In December 1983, after over a decade of development of the original Z1, and two years after the spawning of the GPZ series, Kawasaki treated the world's motorcycle media to the launch of the GPZ 900R at Laguna Seca in America.
With a claimed 115bhp at 9,500 rpm, a top speed of around 155mph, and a standing 1/4 mile time of 10.92 seconds, the GPZ 900R had effectively rewritten the rules and moved the benchmark by which performance motorcycles were measured.
In April 1984, shortly after the start of the UK Miners strike, and the conclusion of the Greenham Common Peace protest, the machine finally became available for public consumption.
It was the first in line four powered superbike with liquid cooling, the camchain tunnel was shifted to the side of the engine, and the alternator was moved rearward, making the engine narrower and a lot easier to work on. The engine was employed as a stressed member of the frame, and a balance shaft utilised to compensate for the lack of anti vibration engine mountings.
Three months later it was earning it's spurs at the Isle of Man TT, with three privately entered machines taking the first three positions, ahead of all of the works teams. The GPZ 900R had arrived, and has subsequently benefited from a long and distinguished career.
Produced as the A1-A6 from 1984-1989 with only a few subtle changes between models, it was subsequently revamped in 1990 as the A7 model. As a consequence, the front end was changed radically with improved brakes, forks, and a 17" front wheel. There were also a few amendments to the carburation, but the engine remained fundamentally the same.
The GPZ 900R, or Ninja, as it is affectionately known in the United States, is widely acclaimed as the Grandfather of modern day sports bikes, and rightly so. As it enters it's twilight years, it can hold it's head up high, puff out it's chest with pride, and rest, secure in the knowledge that it's contribution to superbike development has been nothing short of massive.