The first motorcycle to be called Ninja

Kawasaki
GPz900R

There are many iconic motorcycles, but only a handful have changed the entire industry.   In 1984 the little Kawasaki GPz900R arrived from the small Japanese manufacturer Kawasaki & redefined a performance motorcycle – forever.

This isn’t your usual Japanese sportbike.. this is a hard-core performance motorcycle aimed directly at the hard-core performance rider.  If you think the essence of motorcycling is the sensation of leaning into corners, you need one. Source: Motorcyclist 1984

Despite the 908cc engine being at least 10% smaller than her competitors (Z1300!), almost 40 years later it still ranks as the 17th fastest production motorcycle – ever.  But in 1984 it’s performance was breath-taking.  Not simply the first +150mph motorcycle, it cornered properly & was out-run by only a handful of exclusive supercars – off the line it left all of these far behind.

The GPz was, by almost every measure, King of the Road.

Context?  A modern production superbike is now out-muscled by scores of modern supercars. To be the fastest you need 4 wheels and very deep pockets.  In 1984 you simply bought a GPz900R.

The 1948 Vincent Black Shadow is deservedly regarded as the grandfather of superbikes.  Incredibly fast but expensive, uncomfortable and, let’s be honest, dangerous.  And apart from being cheaper not much changed right through to the early 80’s. 

But Kawasaki had seen the future & after six years of development the GPz took performance motorcycling from a limited, niche market and handed it to the masses on a gold platter.

It was affordable and handled impeccably, a performance motorcycle that the average rider, even Tom Cruise, could genuinely own – and coincidentally was basically the fastest vehicle on the road.  It is no wonder it made such an impact.

 …the Ninja is almost a production-racer motorcycle for street use, a motorcycle that can’t be versatile without losing it’s specialist expertise. The Ninja’s target is the no-compromise sports rider who wants high-tech hardware and who thinks or knows he can use it. Source: Road Test 1984

The Ninja (its name in the US) was a decathlete – designed to be the best at everything that defined a performance motorcycle.  No longer did this simply mean power and size, that’s why the engine is only 908cc.  The brilliance of the Kawasaki engineers was that by designing the whole package it also happened to be the fastest on the road and no slouch on the racetrack either.

Re-defined as a sports-tourer gave the design an incredible 20 year sales run, out-lasting scores of sports & performance motorcycles.  If you could only own one sporting motorcycle the GPz remained a genuine choice – for well over a decade.

A superbike?  Well more importantly it sowed the seeds for the modern superbike.

Firstly it opened the door to this market – sensible people, not simply riders, now realised they could own a performance motorcycle and live to tell the tale.   Secondly, the GPz was so good at everything that only by specialising could other motorcycles genuinely out-point her.

The wonderful 1985 Suzuki GSX-R750 is the perfect example.  Dominated 750cc production racing but was only marginally faster than the Kawasaki on a race-track.  How marginal?  Well after 3 hours racing around Mt Panorama, pretty darn close, the last lap of this race is brilliant. Frightening too from a modern perspective, those riders had nerves of steel.

To begin with you have to appreciate the different design concepts of the GPz and the GSX-R. The former is essentially a road bike that just happens to be pretty good on the track; the latter was designed from the outset as a straight-from-the-crate racer that just happens to have lights and indicators. Source:  Motorcycle International Nov 85

Kawasaki produced the ultimate performance motorcycle.  The fastest and the best at almost everything.  The GPz shook the industry from it’s laziness – speed was no longer enough.   History shows from here that any significant motorcycle design was more specialised, stronger at one element but weaker at another, creating the different sports-tourers, superbikes and hyperbikes we now see today.

In 1984 the GPZ was all of these – there simply will never be another motorcycle like it.

The aim of this site is to be the ultimate online reference point for owning & maintaining a GPz900R.

From here you will find links to other online resources, general information, maintenance, parts, technical & service information with real experiences and input from real owners.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  Please feel free to contribute to the knowledge-base on this iconic motorcycle as we cruise towards her 50th anniversary in 2034.

Enjoy the ride!

 

J

2034

2034 is the 50th anniversary of this iconic bike. This is the design project that celebrates the bikes and owners.

GPz900r Bikes

An online database of bikes from around the world.  Registration is totally free and can be completely anonymous if required.

GPz900R Info

General Info

Links to specifications and reviews.

Q and A

Questions and Answers on the bike.

Owner Sites

See detailed owner stories.

Service & Parts

Links to specialist parts suppliers and service centres.

Technical

Info on updates or maintenance of specific components .

Local Forums

Links to local forums & motorcycle clubs.

Latest Bikes

Browse the latest additions to the database.

A8

AUSTRALIA

A6

AUSTRALIA

2034

50th ANNIVERSARY

Site Sponsors

These organisations support the site & the GPz900r, so please support them.

Register your GPz900r

Registration adds your chapter to the international story of riding this unique machine, but more importantly allows you to share details of your personal ownership experiences, in particular local contacts and specialists. This information is of great value and benefit to other owners and helps keep these wonderful machines running.

Plus it gives me more photos to use!

Registration is totally free and I can structure the online information to be as private and/or anonymous as you require. The only required information required is:

  • a recent photo
  • engine number
  • frame number

“My goal is to create the ultimate online reference for the gpz900r – and be the definitive source of information for anyone across the world owning this unique motorcycle.”

“Technical information on this site is real-life, hands-on experiences provided by actual owners of the bike.”

“I will happily list any local technical forums or online information that relates directly to the GPz900r.”

“In 2034 the GPz900r will be 50 years old – my goal is to have 908 bikes online to celebrate that milestone!”

About the Site

My family loves older vehicles, the newest one we own is 2003!  But I am acutely aware of the ownership complexities especially:

  1. they often need more 'hands-on' mechanical work &;
  2. there often isn't any local expertise from the service centres;
  3. there is often no new parts available from the manufacturer;
  4. parts often have to be sourced 2nd-hand or from overseas.

So we often end up doing a lot of the research & work ourselves and this information gets stored either locally with the bike or online forums - although finding the useful parts in these forums isn't always simple.

The original goal of the site was simply somewhere for me to record service work & contacts on my GPz900r so that my kids (the one that likes bikes anyway!) could easily access it - it doesn't concern me if it was publicly available.

I then realised that with this online structure in place I could also offer it to other owners, and the site could potentially expand to record other owners experiences and expertise , meaning we can learn from others but also pass on this knowledge to subsequent owners of these wonderful motorcycles.

At least Covid-19 has given me plenty of spare time to pursue my passion for the motorcycle!

Location

Adelaide
South Australia

Email

gpz900r@motoshoot.com.au

Timeline

1983 - Honda XR200
1984 - wanted a GPz
1985-2013 - cars+family
2014 - finally got one!

Disclaimer

The information provided on this site (or links) is personal experiences from non-professional home-mechanics, so neither it's accuracy nor it's validity can be confirmed.  If you need professional advise please visit your local Kawasaki dealership or a qualified industry professional.

Like riding any motorcycle, at the end of the day the only opinion that really counts is your own!

The site is 99% free to use & your participation is most welcome. 

In Apr 2021 I started a GoFundMe campaign to purchase unusual but relevant resources such as microfiche.  As it is often not economical nor logical for individuals to purchase these items (eg. why purchase A1 info when I have an A8?), this campaign shares the purchasing & processing cost amongst many owners and over time potentially benefits everyone.

For their support only campaign contributors will have access to purchased resources, however this will only be a very small part of the site and all other information will remain completely free.

So if you enjoy the site and share my passion for the GPz900R, please consider donating to the campaign.

 

Send a Message

15 + 7 =