Kawasaki Ninja’s 40th anniversary colors are awesomely retro

Real ninja, the silent assassins of feudal Japan, date back to the 15th century. The iconic Kawasaki Ninja, however, turns 40 years old this year. The moniker debuted in 1984 as a rebranding of the GPZ900R, a groundbreaking sportbike that held the record for the fastest production motorcycle for four years (until 1988). To celebrate four decades of the Ninja, Kawasaki is releasing its newest Ninjas in super rad retro livery.

For those not well-versed in two-wheelers, the original GPZ900R Ninja was the bike Tom Cruise rode alongside an F-14 Tomcat in the 1986’s Top Gun. Producers reportedly chose it because it was the top speed record holder — 151 mph — for a road bike at the time. Off-screen, the Ninja 16-valve, water-cooled four was a major step in the evolution of production superbikes. Cruise’s Kaw was black, but the Ninja also came in Kawasaki’s trademark green.

Kawasaki had taken a break from endurance racing, but returned in 1988 with the Ninja ZXR-7. By 1991 they had claimed Endurance World Championship title, and went on to win two more in 1992 and 1993 for a triple streak. In America, the Ninja took the AMA Superbike Championship four times, in 1990, 1992, 1996 and 1997. It’s the championship livery seen on the ZX-7 and the ZX-7 road-going version (called the ZXR750 in other markets) that Kawasaki is recreating for its 40th anniversary.

Kawasaki says all the logos on the 40th Anniversary models have been recreated from the original drawings. The displacement numbers have changed, but they’ve been designed from the same fonts used in the 80s and 90s. Having a large “Kawasaki” written on the sides is no longer the default, but here mega-sized wordmark, paired with the revered green, white, and blue tricolor, exudes old school charm.

The 40th Anniversary colors will be available on the Ninja 500SE, ZX-4R, ZX-6R, ZX-10R, and ZX-14R. All of them will come with the distinctive lime green wheels and a special 40th Anniversary decal on the fuel tank. In addition, the Ninja ZX-4R, ZX-6R, and ZX-10R come with silver swingarms rather than black. Furthermore, the ZX-6R and ZX-10R get gold front shocks to further match the classic race bike.

It’s almost difficult to imagine that these bold styles were once the epitome of cool. We simply don’t see anything like it among today’s super-serious, mostly black or gray sportbikes. We love that Kawasaki is bringing them back, but to have them around for just one year seems like a shame.

Additional Images:

Images courtesy of Kawasaki, JMS

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3 Responses to Kawasaki Ninja’s 40th anniversary colors are awesomely retro

  1. CycoPablo says:

    The ZX14 hasn’t changed much! Peter Griffin of Family Guy even took a shower on one, about 10 years ago!

  2. Mark F Newton-John says:

    Been a Kawasaki fan since 1974, of course that’s when the mighty 750 Triple was sold.

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