What makes a truly memorable bike? Usually, it’s a combination of the right looks, equipment, and time all converging at once. For example, the Kawasaki Z1 900 showcased in this new short film from Brightside Media might still leave a strong impression if introduced in 2021.
In the video, Paul Brace of Proper Bikes gives those of us who didn’t live through this period in motorcycling history a taste of what it was like. As a teenager when the Z1 came out, he described the bike as being “the bee’s knees.” It had looks, it had that great sound, and it felt like magic as you twisted the throttle and roared on down the road. You say you want to bring a passenger along? No problem!
However, he also noted that prior to the Z1, most bikes everyone had been riding were two-strokes. It’s a space in time that you really can’t repeat, but at the time, represented an impressive leap forward. It still sounds incredibly impressive and looks amazing as it’s depicted here in this video, though nothing but a hands-on experience can really tell you what it’s like to actually ride.
There’s something incredibly appealing about all the clean lines and visual textures present in this design. It’s all very carefully balanced, with all kinds of little details to draw your eye. It’s not busy, or distracting, but it’s somehow simultaneously interesting and also reassuring.
Then again, I can only look at it as a person who wasn’t alive when this design was new, so I only have a certain type of temporal context to work from. Would it have seemed even more impressive if I’d seen it looking forward, instead of looking backward from the era of the H2R? That’s a question I’ll never know the answer to, but I’ll be more than happy to put my headphones back on and listen to that exhaust note just one more time.