Kawasaki Z1R-TC Turbo Motorcycle

Kawasaki Z1R-TC turbo Z1Just when you think you know a few things about motorcycles, one pops up that you haven't heard of, for me, the Kawasaki Z1R-TC Turbo, is one of those bikes. I noticed one of these on ebay the other day and now there's actually two of them out there. Then, I was just perusing the September issue of Classic Motorcycle Mechanics, and there's an article on early turbos and they mention this bike, too. Maybe I should dig a little deeper.

It seems Kawasaki's Z1 was getting a little slow in the sales department in 1978 and someone thought they needed a little boost, ... literally. In much the same way that earlier musclecars had special non factory editions built with added performance like Yenko and Baldwin Motion, Turbo Cycle Corporation, run by a former Kawasaki marketing director, Alan Masek, bought up a bunch of RayJay turbos and added them to the Z1. These were then sold though a few select Kawasaki dealers.

They were on sale for only two years, '78 and '79. In 1980, California wouldn't allow new motorcycles to be sold with modifications to the exhaust so the turbo Kawasaki was over. In all, about 500 were built.

The later turbo motorcycles which I was familair with, were, amazingly enough, all slower than the Kawasaki which Motorcyclist clocked at 10.90 seconds at 130mph, in 1978! How did I miss this? Interesting bike.

Some turbo Kawasaki info:


  1. marc cabana says

    the picture you have there is a canadian model… the us model is the same color as a 1978 z1r. Grey/blue
    They did not make a z1r in 1979… the were 1978 and 1980 models, 1980 being black with small yellow stripe. a few changes… front brake reservoir inside the fairing and other little stuff.
    The papers on my z1r-tc stated 1979 this is the only model Z1R they made in 79 no non turbo, actually they were left over 1978 that did not sell. Also the only year they made the turbo z1r. Also these bikes were sold new at Kawasaki dealers with no waranty… The turbos were not added to Z1’s but to Z1R’s…

    hope this helps readers know a little more about these great bikes.

  2. Michael Damone says

    Here are a few facts about the 1979 Z1RTC.
    Kawasaki produced 5000 1978 KZ1000D Models.
    In 1979 1000 were used for the Z1RTC and titled 1979 by Kawasaki. They were sent to a Company in CA for the Z1RTC Paint.

    I purchased a 1978 Z1R new in 1979 and installed a kit made by ATP which was Identical to the kit installed on the Z1RTC. I still own it. It was an incredible performance Motorcycle and the fastest Bike that I knew of in my area.

  3. Chuck Wilkins says

    I have owned 5 Z1R TC’s. The correct information is as follows:
    Around 500 were made. First models (all were 78’s) were blue/silver with log pipe. ATP then switched to a spider pipe which was more responsive. The Z1R TCs that did not sell in 78 were sent to Molly Graphics’ (also designed the buick Grand National logos) to be repainted in black with red,orange, yellow strip and sold as 79s. ATP did sell kits. None were modified after 79 because of emission did not allow changes to the exhaust and to be sold by dealers.
    Other facts:
    Blue models had “tc” emblems added on the side covers under the kz1000 Z1R emblems.
    There was 2 style of guages through the 500 bikes, all had ATP on the gauges.
    They had a fuel pump as they would run out of fuel when gravity feed.
    Many came with an alarm system.
    They had an ATP sticker on the frame neck.

  4. Ryan Sumner says

    The one pictured above is not a Canadian model. It was a different paint job added later. My dad has a 1978 exactly like it. He rarely rode it because he always owned a Harley too. His has a little over 10k miles on it. I actually might list it on ebay for him very soon because he bought a new Harley.

  5. Jose Ramirez says

    Hi, Ryan, I live in Mexico and could be interested in the z1r tc. when selling it, please drop me a line at:
    I used to have a z1r 1978. I changed all the turbo and body parts to a 1980 z1r, which I owned too, the result was amazing. It became a real making power monster. I have a pic of my z1r and I would be happy to share with you, but I don’t know how to upload it.

  6. rich mazurek says

    brings back memories. cost me 2,195. bought at campion cycle center locayed on western and addison st. in chioago. . met art bozsi at a.b. engineering. he [put on extended swing arm 1200cc kit. extended swing arm. ran 18 p.s.i. boost.
    fun fun, fun. then bought a 1979 cbx honda used and bored it. 6cyl…..another story. 1982 bought a kawi voyager. bored to 1520 cc 20 p.s.i. boost. lengthened, lowered w/ s.u. carb.
    thanks for the memories…..rich

  7. Elric says

    Yeah my dad has one of these… they’re wicked fast for how old they are. his is around 1300cc’s now, with 25lbs of boost. Last time at the track it ran
    9.30 @ 165mp/h. all nostalgic parts too.

  8. Roger Kaplan says

    I’m looking to find the rear heat shield that protects the rider’s left leg from the exhaust. Mine was lost and can’t locate a replacement. Does anyone know of any available or possible leads? Thanks to all- lots of great info here.

  9. says

    I as well have a 1980 z1r. Parts are hard to find and there are not many aftermarket part as well.I’ve owned this nice bike for about 10yrs now.This kawi 1000 was my first bike and I can’t seem to part with it. Many times I had said I would sell but talk myself out off it.It’s stored in the garage so one day I may ride again? It’s great that you guys are still talking and ride this fast old school timeless Z1R.I installed 4 into 1 vance hines pipe, stage 2 carb kit,extended swing arm w/ 115 link chain and raked the forks,very low 2 the ground.send pic soon. hope 2 read more . rg out.

  10. hugh creegan says

    could anyone tell me if kawasaki and atp american turbo pac have a listing of frame numbers that were used in the transformation of the z1r to the z1rtc ,as i am supposed to have 1978tc in blue grey body style ,with the owner suppliment handbook ,but cannot be sure it is origional ,it has al the right parts badges and pipe ,it does not have a badge on the headstock as i have found out from reading reviews, is it supposed to have a badge from atp on the headstock ??thanks

  11. says

    Hay every one im glad to see that the old school bikes are still running hard and fast
    i have two Z1-R, one is kited the other is still all factory ,would like to find a turbo if any one has or knows where to find one ,..thanks guy for the info

  12. says

    I have recently acquired a Z1RTC (Black Molly) from the original owner’s wife after he died and it is fro sale. It can be viewed at the website above and only has 2700 miles on it.

  13. Bert says

    Jim Steadman in New Zealand raced a highly modified one of these bikes for many tears – it was maind blowingly fast – all the police in NZ knew of this bike!!

    also John Faithfull had a 1200cc version of the same bike so thats two in NZ I know about –

  14. pierre jean says

    i have one of these i buy it in may 79 brand new .the byke is still original.i have the invoice bill and every thing excep few tool of the tool box.it will be for sale soon..