Kawasaki Ninja buying guide: Part 1- the 80s

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This week Kawasaki is celebrating 25 years of the Ninja series – one of the most famous model lines in the motorcycle world.

MCN has compiled a list of the 20 best Ninjas for a special poster FREE in today’s MCN (August 12 2009) – but in the mean time here’s a quick guide to the bikes and how much you can pick one up for.

GPZ900R Year: 1984
Price guide: £650 – £2300
908cc liquid-cooled inline-four, 115bhp, 155mph
This is where it all started – the first Ninja. Only branded ‘Ninja’ in the USA, the GPZ was the fastest bike in the world, debuted the liquid-cooled inline-four engine yet managed to stop and turn corners properly. It laid the basic principles for today’s sportsbike.


GPZ600R Year: 1985
Price guide: £500 – £1200
592cc liquid-cooled inline-four, 75bhp, 140mph
One year after the 900R defined the modern superbike, the GPZ600R created the supersport 600 class. Light weight, sharp handling and a screaming engine set a template for the class still used today.


GPZ1000RX Year: 1986
Price guide: £500 – £1450
997cc liquid-cooled inline-four, 125bhp, 160mph
The GPZ1000RX used an enlarged version of the 900R engine for more power, but the ponderous chassis let it down. The older 900R was provided on the launch for back-to-back testing, but journalists shunned the new bike. The 900 stayed in production well after the 1000 was deleted.


ZX-10 Year: 1988
Price guide: £750 – £1650
999cc liquid-cooled inline-four, 137bhp, 165mph
The ZX-10 was a precursor to the world-beating ZZ-R1100, and shared many of it’s attributes. Big and comfy, the ZX-10 wasn’t a supersports machine, but chomped miles at high speed. The engine owed a lot to the earlier GPZs, but with design improvements for yet more power.


ZXR750 H1 Year: 1989
Price guide: £850 – £2200
749cc liquid-cooled inline-four, 107bhp, 160mph
While the sexy Honda RC30 wooed wealthy 750cc buyers, the head-banger ZXR and its World Endurance styling lured the rest of us. Hard suspension, an uncompromising riding position, a revvy motor (from the GPX750) and amazing front-end feel morphed the Ninja philosophy closer to the bikes we have today. Scott Russell won the WSB title on a later model.


If you’re thinking of buying one of the above models from MCN Bikes For Sale, get insurance quotes from a number of motorcycle insurance providers in one place with MCN Compare. 

Chris Newbigging

By Chris Newbigging