Kawasaki GPz600R: Original Supersport
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Kawasaki GPz600R: Original Supersport

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By JeffWare - 13 September 2022

Words: Jeff Ware

1985 is not really that long ago but readers under the age of 45 may find it hard to believe that there was a time when the motorcycling world didn’t include performance 600cc four-stroke, four-cylinder engines housed in a thin steel box section chassis. 

With 16in wheels it was a good handling bike but not too stable, and limited by rubber options later in its lifecycle. 

A 600cc bike that weighed under 200kg and was capable of near-on 200km/h was huge news and dealers rolled GPz600Rs out the door as quickly as they could pre-deliver them. 

Rolling on 16-inch wheels at both ends, the GPz600R was right at the pointy end of development. The all-alloy chassis set it apart from all other 600s already on the market. With its cutaway seat and high-set pegs combined with an advanced aerodynamic package it was a racer with plates. Many were to be seen frequenting the boy-racer haunts of the day. Sadly, the list of survivors from the production years of 1985 to 1989 is short due to a high attrition rate courtesy of racing and road accidents around those haunts.

Cutting edge tech for the time, the 600R was an exciting little bike. 

Shorter riders will like the lower seat height and some taller riders may feel as though they’ve been compacted. Common faults are relatively few with some riders mentioning that the anti-dive system needs to be kept maintained or ride quality suffers. As this is a carby-equipped model, syncing or balancing also needs to be kept in check.

You could say Kawasaki created the popular but now declining Supersport category with the GPz600R.

They were more popular in overseas markets than in Australia for a number of reasons. Back then there was no 600 SuperSport racing, so the popular racing choices were either 250 Production, SuperStreet, Superbike or 750cc-plus production and the main classes were still Grand Prix so there was no real place tor 600cc racing until the early 1990s. Another reason is that once you got your full licence here, you could ride anything, so most people went for the big brother GPz900R over the 600cc. By the time 600cc Supersport bikes took off here, the Honda CBR6000R arrived and left the GPz for dead, thus it was discontinued from 1989. 

75hp from the rev and high tech inline four was impressive back in the day. 

If you can find one, they are a cheap retro bike and easy enough to rebuild and get parts for. They also offer something alternative… Well worth having in the stable and on club rego, parked next to your GPz750, GPz900R and GPz1100! 

The styling really set the 600R apart for the four-stroke Kawasaki fans...

COST NEW: $5800 + ORC

USED: $1000 to 3500

SPECIFICATIONS KAWASAKI GPz600R

COLOURS: Red/black, red/white, black/charcoal, blue/white

CLAIMED POWER: 75hp(54.7kW) @ 10,500rpm

CLAIMED TORQUE: 36.8ft/lb(50Nm) @ 9000rpm

DRY WEIGHT: 195kg

FUEL CAPACITY: 18L

CHASSIS: Steel with an alloy swingarm

SUSPENSION: Conventional forks, Uni-track rear

FRONT BRAKES: Dual rotors and single-piston callipers

GOOD POINTS

Very reliable middleweight that will be cheap to run. The original supersport. Shorter riders will be able to touch the ground.

BAD POINTS

Taller riders may feel challenged for room. 

Protect your motorbike. Call Shannons Insurance on 13 46 46 to get a quote today.