Email Print Kawasaki Motorcycles

Updated April 2020

If you’re not aware Kawasaki’s parent company, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, is a player in just about every transportation sector, from shipping to aerospace to mass transit – and that’s before we even consider KHI’s interests in energy production, industrial equipment, and recycling/environment. To the non-motorcyclist, Kawasaki’s Ninja moniker often refers to all sportbikes (the same way that Kawasaki’s brand name, Jet Ski, has been used generically for all personal watercraft by the uninitiated). Today, Kawasaki’s two-wheeled influence reaches through all categories of on- and off-road vehicles.

Kawasaki joined the motorcycle business in 1960 and is one of the major players from Japan. From the time it released the B8 125cc motorcycle in 1961, Kawasaki has seemingly never slowed down. Just five years later, Kawasaki produced Japan’s biggest bike – the 650W1. The first Voyageur touring model, based on the liquid-cooled KZ1300, hit dealerships in 1978. In 1981, Kawasaki launched the hugely popular 600cc sportbike class with the GPz550, and just two years later, the GPz900R “Ninja” is introduced to a stunned motorcycle press. The first ZXR-designated motorcycles reach the market in 1989 and are still going strong today. In addition to its vast lineup of street bikes, Kawasaki’s KX lineup of off-road motorcycles cannot be ignored, thanks largely to the racing success of James “Bubba” Stewart.

A large chunk of Kawasaki’s motorcycles includes its Ninja family of sportbikes, which is so big that it has three major branches: Sport, Supersport, and Hypersport. The Sport line consists of the Ninjas 400, 650, and 1000 ABS, while the Supersport subcategory wields the Ninja ZX-6R, Ninja ZX-10R, and Ninja ZX-14R. The Hypersport branch of the Ninja family tree consists of three siblings who represent the only factory supercharged motorcycles currently in production, the Ninjas H2 SX, H2, and H2R. If one of these bikes doesn’t raise your pulse rate, you’re probably dead.

Kawasaki has an extensive line of Z naked bikes ranging from the transformer-is Z H2 to the comfortably retro – and significantly less angular – naked, the Z900RS. Wrapping up Kawasaki’s model lines are the do-it-all Versys -X 300, Versys 650, and Versys 1000 LT plus the remnants of the cruiser era, the Vulcan’s S, 900, 1700 Vaquero ABS, and 1700 Voyager ABS. Kawasaki even has room at the Thanksgiving table for the retro classic W800 and the sport touring icon Concours 14 ABS. Those who like to get dirty on their motorcycles have the extensive KLR/KLX and LX lines, for a total of 11 dirt-focused hardware.

Kawasaki Ninja H2

Kawasaki Versys 650

The Kawasaki Versys 650 has been referred to by many (and owned by a few) MO staffers as the perfect do-it-all motorcycle. Its perky 649cc parallel-Twin is equally comfortable on grocery duty, canyon carving, weekend touring, and everything in between. Starting at $8,299, the price is easy to swallow, too.

Kawasaki Z900RS ABS

The Z900RS ABS proves that all Kawasaki’s aren’t angular and completely modern looking. The round lines remind us of the Z1 900 of yore. However, housed in the trellis steel frame is a thoroughly modern engine that you can use for around town trolling and still get your ya-yas out on a twisty road.

Kawasaki KX450

Developed by Team Green, the Kawasaki KX450 has what it takes to bring out the best in its riders. Propelled by a powerful 449cc Single utilizing the latest electronics (like Launch Control), the KZ can take you through all the terrains you might encounter, thanks to the 49mm Showa Coil Spring Front Fork and Uni-Trak rear suspension. You can even set up the KX to suit your dimensions through Kawasaki’s ERGO-FIT system.

Read more about the History of Kawasaki Motorcycles.

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Kawasaki brought a fleet of Ninjas in every displacement to Chuckwalla Raceway and turned us loose. If that doesn't sound like a great way to spend the day, you're probably reading the wrong website.

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