Signed by the Artist: 1983 Kawasaki KZ1000R ELR
Prior to bikes like the Suzuki GSX-R750, production-based racers from Japan were big, burly brutes. Engines were large four-cylinders and plenty powerful, fitted to stiff frames that provided stability at the cost of agility. Clip ons? What are those? Superbike racing in the early 1980’s must have been amazing to watch, with pilots wrestling huge, unfaired machines around: in photos, the riders often look like small birds clinging desperately to the backs of charging rhinos…
This bike is one of the classic road-going race-replicas of the era, a Kawasaki KZ1000R, also known as the “ELR” or “Eddie Lawson Replica.” Eddie Lawson was spectacularly successful on his bright-green KZ in AMA Superbike championship racing during the early 1980’s and the ELR was built to celebrate that success.
The KZ1000R was based on the more common KZ1000J that was, in essence, and evolution of the original Z1. That engine had grown from 903cc to 1015 but was stepped down to 998cc for the KZ1000 to make it eligible for various racing classes that were limited to 1000cc.
Typical hot-rod tricks were used for the KZ1000R to improve performance and the package included an oil-cooler, a slick Kerker 4-into-1 exhaust, and uprated suspension. A slight difference in frame geometry that increased the steering-head angle led to a pretty significant change in feel, and the “R” felt much sharper than its more pedestrian “J” cousin.
But, as stated, the bike was no lightweight at 544lbs dry…
From the original eBay listing: 1983 Kawasaki KZ1000R ELR for Sale
I am selling for a friend a 1983 Super Bike Replica with low miles in which I have no reason to doubt. This is a new restoration due to the bike being outside for a few years. It has new tires and brake pads. The calipers and master cylinder have been rebuilt and bled with Dot 5 Synthetic brake fluid. Engine side covers have been re powder coated. Valve clearance has been checked and did not require shims. No engine oil leaks. New chain and sprockets. I ran this on a shop I.V. bottle. The original petcock does not work and may need rebuilding. This will be shipped without fuel and battery. It has NOS hand grips and bar sliders. Complete tool kit and owners manual. The paint is high quality two stage urethane, the decal kit was NOS. Tail piece signed by the man himself. This would be a nice addition to anyone’s collection
With just 5,000 miles on the clock and only 750 examples built, it’s no surprise that the reserve has not been met at $7,400, especially since it’s been signed by Eddie Lawson himself! The repaint detracts from originality, but that should be balanced out nicely by that signature.
ELR’s are obviously not for shrinking-violets: the vivid green paint and all-around hooligan temperament make it an extrovert of a bike. These are very useable, so it’s a shame that this one will probably go into a collection and simply look cool, instead of being used to terrorize young punks on modern sportbikes in the canyons…