’79 Kawasaki KZ1000 ST
You want to travel around the country on a motorcycle, me too. I love nothing more than hours upon hours riding secondary roads all around the Western USA. I love tiny towns with one gas station where you actually have to knock on the owners door to get him to turn on the electricity, unlock the pump and sell you 5 gallons of premium (yes, my old bike still has to have premium to be happy…). Where the one restaurant in town is also the social hub (other than the Baptist Church on Sunday). The crazy weather from day to day and stopping 123 times during the day to take pictures. What a great ride. And when you finally get home the first thing you do after kissing the wife, patting the kids on the head and giving your dog a belly rub is pull out the maps and start planning your next ride. Been there, done that and brought home the coffee mug from East Asscrack Wyoming.
But wait there’s one small issue…your sportbike, cafe racer that you ride on Sunday’s just isn’t going to cut it and…you’re not the Gold Wing kind of guy. On top of that you have a budget. What’s a soon to be moto traveler to do? Find a good used, low mileage, high quality, kind of sporty bike that the bank (your wife), will agree with. It’s got to be comfy, it’s got to be reliable (the wife, kids and dog may or, may not, want you to come home…) and it’s still got to be fast enough to have fun. I have an almost perfect bike for you.
Honda really did set the original benchmark for Japanese big bikes with the CB750 but it was Kawasaki that created the King Kong of big bikes with the 900cc Z1. Better handling, great styling and more importantly at the time…faster! The other thing that happened along the way was the reputation Kawasaki had built for reliability. Remember, Kawasaki Heavy Industries (the parent company) was also building steamships and locomotives at the time. The big Kawasaki fours were bullet proof. As evidence of that, police departments around the country were trading their Harley ‘Copsicles’ in for the Kawasaki. The KZ1000 was undisputedly the bike of choice when looking for speed, handling and reliability in the mid ’70s through today.
So, back to you and finding a bike to take on every backroad from here to East Asscrack Wyoming. The Kawasaki KZ1000 ST is a perfect choice. It’s got the motor that will take you across deserts, over mountains, through the farm lands carrying you and all your gear (including the wife, if she is of the traveling type), good ergonomics, a smooth shaft drive, and reliable as the day is long. The KZ1000 is a perfect platform for full touring modification (fairing, hard bags, etc…) or even a big Cafe Racer.
The KZ1000 is a big bike, weighing in at around 600+ pounds full of fuel and oil. But, my remembrance of the ride was that as you got going, it felt a lot lighter. The handling was not on par with some of the true sport bikes but this is not a pure sport bike, this is one of the first sport tourers, it’s also Kawasaki’s first 1000cc shaftie. The motor put out about somewhere in the vicinity of 90HP (good for its day and design) and a top speed of just over 130mph. Last time I rode one, 1983, I was pleasantly surprised at how good the bike was, considering I was riding a 900 Ninja at the time.
My daily cruise through ebay this morning landed me on this great deal of a traveling sportbike, A 1979 Kawasaki KZ100 ST. This bike has only 6557 miles on the clock (barely broken in), has been recently serviced including a new front tire (I would probably replace the rear as well), and according the owner, runs great. The bike is stock, which is always a good thing, and looks to be in really great condition. A KZ1000 ST with this many miles in this condition is a great find and I believe will be a great buy for someone.
This truly is a motorcycle that will take you anywhere you want to go anytime and give you nothing to think about while you’re riding except where are you going to spend the night…even if it’s at home after just riding to and from work. But…take it somewhere far away, you’ll be a better person when you come home.
For more info and pictures, click on the pics below and get yourself a great classic sport tourer.