A Timeless Classic: The Kawasaki Eliminator ZL900's Legacy and Worth

When it comes to motorcycle legends, one name shines brightly, and it is the Kawasaki Eliminator ZL900. This classic cruiser, that first came out in 1985, has since earned its place in the hearts of moto enthusiasts, as it was both commercially successful and embodied the power and aesthetic of its time. In this article, we tap the brakes and touch the gas pedal on the classic beast, focusing on its horsepower, history and its value today. Whether you collect classic bikes or are new at motorcycle riding, you’re invited here to rev up our bikes and ride over the glittering Kawasaki Eliminator ZL900.

The Powerhouse that Defined an Era

A classic in every way, the Kawasaki Eliminator ZL900 was launched in the 1970s when motorcycles were not just a means of transport but a badge of rebellion and freedom. Housed in its classic cruiser design was an engineering marvel in the form of a large, liquid-cooled four-stroke, four-cylinder engine that churned out 105 horsepower at 9,500 rpm, while delivering 63 lb ft of torque into the rear wheel. This classic cruiser was built for speed and horsepower, culminating at a top speed of around 134mph. Kawasaki were at the pinnacle of their expertise in 1978 and the Eliminator ZL900 sat proudly atop its class.

Classic Ride: A Collector's Dream

No talk of the Kawasaki Eliminator ZL900 can be complete without mentioning the aesthetic and collectible element. This bike’s ageing vibe hasn’t worn off, and it will always have a soft place in a motorcyclist’s memory. Despite the newer models featuring refined engineering and better mechanics – fine qualities – the idea of the classic eludes the upgrade. A latter-day ZL900 is a snapshot of that time, an age still appealing not only for performance but for what it captures as biking history, a perspective, an art.

What's A Classic Worth Today?

A good motorcycle collectible is like a great book. You’re buying more than a machine; you’re acquiring the story of that machine, and you’re collecting rarity. The Kawasaki Eliminator ZL900 is a relic from the ’80s. Hagerty, arguably the best and most authoritative appraiser of cars and motorcycles, reckons such a motorcycle — pristinely preserved, naturally — may cost between $1,900 and $4,700, depending on the condition of the machine. Kelly Blue Book, another heavy-hitting collector’s guide, agrees, saying that it is possible to find a 1985 Eliminator in excellent shape for as little as $2,900. Either way, the balance of the market reveals the classic Eliminator to be an enduring classic.

The Modern-Day Classic: Comparable Charm?

The classic Eliminator ZL900 can be compared with its modern remakes and appears that Kawasaki has preserved the essence in the newer models. Even though there have been an increase in tech features and added power train accessories, the embodiment and nature of the original classic cruiser remains true. Even though modern versions don’t come with the same amount of power and torque, the legends will live on and can also be an invitation to a new generation of riders.

Riding into the Sunset

For those so blessed to own, or even to ride one, it’s a strange and wonderful time-measuring machine, a sort of machine that takes you back in time while speeding you forward toward an undetermined future. The spirit of cruising that sparks in me on my Eliminator is referential, but it’s also fully ripe in the moment. I ride the Evil Nine in the city streets, and I ride it on the highway. I ride it to nowhere and I ride it to anywhere. It’s two-wheeled transit and two-wheeled time travel, the past and the future coming together in the present, and what the Eliminator teaches me about the present is that I’ve been here before.

In Conclusion: Embracing the Classic

To many of us, the Kawasaki Eliminator ZL900 stands not just as a 1980s cruiser motorcycle but also as perhaps the defining symbol of an era where speed and stylised excess ruled. We’ll all be dead in less than a century but today this 800 cc beauty still glows like an apparition from a marked epoch, a holy grail of great bikes. Long live the Eliminator. Long live bikes that shaped automotive history with an artistic mastery totally their own.

Explaining the Classic

Classic, as we’re discussing it here, is not necessarily synonymous with ageing. It represents form and function momentarily collided; guiding innovation, style and the definitive presence of a time and place. The big, bad Kawasaki Eliminator ZL900: a classic classic, representative of our craft, past and present. If Kawasaki has always been about the celebration of the pioneering spirit, embarking on pathways previously unexplored, then lavishly funding them, so be it. Collecting such classics is preserving and upholding that kind of uncompromising passion and timeless excellence, the expression that makes up the culture.

We hail the 30-year-old Kawasaki Eliminator ZL900 as a tribute to the spirit of motorcycling that was as alive then as it is today. Horsepower powered then, and heart powers now.

Jun 17, 2024
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