Why is Kawasaki playing up the history of the GPZ900?

The GPZ900 is a historic bike for Kawasaki. It was its first liquid-cooled DOHC inline four motorcycle, and the first machine to bear the Ninja name. It also made a legendary appearance in the 1986 movie Top Gun.

But, it’s been off the market for a long time now, so why is Kawasaki promoting it?

Earlier this, week, Kawasaki published a throwback video featuring the classic GPZ, and it’s interesting to speculate why. It could just be that 2019 is the 35th anniversary of this most excellent proto-superbike … or maybe it’s because Kawasaki plans to morph the Z900 naked bike into an ’80s retro machine? That would be an excellent way for Team Green to enter the ’80s nostalgia market, which is dominated right now by the Suzuki Katana (with honourable mention to the Moto Guzzi V85 TT). There’s no question that collector interest in ’80s and ’90s street bikes is growing, and Kawasaki could be planning to meet that market.


  1. there hasn’t been a neater looking/sounding bike than the gpz900. I’d put serious coin down on a new machine lighter and updated tech wise ,but copying the original styling

  2. Geeeezzz how could a GPZ900 article be written today without pointing out there is a new top gun film on the way? And I believe the original bike will be in it… Along with the Kawasaki un-obtainium H2

  3. I had a Seca 550 which I loved but deposited it in the LaHave River in NS. I then bought a GPZ 550 in the rare gold colour. I loved both bikes, fun, fast, good handling, cheap to run, both looked great. I rode the Seca across Canada in late April ’81 with a friend who had a KZ 550. NS to Lake Louise for a summer job. 5500 km in 5 days and snowed on twice. Both bikes were perfect. Even the 600 super sports now are too fast for me, the litre bikes are just stupid. A slightly detuned 900 with lots of midrange power would be nice. On another note I hope that our Canadian comments section does not devolve into sniping and negative comments like all of the American sites. I don’t even look at those any more. Canadians are better than that. My 2 cents. Cam

    • Your 2 cents are right on the money Cam.
      I remember those bikes too. Good looking and bullet proof ( of course we thought that of ourselves back then . lol )

  4. A retro Ninja would definitely be cool. I bought the Z900rs cafe earlier this year and love it. I always thought the 1993 zx7rr was the coolest looking sportbike of all time, probably because I was 12 when it came out…

  5. Kawasaki W800 line is very true to retro. The 900 Cafe is lacking in the fact that dual shocks would better suit not only the style but also close in the gap. A GPZ 900 would be great as long as it stays very true to the original and bring back the blue/ silver version as well. As mentioned by a previous poster Suzuki failed miserably with the Katana remake, just go back to the drawing board and give me something identical in looks to the 1982/83 Katana. I can except a liquid cooled engine but the stretched out body lines have got to be right.

  6. “That would be an excellent way for Team Green to enter the ’80s nostalgia market …”

    You know, other than the Z900RS or the Cafe, or arguably the W800.

    • The RS is a ’70s bike.

      The W800 is a ’60s bike.

      But since you know it all, you were aware of that and were just trolling so you could work out your fingers, right?

      • Well, the Bible of NA motorbike mags (if there still is such), said about the RS: “Kawasaki hosted a shindig in Malibu, California, yesterday showing off the latest addition to its ever-growing Z family lineup. This time it’s another retro-inspired ride based off its gorgeous Z900RS but with a Lime Green twist.

        To celebrate the occasion, Kawasaki invited four-time national and 500cc GP champ “Steady” Eddie Lawson for a quick walk down memory lane. Lawson and Muzzy’s Kawasaki shared much success during the early ’80s aboard the KZ1000R—the motorcycle the Cafe is styled after. Lawson won two back-to-back championships in ’82 and ’83 against stiff competition.

        “AMA Superbike was extremely competitive,” Lawson remembers. “Kawasaki put in the effort, and they had the commitment to make it happen—which was incredible at the time. Because Honda and Suzuki threw everything they had at us.”

        Now, last I checked, ’82 and ’83 was not in the ’70s.

        As to the “W” being a 60s bike, it was then and now, quite blatantly a rip off or “homage” to British bikes, particularly Triumphs. Such as this 1980s bike:


        Now, I know that you normally have at least one finger up your nose, and the rest jammed up your arse, but it is good to see you know it all, you were aware of that and were just trolling so you could work out your fingers, right?

        • From the Kawasaki Japan web site regarding the Z900RS [ https://www.kawasaki-motors.com/mc/lineup/z900rs/ ]:


          Roughly translated as:

          From teardrop fuel tanks and engine covers inspired by the Z1 to the tail cowl, wheels, and bolts, every detail is included.

          When one realizes that the KZ900 beginning in 1976 was known to non-North American markets as the Z900 and looks to such styling cues as the instrument nacelles, duck-billed tail cowl and tank lines, the lineage is clear. Steady Eddie may have been invited for a look at some retro-green, but everything about the Z900RS from its naming to its aesthetic is a nod to the ’70s Z1 and the Z900 that followed.

        • P.S. – The Kawasaki W series debuted in 1965. The W1’s design ethos is easily seen in the current W800.


          An ex-Parts Manager of one of Toronto’s long-forgotten Kawasaki dealerships

        • I see Trane’s beat me to it, but as per Kawasaki’s website, the Z900 RS is built in “the classic style of the original Z1 900 motorcycle.” And the W800 is “A true throwback to the iconic W1,” which as we all know was debuted in 1967.

          Have a great Christmas.

  7. Damn it’s nice to see that bike. The wheelbase and style looks so relaxed compared to the hyper anime of today. Okay yeah I’m that old.

Join the conversation!