1982 Kawasaki GPz 750
The last - and probably the best - of Kawasaki’s air-cooled 750s
The 1982 Kawasaki GPz 750 was the last - and probably best - of Kawasaki's air-cooled 750s.
Photo by Nick Cedar
1982 Kawasaki GPz 750
Engine: 738cc DOHC air-cooled transverse-mounted inline four
Top speed: 125mph (period test)
Transmission: 5-speed, chain final drive
Weight(wet): 506lb (230kg)
Price then/now: $3,348/$1,500-$3,500
Kawasaki made its reputation in the 1960s with fast 2-strokes and cemented it in the 1970s with the legendary 903cc Z1, a 4-cylinder 4-stroke bolt of lightning. The boys at Kawasaki knew a sporty image sold bikes, and the new for 1982 Kawasaki GPz 750 showed just how sporty a Kawasaki could be.
The Kawasaki Z1 was critical to Kawasaki’s success. Thanks to the Z’s rock-solid underpinnings, Kawasaki was able to market variants based on it for the rest of the 1970s — and beyond. Its basic architecture supported a new line of sport bikes in the 1980s, the GPz series, introduced for 1981 in 1,100cc and 550cc models. Like all Kawi fours before them, the new GPz sport bikes boasted double overhead cams, plus electronic ignition and triple disc brakes, expected equipment on any bike with sporting pretentions.
Although the GPz 1100 could claim to be one of the first production motorcycles to sport fuel injection, it wasn’t necessarily the most technologically advanced bike of its day. That issue didn’t bother Kawasaki fans in the slightest, for while GPz’s may have lagged in technical terms behind some bikes, they were undeniably fast and fun.
The front row of then-popular club races for 550s were heavily populated with Kawasakis, and the bigger GPz 1100 swiftly gained a reputation as an excellent sport tourer.
The 750 arrives
The Kawasaki GPz 750 hit showroom floors in 1982. Styling was directly inspired by its GPz siblings, and its engine, apart from an all-black paint scheme, looked basically identical to earlier Kawasaki 650 and 750 fours. Yet closer examination showed that a fair amount of work had gone into making this 750 special. New bits included a revised cylinder head, ported and polished, and with smaller combustion chambers incorporating specially placed ridges to induce swirl. New pistons with higher domes helped squeeze the incoming fuel/air charge, resulting in a compression ratio of 9.5:1. Revised camshaft profiles and new constant-velocity 34mm Mikunis helped breathing, and an oil cooler kept operating temperatures in check. Exhaust fumes moved out through large-capacity black chrome mufflers that perfectly complemented the all-black engine.
To help keep things smooth, the engine was cushioned in a double cradle frame with large rubber mounts. A shortish wheelbase of 58 inches (Honda’s CB750F came in at 60.5 inches) encouraged tight turns and easy steering, while air-assisted forks and shocks, adjustable for both preload and rebound damping, took the bumps out of the road. Triple disc brakes with drilled rotors completed the mechanical package, and an arrest-me-red paint scheme accented with loud graphics told the rest of the world this was a bike that meant business.
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