The Daytona Speedway of 1972 was quite a bit totally different from immediately’s Daytona International Speedway. The stacks of bleachers had but to be constructed, in addition to the buildings that grace the infield. Instead, we see an extended patch of grime and grass, surrounded by that identical acquainted oval.
It was right here, 50 years in the past, that Kawasaki introduced its new Z1 900 (three of them, truly) to reveal the brand new bike to journalists — and try to shatter a 24-hour velocity report. The feat would put the Z1 on the map because the world’s quickest manufacturing bike.
In the quick documentary, So Far So Fast, the narrator calls the Kawasaki a “touring bike.” But actually, it was one of many first Japanese superbikes. According to this public sale itemizing for a ravishing 1973 mannequin, the Z1 900 actually broke the mould when it got here to Japanese bikes, with its 900-cc 4-cylinder engine placing out 81 hp at 8,500 rpm and a prime velocity of 130 mph. At the time, most high-performance bikes had been round 750 cc.
To put together for the record-breaking occasion, the three Z1 900s had been clad in racing fairings, so that they didn’t precisely resemble showroom bikes. Other changes had been made to the handlebars and seats to higher put together the bikes for a grueling 24 hours on the observe, protecting a distance equal to driving from Los Angeles to Baltimore.
The documentary isn’t very lengthy, slightly below 28 minutes. The digicam crew follows the riders and staff round as they prep the bikes for the lengthy, high-speed journey forward. It was a slog for everyone — take a look at the crew push-starting a motorcycle to get it again on observe. And think about the riders, sitting astride some main horsepower — being reigned in by ‘70s-era brake technology.
At the end of the 24-hour marathon, Kawasaki nabbed the FIM and AMA 24-hour endurance records, covering 2,631 miles at an average speed of 109.64 mph. Can you imagine running on that bike, for that many hours, at that speed? Altogether, according to the documentary, Kawasaki broke 52 different records at Daytona.
While the Z1 900 wasn’t the world’s first superbike, it set a precedent for the race-replica machines we love immediately. Kawasaki would go on to push the envelope even additional: The Z1 ultimately grew to 1,000 cc, and immediately, we now have Kawasaki’s pleasant Z900RS, a retro-inspired design that debuted 2018. While it’s not the unique Z1 900, it stays true to its superbike origins, whereas bringing its braking tech as much as trendy requirements.