The Kawasaki KZ1300

Reader Contribution by Doug Mitchel
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Kawasaki jumped in the 6-cylinder motorcycle game right after the Honda CBX 1000 with the biggest bruiser of the bunch, the 1,280cc, 120hp Kawasaki KZ1300.
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The Kawasaki KZ1300.
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The Kawasaki KZ1300.

Kawasaki KZ1300
Years made:
Claimed power: 120hp @ 8,000rpm
Top speed: 140mph
Engine: 1,286cc DOHC liquid-cooled inline 6
Weight (wet): 710lb (322kg)
Wheelbase: 62.5in (1,588mm)
Width: 25.25in (641mm)
1/4 mile, sec/mph: 11.79/115.68
MPG: 35-45
Price then (1979): $4,695
Price now: $1,500-$4,000

Weighing in at an astounding 710 pounds, the Kawasaki KZ1300 was a heavyweight 6-cylinder motorcycle, with a 239cc displacement advantage over the Honda CBX 1000 and 380 over the Benelli Sei 900. Much like the Sei, its six lungs are fed by a trio of carbs.

Each of the three 32mm, 2-barreled Mikuni units is equipped with dual throttle ports, making for an unusual looking setup and the world’s first 2-barrel CV carb. Like the CBX, the Kawasaki KZ1300 features double-overhead cams with shim and bucket valve adjustment. Unlike the CBX, it uses a driveshaft to deliver its power to the rear wheel. The result of all these machinations was a claimed output of 120hp at the crank.

Holding all this in check is a tubular steel frame that’s fairly typical for the era, but with a 45mm steel backbone for increased rigidity. Despite the largeness of the Kawasaki KZ13000, its seat height is the same as the CBX at just over 31 inches. It is a well padded and accommodating place to spend the day, and ahead of that saddle you’ll find a large 5.6-gallon fuel tank. That big tank and MPG ratings of 35-45 add up to potentially long stints behind the bars.

Read how the Kawasaki KZ1300 performed in our 6-Cylinder Motorcycle Shootout

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