The Kawasaki Z1 was nick-named the ‘King’ … which kind of said it all! Suffice to say – on its release, in ’73 – it was well-received. British riders had been putting up with past its sell-by date technology for years. Almost always, due to outdated management techniques. All that was blown away by the two-wheeled Oriental invasion. When the Japanese – and their new wave of machines – disembarked at the Isle of Man, ‘Brit bikes’ were already dead in the water. They just did not know it yet. The TT wins which followed presaged the future – not just for racers, but roadsters. When the Z1 hit the showrooms, the future had finally arrived.
The Z1’s twin-camshaft, four-cylinder motor left its road-going rivals reeling! The ageing ‘thumpers’, twins and triples simply could not compete. The Z1 took cycle parts, too, to another level. Performance stats had gone up a gear … well, several gears, actually! The King came, saw and conquered. For the time being, at least, the British bike industry was history!
The new machine heralded Kawasaki’s iconic ‘Z’ series. A plethora of Jap superbikes – from the ‘big four’ manufacturers – soon followed. Never again would bikers have to settle for second-best. From that point on, a test-ride delivered outstanding performance, handling and braking – or the deal was off! The Kawasaki Z1 secured its place in motorcycling’s pantheon. As for Brit bikes … the king was dead, long live the King!