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Kawasaki Opens U.S. Motorcycle Museum

Thursday, May 19, 2011
Kawasakis Heritage Hall hold examples of some of the bikes that are important in the telling the story of Team Green.
Racing memorabilia in Kawasakis Heritage Hall include machines such as James Stewarts KX80.
(Above) Kawasaki's Heritage Hall hold examples of some of the bikes that are important in the telling the story of Team Green. (Below) Trophies ooze out of every corner in Kawasaki's Heritage Hall.
Twenty-five years ago Kawasaki opened its current U.S. headquarters in Irvine, California. Prior to this the company was based in a variety of locations spread across the United States. While Kawasaki has a massive museum in Japan, one which we viewed a couple year's back (see the feature here), there really hasn't been anything to commemorate or accurately document the Japanese company's history stateside. So after recently realizing this gap in historic presence, some of the former long-time employees and board members got together and started the Kawasaki Heritage Hall at their Irvine offices.

Open to the general public, Kawasaki's Headquarters have been expanded and now house an ever-growing shrine to the company. Located on Bake Parkway, just east of I-5, if you are a Team Green aficionado, or just general motorcycle connoisseur, this is a must see. And if you aren't located in California, the company sports a new digital history available online, another continually growing archive of the Big K's past 50-plus years of motorcycle and watercraft production.

Features in the 2300 sq-ft Irvine showroom include several historic racing machines, including Scott Russell's 1995 Daytona 200-winning ZX-7R and a fire-breathing 1982 KR500 two-stoke of Eddie Lawson's. But it's not all street bikes, as James Stewart's Loretta Lynn's championship KX65 is on hand, the bike that started his meteoric rise to superstar status. Various important early-production models are also on display, along with one of the original 1970s Jet Skis, the beginning of the watercraft revolution. Also hiding out in the corner is the world's first Ninja – literally. It's a 1984 ZX900 and it’s frame no. 1. So be sure to keep an eye peeled as there is a lot that can easily be missed.

Kawasakis 400 Jet Ski was the worlds first personal watercraft.
Kawasaki’s 400 Jet Ski was the world’s first personal watercraft.
Also featured is a timeline wrapping around the walls, which includes loads of data on the entire history of the company. Included are interesting tidbits like who invented the famous 'Kawasaki Green' color and the 'Flying K' logo, as well as the well-known 'Let the Good Times Roll' ad campaign (for those answers you are just going to have to visit the display). But trust us when we say you won't be disappointed.

So hop on that motorcycle and take a ride over to Kawasaki to see everything they have done since their humble stateside beginnings in, of all places, Hawaii (bet you didn't know that...). Check it out.
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Comments
Africord   May 19, 2011 08:28 AM
It should include examples of all of the iron that has rolled out of their plant in Lincoln, NE. Otherwise, they aren't giving the Cornhusker state its due.