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Bodyman’s Baby – 1985 Kawasaki GPZ900

The revolutionary early Ninja’s combined many improvements with the result being the first street cycle capable of 150mph.  Not the first inline 4, or with 4 valves per cylinder, or water cooled, but the first to combine these in a production engine.  Great attention was given to lightening and narrowing the drivetrain, the alternator and starter are behind rather than beside, and the camshaft drive chain is at the left end of the crank, rather than between cylinders 2 and 3.  The primary and secondary shafts in the transmission are stacked, allowing a somewhat shorter wheelbase.

20150429 1985 kawasaki gpz900 right

1985 Kawasaki GPZ900 for sale on eBay

20150429 1985 kawasaki gpz900 left

Tests from the time show that the GPZ900 was a neutral-handling rocket, with a smooth-shifting 6-speed transmission and excellent triple-disk brakes.  Never a lightweight at around 550 lbs, the Ninja was smooth thanks to an engine counter-balancer and comfortable to ride.  The GPZ900’s combination of power, handling, and brakes won many multi-bike shootouts and a generation of riders.

20150429 1985 kawasaki gpz900 tank  20150429 1985 kawasaki gpz900 left detail

Looking like it just rolled off the set of Top Gun, this early Ninja is a young 30.  A previous owner contributed a K&N filter and Yoshimura exhaust.  Re-painted in factory colors with graphics stenciled and wet-sanded, some extraneous reflectors and logos have been removed, and some of the aluminum has been polished.  With the multiple clear coats it looks ready for a show or a cruise.

20150429 1985 kawasaki gpz900 right rear  20150429 1985 kawasaki gpz900 radiator

From the eBay auction:

Here’s my first gen 900. An avid fan of the original Gpz, I think the first gen 900 was the last and best of them. The bike has a short list of mods that I think make the bike much better overall. First the paint. I have painted the bike in original colors but instead of using decals for the stripes and ‘Kawasaki’ and ‘Ninja’ they have been hand stenciled with 5 coats of clear over them. There is no bump as you run your hands over them. They’ve been wet sanded completely flush. The ‘liquid cooled’ emblem I made of super thin ‘water slide’ material. I put a drop of pearl metallic in the clear coat which is very subtle and only visible when the bike is under full sun. The bike has been completely wet sanded and buffed. The fairing amber side reflectors have been eliminated as has the front headlight ‘Kawasaki’ emblem. I feel they both take something away from the bike. The rear fender was trimmed. The wheels were done in red base coat clear coat keeping more in line with the original Gpz’s. I have polished the peg mounts and the swingarm. The bike came with the Yosh pipe and K&N filters, thus the bike doesn’t use the stock airbox. I think this is also a big plus. When I bought the bike it had a Corbin Gunfighter but I’ve always disliked them so I bought a stock seat. I’m the third owner and the bike has 26,000 miles on it. It’s in perfect mechanical condition and I believe it’s the prettiest first gen 900 you will find anywhere.

The auction for this first generation Ninja has already generated 14 bids and there are still 4 days left.  If you’re one of the many fans, take a look.

-donn

1 Comment

  • I owned one of these in the late 80s when I lived in the UK. Very much enjoyed it as an all-round bike and would scoot back and forth across the country in comfort. I believe it stayed in the European line right into the 1990s as it sold that well. Considering how radical this was for Kawasaki back in the day (lots of firsts) I am surprised how little respect they get from collectors but I put that down to its lack of racing pedigree. I would happily put one next to my Z1 but I’m not sure how often I would ride it. Nice bike.

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