The original Kawasaki KZ400 (Z400 in Europe) was a 398-cc twin cylinder four stroke motorcycle produced from 1974 to 1984.
The engine had twin counter rotating balancer shafts to reduce vibration, one in front of the crankshaft and one to the rear. Effectively this and its larger brother, the Z750 twin, sounded the death knell for the H2 750 and KH400 two-stroke triple cylinder models plus their brethren.
Answering America’s demand for cleaner running engines, the new range of four stroke models were certainly more environmentally friendly and, let’s say, more "conservative" in styling and personality than earlier bikes from Kawasaki. The KZ400 was built at plants in Akashi, Japan and in Lincoln, Nebraska. The Lincoln plant (opened in 1974) made Kawasaki the first foreign motorcycle manufacturer to operate a plant in the United States – good corporate PR in terms of creating jobs in the USA and also a very clever way to pay less “import tax”. Sold as more utilitarian than the fire breathing H, KH and S series, the sales emphasis was on fuel economy and low purchase price thanks to the aftereffects of the oil embargoes of the early 1970’s.
Not the most advanced design, the Z400 still benefited from un-burned gas recycling which made its debut on the Z1 900 but technical innovation was not the purpose, it was more to offer cheap, reliable transport. The fact that brown was one of the most popular colours tells you all you need to know.
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issued: Tuesday, August 17, 2021
updated: Tuesday, August 17, 2021
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