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Kawasaki Zephyr: fresh retro or miss?

The Kawasaki 1100
ER Classics Desktop 2022

The Zephyr is a model line that Kawasaki introduced in 1990 in three cylinder contents: 550, 750 and 1100 cc. They were mildly styled retro bikes before retro became a trend. Machines that refer back to the seventies in terms of model. They were therefore intended in the first instance for the re-commuters who, after a few years, went on two wheels again and were looking for something recognizable.

The description

The two most important features to remind those retractors of their childhood engines were the double shock absorbers (in contrast to the now commonly used rear-mounted monovering) and the lack of bodywork. So before the term started to sing around, the Zephyrs were already 'naked bikes'.


The Zephyr line was also a tribute to the past in the area of ​​motorization. The air-cooled four-cylinder in-line engine was very similar to the power sources used in the much older Z 750, Z 900 and Z 1000 models. The production of the Zephyr series ended around 1996.

Quite classic

With this, these Kawasaki's have not only become sufficiently classical in appearance and technology, but with a bit of a flexible mind, they have also been in years. And the great thing about these wonderfully dated Kawasaki Zephyrs is that they are at a heart-breaking level in terms of price. And that is currently their biggest threat. Because these neo classics with their outdated looks are in danger - especially in Germany - to fall fairly en masse to - incidentally highly enthusiastic, younger motorcyclists, who make it into streetfighters. In Germany there are various stores that sell specially made parts for the Zephyr.

Don't do a streetfighter

And with all due respect for everyone's taste: turning a classic motorbike or motorbike with classic aspirations into a streetfighter is just like the Night Watch nice to freshen up with some spray cans and a paint roller.

The different flavors

The subdivision of the Zephyrs from 550- (from 1990) 750 (from 1991) and 1100 cc (from 1992) is: good, ideal and brutally tough. Despite their well-considered datedness, the machines in terms of bicycle technology are better than the four-cylinder engines from the seventies. The fact that tire technology has also improved enormously since 1969 certainly helps. A good Zephyr is a reliable, pleasant travel companion. The 550 is actually the best choice for secondary roads. With that smallest four-cylinder you can relax and dance on the asphalt. The 750 is simply the best all-rounder and on an 1100 you actually always have too much power that you do not use on public roads. But it is a wonderful executioner of a machine.

The 1100 also has two spark plugs per cylinder. And that always gives an extra high-tech feeling. The Zephyr 1100 story ends quite quickly in the Netherlands. After two years, Kawasaki importer Kawim will stop here, in Germany and England they will continue and the X (spoked wheel version) model will be released in 1996, but after 1997 it happened there for the Zephyr 1100. And is being replaced by the ZRX1100.
Japan has the Zephyr 2006 and 1100RS version on its own market up to and including 1100.

The prices are low

All in all, the Kawasaki Zephyrs are wonderfully nostalgic machines that have not fallen prey to the prizes that are climbing over each other's backs.

3 Comments

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  1. Complete agreement with Dolf Peeters about the zephyrs. My suzuki gsx750 inazuma from 1998 is in the same style. Just fine driving without too much fuss.

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