The History Of Kawasaki Eliminator 400

The Kawasaki Eliminator is a cruiser-type motorcycle that has been produced in several variants since its introduction in 1985 as the ZL900. Billed as a "power cruiser" through the 1980s and mid-1990s, Kawasaki now sells the Eliminator as an entry-level cruiser. Available in black for 2005, the Eliminator 125’s styling features include a stepped seat with laid-back riding comfort for two, a stretched 3.4-gallon fuel tank, straight-flow exhaust and chrome-plated single headlight.


Introduced in 1985, and only produced for 2 years (1985 and 1986), the ZL900 evolved from the legendary Kawasaki Z1. The ZL900 was designed to evoke images of the wildly successful Z1 drag bikes, with a bobbed rear fender, short travel fork, large rear tire, fat chromed mufflers, a small fuel tank and low straight handlebars, and at the time of its original release was the fastest accelerating (from zero to 50 m.p.h.) production motorcycle, and also sported the widest rear tire of any production motorcycle. The ZL900 engine was a transplanted and slightly modified version of the liquid-cooled I4 introduced in the 1984 Kawasaki ZX900 Ninja. Kawasaki used smaller 32mm carburetors (the ZX900 used 34mm), different timing and camshafts with less duration. This gave the engine a dramatically different personality, trading the Ninja's high-end surge for low-end grunt and a meaty mid-range that was more suitable for a cruiser. At the time, the ZL900 was the only bike in its segment using an Inline 4 powerplant instead of a V4 configuration. These bikes were produced by Kawasaki in Lincoln, Nebraska for the American market, but failed to live up to their potential here as there were stiff tariffs at the time for Japanese motorcycles over 700c.c.'s[citation needed]. They were wildly popular overseas in Europe due in large part to the decidedly "American" styling and plenty of dependable power.[citation needed].


The pursuit of drag-bike style resulted in some functional compromises. First, riders of the Eliminator[who?] complained about a lack of cornering clearance, although it took corners better than its super-heavyweight competitors the Honda Magna V65, the Suzuki Madura and the Yamaha V-Max. The ZL900 was long and low like a drag bike, so sporting riders who wanted ZX900 power in a cruiser had to give up riding the twisties. Additionally, pushing the bike hard overwhelmed the skinny front tire and brought the rear suspension's shortcomings to the surface. More universally, owners and magazines alike[who?] bemoaned the Eliminator's lack of range due to its small fuel tank capacity. At 25-35 mpg on a 2.9 gallon tank, even conservative riders were forced to find a filling station after 100 miles or less.

Even with all of the criticisms, the Kawasaki Eliminator was considered a "giant killer", and is still considered to be ahead of its time even now some 20-plus years after its initial introduction.

For more information on the Kawasaki Eliminator contact the Kawasaki Eliminator Owners Association at


The ZL1000 was an evolution of the ZL900, sporting a larger engine shared with the ZG1000 Concours and 34mm carburetors. The styling of the ZL1000 was much more conservative than that of the 900, with a longer rear fender and a much larger fuel tank, this motorcycle was only available for 1 year, 1987, and shares the same strong following as the ZL900.


The ZL750 was sold from 1986-1989 as a mild-mannered version of its big brothers.


The ZL600 had the same type of transplant as its bigger siblings: a slightly modified engine from the Kawasaki Ninja 600.


The ZL600 was sold as late as 1996, though by then its mid-80's engine earned reviews from the motorcycle press that dubbed the bike outdated, underpowered and overpriced.



The ZL400 ceased production in 1994. Unlike larger models, some versions of the ZL400 had a chain instead of shaft drive.


This model started production in 1998

EL250 (D5)

The EL250 had a production run from 1988 to 1997 at which point it was superseded by the VN250.


The EL175 is sold in India by Bajaj Auto.


The Kawasaki Eliminator 125 is Kawasaki's entry level cruiser. Its light weight, small stature and unintimidating power delivery make it a great choice for new riders. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation uses this bike in their beginner riders courses for those very reasons. It is powered by a 125 cc, air cooled, four stroke, single cylinder engine. The 2009 MSRP for this model is $2,799 according to the Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. website.

The Eliminator 125 has the distinction of being the smallest production motorcycle (not including scooters) currently being sold in the United States.[citation needed]

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