Just 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: