Let the good times... sit there and look pretty!
The first bike we see is from 1968, the Avenger A7, a super early scrambler type bike that existed before dedicated dirt bikes really took hold. In those days, every bike was a dirt bike (no, seriously, watch Easy Rider again and see how often they “off road” those choppers, because everything was not paved like it is today), and that little rotary-valve two-stroke was plenty fast for the street too.
The Mach 4 was arguably the motorcycle that put Kawasaki Heavy Industries on the map when it comes to major motorcycle production. The example in the museum with its heavy gold-flake paint looks like a sparkly carnival ride just sitting there, albeit a very fast one.
Kawasaki race bikes are of course included; they are, of course, in Kawasaki Green – von Gomm explains to us how that’s called “hanji aku” green, and it is a rebellious color (can any Japanese speakers in the audience confirm, and tell us a little more about this?). Green is lucky in Japan but green vehicles are seen as unlucky in the west. Kawasaki turned the tables on their racing competitors by embracing the color.
The 1982 KZ 1000 R and S on display both look a whole lot like the later ZRX 1100 and then 1200; Kawasaki knew they had a win with that styling (they were right). That KZ1000 was the original Eddie Lawson bike.
The dual-headlight 1993 ZXR 750 is one of my very favorite motorcycles from a style perspective. That design had everything right: the headlights set into the front end, the full fairing that lets the frame and engine just peek out the back, the smoothed-out tail. Oh, yeah.
As the museum tour goes from old bikes to race bikes to newer bikes, it’s striking to see motorcycles you’ve probably owned and worked on, and motorcycles you see on the streets daily in your life, in a museum; they’re significant to Kawasaki’s development so an example of each is preserved here. This is pretty cool.
Although our host doesn’t point it out, you can see in the video that there are screens all over the place showing footage of motorcycles, ridden and raced–sometimes the very bike you’re looking at is in the video next to it. That’s what all motorcycle museums ought to do!