Kawasaki and Eddie Lawson

Kawasaki-KZ1000R-Vintage-Ad

We know…
Kawasaki’s are the fast bikes of the 70s / 80s.
Eddie Lawson was the factory Kaw racer of the very early 80s.

– Kaw big 4-cyls started out with the z1 (73-75)
– z1 became a kz900 (76-77)
– kz900 became a kz1000 (77-83?)

In early 80s, kawasaki took the J motor kz1000 and gave it the green race colors and a kerker exhaust to make it look like what Eddie Lawson’s race bike kinda looked like. Kaw tried to increase sales with it, but it didn’t sell that great, so its pretty rare now. 750 were made total. Pic at the very top is the Eddie Lawson Replica (ELR) that you could buy from the dealer. They were 90hp. Same as normal kz1000.

Kaw also made a real race-ready version of the ELR, which was called the “S1”. Normal person couldn’t buy one. It was for certified racing teams only. It was almost identical to the bike the team made for racing in the 80s. They were like 150hp. Only 29 made ever. One sold on eBay a bunch of years ago for like $110K … fucking nuts.

Kaw ELR “S1”. Pic below.

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Long story short, I picked up another bike below.
Its a 2003 Kaw zrx1200r, which as of right now, is the only modern version of what the KZ kinda used to be. It’s 122hp / 82tq.
I bought it in the colors which reference the Eddie Lawson Replica bike.
I dig it and got a good deal on it.

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Vid about Kaw and Eddie Lawson. I love these old vids. This one is so good.

My modified 74 z1 below. Prob 100hp / 70tq now? Cool to see the similarities between the years.

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There some really good info in this article about Eddie Lawson, how he was given an ELR from Kaw, and then some Jap dude offered to buy it for a $Million bucks. He turned the dude down. All his actual race bikes from circuit racing were crushed by team mechanic Muzzy. Some other good stuff… give it a read.

7 responses to “Kawasaki and Eddie Lawson”

  1. Nate says:

    Very cool. A million for Eddie’s ELR. That’s crazy! You need to repaint that purple blue and then get a GPZ1100 to fill in the gap between the Z1 and the ZRX.

  2. Mike Ashleigh says:

    Jealous! Thats been on my list of bikes to own since I got my 550. Thought this might be a little too plastic for you.

    Fun fact: ZX1100 6 Speed drops right in

  3. Jim says:

    Ed, love your new bike! Can wait tic see it in person. Congrats!

  4. Ted says:

    Great history lesson. Bike Wish List – ZRX 1100/1200, KZ900/1000, GPZ750 Turbo!

  5. My first and second bikes were a 1983 GPz 550 and a GPz 750. I roadraced the 750 in 1985, ‘86, ‘87, and ‘88 with the ARRA in SoCal. It had a 785cc Yoshimura high compression piston kit (11.5:1, if I recall correctly), Mikuni smoothbores, a Yoshimura exhaust system, Fox shock and a rebuilt and shimmed front end. It was fast for a GPz, but noticeably slower than the FZ750s and GSXR 750s I found myself racing against. Still, it was a whole lot of fun.

    I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for large displacement standards like your ZRX1200R, and I wouldn’t mind picking up a used one somewhere. I haven’t owned a bike for 20 years now, but my last two street bikes were a 1986 GS1150E, and an ‘86 FJ1200. There’s a lot to be said for a big, powerful bike with more rational ergonomics that has acceptable handling for most uses.

  6. bob beal says:

    if anyone is interested in buying a turnkey racing kz1000j i have one id like to sell intact,very well developed superbike for vintage racing,i can furnish specs and pics to any interested party. those pics on your site of the japanese racebikes is very cool,ive met eddie lawson s and he is one of the nicest guys ive ever met, he was my racing idol in the day.

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