The origins of the Kawasaki company dates back to 1878 when Shozo Kawasaki founded a shipyard in Tokyo.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries became incorporated in 1896 and expanded into designing and building other forms
of heavy industry machinery such as railway locomotives and more recently helicopters, robots and
construction machinery to name just a few.
In 1962, the first motorcycle to bear the Kawasaki name was introduced.
This was a 125cc single cylinder two stroke known as the B8.
However, Kawasaki had been involved with motorcycles before that time.
They had manufactured small two stroke engines for Meihatsu motorcycles from 1954.
In 1961, Kawasaki aquired the Meguro company. Meguro was Japan's oldest motorcycle manufacturer dating back to
Kawasaki started to produce both two stroke and four stroke machines.
Amongst the most famous of Kawasaki motorcycles were the two stroke triples.
They had a wild reputation for speed, somewhat dubious handling and a huge thirst for fuel.
The two stroke triples sounded amazing, however with today's increasingly stifling legislation, we are unlikely
to see machines like this produced again.
Needless to say, they are now extremely collectable.
For more information on Kawasaki Two Strokes, you may enjoy a visit to Rick Brett's Classic Kawasaki website.
After studying the U.S. market, in 1967, Kawasaki engineers, led by Gyoichi "Ben" Inamura, were
briefed to produce a large capacity four cylinder four stroke motorcycle.
The original plan was for the motorcycle to be around 750cc in capacity.
Kawasaki engineers began to develop the motorcycle under the code name NYS, short for New York Steak.
Kawasaki thought that they were soon to introduce Japan's first four cylinder four stroke
The Kawasaki team were horrified when Honda beat them to it by introducing their CB750
four at the Tokyo Motorcycle Show in October 1968.
The introduction of the big Honda meant that it was back to the drawing board for
In 1969, the NYS project was back on. The new brief was for a capacity of around 900cc and for an
increase in power over that of the Honda CB750.
Kawasaki engineers and riders covered thousands of miles on road and track to develop the motorcycle.
More information to come soon on the Z1 prototypes.
When Kawasaki finally introduced the Z1 to the public in September 1972 at the
Cologne Motorcycle Show, they could not have imagined what an influence this machine would
have on the motorcycling world.
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