Old School Hustle: Ride on This 1978 KZ1000 For A Top Speed Test On A Florida Runway


Old School Hustle: Ride on This 1978 KZ1000 For A Top Speed Test On A Florida Runway

In the late 1970s, few bikes had the guts that the legendary Kawasaki KZ1000 did. The story continued into the 1980s of course, but the KZ1000, while s kind of slow seller at first, really caught its stride after the machine won awards like “Motorcycle of the Year” and a super bike championship.

This video shows a ’78 KZ1000 making a top speed charge down an airport runway known as the Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds. This is a place where loads of top speed testing is done and they have a new channel showing loads of it. The reason we were interested in this video is because so many guy use the KZ platform for drag bikes still that we were wanting to see one topped out on a long course.

Now, we need to fess up on a couple of things here. Firstly is that the bike is no longer 1,000cc in displacement. It has been bored and stroked out to 1,428cc so it is definitely making more horsepower than a stocker would and that will translate to more speed.

The acceleration of the bike from zero to about 130mph is insane. This thing is bad ass fast and while we do not have a side by side comparison, we bet it could STILL hold its own with modern bikes, at least through the first several gears.

The last few numbers are a grind but this is a fun video to watch! Old school muscle bike action.


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6 thoughts on “Old School Hustle: Ride on This 1978 KZ1000 For A Top Speed Test On A Florida Runway

  1. geo815

    This engine got me hooked on drag racing. There were a couple or more, “mini funny cars” that ran at the “Wednesday Night of Thrills” at Englishtown (R.I.P.). I remember they were KZ1000’s, can’t remember if they were forced induction, but I believe they were running fuel and they were somewhere in the mid-8 second range. Wild as hell to watch. Someone on here has to have some (hopefully better) recollection of those cars.

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  2. old guy

    Suzuki 1000E series – had a ’80 GS1000G shaft drive – smooth as silk and
    pulled like a bastard -both ends had adjustable suspension …
    It had an 85 MPH speedo !!! That went out the window in third gear …..
    It would bind up at high RPM in 3-4-into 5 as the frame twisted up do
    to pinion climb – drop the rpms and it would accelerate faster ..
    used to pop the front end up w/ twist of the throttle at low speed in 1 or 2 – interesting bike for the era …

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  3. Brendan M

    Check the Ohio Mile records for my 1980 KZ1000 M/F record. The big difference here is mine was a shaft drive, and though it got up to 100mph very quickly, the gears ran out around 112mph. Oh yeah…. and it wasn’t punched out another 500cc’s.

    Looks like the front fork geometry has been changed on this one too. In stock form these were difficult to handle at high speeds and were dubbed “wobble-saki’s” for obvious reasons.

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  4. c502cid

    My Mom was secretary to the President of Kawasaki USA for years when they were in Santa Ana. I got to ride a lot of the bikes back then. Favorites were the KZ900 and the ever so scary on the edge KH500 2 stroke triple. I loved to ride but really wasn’t a very good rider. Had a lot of fun with the hot dirt bikes of the day out by Stoddard Wells Rd too!

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