For many motorcyclists, the Kawasaki big 'Z's have long been special. No bike summed that up more than the Z1100R. No flimflam or finery - just straightforward, sit-up-and-beg solidity. High 'bars, stepped-down seat, and anatomically-correct footrests. In short, a normal riding position.
But if that suggested staidness, it should not have. There was little that was solemn and sober about the 1100R. It had, after all, been inspired by Eddie Lawson's US Superbike racer. He won consecutive titles in the early '80s. Hopefully - from Kawasaki's point of view - the spirit of the racer was imbued in the roadster. 1100R riders certainly felt like Eddie Lawson! And, a top speed of over 140mph was more than enough for most lesser mortals. Especially, if the high-speed wobble kicked in … due to its 'bikini' fairing. The R's 1,089cc engine mustered 114bhp. Not to be messed with! Thankfully, the bike was blessed with good handling. In large part, that was down to its squat dimensions - and Kayaba remote-reservoir rear shocks.
Albeit in a no-nonsense way, the 1100R was still a stylish motorcycle. Few paintjobs are as emotive as the Kawasaki 'green meanie'. And, if green bikes are considered unlucky by some, owners of spanking-new 1100Rs were obviously prepared to take a chance. Though other colours were available! They would have said that with the 1100R you got the best of both worlds. Released in '84, the bike straddled two divides - 'classic' and 'race-rep'. Fans would say that with a 'big Z' you got the lot. Comfortable ergonomics - plus searing speed, as and when required. In the case of the Kawasaki Z1100R, it is rather hard to argue with that!