1982 Kawasaki GPZ750
In 1982 I was the Sales Manager at a Kawasaki dealership here in Southern California, I loved my job. The family I worked for was great, they helped me in my roadracing effort, and thanks to them I was doing pretty well. Here is the better part…I was racing a Kawasaki but my daily ride was a Honda. It didn’t look good for the Sales Manager to be riding a bike we didn’t sell, so…I was given a ‘demo bike’ to ride. Life doesn’t get any better, especially when your first ‘demo bike’ is a Kawasaki GPZ750.
I spent ten really good years on a Kawasaki H2 750 Mach 4, Kawasaki’s flagship three cylinder two stroke rocket. At times it scared the crap out of me…the H2 was called “evil, wicked, mean and nasty” by every motorcycle magazine and most people who owned them, but after some really good (serious) modifications the monster was tamed and we had great times together. Sadly,the H2 was stolen from me (if I ever find that guy…”hell hath no fury than an H2 rider without his triple!) and that is how I ended up on a Honda CB750F.
Back to the GPZ. When I was told I was getting the GPZ I wanted to cry, cry tears of joy. I had already sold a few of them and everyone loved it so I couldn’t wait to ride it.
Closing time on Saturday afternoon I was given the key, and a stern lecture from my boss as to how I was to ride the bike responsibly (the look on his face didn’t match his words…if you get my drift here…). I spent the next two days flogging that GPZ up and down every canyon road I knew here in Southern Cal. The smile never once left my face.
Here’s the deal with the GPZ…Kawasaki was already successful with the KZ series and had brought out the GPZ models in 550 and 1100cc in 1981 but they had to compete with the Honda CB750F model and Suzuki’s very capable GS750. Kawasaki was known for building motorcycles with ‘King Kong’ horsepower but didn’t have the chassis to control it. The GPZ750 changed that.
The GPZ was not just a ‘tarted up’ KZ750, there were chassis mods (courtesy of the Z1 and models soon to come…like a shorter wheelbase for quicker turning, beefier headstock and more), engine changes like new cylinder heads,new cam profiles, different carburation and a different riding position. What Kawasaki was going for here was a pure unadulterated sportbike and that is what they got. What they didn’t expect that it would also be a really good sport tourer. The GPZ1100 was Kawasaki’s ‘heavyweight’ sport tourer, but now they had a 750 that was at home on a canyon road as it was on the interstate. The first GPZ 750 is one of Kawasaki’s finest bikes of the era. The GPZ underwent some changes over the next couple of years (some good and some… ‘not so much’) but it was and still is a fabulous motorcycle.
I found a beauty today on ebay. This GPZ is a stocker, which in my book is pretty much the best way to find a used bike…that way you get to do whatever you want to do to the bike instead of undoing what someone else did…unless you would have the same things done to the bike. A bit of a convoluted thought but hopefully you get my meaning. This GPZ has been garaged for twenty years with 24K on the clock, not bad but it is going to some love. Standard stuff will be required here…carb service (full clean and rebuild), change all fluids, new tires (they’re old. I don’t care how ‘new’ they look or how much tread they have left, they are not worth keeping on the bike), brake pads, etc, etc. There is the standard corrosion on the bike that can with a little time and effort can be dealt with. This bike is a rider not a collector piece. Do the basics and ride it.
The GPZ 750 is a really wonderful motorcycle that will do anything you ask of it…blast through your local Sunday morning canyon ride, commute to work everyday, or throw on a set of soft saddlebags, a tank bag and head off to Telluride. Click on the pics below for more (not really) info and more pictures. Having ridden one for a while I can say this a perfect example of the ‘UJM’ being taken a level higher.