Tagged: TC

Rocket Man: 1979 Kawasaki Z1R TC for Sale

 1979 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo R Side

Lots of sportbikes, even vintage sportbikes do many things well: handling is almost always part of the package. Many are very fast, some are reliable, and a few will even take you on long journeys in relative comfort. The Kawasaki Z1R TC does only one of these things, but it does so with such enthusiasm that it’s hard not to give it a pass on the others. In the 1970s, Kawasaki built bikes that seemed to be in-tune with the American Psychology of Going Fast that stressed straight-line speed over handling prowess, very much like musclecars of the era. Their H1 and, to a lesser extent, H2 two-stroke triples had power that easily overwhelmed their limp chassis and got miserable gas mileage, but that hardly mattered for folks interested in beating the car or bike next to them away from a stoplight. The four-stroke Z1R had acceptable handling and decent brakes, but slap a big, uncivilized turbo on there as seen on the TC and all that went out the window.

1979 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo Rear

The Z1R TC was the first bike of the turbo craze that afflicted all of the Japanese manufacturers to a certain extent in the 1980s, a trend that was largely a dead-end at the time. Modern turbos are refined and smooth, giving us engines with durability, increased power when you need it and good gas mileage when you don’t, all with minimal lag. These characteristics are largely the result of modern fuel injection systems and the electronics that control them. Both of which are missing here.

1979 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo Front

Early turbo engines needed to have low compression-ratios so they wouldn’t explode when the boost was up, which exacerbated “turbo lag,” the delay between when you put your foot to the floor and when the power kicks in, a result of the turbo needing to time to spin up and begin generating boost and thus power. Turbo lag was notoriously tricky to manage in sports cars of the era and is even more challenging when combined with skinny tires, marginal handling, and the lean angles you’re looking at when riding a motorcycle aggressively.

1979 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo Gauges

And that was assuming the bike didn’t just grenade between your legs. Early test bikes were “built” with stronger engine internals, but bikes sold to the public only included these at an additional charge, and many went without what should have been a mandatory upgrade. Shopping online, you’ll find that they often have had significant engine overhauls, because of blown motors or smart owners looking to prevent hot, fast-moving engine parts from sharing space with vital organs…

From the original eBay listing: 1979 Kawasaki Z1R TC for Sale

I have decided to sell my dream bike of my younger years. If you know what you’re looking at and your youth was in the late 70’s and early 80’s this bad boy was likely on your wish list along with Farrah Fawcett and the Whale Tail 930 Turbo Porsche. Next to Farrah this was the wildest thing you could throw a leg over! What more could a bulletproof wild child ask for? 

Make no mistake this bike was the things fantasies were made of and the tool required to make them come true. Much like the efforts that delivered the Shelby to Ford, Motion and Balwin cars to Chevrolet and the Hurst Hemi’s to mother Mopar, Turbo Cycle and Kawasaki teamed up to build a two wheeled rocket that would clean the clocks and wallets of whoever stepped up to the line against it.    

This bike is all original with a copy of the original sales certificate registered in the archives of Turbo Cycle confirming this is the matching numbers motor and frame and truly one of the original 250 produced. All original manuals are included as are all original parts less the Warblo fuel pump that was long gone when I bought the bike nearly 10 years ago. The bike is shown with and currently runs a newer Mikuni flat slide and K&N air filter but the original Zenith carb and triangle air filter are included.

The bike is shown with the white tank emblems and shorter LTD shocks on the rear but again the originals are included and in excellent condition.

The bike has newer tires, battery and had one quality repaint years before I bought it with new original Molly Graphics. This is not a kit/clone or wanna be-it’s the undisputed real deal that any collector or museum would be proud to own and display. 

The bike runs great and is a piece of styling art to behold. Mad Max would be proud to spool it up down under. When this old girl comes on the boost you better have your toes under the shifter and brake levers and a firm grip on the bars because just like when you hit hyperspace playing Space Invaders things are going to get blurry in a hurry. This thing is no game or toy-it is still scary fast.

While I had had the privilege of owning I have displayed it a many vintage / classic bike shows and was honored to be invited to display it at the AMA display and the Kawasaki featured marque display at Mid-Ohio Vintage Bike Days a few years back. The bike deserves to be on display and in the hands of a curator to insure this piece of history is enjoyed and around for years to come. 

1979 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo Paint

It’s not clear if the engine in this bike has had any serious work done from the listing, or if it had the upgrades installed originally, but it appears to otherwise be in excellent condition: many that come up for sale are pretty rough cosmetically, seemingly the fate of many Japanese bikes of the era. The seller is looking for $25,000 as a Buy It Now price, which is top-dollar, but these are certainly some of the rarest and fastest streetbikes of the era and have been steadily increasing in value.

-tad

1979 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo L Side

Hang On For Dear Life: 1978 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo for Sale

1978 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo L Side

Today’s one-owner Kawasaki Z1R-TC is a potentially combustible combination of explosive power, unpredictable handling, and overtaxed mechanical components, a milestone in the Japanese motorcycling industry’s efforts to distinguish itself and find a truly distinctive voice. Turbo bikes were, in general, a bit of a dead end: the added complexity of turbocharging and non-linear response of a boosted engine didn’t outweigh the power gains.

The TC ended up being an exercise in self-control: keep the throttle pinned and the bike was hideously fast, but you’d also be almost guaranteed to be picking engine parts out of your chest. Because the ZR1-TC wasn’t a refined, heavily tested factory bike: it was a lash-up put together from stock machines sitting on showroom floors by a third-party turbo manufacturer. And without modern electronics to moderate boost and ignition, simply slapping a turbo onto an otherwise stock motor is a recipe for disaster.

1978 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo R Side Rear

But that’s what Kawasaki sold the public. Sure, beefed-up internals were available for purchase, even recommended… But how many buyers plunked down that extra dough for what amounted to a fully-built engine? Not many.

So you have an engine that will almost surely grenade itself if you actually, you know: use it. And Kawasaki’s safeguards to make sure you don’t mess with the technically adjustable boost setting? A sticker that says, basically: “Don’t adjust the boost level. No seriously: don’t. You’re thinking about it right now, aren’t you? Stop thinking about adjusting the boost level!”

1978 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo Dash

And an even bigger problem with adding 50% more horsepower to the Z1R was that the bike really couldn’t handle the original 90hp to begin with: the frame was outdated and notoriously bendy. The bike was heavy and clumsy, with handling that varied wildly, depending on tire choice, but at least it had triple disc brakes to try and bring the whole thing to a halt if things started to get out of hand.

When things started to get out of hand…

1978 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo L Side Detail

In the original listing, the seller suggests it’s a “TC1” but this looks like it’s a “TC2:” that stripey paint job and “spider” style header were both second-generation additions. First generation bikes were painted a very cool silver-blue color and has a much simpler exhaust.

From the original eBay listing: 1978 Kawasaki Z1-R TC for Sale

All original only one owner. Has new tires, chain and sprockets the entire exhaust system was just rechromed and added factory ATP water injection system. This bike will sell itself it is amazing shape never get to ride and enjoy as much as I would like anymore cause of health reasons. hate to sell but want someone to enjoy it. I still have every invoice and all paper work for any work done to the bike dated back to when I bought it. it has 14,650 miles motor has never been out of the frame. I’m the only person to drive this bike and still dives like I just bought it a week ago every thing works no issues. Oil has been changed every 500 miles and never been rode rough.

This Kawasaki is in very good shape for 38 years old. The bike shows its age on lower front end tubes but paint looks good to be original paint and speedometer has small crack but not very noticeable

1978 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo Engine

It’s very cool to see that water-injection system that’s been added, which should help keep the engine from blowing itself to bits when used enthusiastically. It’s obviously not perfect, but it’s very nice and, perhaps even more importantly, is all original.

Bidding is active with four days left on the auction and is north of $14,000 with the Reserve Not Met. While recent prices of many 1970s Japanese bikes have seemed a bit outrageous, considering how many were originally produced, this is one classic that is truly rare and very special, if slightly dangerous.

-tad

1978 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo R Side

White Line Fever: 1978 Kawasaki Z1R-TC for Sale

1979 Kawasaki Z1R TC Turbo L Side

One of the things I love about vintage cars and bikes is their experimental quality: new ideas were implemented left and right, although some of those ideas were less well-developed than others. “Half-baked” even, you might say… While this may not have led to the most satisfying customer experience, it certainly made for an interesting ride.

The Kawasaki Z1R-TC is one such bike, a glorious nightmare of potential litigation: buyers signed waivers and were sternly admonished by a Very Serious Sticker not to adjust the wastegate and increase boost beyond factory settings. Designed as a stopgap to move product and stimulate interest in the obsolete Z1R before the introduction of the much more modern GPz, work on the turbocharged version was farmed out to the Turbo Cycle Company. Kawasaki simply bolted “fully-developed” turbo kits onto completed Z1R’s.

Note the quotation marks.

1979 Kawasaki Z1R TC Turbo R Side Detail

The TC was anything but fully-developed: lag was so bad on early turbo bikes that passing technique generally involved holding the throttle open to keep boost up while dragging the rear brake, waiting for an opening in traffic. Bolt-on turbo kits generally run very conservative boost to reduce the chances of grenading stock internals that were never designed to handle the hellish pressures generated by primitive turbochargers. The TC ran 8-10psi, certainly not a patch on modern systems running 30+, but more than enough to turn engine internals into externals.

1979 Kawasaki Z1R TC Turbo L Side Rear

Upgraded internals were available for purchase at the dealer, but most buyers didn’t bother, and that might have kept some riders from killing themselves by encouraging a gentler throttle hand. Which is not a bad thing: the Z1R wasn’t exactly well-endowed in the braking and suspension departments. Or the frame-stiffness department, for that matter: handling that was best described as “stable in a straight line, at least” only got worse with the addition of 50% more horsepower that came on in an unpredictable, laggy turbo rush.

Too much boost in a corner and you could do a really good impression of an extra in a Michael Bay action movie, highsiding into the trees while your motorcycle explodes.

1979 Kawasaki Z1R TC Turbo Booooooost

From the original eBay listing: 1978 Kawasaki Z1R TC for Sale

1978 Kawasaki Z1R TURBO “TC”

NOT A CLONE!!!

Here is your chance to own a rare vintage Japanese sports bike. Opportunities like this do not come very often. There were only approximately 250 of these bikes in this particular color combo made. This bike has less than 6,300 miles on body / original engine. Rebuilt (1250cc) motor has very few, if any miles on it. I have owned this bike since 1980 with only 50 miles on it! This bike is in great condition for its vintage. It has been stored indoors for many years and fired right up when it was taken out of storage.

This bike is incredibly unique and is certainly an excellent example of a rare vintage sport bike. Paint and decals are all original and chrome is still looking great!

The photos will speak for themselves.

Great cruiser bike with enough power for low 1/4 mile ETs
This bike went through an $11,000 rebuild with a 1250cc engine right before it was put in storage.
This bike has a Cal-Fab Swingarm which is 3 1/2 inches longer
The original engine (1015cc) is included in this sale.
This bike features an American Turbo Pak turbo charger:
Model Number 370-F-40-A
Serial Number 00075935
Part Number TC-247-99
Original Engine Number (1015cc): KZT100DE 005674
Built Engine Number (1250cc): KZT00AE015961

This example has very low miles and, aside from the some rust on the chain, looks to be in excellent condition. The new motor should make even more power, but at least be able to not explode when it comes on boost. So likely the engine will last longer than an enthusiastic rider… That extended swingarm will do the handling no favors, but this thing never went around corners anyway, and it should help with straight-line stability and hard launches from stoplights.

1979 Kawasaki Z1R TC Turbo Rear Wheel

Aside from the obvious collector value and bike-night posing, that’s what this bike is really good at: burnouts and stoplight drag-races. Imagine the hilarity: buy some beater Z1 bodywork to stick on it, and go out superbike trolling on a Friday night.

-tad

1979 Kawasaki Z1R TC Turbo L Side Front

 

1978 Kawasaki Z1/R TC Turbo for Sale

1978 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo R Front

Look, safety is great, and technology is amazing: it keeps us from flying ass-over-helmet into a ditch when our ambitions overreach our skill, and modern bikes pushing 200bhp surely need some kind of rider-assistance. But we’re obsessed today by basically pointless numbers: with performance of modern bikes so far beyond the average or even skilled rider’s ability, abstractions like quarter miles, Nürburgring lap times, and horsepower numbers become our only yardsticks.

But unless you really are competitive in some form of club racing, it’s really all just bragging rights. What I think we’re all really looking for is the sensation of speed, the thrill of motorcycling, and sometimes the best way to feel that is through something not so perfect.

1978 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo Dash

That’s the reason bikes like the Kawasaki Z1R TC are sorely missed.

Wild and wooly, unrefined and possibly even dangerous, the Kawi is from an experimental time in motorcycling, where some slightly unfinished ideas got unleashed on an unsuspecting public. Originally, the bike was a bit of an improvised stopgap, a way to shift slow-selling Z1R’s, a bike at the end of its production life. The whole package would give Kawasaki’s attorneys nightmares in today’s litigious culture: the turbo kit was simply bolted on to an otherwise stock engine, along with a boost gauge, “TC” badges, a liability waiver, and instructions not to tamper with the wastegate and increase boost.

Right, because no one would ever do that….

1978 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo Engine

This particular example looks to be in good shape, but the owner doesn’t seem to know all that much about the bike’s history.

From the original eBay listing: 1978 Kawasaki Z1/R TC Turbo for Sale

I am not an expert but I would say that this bike has oiginal paint and has never had anything done to it other than a tune-up.

*** Had a call from a guy in Florida aho says that the exhausts are not original *** He sounded like he knew what he was talking about, so just passing it along.

I bought in about 8 years ago from a dealer in St. Louis .  If these miles are not correct, the bike certainly has very low miles.  I rode it one time for about 3 miles, and yes it’s very fast! I have a 2012 VMAX, this bike is very fast! Different, but comparible.

I am listing it today and I will clean the carbs and put a new battery in her this weekend – It will be sold in running condition even if i have to re-list it to get it right.

1978 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo Headers

In its day, the bike was a handful: the power easily exceeded the chassis’ handling limits and the rev limiter-less engine was basically an explosive device disguised as a powerplant… So it was expensive, dangerous, and fragile, but it did the job and gave Kawasaki some performance credibility while they developed the all-new GPz1100.

1978 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo Side Panel

Bidding is very active and already up to $11,000 with the reserve not yet met. Look, for a day-in, day-out ride, maybe something this raw and finicky isn’t your best bet. I’m hoping my next daily rider has ABS, TCS, and a whole bunch of other acronyms on the spec sheet. But for pure giggles, this kind of point-and-squirt motorcycle really can’t be beat.

-tad

1978 Kawasaki Z1R Turbo R Rear