Kawasaki UK 50-year celebration trip down memory lane

Kawasaki has a lot to celebrate with string of memorable anniversaries.

A couple of years ago we celebrated 50 years of the Z family of naked motorbikes.

Late last year it revealed exciting retro colour schemes for Ninja 40th anniversary models.

Now Kawasaki UK is celebrating its half-century.

General manager Richard Paine and workshop and service manager Joe Lowe represented Orwell Motorcycles at Kawasaki UK’s 50-year celebration dealer dinner and presentation evening at Chesham in Buckinghamshire.

There were iconic bikes from across the five decades on display and VIPs from Kawasaki UK’s history also attended, making it a night to remember.

It was particularly memorable for Richard because the compere was Keith Huewen, former professional Grand Prix motorbike racer and MotoGP commentator.

It was a surprise reunion for Richard because he went to Wollaston School in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, with Keith.

“I’d not seen him for 40 years. He left school the year I started,” said Richard who later became motorbike mates with Keith.

“I watched him racing in the 1979 British Grand Prix with Barry Sheene and Kenny Roberts.”

Richard and Keith, who raced for Yamaha, Suzuki and Honda, enjoyed a good catch-up.

“We had a brilliant conversation about what it was like being young again!”

Richard and Joe also enjoyed the Kawasaki UK celebration.

“It made me recognise the massive family that Kawasaki UK is,” Richard explained.

Former Kawasaki UK presidents were among guest speakers and retired Kawasaki racing team managers also attended.

“It was clear that everyone was still proud of that big Kawasaki family.”

As well as looking back over Kawasaki UK’s 50 years, the event also looked to the future.

“It was all very positive regarding future developments of the brand. We had a really good look at the bike range and were impressed with what we saw.”

Electrification of motorbikes was one topic discussed but the celebration mostly focused on Kawasaki’s heritage and what it has given generations of riders.

Richard was drawn to a Z1000 Gen 1, built between 2003 and 2006, displayed at the entrance. He owns a 2013 Gen 2 Z1000.

“I’ve always loved Kawasakis. I’ve owned 15 of them – more than half the bikes I’ve owned have been Kawasakis.

“So it was a treat to go to Kawasaki UK’s 50th celebration.”