Following on from Brian Long’s hugely successful and informative work, entitled Suzuki Motorcycles – The Classic Two-Stroke Era, Ian Kerr MBE reviews his more recent book Kawasaki W, H & Z — Big Air-Cooled Machines.
Once again publishing house, Veloce, has produced another high-quality hardback volume covering the ‘Big Air-Cooled Machines’ in all their various guises.
Japan-based Long, with the full co-operation of the Kawasaki factory, takes an in-depth look at the air-cooled machines built between 1965 -1980, although he does look at the later retro ‘W’ models after the cut-off date.
As one would expect, it has a useful set of appendices covering all the models worldwide, including production figures in addition to the reference charts spread throughout, making it a helpful reference tome.
I am sure that, like me, you have many books about Kawasaki (and other manufacturers) on the bookshelf, but what makes this one now stand out is the fact that after a lot of persuasion, it has been compiled with the help of the factory.
Long’s wife is Japanese and has translated material that many other authors have had to ignore. It covers little-known machines hardly seen outside Japan to the early Zs that took on the world.
It also covers all the major markets from around the world and is liberally illustrated with period brochures coupled with stunning contemporary photography gathered from all over the globe to help owners establish authenticity of a machine.
As most know — thanks to their links with Meguro, when the vast and diverse Kawasaki Empire moved towards two wheels — they can claim to be the oldest motorcycle manufacturer of what has become known as the ‘Big Four’.
Long skillfully guides you through the company’s complexity and the move to two wheels. He then looks at the models that put the company on the map during the sixties and seventies, helping it to survive a difficult era that saw hundreds of Japanese motorcycle makers become just names in a history book.
Many of the bikes saw action on the track as well as the public highway with many notable world-class riders like Paul Smart taking them to world championships and the racing story is cleverly interwoven into the 160 pages.
As a result of the research into this volume, Long hopes to follow it up with the expanded story of the ‘Z’ models and the Ninja line which will bring the story further up to date.
In the meantime, if you are a fan of Kawasaki, then this has got to on your shopping list. Thanks to the research and factory co-operation, it is probably the most definitive book on the company to date.
Apart from that, it is an excellent read, if for no other reason than taking a trip down memory lane. The cover price of £30 is of exceptional value and is a highly recommended read.
Available from all good bookshops or direct from the publishers Veloce at www.veloce.co.uk