1982 Kawasaki kz750
As seen on Season Two of FantomWorks
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If ever a machine was worthy of Under the Radar status, it’s the big twin Kawasaki KZ750. Never heard of it? Don’t feel bad, because the truth is, most people haven’t.
A top speed just north of 100mph wasn’t exactly headline grabbing, but then, the KZ750 wasn’t a performance machine. Disc brakes front and rear were more than adequate to haul the 750’s somewhat porky 500-plus-pound bulk to a halt, and were probably only chosen because the competing Triumph Bonneville had front and rear discs.
Thanks to its simple but robust construction, the KZ750 earned a reputation for rock solid dependability, owners piling on the miles with little more than routine maintenance. Kawasaki had gambled that there was a market for a simple, reliable big twin, and they were right. By 1978, the 750 twin was Kawasaki’s fourth biggest seller in the U.S., and it remained so until the end of the decade.
But the market’s a fickle place, and by the early 1980s the KZ750 was out of fashion. Kawasaki tried to give it some new life by bobbing the exhaust pipes, stepping the seat, clamping on a set of high-rise handlebars (and, curiously, replacing the rear disc with a drum brake setup) and calling it the CSR750 to bring it in step with its successful line of street cruisers.
Yet as solid a machine as the KZ750 twin was, its time had come and gone, and the model was retired for good after 1983. Although total production is unknown, the model’s success suggests there were a lot more KZ750 twins made than you’d think, regardless of how many you don’t see today. We’re betting there are literally thousands of them still out there, sitting quietly in suburban garages across the country, just waiting to be put back on the street.