1971 Kawasaki H-2

If Honda set new standards of functionality and reliability with the CB-750, then it must also be admitted that Kawasaki set new standards in the area of brute speed and power, and panache, or if you will, attitude.
Basically, Kawasaki rubbed Honda's nose in the fact that a significant number of Americans were not gentlemen! No, they wanted the most outrageously fast motorcycle they could lay their hands on, and be damned with all other considerations. They wanted psychotically fast motorcycles, and were willing to pay the price it took, whatever that price might be.
By 1975, Honda was forced to take the road to capitulation, with the CB-750F. Of course, Honda being Honda, they still tried to imbue the bike with a measure of civility. By '79, they had fully capitulated with the CBX. "Surely this motorcycle is outrageous enough for the crazy Americans." You can almost imagine the line being spoken in the Honda boardrooms. Though even here, Honda didn't quite get it right; the CBX owed more to the Italian school of "gentlemanly high-performance" than it did to the American "shade-tree hot-rod" ethic which Kawasaki nailed so perfectly.
So, while Kawasaki might have gotten the specifics wrong, i.e. a 2-stroke triple, they got the attitude and the performance numbers right! And with the DOHC 903cc Z-1 of 1973, they got it perfect.

<next bike in series>

<return to bike index>