Kawasaki Heavy Industries produce a wide range of products, but none are more famous than their legendary motorcycles. As one of the biggest motorcycle manufacturers in the world, and one of the Japanese “Big Four,” the Kawasaki brand name has become one of the pillars of the motorcycle industry. Though Kawasaki Heavy Industries has a vast number of business interests, the company only produced its first motorcycle engine in 1953. Since then, the Japanese company has continually evolved and refined their products from small-capacity, economically minded transport for the post-war era into the fierce, category defining sport bikes of the present day. While the lime green Kawasaki Ninja sport machines are the first image your mind conjures when you think of the brand, don’t forget that Kawasaki has a long and illustrious history of producing championship winning dirt bikes, mile munching power cruisers, utilitarian dual-sport machines, and formidable adventure motorcycles.
The Kawasaki brand produces more than just motorcycles too, manufacturing a broad spectrum of utility and recreational vehicles under the Kawasaki banner, such as ATVs, water craft, and the Mule and Teryx side by side utility vehicles – and that’s just a small part of the wider Kawasaki industrial machine. Kawasaki Heavy Industries as a whole produces everything from powerful bullet trains, helicopters and aircraft, to ocean-crossing ships and even space-traveling missiles. The motorcycle division of the Japanese company may only be a small part of the machine, but it’s the most well-known, and the catalyst that turned Kawasaki from a giant but unknown manufacturing company into a household name.
Today, Kawasaki has grown into a multi-national corporation that boasts more than fifty holdings stretched across the globe. From the company’s humble beginnings as a dock yard in downtown Tokyo, the Kawasaki brand has grown to represent the best of Japanese engineering with a steadfast dedication to innovation, applying new technology into every aspect of their enterprise. With over 100 years of experience, continually pushing the bounds of innovation, advancing human-kind, and making the impossible possible, Kawasaki is easily one of the defining brands of 20th century, and strives to continue on for another century of excellence.
The History Of Kawasaki
The Early Years
Kawasaki can trace its roots back to 1878, when company founder Shozo Kawasaki opened a ship yard in Tokyo, Japan, that built ocean-going steel ships. Within the space of ten years, the company would expand to become the Kawasaki Dockyard in 1886, and transforming incorporated company by 1896, with a wide range of other manufacturing interests. Along with the Dockyard, Kawasaki also opened the Hyogo Works factory which began fabricating more than ship components, and producing locomotives, freight wagons, and steel girders used for bridge building, as well as marine steam turbines. Air craft manufacture was also added to the Kawasaki’s Hyogo Works production line in 1918, only 15 years after the Wright brothers’ maiden flight.
Over the next few decades, the Kawasaki brand expanded and split into smaller individual companies. For example, the original Kawasaki Marine Freight Department became the Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd., and the Hyogo Works split from the main company to become the Kawasaki Rolling Stock Manufacturing Co., Ltd. In the meantime, Kawasaki was busy producing its first automobile series, the Rokkugo, with bus, truck, and luxury car varieties. In 1939, all of Kawasaki’s smaller companies formed under one banner: Kawasaki Jukogyo Kabusikigaisya, which essentially means Kawasaki Heavy Industries, though the formal English name change didn’t happen until as late as 1969.
The onset of World War II kicked Kawasaki’s manufacturing output into overdrive, with the most successful and well-known company products being Kawasaki’s fighter aircraft, such as the Ki-61, Ki-100, and the more technologically advanced Type 3-1 Hien fighter, the only liquid-cooled Japanese fighter, which was capable of hitting speeds of over 379 mph, and fly in formation at heights of up to 32,800 ft. The Second Word War made a huge impact on the Japanese economy, and in the post-war years Japan was in need of economical transport options.
Brands like Honda quickly capitalized on this and sparked a two-wheeled revolution. Unfortunately, Kawasaki wasn’t quick to jump on the bandwagon, only beginning development of their first motorcycle engine in 1949, and producing their first production engine in 1954. These first Kawasaki power plants were air-cooled, four-stroke, 148cc, single-cylinder units. One of Kawasaki Aircraft’s subsidiaries, Meihatsu, built the first Kawasaki motorcycle.
The Rise Of The Kawasaki Motorcycle
Understanding the value of motorcycle technology, Kawasaki built its first dedicated motorcycle producing factory. At the same time, Kawasaki also took over Meguro motorcycles, one of the major Japanese motorcycle manufacturers of the age. Meguro was already more advanced than many other Japanese brands, because it already made a 500cc motorcycles – the Meguro 500 – and it also already exported overseas. A year later in 1961, Kawasaki built its first ever motorcycle using all of its own parts: the 125cc two-stroke called the B8.
Kawasaki didn’t produce a noteworthy model until 1966, when they released the 650cc W1. It wasn’t the greatest motorcycle on the market, but it taught Kawasaki a valuable lesson about the need for lighter engineering and better performance, if they were ever going to capture the market’s hearts. Kawasaki’s next few models were smaller in displacement, the 250cc A1 Samurai, and A7 Avenger 350, which began to prove that Kawasaki were carefully balancing power and weight for better ride experiences. In 1969, the public started to notice Kawasaki’s efforts. The 500cc H1 Mach III arrived on the scene, followed by a 250cc and 350cc version, and topped with a 748cc model (the H2 or Mach IV) for those looking for more power. Finally, in 1972 Kawasaki produced the bike the world was waiting for: the 903cc Z1, which took many of the Honda CB750’s design principles…and turned them up to eleven.
Honda’s CB750 may have been dubbed as the world’s first superbike but many motorcycle enthusiasts believe that the Z1 was more of a true example. Boasting full instrumentation, an electric start, straight-line stability, as well as 82 horsepower and a top speed in excess of 130 mph, for many the Z1 was the first real superbike. It has been the subject of many a debate, and in its own way that debate sparked off an arms race in the motorcycle industry, one that still rages to this day. In the early 70s though, the motorcycling press had nothing but good things to say about the Kawasaki Z1, with the UK’s MCN (Motorcycle News) awarding it Machine of the Year for three consecutive years between 1973 and 1976. The Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan also considers the 1972 Kawasaki Z1 as one of the “240 Landmarks of Japanese Automotive Technology.”
While Kawasaki was working on a motorcycle that could bring the fight to Honda, it was also making waves on the international racing scene, with David Simmons securing the company’s first World Championship in the 125cc class in 1969. Kawasaki continued its streak of success and made itself a global name. More championship titles were won throughout the 70s, and then in 1983 at Laguna Seca, Kawasaki pulled the covers off another game changer: the GPz900R “Ninja” – the first in the Ninja line, and the beginning of a new era in motorcycling.
Modern Kawasaki Motorcycles
After the GPz900R’s unveiling, a new standard had been set in the industry and it set the benchmark for its competitors. From that moment on, motorcycle manufacturers paid more attention to aerodynamic fairings, the application of lighter construction materials, and desperately tried to squeeze more performance out of their engines in the hopes of besting the competition. Kawasaki unleashed their first “ZX-R” designated machine in 1989, in 400cc and 750cc form, before upping the ante to the 1052cc ZX-11 the very next year. In the meantime, the ZXR750R began stamping its authority in the Endurance World Championships, Kawasaki win the 1993 World Superbike Championship, and by the year 2000, the humble Ninja had swollen to 1199cc in the form of the ZX-12R.
Between then and now Kawasaki has continued to push boundaries and innovate, applying new technology to their products and taking two-wheeled transport to the next level. Unfortunately, between the years 2000 and 2014, the motorcycle arms race came to a standstill after the big manufacturers entered into a gentlemen’s agreement that limited motorcycle top speeds rather than risk a European import ban. However, Kawasaki decided to break away from the agreement in 2014 when it unleashed the record breaking Kawasaki H2 and H2R supercharged hyperbikes on to the scene. The H2R is currently the world’s fastest production bike, with a top speed of 249 mph.
Of course, there’s more to Kawasaki’s motorcycles than sports performance. Kawasaki also produce some of the most effective dirt bikes on the market, having won countless competitions with their off-road selection. Team Green also builds exceptional dual-purpose and adventure machines, and some of the best cruisers in the industry.
All of this motorcycle evolution happened while Kawasaki Heavy Industries was growing larger and expanding its manufacturing presence. While most of think of the word Kawasaki and conjure up images of svelte racing bikes, vivid green, and Ninja trademarks, the truth is that Kawasaki’s motorcycling endeavors are only a small part of the company’s make-up. Kawasaki literally builds everything: from Shinkansen bullet trains, super-sized freight ships, and supersonic aircraft to construction tools, such as the giant boring machines that dug the Channel Tunnel, industrial robots, and even more remarkable products like reusable launch vehicles for space exploration. Kawasaki may be famous for their motorcycles, but there’s a lot more to the company than fast bikes.
Are Kawasaki Motorcycles Reliable?
The statisticians at Consumer Reports conducted a survey that gathered information from over 11,000 riders who discussed the reliability of more than 12,000 new motorcycles bought and ridden between 2008 and 2014 over a twelve month period that ranked the major motorcycle manufacturers and their reliability ratings. After assessing the mileage and comparing motorcycle failure rates, taking into account rider experience, Consumer Reports were able to formulate a reliability index that scored manufacturers from highest to lowest in terms of failure percentage – with lower percentages of failures being better. Kawasaki came in fourth place overall, with a failure rate of 15% within the first four years of ownership. Compared with an estimated 40% failure rate of a BMW, Kawasaki scored remarkably well.
So, are Kawasakis reliable? Rather than take Consumer Reports and their statistics for granted, we took a look at how many Kawasaki recalls there had been in the last decade. Between 2008 and 2018, Kawasaki issued 29 recalls. That’s a remarkably low figure considering the sheer amount of models produced. Fortunately, the vast majority of the recalls issues concerned minor problems with easy fixes, such as leaking seals, incorrect torque settings, or chafing wires.
For some reason, there’s a rumor going around that suggests that Kawasaki motorcycles aren’t as reliable as the likes of Honda, Suzuki, or Yamaha, and that they’re made of cheaper components and suffer from poor build quality, possibly stemming from a spate of recalls in the mid-90s. Despite the amount of information out there, this rumor still persists and it is not true at all. In fact, Kawasaki engineer some of the toughest motorcycles in the industry, with every single part and component going through serious evaluation to guarantee that it’s of the highest quality standards before being fitted of shipped. The quality assurance of Kawasaki parts is rigorous, but it helps keep Kawasaki’s motorcycles running at peak performance. Talking of peak performance, Kawasaki’s dirt bikes are some of the toughest in the business and can tackle a wide range of situations and operate in any condition – no matter how harsh.
In the even that you need a replacement, Kawasaki has an extensive dealership network that can provide you with Kawasaki Genuine Parts, and if you feel confident enough to install it yourself, the full service manuals for every single one of their models from 1984 onwards are available online, with full parts diagrams. Service manuals for Kawasaki motorcycles older than 1984 can be ordered on request.
Kawasaki’s Commitment To Innovation
As one the biggest motorcycle manufacturers in the industry, and as an arm of one of the biggest industrial enterprises on the planet, Kawasaki has built a reputation founded on a commitment to innovation and inventing new technologies, and applying them to their products. Ever since Kawasaki developed their first motorcycle engine in 1949, the firm has been responsible for some of the most significant technological marvels in motorcycling history. A quote from Kawasaki underlines the company’s commitment to developing new technologies: “Our mission is to enable riders to more completely control high-performance machines, and enjoy the pleasure of riding. Helping riders realize this simple and innate desire is the goal of Kawasaki technology.” Kawasaki’s research and design mainly focuses on two distinct areas: Engine Management and Chassis Management.
To make the most of their high-performance engines, Kawasaki’s engineers have developed a wide range of products to allow for easier and manageable power delivery, allowing the average rider to make the most of Kawasaki’s ground breaking technology rather than reserving for professional racers on closed circuits.
Kawasaki’s most recent innovations include: the Kawasaki Cornering Management Function (KCMF), which monitors the engine’s output and chassis settings to provide smooth corners every time; Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC), a three mode, nine-level system that provides more confidence on different surfaces, and enhanced sport riding; the Kawasaki Quick Shifter (KQS), which is a system that gives the rider the ability to upshift without the use of a clutch; Electronic Throttle Valves, a system designed to deliver the optimum amount of air and fuel to the engine; and of course, Kawasaki’s latest technological marvel, the H2’s supercharged engine. The Kawasaki motorcycle range also includes other features such as brake control, launch control, electronic cruise control, and much, much more.
To complement the Kawasaki engine technology, Kawasaki have also developed a whole host of chassis specific riding aids to provide the rider with enhanced handling, allowing for precision cornering, confident braking, and comfortable riding, in any situation. Kawasaki’s smart chassis management system is the result of meticulous engineering, and years of experience, all to give their customer’s the best reliability, safety, and performance in the industry.
Kawasaki’s most recent chassis-related technological developments includes the above mentioned KCMF function, and the new ERGO-FIT system, which allows for an almost fully-customizable ride experience. For example, a modern Kawasaki motorcycle will have multiple mounting points for the handlebars, allowing the rider to select the position that best suits them, alongside other features that can be adjusted mechanically or with the addition of extra parts. On top of that, Kawasaki also employs the use of ABS, tire pressure monitoring, a horizontal back-link rear suspension system, and IMU enhanced chassis orientation awareness. The IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) relies on a range of sensors that provide information to the IMU, which then optimizes the motorcycle’s electronic settings accordingly, making for a superior ride experience.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries has shown a remarkable commitment to sustainability and environmentally conscious practices. The parent company is trying very hard to lower their carbon footprint by developing new energy solutions, such as hydrogen cells, and streamlining their manufacturing processes. The motorcycle division has also contributed to the company’s success by lowering their products emissions but without compromising performance. For example, the current Z900 boasts incredible fuel performance, low exhaust emissions, and offers the highest level of environmental performance in the world.
Kawasaki’s efforts don’t stop there. Over the past few years the company has filed numerous patents that show that they are actively searching for environmental solutions to power their motorcycles. For example, a patent was filed in 2017 that describes a unique detachable battery back for a sport bike model, alongside trademark applications for names such as the “Kawasaki Ninja E2” and “Ninja E2R”. Kawasaki recently revived an old concept of an electric multi-wheeled motorcycle too, which signals a renewed interest into electric technology.
Featured Kawasaki Models
Over the years Kawasaki has produced plenty of iconic models that have captured the hearts of consumers. While the Japanese firm has mainly built a reputation for building fast sports bikes, there’s more to Kawasaki’s legacy than plastic-clad speed machines. Kawasaki have built countless street motorcycles such as the jaw-droppingly gorgeous KZ1000 and its more muscular modern Z-series equivalent or the legendary ER-6, a model that will never go out of style. Similarly, Kawasaki have also delivered powerful and practical scooters such as the J300 Maxi Scooter, and award-winning cruisers like the Vulcan. For dual-sport enthusiasts, Kawasaki currently offer the KLR and KLX family, and for full-on adventurers the Versys is always a good option. And of course, there are some fine Kawasaki dirt bikes currently available, such as the KX250 and KX450.
However, it’s the Kawasaki Ninja line that the company is most famous for. From the original GPz900R, through to the nimble ZX-6R, the insanely powerful ZX-11, the muscular ZX-14, right to the current superbike dominator, the ZX-10R. Despite the company’s incredible sports bike legacy, there is one style of Ninja that is a cut above the rest: the H2 Series. The current supercharged H2 line-up includes the street-legal H2, the sports-touring H2 SX, and the top-of-the-range, closed-circuit only, engineering marvel, the H2R.
Kawasaki In America
While Kawasaki as a whole can be traced back to 1878, Kawasaki’s business ventures in the United States are not quite as old. The American Kawasaki Motorcycle Corp. was first founded in Marc, 1966 to help bring the Kawasaki name and brand of motorcycles to the US market. The first headquarters of the new American Kawasaki Motorcycle Corp. was an old meat warehouse in Chicago, Illinois, and from that humble beginning, a giant was born. Kawasaki arrived in the USA without any support network; there were no existing customers, no distributors, nor any real market presence. However, with hard work and determination, the Kawasaki brand began to emerge.
After marketing small two-stroke 125s to some degree of success, a couple of private investors noted that American riders preferred more exciting models, and Kawasaki responded by importing the the Samurai and Avenger parallel twin machines, which sold well and the American riding public soon began to associate the Kawasaki brand name with high-performance, exciting motorcycles. These models were so successful that Kawasaki needed to open a second office to keep up with demand. The new branch was called the Eastern Kawasaki Motorcycle Corp., but by 1968 both branches merged to form the Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA, based out of Southern California.
From then on, the Kawasaki Motors Corp. grew bigger and bigger. After the success of the Z1, Kawasaki had proven itself as a competent and exciting motorcycle manufacturer. Shortly after, Kawasaki expanded to accommodate more products, such as the Jet Ski brand of water craft, which burst onto the scene in 1972, and a whole new industry was created overnight. By the 1980s, Kawasaki was also producing ATVs that could rival Honda’s offerings in terms of design quality and performance, and Kawasaki were also producing Side x Side vehicles too, such as the legendary Kawasaki Mule utility vehicle.
Today the Kawasaki Motor Corps. annual revenue exceeds 1.6 billion dollars, with more than 480 people directly employed at the company’s offices in Irvine, California, and boasts more than 1500 dealers, with additional 7,400 retailers that sell Kawasaki equipment. Kawasaki employs almost 3,100 people in the USA. What’s more, the KMC motto “Let the good times roll,” is recognized all over the world.
Are Kawasaki Motorcycles Made In The USA?
Kawasaki has manufacturing plants in the USA but none of them make motorcycles anymore. The remaining plants in the USA manufacture small engines and selected components, but nothing motorcycle related. Almost all of Kawasaki’s ATVs are manufactured in country though. The vast majority of Kawasaki’s motorcycle remains in Japan, apart from some of their smaller displacement models such as the Ninja 300 and Z300 models which are built in Thailand, supported by manufacturing plants in the Philippines and Indonesia.
Apart from the California headquarters, Kawasaki also has regional sales offices and distribution centers stretching across the country, with sites in Piscataway, New Jersey; Hebron, Kentucky; Atlanta, Georgia; and Fort Worth, Texas. Kawasaki also boasts no less than 1,229 dealerships in the United States alone. These dealers stock a wide range of Kawasaki products, from ATVs and utility vehicles to brand new motorcycles, and some offer pre-owned inventory too. To make your shopping experience easier, Kawasaki’s website offers an inventory look-up section, where prospective buyers can check whether their local dealerships have their desired models currently in stock – though this generally applies to new inventory.
Thanks to Kawasaki’s extensive dealership network and product supply line, anything that is currently not in stock can easily be requested and ordered at dealerships. This includes new models, and parts request services too. Kawasaki’s in-house service department is also available for Kawasaki owners to make the most of, with attentive staff that can do anything from basic servicing to more advanced engine rebuilds and more. And of course, no visit to your local dealership would be complete without taking a look at the extensive range of accessories and apparel on offer. If green is your color, you’re in luck.
Pied Piper Dealership Rankings
Pied Piper’s Prospect Satisfaction Index study is an independent study that uses mystery shoppers to rank and evaluate the quality of leading motorcycle manufacturer’s dealerships in the USA. The most recent study from 2017 ranked Kawasaki well below average, coming in 14th place out of 17 manufacturers. Scores were determined by how well sales and service staff informed customers on what services were available and how well they interacted with potential customers in general. Fortunately, Kawasaki has shown steady improvement and in 2017 it had jumped two places higher from 2016. The top performing dealerships in the USA were ranked as BMW Motorrad, Harley-Davidson, and Ducati, in first, second, and third respectively. Kawasaki did manage to rank higher than Yamaha, KTM, and Husqvarna though.
Kawasaki dealerships also offer a wide range of financial services and buying options for prospective buyers. The most well-known sales event on the Kawasaki calendar is the Kawasaki Good Times deal. Throughout a selected time period Kawasaki offers its customers a selection of attractive deals that includes low financing options and attractive factory incentives for motorcycles, ATVs, utility vehicles and water craft. Low-percentage APR deals, no interest payment plans, and structured payment plans are on offer. Interestingly, Kawasaki also offer its own kind of pre-paid credit cards that gives cash bonuses to new customers.
Other Kawasaki financing incentives include deals with free riding apparel, custom graphics kits for selected models, and discounts for military staff and veterans. For the best up-to-date information, contact your nearest Kawasaki dealer and see what deal could work out best for you. Naturally, with all financing deals we recommend that you read the small print and do you research before committing to a payment plan, no matter how attractive the free incentives are.
ROK – Riders Of Kawasaki
Riders Of Kawasaki is a community especially for Kawasaki owners, and all you have to do to become a member is be a Kawasaki owner and sign up online. It’s a haven for Kawasaki enthusiasts where you can meet with like-minded individuals online or in real-life at one of the community’s numerous events. Riders of Kawasaki owners also enjoy a wide range of special rates, discounts and exclusive incentives from a selection of companies.
ROK members gain access to special race with some satellite-based communication services, discounted hotel and car rental services, 24-hour roadside assistance for their vehicles, discounted tickets to selected AMA events (including AMA Supercross, Arenacross, and the Motorcycle Hall Of Fame), VIP packages a special Kawasaki events, 10% discount off all Kawasaki apparel and accessories bought online, discount GPS services, discounts on motorcycle magazine subscriptions, and a complimentary subscription to American Motorcyclist Magazine.
Kawasaki Companies And Other Interests
Kawasaki Heavy Industries has more business interests than any article could competently list, from helicopters to space travel, and from motorcycles to bullet trains. The American arm of Kawasaki has a more manageable portfolio but no less impressive. Even so, Kawasaki’s North American operations only counts for a small percentage of the conglomerate’s global profits. Here are some of Kawasaki’s main North American interests, but we’re going to start with a short summary of Kawasaki Heavy Industries as a whole.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd.
The Kawasaki parent company is a multi-national corporation that comprises of more than fifty individual holdings in most major cities on the globe, specializing in a wide range of manufacturing services. The greater Kawasaki portfolio includes environmental control and energy producing installations, heavy machinery production, advanced robotics, ship building and marine technology, steel production, aerospace technology, and rolling stock. Lesser known company interests include water treatment facilities, flue gas desulfurization and denitration plants, bridge construction, and much, much more. Kawasaki’s transportation and recreational vehicle production is only a very minor part of the company, but it’s arguably its most famous department.
Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp., USA
Though Kawasaki no longer manufacture motorcycles in the USA, they still make other vehicles and products in the USA. At Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp’s plants in Lincoln Nebraska and Maryville, Missouri, employees build and assemble a wide range of products including ATVs, water craft, and utility vehicles such as the Mule and Teryx. The manufacturing arm also produces rail cars too. Combined, Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp. employs over 1600 people at the two plants. Both plants also utilize a combination of American and Japanese production techniques, which takes the best of American style mass-production but combines it with individual touches in the Japanese style. The result is a cost-effective production line, with workers individually making the parts that they assemble. Interestingly, the Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp. hold no permanent stock and operate on a “just in time” supply method which eliminates warehousing costs.
Kawasaki Engines is a small division of the larger Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA that specialized in the distribution of small capacity gasoline engines and parts for a wide range of applications in the industrial and consumer markets, but their products are mainly lawnmower engines. The product range includes engines for walk-behinds, zero turns, and other turf shearing equipment. This division of Kawasaki is based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and reaches customers through over 7,500 independent dealers in the United States, Canada, and South America. With such a vast industry presence, it’s no surprise that most lawn care professionals prefer Kawasaki products over the competition.
Kawasaki Robotics (USA) Inc.
The US arm of Kawasaki’s robotics division specializes in the design, sale, and supply of industrial robots and automated systems. In the era of mass-production, Kawasaki took the lead in designing many automated processes to keep manufacture costs affordable. Over the years the company has designed so many robotic systems that they almost have a robot for every production function including assembly, arc welding, friction spot cleaning, machine tending, material handling, painting, sealing, packing, and more. In fact, at the Kawasaki Good Times Museum in Kobe, Japan, the museum even has a robot that builds itself and gives a lecture on Kawasaki’s manufacturing process.
Kawasaki Precision Machinery of America
With more than 100 years of experience in the hydraulics industry, it made sense for Kawasaki to have a hydraulics presence in the USA, and it comes in the form of the Kawasaki Precision Machinery of America branch. Kawasaki’s precision machinery inventory includes pumps, motors, and valves for use in the industrial, marine, and mobile & off-highway departments. The USA office is responsible for technical support, service and he sales of Kawasaki’s hydraulic parts and products for North, Central, and South America. Kawasaki’s hydraulic parts are known all over the world for their reliability, engineering quality, and efficiency, both on land and on sea.
Kawasaki Gas Turbines (Americas)
Kawasaki Gas Turbines specialize in the distribution, sale and support of Kawasaki’s turbine technology. The product ranges from jet engines for aircraft to more advanced systems that generate energy. Although Kawasaki does design and build turbofan and turboshaft engines for airplanes and helicopters, the company’s most celebrated gas turbines are non-aeroderivative units for industrial purpose. These industrial products are based on DLE (Dry Low Emission) technology which enhances power output and performance of their power plants.
Unlike the other big Japanese motorcycle manufacturers, Kawasaki has no presence in the MotoGP World Championship at present. Instead, Kawasaki focuses its racing efforts into a range of other disciplines, such as the World Superbike Championship, AMA Supercross Championship, AMA Motocross Championship, the World Motocross Championship and more. Kawasaki has enjoyed unparalleled success in most of these fields. Kawasaki has won a total of five World Superbike Championships as of 2017, nine AMA Superbike Championships, 10 AMA Supercross Championships, and 29 AMA Motocross Championships.
The Team Green Program
Kawasaki’s Team Green program has been one of the most important support programs for amateur racing over since it was formed almost forty years ago. The Team Green initiative is geared towards providing support for upcoming talent at regional and national motorcycling race events up and down the country. In short, Kawasaki provides factory support, race contingency, online support, and help at dealerships and trackside for all of those who race under the Kawasaki banner. It’s mission statement was to try and get more people racing on Kawasaki machinery, and Kawasaki have managed to do this by assisting and nurturing young talent, and putting the full weight of the brand behind them.
Essentially, if you’re an amateur racer and part of the Team Green program, you will have access to Kawasaki factory support in the form of technicians and race transporters, who will adjust your suspension correctly or re-jig your gearing, and get your to the race on time. It’s an unusual program, but it gets results. If you happen to be an amateur racer but don’t know where to turn, get in contact with your local Kawasaki dealership for more information about the Team Green program.
No self-respecting Kawasaki owner should go without visiting one of Kawasaki’s many museums or exhibitions at least once during their riding career. There are many motorcycle museums in the world but only a handful of them are dedicated only to the Kawasaki brand. The United States plays host to one of Kawasaki’s official heritage museums, and Switzerland boasts an interesting display of Kawasaki models, but Kawasaki’s spiritual home is in the port city of Kobe, in Japan’s Kansai region. Many of these places have become places of pilgrimage for Kawasaki enthusiasts.
The Heritage Hall – Irvine, California, USA
At the Kawasaki Motor Corps. headquarters in Irvine, California, you can find the Kawasaki Heritage Hall, a small museum dedicated to some of the most significant Kawasaki motorcycles in the company’s history. It’s only a small showroom, and easily overlooked, but if you’re at the Kawasaki HQ during office hours, you should take the time to look at some of the most exciting motorcycles ever produced. The collection houses everything from Scott Russell’s winning ZX-7R from the ’95 Daytona 2000, to Eddie Lawson’s 1982 KR500 two-stroke and even the world’s first Kawasaki Ninja. It’s not all about race machines though, since the museum has a vast collection of iconic models such as the 1973 Z1, or an original KZ650, and of course, there’s no shortage of dirt bikes, from the likes of James Stewart and Ricky Carmichael. As a museum dedicated towards the Kawasaki Motor Corps. as a whole, there’s also a display of jet skis, and other Kawasaki products.
The Kawasaki Good Times Collection – Härkingen, Switzerland
For European Kawasaki fans the most extensive collection of Kawasaki motorcycles can be found in Härkingen, Switzerland. Swiss company FIBAG AG are the main importers of Kawasaki motorcycles in Switzerland and their headquarters plays host to an impressive collection of Kawasaki motorcycles. With over 90 production models in the collection, it’s one of the most remarkable and diverse collections on the planet with a wide range of bikes on display. Visitors can enjoy staring at gorgeous original Z1 machines, or six-cylinder Z1300s, or even the turbocharged ZX750E. It’s an amazing collection, and the story of how the collection came to exist is another amazing tale too, but one best saved for when you visit. The Good Times Collection is open between Monday and Friday, from 9am to 11am, and again from 1pm to 4pm.
The Kawasaki Good Times World – Kobe, Japan
Easily the most important, and most fun, Kawasaki museum is the Kawasaki Good Times World in Kobe, Japan. The building is located right on the coast and shares space with the Kobe Maritime Museum. Inside, visitors can learn all about every aspect of the Kawasaki company from its conception to the present day, across a wide range of industries. The motorcycle collection is vast and contains examples of classic and modern models, prototype racers, and rare items. The museum also plays host to a race simulator, interactive exhibits that you can explore from the inside out, such as trains, helicopters, airplane sections, a rather special Shinkansen replica, and you can even enjoy a lecture about Kawasaki and its manufacturing methods from a robot too. Many Japanese Kawasaki riders ride to the Kobe museum and enjoy spending the day there. The Kawasaki Good Times World is open between Tuesday and Sunday, between 10am and 5pm.
5 Awesome Facts About Kawasaki Motorcycles
#01. The History Of Kawasaki Green
Why are most Kawasaki motorcycles green? Back in 1968 at a race meet at Daytona, Kawasaki unveiled their AR1 racer and to everyone’s shock and horror it was green. Back then the color green was considered a very unlucky color, both on the racing scene and in Japanese culture. Naturally, decking a racer out in green was a brave move, however it was a deliberate choice from Kawasaki’s race team. The idea behind the color was to go against convention and break through restrictive barriers. Kawasaki challenged the system…and ended up winning the race. So the color stuck.
#02. The World’s Fastest Gasoline Powered Production Motorcycle
The Kawasaki H2R is nothing short of an engineering masterpiece. It’s built from sophisticated construction materials, has been designed for aerodynamic dominance, and has a powerful supercharged engine too. Powered by a forced induction 998cc inline-four engine that’s capable of producing 310 horsepower, the legendary H2R has managed to clock an unbelievable top speed of 249 mph – a record set by supersport rider Kenan Sofuoğlu on a closed bridge in 2017. Though commercially available to anyone who can afford it, the Kawasaki H2R is reserved for closed circuits only. And how much is a Kawasaki H2R? $55,000 MSRP.
#03. Kawasaki Doesn’t Come From Kawasaki
Contrary to popular belief, Kawasaki Heavy Industries does not come from the Japanese city of Kawasaki. The name “Kawasaki” is in reference to the company founder’s surname rather than the city. The city of Kawasaki is actually just outside of Tokyo and plays host to plenty of Japanese heavy industry companies such as the JFE Group and the Nippon Oil Corporation, but sadly not Kawasaki. While Kawasaki Shōzō’s original company may have been based out of Tokyo’s Tsukiji area, modern day Kawasaki has its headquarters in the city of Kobe and in the Minato area of Tokyo.
#04. The Motorcycle With The Most Cylinders…Kind Of
The motorcycle with the most cylinders ever made is technically a Kawasaki too. It’s not as refined as Kawasaki’s award-winning and record-breaking H2R but it’s no less special. This particular offering isn’t an official Kawasaki model, but it does boast an incredible 48 cylinder engine. The engine is a custom made unit made from six eight-cylinder banks that utilizes cylinders from 16 Kawasaki KH250s. It’s called the Whitelock Tinker Toy. All in all it’s one of the strangest motorcycles ever created. Is it an official Kawasaki? No, but without a supply of Kawasaki’s bold triple cylinder KH250 engines, this machine would never exist.
#05. Kawasaki: Fuel-Injection Pioneers
The first-ever production motorcycle equipped with an electric fuel-injection system was the 1980 Kawasaki KZ1000 G Classic. This revolutionary system would eventually become the norm for street motorcycles though the KZ1000 was years ahead of its time. For the pleasure of being able to do-away with the choke on cold starts and ditching the carburetor for good, new owners would have to shell $500 more than the carbureted version, which retailed for $3,699. The fuel-injection system raised the power output to 96 horsepower from 90, which is quite an impressive power boost considering the era.