1991 Kawasaki Zephyr 550
Sexy naked retro/modern sports bike
Rust in gas tank (previous owners fault, 6k).
Carbs leaking and require cleaning (6k).
Front fork seals leaking (8k).
Rear shocks leaking (9k).
Side stand loose, almost fell off.
Replaced tires (8k).
This is a great bike for beginners and experienced riders.
It is a very sexy looking naked sport bike. It's got a nice retro look with modern gadgets on it.
The seating position is somewhere between a standard and a sports bike, the pegs are swept back pretty far, but the tank and bars are better for an upright position. Not the most comfortable bike, for long trips I added a windshield and use a tank bag for me to lie on. The seat is also not bad, it's wide but the padding is lacking a bit. Can be removed with the key also for locking helmets or servicing the bike, which is nice. The bike also very low, so short riders can ride this bike fairly well.
The 550CC bike has adequate power for getting around town and freeway riding. It will ride at 60-75 MPH all day long. It's enough power where a beginner won't get too intimidated, and has enough power for experienced riders to have fun with.
Mine came with the factory rear rack, which is very handy to have. I've carried a lot of things on my bike. The rack is somewhat flimsy compared to other racks, like those on dual sports.
The bike handles great. It's not too heavy, it's no sports bike (I'm comparing to a Ninja 500) though. It has very nice adjustable dual shocks in the rear. You can adjust the bound AND rebound on the shocks. You can also adjust the rear ride height with a tool like a big Allen wrench very easily.
These bikes are very rare in the US, Kawasaki stopped selling them a will back. The closest thing you'll find to a Zephyr stateside from Kawasaki is probably a ZR7 or maybe even a Z1000. Nothing as small as a 550 I think.
The bike gets great gas mileage. I'm averaging 50 MPG. I usually fill up around 100-120, the range is pretty weak.
An annoying thing about this bike is that it doesn't want to stay running when it's cold. It usually take a good 15 minutes of riding to warm it up, and then it starts idling good. You usually have to rev it at stop lights, which is why I prefer to ride on the freeway.
The brakes are great on this bike. Lately they have lost their bite, but when I first got this bike, it braked very well. It has a single piston disk on the back, and dual brake 2 pistons up front. More than adequate for a bike of this size.
The engine is sort of a pain to work on, because it's an inline 4, it's got a lotta stuff packed under the tank. The valves are shim type adjustments also, so they're not easily adjustable. But since it's naked it's not too bad getting to everything, especially once the tank is off. The chain adjustments are very easy to make since it has eccentric adjusters. It would be even easier if the bike came equipped with a center stand though.
Controls are very nice (comparing to dual sports which I usually ride). The levers are adjustable for pull length. The blinker control is a very nice push to cancel joystick type. The chock is easily accessible on the left controls.
Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 29th January, 2010
11th Jul 2013, 14:50
Exactly - the most annoying thing is that it takes at least 15 minutes to warm up the engine!
Otherwise, great fun and pretty wild old school engine. A hot bike though, getting loads of compliments :)
13th Feb 2015, 15:12
I just got me a Zephyr 550. Not running at the moment, but it will be. I'm gonna tear it completely down and put it back together with new/newer parts and a new paint job. She's gonna be beautiful again. I'm excited to have a rare bike in the US.
4th Mar 2015, 06:03
I would love it if you could measure the width of the swingarm (where it attaches to the frame). I'm thinking a Zephyr 550 swingarm might fit my old Kaw H2 750 "Widowmaker". I'm trying to give it a modern suspension. For that matter, if you would post the diameter of the fork tubes, that would also be appreciated. I might try to adapt a Zephyr fork to the "Widowmaker" as well.