Monster Moto: 1975 Kawasaki Z1-B 900

Normally I gravitate towards small motorcycles and oddball scooters, mopeds, and mini bikes, but it’s hard to beat a monster like this 1975 Kawasaki Z1-B 900. These were thee bikes to have back when I was tooling around on a 100cc Yamaha Twin Jet as a kid. This beauty is listed on eBay in Miami Beach, Florida with a current bid of $7,900 and there is no reserve! For the record, that’s about what my parents paid for their house in 1961 and there are still four days left on this auction.. for a 43-year old motorcycle.. This bike sold for $1,895 when new. The times, they are a’changin’.

I remember being pretty intimidated by these big bikes. Heck, I was intimidated by my neighbor’s Suzuki GT380. I’m still not a speed demon but just because a person has a powerful vehicle doesn’t mean that they have to drive like a crazy person. There’s something comforting to know that you have more than enough power to just jump on a bike like this and drive cross country without too much worry; other than other drivers.

And, the Z1 is big, 9 times bigger, engine-displacement-wise, than my Yamaha YL-1 Twin Jet 100. I’m not riding my little 100 twin across the country, but I could.. if someone threw down a challenge.. or I lost a bet. The biggest bike that I’ve ever had, and I still have it, is a 1978 Yamaha XS750E which is a 3-cylinder. A Kawasaki 900 like this would run circles around my Yamaha 750. The Z1 became known as the Z1-B in 1975, it’s last year of production.

The seller says that this is a “nice original Z1. This Kawasaki is excellent condition. Gas tank is very clean inside.” This was the most powerful Japanese motorcycle built at the time, or ever until the Z1 came along. The first models, the 1972 to 1974 models, are around 50% more valuable but the last year 1975 Z1-B models are a bit more powerful. They got a horsepower bump, a redesigned frame, and improved front forks. At under 29,000 miles, this one is barely broken in.

The powerful 903 cc four-cylinder put out 82 hp in 1975, 15 more hp than Honda’s CB750. With a 130 mph top speed and a 12.5-second quarter-mile, this was a force to be reckoned with in 1975. The seller says that the “carbs have been completely gone through and this Z1 starts and runs excellent.” Hagerty lists a #3 good condition 1975 Kawasaki Z1 as being worth $10,000. With no reserve, what is this one going to sell for? Have any of you owned a Kawi Z1?


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  1. LAB3

    I’ve never owned one but have ridden one, very light and nimble for it’s size. At that price it won’t be me that buys it but it’s still one heck of a bike.

  2. stillrunners LAWRENCE Member

    Have had two of these….both as fast as you wanted to go….my last one was in this color…my last one had already had a two into one set up for each side….so two pipes out the back…not the stock ones here. Really hard to find nice original pipes….ended up putting the 4 into one which was the set up back in the day. When the time came for a decision….I choice my two stroke triple Kaw and sold the Z to a buddy….nice bike there.

  3. Adam T45 Staff

    When I was a young bloke I had an enormous crash on a trail-bike (I don’t recommend going over the handlebars at 80mph). I broke six ribs and ruptured my liver. Did it put me off bikes? Not for one moment. As soon as I could walk again I was back on a bike, much to the horror of my parents.

    I remember these from my younger (pre-teen) days. These were the bikes that my friends and I used to covet. In fact, I still do today. Can someone refresh my memory on something about these please? I seem to remember that the early models actually had little flaps that used to drop down over the ends of the exhaust pipes when the engine wasn’t running. Kawasaki always claimed that it was to prevent water entering the pipes, but I always thought that it was a gimmick.

    • Rube Goldberg Member

      I don’t remember any flaps on the exhaust, and a friend had one of the early red and brown ones. I DO remember just about everybody taking the baffles out, and irritating the crap out of Rex,,,
      Sorry, to me, there’s not a sweeter sound than one of these with the baffles out. I will agree with Rex tho, maybe not at 2 am, after the bars closed.

      • Adam T45 Staff

        Thanks so much for that Rube. As I said, I was pretty young at the time. I seem to have managed to pack so much of the weird, the wonderful and the wacky into my life that sometimes the little details escape me.

  4. Davis

    I learned to ride and got my licence on a similar Kawasaki 400, beautiful bikes. I wish the new bikes still looked like this.

  5. Beatnik Bedouin

    There are great machines, so much so that Kawasaki has created a modern tribute:

  6. Larry Elletson

    I had the 1973 Z1 as a young airman in Northern California. Advertised as “The World’s Fastest Production Motorcycle!” It was quick, Lordy it was quick. California had grooved highways and you had to use the front dampener to keep from drifting. Great bike in a straight line but in the mountains, the center of gravity was high and you almost had to stand on the outside peg coming out of a long sweeper! Oh, BTW, if you buy this bike, never let your girlfriend clean the seat with Armor-all. Just sayin’

    Like 1
  7. Rex Kahrs Member

    I know this comment will not be popular. But I remember back in 1977 in college, this bike was the “rollin’ coal” monster truck of it’s day. Everybody had one, except this starving college student.

    Everyone who had one of these could not resist screaming these up and down the main street on Friday and Saturday night (High Street in Columbus), and Jesus Christ they were so loud and obnoxious. There was no mistaking that hideous exhaust note, I can still hear it.

    It looks good and I can appreciate the Japanese bikes of the era, but I sure don’t miss that sound.

    Like 1
    • Rube Goldberg Member

      Sounds like someone is getting old,, :)

      Like 4
      • glen

        Sounds like he was old back in ’77! No offence,Rex.

        Like 3
  8. elrod

    For a time, this bike blew all the other jap bikes back into the ocean. It was THAT badass when it was launched. A landmark machine that is considered very collectable today. Legendary.

    Like 1
  9. Alan (Michigan) Member

    One of my buds bought one in smallish-town Illinois, his was a ’73 I think. Young and foolish, yes. But also, it seemed, extremely skilled. I saw him do some amazing things with that bike, like riding city neighborhood sidewalks at silly speeds. There were tales of outrunning the police, once on a gravel road, no less! One night he proved that wheelies were no problem at all, carrying a very high one for 50 yards or so from a low gear throttle snap. Amazingly, I don’t think that he ever dropped it. I can’t say that for the Honda CB350 I had.

    Before Mike had any unfortunate problem on the bike (or got caught), he sold it to get married and have a family. Another one of the guys had one a short while after, but he rode so conservatively by comparison. Hard to forget a classmate taking his Kawi Triple 380 for a late-night streak through downtown, wearing boots. Those were some days, I tell you!

    Like 1
  10. mark

    About the only bike from this era that was close speed wise was the Kawasaki 2 stroke triples. I know they made a 500 cc version of those. Those were the king of the drag strip i their day.

    • Alan (Michigan) Member

      They also made the 750. That was the real “widow maker”, with crazy power following a vertical curve when it “came on the pipe”.

      Like 1
      • Rube Goldberg Member

        The H2 was a pretty fast bike, and we’re splitting hairs on how fast here, but the real widow maker had to be the CBX. With a 1/4 mile time of 11.36, it bested the Z1 by almost a full second( 12.19) Think about that for a minute. I swear, the Asians must have thought we drive around on Bonneville Salt Flats all day.

    • Tom

      I raced a 900 with my 1972 750 triple. I beat him to about 100 mph and then he took over. I know the speedometers at the time were unreliable at high speeds but I just barely made it to 140 mph and he was still pulling away. (What the real speeds were are probably around 120-125. At the time, the 900 was considered the “fastest” while the 750 was the “quickest” as per Motor Cycle magazine.

      • Jim Sabo

        Until 1978 when the new “King of the Hill” by Suzuki was introduced. The GS1000

        Like 3
  11. W9BAG

    My Mom & Step Dad #1 bought one of these as a wedding present for each other. Dark Blue Metallic. It was beautiful. As for the 130 mph top speed, I think that is a bit underrated.

  12. erikj

    I had a a Suzuki gs1000 in the mid 80s. It had reworked mukuni carbs and a keerker header. As a small dude 5′ 8″ 160. wet. It was too big for me,but not my ego. Almost killed me twice before i got smart and got rid of it.
    Super nice,clean bike. sooooo fast!!! It ran with all the big bikes then.

    • Suttree

      When the ’70s super bikes ruled there was a lot of street racing around here. There was a guy called The Flyin’ Flea. 5-6 and about 110 lbs. He was absolutely fearless. He raced for a several people but the most potent combination was a 1972 Kawasaki 750 triple with a front drive sprocket one tooth smaller than stock & The Flyin’ Flea. I don’t think anybody ever wised up to the gearing but the competition really hated seeing the Flea show up.

    • Ronald Reagans Grandson

      Was it like this one?

      Like 1
  13. Rube Goldberg Member

    Scotty, you just put a smile on this old farts face. Coolest submission yet. I had 2 friends who had bikes just like this. I’ve ridden a LOT of bikes, and this was THE fastest bike I ever drove. Straighten your arms out, it would. Got a chuckle with Larry’s comment about ArmorAlling the seat. Almost too fast, would do the speed limit in 2nd gear. I agree, 140 mph was not out of the question ( about 100 is all the faster I ever went, tho) The 500 triple was fast, but a different kind of fast. A dog until about 5 grand, then the front wheel would come up. These were more refined. Police used them for a reason, it was the hottest stick out there. Don’t believe me? Let’s go for a short ride, shall we? Hang on. (btw, this a bit newer, KZ, but you get the idea, check the speedo, that’s almost 85 in 3rd gear)

  14. Charles Rahm

    Kawasaki in the late 70s, maybe into early 80s, can’t quite remember had a great advertising campaign…….
    Kawasakis let the good times roll
    Kawasakis let the good times roll
    Get aboard, get away, and you’re gonna say
    Kawasakis let the good times roll

  15. z1rider

    My first motorcycle was a 76 KZ900. Thinking back on that, I feel lucky to be alive. I rode it everywhere, and learned to drag the foot pegs around cloverleafs. It made it to 40K before it was stolen.

    The exhausts were very prone to rust. I seriously doubt those pipes are original, They just didn’t last for that many miles.

    • Rube Goldberg Member

      I’ve seen your name, and wondered if you rode a Kaw Z1. So where did all these bikes go? These almost never come up. And at my age, I’d be danged to spend $8 grand on one. My buddy put his down on the right side on a corner once, not going fast, but put the brake pedal into the clutch cover. Apparently, the dealer had plenty of brake pedals and covers on hand. They called it the “wipeout kit”.

      Like 1
    • Ronald Reagans Grandson

      The key to keeping the exhaust from rusting out is running the bike to operating temperature for some distance to prevent internal condensation from building up. Of course you should not do too many short runs as this builds up water inside pipes. Environment (weather conditions) also plays a big role. I know my Suzuki GS1000S has small weep holes at lowest point on the underside of exhaust to let built up condensation trickle out and not puddle up inside exhaust.

      Like 1
  16. Just me

    1976 KZ 900 here. With Vetter fairing and lowers. Smoked a friend on his 1975 GoldWing with Vetter fairing and lowers from a stop. I topped out at indicated 125. He passed me with just a whisper of noise and left me in his dust. Power shifting between 1st and 2nd front wheel would come up about 8” with fairing and lowers. It actually was a pretty good touring bike. Many miles and trips before going to a 1979 BMW R100RT.

    • Rube Goldberg Member

      I believe they geared the KZ’s down a bit. Super holeshot, but like you say, topped out around 125. It made the bike a bit more usable. I had a ’75 GW, and never had it over 100, but I’m sure there was lots more.

  17. dan

    U.S. Inflation Rate, 1975-2018 ($1,895)
    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, the dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 3.60% per year. Prices in 2018 are 358.5% higher than prices in 1975.

    In other words, $1,895 in the year 1975 is equivalent in purchasing power to $8,688.43 in 2018, a difference of $6,793.43 over 43 years.

    The current inflation rate in 2018 is 0.77%1. If this number holds, $1,895 today will be equivalent to $1,909.58 next year.

  18. Michael

    I owned a KZ 400 back in the 70’s and I thought that bike was fast. I bought it without my parents knowing. Kept it in my friends garage until it was stolen. I would gladly trade my current Vulcan 900 Classic for this. Sweet ride.

  19. On and On On and On Member

    Peter Egan if you’re reading these please chime in. I’d like to hear your 2 cents.

    • Ronald Reagans Grandson

      Tell me what you think.

      Like 2
      • Rube Goldberg Member

        Are you really the “Gipper’s” grandson? :)
        The GS 1000 was another crotch rocket. Did 11.8 in the 1/4. Suzuki wasn’t going to sit back while the other bikes got all the glory. Suzuki was one of the last holdouts on 2 strokes. The “Water Buffalo” was probably the most refined 2 stroke, but Suzuki knew the end was near. I thought I read the GS was kind of a knockoff of the Z1 design. I feel fortunate I lived through the heyday of superbikes.

        Like 1
      • Jim Sabo

        Not really Gippers Grandson but he did remind me of my grandfather, the resemblance was uncanny

  20. Vern

    I have one at home. Let me find the pics and I’ll give you the story on it. You never know it may be on this site in the future.

  21. moosie Craig M. Bryda

    I had this bikes twin . Bought it second hand after I sold my ’72 XLCH. No comparison as to which was fastest or more reliable. Never used any loctite on that Kawi. I took the baffles out and it sounded great. It was quicker then I had cajones for. It would regularly beat my riding buddies heavily breathed on Sportys which P . O. ‘d them to no end. Unfortunately it killed the kid I sold it to.

  22. Jim Hoffa

    Probably the best bike I ever owned. Solid and fast- 135 mph was never a problem. I loved riding that fast, but the wife behind did not think it was a lot of fun. Great street racer, hard for the cars to keep up.

  23. Pete

    Ah yes a KZ 900 the bike of my dreams as a kid. I had a buddy who had one. He would ride about a mile or two on the back wheel right by our HS like it was nothing. He had some serious skills. He later in his 50’s plowed into the back of a semi on a Harley. My best buddy bought the KZ1000 LTD that came out in the late 70’s. He died on that thing. A couple of years later I bought a KZ 750 LTD took it to germany and drove it down the autobahn many times. Chin on the tank, ankles on the rear indicator lights do 120 MPH all day until I blew the head gasket. Fixed it and sold it to another soldier.

    25 years later I moved in with a guy who had been in my same unit after I left. He unveiled 3 KZ bikes in his garage. A ZX1100, a KZ 1000 and a KZ900 all three were perfect. He let me ride the KZ900 it brought tears to my eyes and 3 years later I bought a 2007 Harley Electra Glide. I knew myself well enough to know that if I bought another rice rocket I would die, cause I got no sense. I learned that in 1988 when I laid down my Suzuki 1400 intruder. OMG that thing was crazy fast. It took over 20 years for my left ankle to heal up enough to be able to hold up a bike again.

    This is in great condition and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up back in Japan. They love these things. I might get one if it wasn’t much over 2000. Not saying they aren’t worth what they are trying to get for this one. I just can’t justify that much for one.

  24. Seriously?

    Personally, I feel this bike is too overpriced. There are still many low mileage machines out there for the money. Plus, from strictly a parts perspective, it doesn’t make much sense to purchase this bike. I’ve owned one of these (among many 70’s bikes) and think they are great bikes. But dollar for dollar, it’s just not THAT great of a deal.

    • tom

      I purchased a new in 1974, After putting over 100,000 miles on it I parked it to raise my kids. Now they are grown and out of the house, so I restored my 74 to the way I had it set up in the 70’s. Well worth it to me. Anything is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

      Like 1
  25. TBall

    While I did not own one, at 5’7”, 135 lbs, it was a big, fast machine for me. I opted for the “baby z”, the under appreciated KZ650 B1. They took 2 to Daytona, took out the baffles and set or tied 12 750cc speed records. That little Z was a screamer. Could beat Honda 750s all day. Love those late 70s Z bikes. Great story, would love to have it.

  26. Gene Parmesan

    A good friend of mine’s father has one just like this, only in the dark green, laid up in his garage. Bought it brand new right out of high school. Hasn’t been run for over 10 years and during that time, I’ve been badgering the bejesus out of him to sell it to me or let me drag it out and get it running.

    Love these old, big-displacement Japanese bikes. Rad scoot for sure.

    Like 1
  27. Alan

    I Dont ride and Not fan of motorcycles but am fan lots of different vintage stuff 60s 70s including this beautiful motorcycle!

    Like 1
  28. John B

    A great friend of mine bought a KZ 1000 new back in ’81(?)…rode it proudly to work one day at a city facility in downtown Newport News Va. Came out that afternoon and his front wheel was waiting for him at the bike rack. Dang…

    Like 2
  29. Ronald Reagans Grandson

    I love my bike, few people really appreciate bikes like my original survivor.

    Like 2
  30. carsofchaos

    As the featured bike in this article is up to $8400 with a day left on the bidding, this one seems to be a bargain at half the price:

    • TBall

      Dang carsofchaos – if I were in the market, the F150 would be headed there today. That is a very nice example of an awesome bike. And go figure, a craigslist with plenty of information (photos/background) to make an informed decision to buy. This one temptingly close, were I 20 years younger…

      • carsofchaos

        I know what you are saying! A CL ad which actually has info and pics? This owner obviously knows his bike very well and most likely has taken good care of it. This is right near me, and tax return time is coming…..

  31. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    @Scotty: I had a ’79 Yamaha XS750F triple in the mid-80’s while in college.
    It was the last bike I ever owned, having discovered convertibles and not being able to afford both.

    I’ve often thought that if I ever got back into riding, I would hunt for one of these classics.

  32. Sangerbuzz

    My first 900 kawasaki was 1974 the second was a 1975 with 1132 russ collins big bore kit,cams and exhaust very fast in 1978 and the last was a very nice 1973 wish I still owned all three

  33. junkman Member

    Not one mention of the dreaded “High Speed Wobble”. Down on the beach rd there was a corner with a little dip that at about 80 would set off the Wobble, it only took me down once. One of a million stories nobody wants to hear.

    • Jim Sabo

      My Suzuki had one too but not at 80mph but around 95 then it would go away around 115

      Like 1
  34. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Ended: Feb 15, 2018 , 7:00PM
    Winning bid:US $9,900.00
    [ 16 bids ]

    • Rube Goldberg Member

      Wow! Here’s another vehicle we should have stashed away. Must make these current owners feel pretty good. I know I couldn’t give away my GoldWing.

  35. Jim Sabo

    Way overpriced. If it was mint and all original then maybe, but it had too many flaws, mostly corrosion which was evident all over the bike. I’d say it was a good “rider” at $4,000 that’s it.

    Like 1
  36. chad

    traded an H2 (they all made 3 cyl 2 strokes, bout 250 – 900) a 500cc for a KZ 750 (I still have) as the 2 stroke needed hi revs all the time. The 750 (a ’78) is known as oneada most trouble free bikes of the era (?’75 – ’83?). No choke “an enrichment” lever. I’d much prefer (if still from Japan) an ol GS 1000. The Italians took those motors’n hand made cafe racer frames 4 em. But the 1 bike of that era (B4 AMF came in) that sounded like a bike should, rode like a bike should, looked like a bike should – was the late 60s XLCH, MHO.

    Like 1
  37. starsailing

    I was looking for another bike on Craigslist since 1st week of January this year. Looking coast to coast for several bikes that I had back in the days. I saw this featured 900 online and immediately thought nice…but too expensive. After the gas crunch of 73, sold my muscle cars…and the cheapest way to go fast was on a motorcycle. One of my friends had a 73 KZ900 with 76 LTD pipes on it, jetted up a bit. Another friend bought 1 76 Honda Super Sport..which was just as fast as a KZ 900 up to 100 then it was like ya hit the brakes on the Honda…still the Super Sport with a Piranha 1/4 fairing on it was perfect for the time on HWY 101 twisties from Mn River to Rogers Mn. The guy I bought the Honda from had bought a new KZ650 because the salesman told him it was faster than KZ900s!!! AHHHHhahahahaha! Fool and his money etc.etc..I could still out run him on the twisties on the Honda. I bought a used 76 900 LTD which had sticky Pirellis on…added a Piranha 1/4 fairing…It was bullet proof..not a thing went wrong on it…could corner all the way over, scraping and wearing out the pegs on it…Mn to Mont, to Frisco and back to Mn in 7 days. 3.6 tank sucked for long trips…had those bigger Mikunis Carbs jetted some and stock pipes drilled out a bit more..with the fat sticky tires and being the biggest 900…it couldn’t be beat. 40 K miles I put on it in a couple years…Zero failures..A real honest bike that cornered..Then came the 78 Suzuki GS1000E Suzuki…Bought one/added Pirahna 1/4 fairing….could ride it on back wheel for a mile, like the others, removed the center stand for less weight…added a Kerker and jetted the carbs out. Lightweight with those factory sticky IRC tires was incredible…I modified the Kerker baffle putting in a pair of cones on end of the baffle so exhaust leaving the cylinders were funneled down into baffle instead of just hitting the large flat washer type baffle paltes…Picked up a lot more H.P. on it….Again…Now the fastest bike on street and through the twisties…Then came the 1981 GS1100E…Bought one…best all around bike for everything…touring with the wife on vacation plenty of guts to haul butt on touring/passing …could ride for a few blocks on the back wheel with the wife on the back…Magazine tests showed bolting on 4 into one pipes and changing main jets made the bike slower..but if you bumped up the main jets, and slid back the airbox lid and duct taped it down…pick up about 10.H.P. so I did it….With 12,000 miles on it I twisted the crank…putting whole new crank piston assy…I knocked the clutch out….Bought a 92 Suzuki Katana 1100…the fastest bike ever…but carbs were messed up and same with clutch…Poof! So which bike was I ready to buy??? A 78 Suzuki GS 1000E or a 1976 KZ900LTD. Now again.ready to buy….Found a mint 76 900LTD for 2 k up in Washington just 3 weeks ago…..Looked up Train route from MN to Washington, got 4 K out of the bank, pulled out my helmet and clothes…Ready to pull the trigger next day….That night sitting at Caribou Coffee..I went to stand up and couldn’t….My old back injury just made my rt leg 100% dead. I could not lift, drag, move leg or wiggle my toes….Then my other back injury pinched off to my heart and left lung…ambulance…Hospital…wiggled around in E.R. bed getting breathing back…threw my left leg over my right…after 6 hrs I could wiggle my toes…called my friend to get me out….Doing my traction at home….I can walk again…but had broken my rt foot when falling. So….close to another Candy Red 76 KZ900 LTD…so close…That one sold…just saw another one yesterday on Craigs…Have to dream now…until I get better…

    Like 1
  38. Michael

    Bought a slightly used 75 Z1B 900 in 1977. Rode it to 1983. Wonderful machine. Invariably everyone who looked it over would say to me, “Do you know this thing’s speedometer goes to 160 mph!?” Of course I did. The Z1B was essentially a beast on raw power steroids. It was a good ride, nimble and most of all comfortable. Loved it.

  39. Stuart

    Mine was a 76 Z1b same colour same single disc brakes as the photo
    Aussie model speedo in kmh – topped out at 220kmh regularly easily
    Good wheelstands into 3rd – 160kmh in 3rd was the expectation
    Slow by modern standards
    Z1b – 82 hp @ 500lbs compared to my 2007 gsxr 1000 160hp @ 420lbs
    Welded steel braces into frame at headstock, swing arm and under tank to make it handle properly
    Had to climb off it to change direction quickly
    Reliable as a shovel and tour at 160kmh all day
    Finally replaced it with a Gs750 for the improved handling but missed the top end then went to Ducati’s and missed the reliability hahaha
    Lovely bike better memories

    Like 1

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