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-   -   Question on pre-1982 KZ650 speedometers (http://www.kawasakimotorcycle.org/forum/vintage-motorcyle-info/30095-question-pre-1982-kz650-speedometers.html)

D-Day 08-25-2006 02:21 PM

Question on pre-1982 KZ650 speedometers
I've noticed pre-1982 (I think that's the starting year for this), the speedometers are numbered higher, sometimes 140mph. Why did they drop it down to 80mph? To discourage people pushing their bikes, or did they do something to dummy down the engine? Just curious.

fastback 08-25-2006 02:38 PM

I have an 81' that only goes to 80, it's a KZ 650 though. I had a Suzuki GS1000 that went to 140. I made it to 115 before I became afeared. It may have to do with the engine size. My 650 is pushing hard to make it to 80. What size is your prize?

wiredgeorge 08-25-2006 02:58 PM

The long answer is that there was an oil crisis in the late 70s. The country went to a 55mph speed limit to help conserve oil (gas really) and reduce traffic fatalities (supposed to be added benefit). The slogan of the day was "55 Stay Alive". At that point, not only the motorcycles but autos/trucks had 80mph speed limits. I guess the theory is that with a 55 mph speed limit, there is no point in a higher reading. After the oil crisis where folks stood in line for hours to fill up, and things got back to normal, the speed limits started creeping back up and the speedometers when back to the +100 upper end markings. Currently some Texas interstates are at 80mph!

D-Day 08-25-2006 07:39 PM

Thanks, George. I know of the crisis, so that makes sense. I was just wondering why some 650's had 140mph speedos (or near it), and others didn't...I've even seen some lower cc bikes with over 100mph+ speedos.

fastback, a 1982 KZ650 with pod filters. Fastest I've taken it on the country roads around here was nearing 80, and it felt like the bike was still winding up.

Nate 08-26-2006 12:25 AM

You need thank no one else other than Joan Claybrook. She was the head of the NHTSA of the time and came up with, or at least supported, that silly speedometer deal with the 55 highlighted. The idea was that 55 on an 80 MPH speedo "seemed" fast since the needle was well past halfway through its range. I believe they were mandated for the 1981 model year and lasted until the mid '90s.

A bit of Google searching will reveal much on this gem. I recall that Cycle World back in the day was hardly complimentary of her performance.

agawam 08-26-2006 12:37 AM

actually it was our illustrius federal goverment and congress that turned down all speedos manufactured in 1980 look at some cars from back then, it was a vauge law and some motorcycle manufacturers did and some didnot but all cars and trucks did, the law said all speedometers should not exceed 85mph, who the **** elected these jerks, most of them are still there

herk 08-26-2006 03:00 AM

elr658 08-26-2006 09:31 AM

Nate for the win!

rstnick 08-26-2006 08:59 PM

The speedo on my 650 goes to 220!


That's 220 KPH = 136.7 MPH.

ddouble 08-26-2006 11:29 PM

79's are still cool.8) :cool:
It's still off by about 10%:???: :tongue:



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