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Backtest: Kawasaki Z1r (1977)

25 mayo, 2021
kawasaki z1r 1977

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Kawasaki z1r, the culmination of the ’70s R concept, the nemesis of the Honda four, the new contender for the road heavyweight title, entered the 1977 to mark a before and after on Japanese road bikes. To date, Japan made very good, very beautiful, and very comfortable motorcycles, but they suffered from that sportiness that the European ones of yesteryear did offer you. Kawasaki, as the sporting spearhead of the four Japanese women, brought out what would be the first “R” of the empire of the rising sun; the Kawasaki Z1r.

Kawasaki z1r, lyrics that today can lie in the bewilderment of many readers, even in total ignorance. Well today, hold on tight, this kawa comes with a lot of inertia, and the brakes are not exactly well equipped!

The Kawasaki Z1r It is the latest evolution of Kawasaki’s Z engine series, engines that were equipping all Akashi’s road bikes, the Z1000, Z900, Z750, Z650, Z550 … it was a very rudimentary four-cylinder (adapted for each displacement, but block and common design), very robust and above all, Very powerful for the displacement it offered. This was not the typical Honda engine, for “sissis” and “fine”, this was a Kawa, perhaps not as radical as the one used by the current Ninja, but with the same spirit: 90cv of pure bad grape.

kawasaki z1r 1977 carretera 2

The Kawasaki z1r It was born as a result of the sporting evolution that European motorcycles were acquiring, while in Japan they focused on making reliable, easy-to-use and smooth motorcycles, Kawasaki knew that they could not follow that pattern, and that it had to set its own philosophy. The Europeans were sporty, they were fast, they were fast, they were aggressive, they inspired speed, they conveyed a sense of power, they were terrifying. Kawa wanted to get into that league, Kawa wanted to leave behind the chrome and curved handlebars, he wanted to leave behind the “babe” rides, he wanted to leave behind the cloth with which you dry her after washing her, I wanted to leave Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha behind, and for this it had to be measured with Europe.

For this, the Kawasaki Z1r entered a different league: sports screen, flat handlebar (European style), rectangular tank, straight lines, straight seat, straight tail and straight chassis. It was a whole potential cafe racer, it was, japan’s first cafe racer.

All that, is what it meant Z1r, three acronyms that in 1977 they scared. Supposed the end of a cycle, and the beginning of an era.

kawasaki z1r 1977 sombra

Looking at the Z1r from the other side, the scientific side, we see another bad beast, although nowadays they sound like A2 license numbers, friend, this requires more than that intermediate cylinder license. We are talking about a four-cylinder engine of more than 1000cc, with a crankshaft with more counterweights than the scale of an endocrine, engine inertia higher than those of an outboard engine, 4 x 28 Mikuni carburettors, one for each cylinder, a compression ratio of 8.7 to 1, double camshaft DOHC, 2 valves per cylinder, and a long-stroke structure (bore x stroke 70×66), which achieved that these 246kg empty reach the 220km / h and did the ¼ mile on less than 12 seconds. But the most spectacular data is none of those, the data that will contextualize such a reality is: 1977.

How is the Kawasaki Z1r

The Kawasaki Z1r was and is like that tough soldier, that does not fatigue, does not decay, does not faint, that smokes, drips, stinks, screams, but hits and keeps hitting without losing forward power. It is the motorized roughness, it is the visual impact of the manhood desired by every young man worth his salt. You don’t have to ride it to see that it’s old, but it’s intimidating.

It is not that pretty and shiny “classic” that will attract the gaze of the women who are waiting on the terrace to make themselves seen. No. It is a motorcycle that transmits fear, and no room for nonsense. If you want to ride it, you will need leather gloves, a jacket and protections, because the controls are hard and silent, because the motorcycle runs and the wind burns. Each knob, each pineapple, each dial, each lever, requires decision and awareness of what you are doing. Doubt has no place in the piloting of this machine.

kawasaki z1r 1977 atardecer

That pseudo rectangular dome (Remember that it is the culmination of the Zs of the 70s, but the awakening of the later Z1j and ZRX, which adopted the dome of edges and evolved the frontal optics to a rectangular one), that wide handlebar, that engine that protruded two feet on each side of the slim and elongated chassis, designed to devour kilometers at high speed, all of this gave it a completely different character than what existed to date.

How is the Kawasaki Z1r going

The Kawasaki Z1r behaves very faithful to that first image it conveys. It’s a tough bike, lasts in every way, is hard gas, hard brake, hard clutch, hard seat, hard steering, hard gearbox, it is lasts even to operate the kickstand. It is tough, strong, with an engine well above the cycle, as it used to happen, but taken to its maximum exponent. When stopped, it does not handle as badly as you imagine, the lever per handlebar that incorporates a lot of help, and the height to the ground, as a good classic is not very great, so someone short like me who barely reaches meter seventy, could handle it with it. . The problem was the weight, as soon as the bike took a couple of degrees of incline … lats, triceps and abs had to work at all costs to keep that beast upright. That’s the way it is, and that’s the way the Z1r goes, at full power even when you’re stationary. They are 90cv, but they are not valid for the A2 card, since it requires a few more years of experience and more attention than a deaf person crossing the train tracks

In case all this had seemed little to you, that you know that it has kick start, to turn that 4-kilometer-long crankshaft and the 17, I mean the 4 pistons that it moves.

It’s one thing to give them a hard time and another thing to do the monguer for me to drop the motorcycle to the ground: Does it have an electric starter? Yes. Well, better start it with the electric motor.

kawasaki z1r 1977 contraluz 0

After this small trough of masculinity, the hoarse exhaust roars the 4 cylinders fed by their respective Mikuni 28 carburettors. A four-cylinder noise, but very serious, with that acoustic delay typical of carburetion, seasoned by the fragrance “Eau de Octanaj ”What the leaded gasoline. Let’s not forget that these engines ran on Super 97 gasoline, the leaded benzine that many, today, find it hard to remember. Of course all this feast of sensations, this acoustic awakening and this olfactory valhalla, does not stop being the climax of a whole mechanical ritual prior and necessary to achieve it. The Z1r is a thoroughbred, it is like a rally car, which requires step by step activating each element of the engine; gasoline pump, water pump, injector rail, anti-lag, etc. etc. Well, the same thing happened with the Z1r; had have give the contact, had have open the tap, the opening had to be positioned in cold start, it was necessary to open the air of the carburettors, you had to engage, you had to start (all this if you did not want to kick start, champion) and you had to know give the right gas and necessary for it to start and not perish in the attempt.

The unit that we have been able to test was, apart from all this, one of the first series, since it was a frame D1, build ’77, that all be said, it was thanks to Javier Serrano Fernández, passionate about motorcycles and classic motorcycles, who has a jewel like this thanks to a funny anecdote that he himself will tell us later.

kawasaki z1r 1977 instrumentacion dia 0

After managing to wake up the beast (And do not forget to repeat half the steps when turning it off, that as you leave the soup tap open and the vats flood, friend you are in trouble) and get on it, grab her by the horns, look at that cockpit in the purest style Mad max, gear first, hold the stake, twist the gas and emulate Goose, you realize why motorcycles they were really cool, and nowadays they just “cool.” It is something indescribable, although I will make an effort for you: the motorcycle is not only about freedom and the wind in your face, the motorcycle is that encounter with yourself, it is that test in which you measure your capabilities, it is that way of testing yourself , it is the duel we have with ourselves, through a mechanism that puts us against the ropes and leaves us no other than to become the armed forces to get out of trouble, and thus reach the enjoyment phase. These were the bikes from before, machines that require a physical fight, a technical encounter, a border crossing between the easy and the fun. It is something that the commercialization of the concept and the desire to sell, have forced motorcycle brands to deny it in order to adapt their product to a much more extensive and incapable genre, which live under the embrace of technology and electronics. It is because of that, motorcycles and bikers, in the past, were of a different paste. There is no more to add your honor.

Curves arrive

Now, is when we leave the easy part behind, and the really complicated part comes: the curves.

kawasaki z1r 1977 curva 5

The Kawasaki Z1r is a highway savage. In the straights you will be pushed 90 kicks of a real brave percherón, but in the curves friend, you will have to spin very fine. It is a motorcycle for running. She works on the straights, but on the curves you have to be the one who makes her work. Going fast, braking hard, turning and twisting are a series of idyllic concepts that you will never be able to do with this machine. The first because some of them are physically impossible, like braking hard. You can get there fast, but you’d better get your homework done, and that doesn’t mean copying them to the ready in class 5 minutes before, because with this one …

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