To challenge the dominance of Honda’s CB750, Kawasaki unleashed the Z1 in 1972. At the time, Team Green didn’t just produce the most powerful Japanese inline-Four, it also beat its rivals to the punch with a double overhead cam valvetrain. That innovative engine configuration may have impressed gearheads, but the Z1’s ultra-attractive Fireball paint scheme turned heads as well. Fifty years later, the Z1’s DNA is still found in its Z Series descendants. Celebrating the milestone are 2022 Kawasaki Z 50th Anniversary editions of the retro-style Z650RS and Z900RS as well as the more modern Z650 and Z900.
The retro-styled RS line borrows most from the Z1, donning the legendary Fireball livery. As many Kawi fans know, the original 2018 Z900RS paid tribute to the Z1 in a similar colorway. However, Kawasaki reproduces the Candy Diamond Brown and Orange of the 1972 model with a special multi-layer painting process on the 2022 Z900RS and Z650RS.
A gold wheelset alludes to the Z Series’ golden anniversary, while Z 50th branding on the front fender and engine case covers take a more literal approach. The nostalgia only ramps up from there. Both variants bear Double Overhead Camshaft badges on the side panels, and the classically styled seats come wrapped in new textured material. Despite the absence of a center stand, a grab rail offers peak vintage styling.
While the RS trims harken back to the Z1, the 2022 Z650 and Z900 draw inspiration from the 1982 Kawasaki Z1100GP. Draped in Firecracker Red, the modern-day naked bikes honor the 40-year-old GP while retaining their aggressive appearance. The sporty silver and dark blue graphics toe the line of classic and contemporary while a commemorative logo adorns the front fender.
The RS line may tout a gold wheelset, but the 50th Anniversary Z650 and Z900 take a different route with gold tank emblems, Z logos, and fork tubes, and they roll on red wheels. Similar to the Z650RS and Z900RS, however, the two modern nakeds tout a new textured seat.
Despite the cosmetic revisions, the 50th Anniversary Z editions are mechanically identical to their base model counterparts. Kawasaki will produce all four special-edition motorcycles in a limited capacity and each customer will receive a coffee table book celebrating the iconic Z Series. The 50th Anniversary are available now and priced as follows:
2022 Kawasaki Z650RS 50th Anniversary: $9,2492022 Kawasaki Z900RS 50th Anniversary: $12,0492022 Kawasaki Z650 50th Anniversary: $8,2992022 Kawasaki Z900 50th Anniversary: $9,499
For more information or to find a dealer near you, visit kawasaki.com.
The post 2022 Kawasaki Z 50th Anniversary | First Look Review first appeared on Rider Magazine.