one to follow the When Honda came out the ’69 CB750, Ben Inamura, the head at Kawasaki, focused on the 900cc which appeared three later. And then he developed the with a bore and … of 62 by for 652cc total. It was intended to the handling of a 500, the power of a at less than two grand, be 10 cheaper than any 750/4.

While price might not meant much to the BMW and Harley it certainly did in the Japanese trade.

The 650 for a couple of years, with the helping things along by all sorts of hop-up equipment. But by the 750 class was by far the most popular, and was a lot to give away, so Inamura that he was going to have to go This was to be no big redesign—no 16-valve no new chassis—the KZ750 would be a bigger, better KZ650.

Kawasaki KZ750-E.

Just to things, in 1980 Kawasaki had two different KZ750s—the KZ750-G twin, the engine of which had on the market since 1976 December 1996), and the new in-line known by the postfix E.

Those 650 were bored out to a very 66mm—staying with the 54mm the total capacity went to By comparison, the latest Honda was a perfectly square 62 x 62mm, for But the big news, or not news, was that was still using the old two-valve like those on the 650—and located their shims the cam followers, which meant out the camshafts in order to adjust the

This was no big deal if you knew you were doing, but a lot of riders to have professional mechanics do the Changes to the heads included larger exhaust valves, and anti-smog vents to keep the at bay. This minimalist allowed oxygen to flow the combustion chamber and mix with any hydrocarbons, creating carbon that was on the approved list of

This anti-pollutant gizmo did not to harm performance. The KZ650 out close to 50 horsepower, and adding than 90cc made the show more than 60 at the rear wheel, with ponies coming at 9,500 This was back at a time such a number impressed the masses.

The major changes, other the bore-out, were the

bolting on of Keihin constant-velocity carburetors, and the use of a ignition. An interesting tidbit is this new four-banger was first in South Africa, a relatively market, but obviously with the of allowing the bike to be consumer-tested releasing it to the United States and

Letting the average rider up a new motorcycle is a very good way of its potential, as Joe Bloke can conceive of that test riders not. Apparently the bike up well, as it was soon released to the of the world.

Sportier camshafts increase the power of the 650, can inhibit normal street But not here, as careful fiddling the torque max at the 7,500 rpm level, sizably increasing the horsepower. undoubtedly a help were large CV carbs, 10mm than the throttle-slides on the 650—though were a thirsty lot.

Mileage could be less 40 mpg when ridden in a sprightly less than 30 when hard. If economy was on the rider’s he could buy the KZ440 twin.

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drive was via a Hy-Vo chain cylinders two and three; back in days this was considered an since it evened out the strain on the The 650’s clutch was used, stiffer springs and minor to the transmission, essentially strengthening the gears. And the final-drive chain from a 530 to a 630. But the total of the bike went down a of pounds…brilliant.

Curb weight was a under 500 pounds.

1981 KZ750-E.

The 650’s frame was revised to lower the saddle, but the big was in the suspension. An air-adjustable Kayaba provided almost six inches of with the firmness up to the rider. was 27 degrees, trail 4.2 inches; with just under 60 of wheelbase, this made for a motorcycle. At the back, a pair of shock absorbers came tool-less preload adjustment, a large, grippable collar at the very handy.

These allowed four of axle travel. Test had minor complaints about the suspension, but Kawasaki knew the of riders were more in comfort than those four or five degrees of angle. And the racing-inclined could their own modifications.

Cast were protected by the new Dunlop Seal tires; front was a rear a 120/90-18. Triple discs with single-piston provided adequate stopping Again, racers might but the street rider definitely he had enough brake.

Throw a leg the saddle and settle in. Comfy with the slightly raised so popular among Americans a nice slouch. Ignition on, the button and the two mufflers kept the muted.

These were the mufflers as found on the 650.

Kawasaki KZ750-E.

Once in the clutch allowed a smooth and a pleasant ride was ahead. If you headed for a drag strip, a lightweight rider would see low 12s and 100 mph in the quarter-mile, beating out (barely) the But the prices of the two were now pretty with the KZ at $2,750, the CB at $2,850.

You pays your money and you your choice.

Then, in Honda showed its brand-new and a year later Kawasaki’s 900 appeared—shades of the CB750 vs. Z-1 900. history repeat itself?

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