1978 Kawasaki Z1RTC 1000 Original Turbo Bike

1978 Kawasaki Z1RTC L Side

With all of the weird and quirky turbo bikes that were running around in the early 80’s, it’s easy to forget the bike that started the craze: Kawasaki’s Z1RTC.  Basically a way for Kawasaki to stimulate sales of the moribund Z1 while waiting for the GPz1100 to be developed, the bike was really a kit, a collaboration between Kawasaki and the Turbo Cycle Company, who took complete Z1’s and bolted on a primitive turbocharger system.

Upgrades to the engine internals that would today be considered mandatory were optional extras in 1978, and buyers had to sign liability and powertrain waivers [with witnesses!] and before riding off astride their whistling, explode-y death machines.

1978 Kawasaki Z1RTC Dash

By all accounts, it was an exciting bike to ride: the Z1’s suspension was primitive and the frame was flexible, leading to wobble-prone handling in the stock bike, so the addition of 50% more power hardly improved stability.

The crude turbocharging provided laggy power delivery below 7,000 rpm and then a wild rush of power before the 8,500 rpm redline, with no limiter to stop the insanity.  Riders of the period would actually wait for passing opportunities with the throttle open, dragging the brakes to keep the boost up.

All very entertaining, but not exactly a refined experience.  Sort of like a big, heavy H1, but without the angry, two-stroke buzz and an even greater likelihood of catastrophic engine failure.  Later turbo bikes from Honda and Yamaha utilized fuel injection to help make the experience less explosive, and the Kawasaki drifted into history.

1978 Kawasaki Z1RTC L Engine

From the original eBay listing: 1978 Kawasaki Z1RTC for Sale

You are bidding on a 1978 Kawasaki Z1RTc Turbo Original bike.  Matching numbers KZT00D-006267 and KZT00DE-006240.  Showing 3329 miles but see that the speedo cable is not hooked up.  Bike Starts up and runs good. Bike is in Nice original Shape for it age.  Could use some cosmetics.  Bottom of the gas tank has some chips in paint.  Left side of fairing has been repaired as well as the Dash.    Left Fork ear is also broke.  Left rear peg has got into exhaust see pictures.  Seat cover has some tears.    Look like original tires but has age cracks.  Has a small dent in right side of tank looks like from a knee.  Turbo #’s are 370  F 40 A  10081159  TC 274 99.  This would make an excellent rider or a great piece to any collection.  Only around 500 originals built. 

This particular example is no concourse-ready trailer queen.  It’s got a few blemishes and cracks in the bodywork, but looks complete, original, and is claimed to “run good”.

So ride this weird and potentially lethal classic and terrify GSX-R1000 owners while rocketing away from them at stoplights or restore it to its former glory and store it in a heated garage.


1978 Kawasaki Z1RTC R Side

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