Brown! ZRX1200 adopts the Tom Selleck of colors

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More typically decorated in the colors of an East London housing estate, it’s extremely rare that we see a motorcycle adopt a color of the moment, much less adopt one so sympathetic to its own design. Brown is currently on the cusp of becoming a major force in car design. The four-door Porsche Panamera was first shown in it, as was the Audi R8 Spyder. On the Kawasaki ZRX1200, it’s an even better accompaniment to the late ‘70s/early ‘80s superbike thing than Eddie Lawson’s original colors. Doesn’t it make you want to grow a mustache and take up smoking?

We’re told the color brown represents “stability, reliability and approachability.” Which sounds like an excellent allegory for the ZRX itself. Kawasaki’s muscle bike began life in 1997 as an 1100, before growing to 1164cc in 2001. In 2008 it was pulled from sale in Europe and the North America, but it continues apace in Japan, where these colors come from. It’s sort of an unsung hero, faithfully delivering easy-going, but strong performance even if 122bhp and 82lb/ft can no longer generate headlines. The handling, too, is capable, despite the fitment of unfashionable RWU forks, dual shocks and 223kg/491lbs (dry) weight. The whole bike just has a feeling of permanence absent from things with more plastic or fancier rear suspension.

The 2011 MY bike is also available in Japan in dark green, a color that’s meant to be soothing, just like the ZRX’s smooth engine.

Kawasaki Japan via

  • jpenney

    I’ve got a soft spot for these. They do a great job toeing the line between the classic UJMs that I love and the modern power and reliability that I need.

    • Kevin

      Finally, something besides bright neons, black, silver or red. I wish more bikes had optional color plates that can be replaced like the Ducati Monster.

    • R.Sallee

      I agree, it’s a great looking bike that has a classic look without being slavishy retro. Probably because it’s legitimately old. But I’m okay with that.

      It could use a red R decal, though.

  • Keith

    Well it is nice to see something other than more neon colours.
    But 70′s brown or green?
    What’s the problem here? A shortage of different colours of paint or a shortage of imagination?
    Now where did I put that pack of smokes :)

  • kidchampion

    I had a 1976 BMW R75/6 in an Electric Root Beer paint scheme and I loved that color. That Metallic Pea Soup looks good too.

    • Devin

      You could make big bucks naming paint colours.

      I think those two colours look great too.

  • Patrick

    “soothing”, “approachability” is it a motorcycle or aftershave?

  • rohorn

    Brown? What’s next, avocado and whatever that burnt gold looking color is called? Oh wait, there they are on the second picture!

    Yes, I remember the last time those colors were fashionable and no, I didn’t like them back then, either.

    Why is “recycing the trash” the new “new”?

  • Deltablues

    Regardless of the color (or colour)…that is one attractive motorcycle. Very handsome in this color scheme too.

  • ike6116

    Im pretty down with these

  • Todd

    The brown in just so-so, but not my thing. The green looks like shite. Like the blue/grey (’03??) and silver/black/gunmetal color combos the best personally. Like this updated Z-ReX otherwise though.

    Mentioning the Panamera? Ha! Might as well paint it brown, seeing as it looks like a polished turd anyhow.

  • Plotts

    I love it. Bitchin’

    • robotribe

      Right there with you.

  • Chris Davis

    Color aside, it’s a nice, honest looking bike with the up-swept lines of modern bikes but without all the gimmicky, over-styled trinkets. That said, the aesthetic sticking points for me are the mass of that fairing and the forks’ relative lack thereof. It is especially noticeable in the front 3/4 shot, not so much in profile. USD forks and a smaller headlight with a fairing tapered to match would dial it in nicely.

  • NitroPye

    This is that gal you would never admit that you are into. I’m definitely into this bike but don’t tell anyone.


    What a beautiful bike…

  • BN.

    Love it. Much better than skulls and flames.

  • jonoabq

    Not nearly as goofy looking as my 06′ tiger, but equally appealing…if you like practical daily drivers that nobody in their right mind would attempt to steal. Go anywhere, park it anywhere, do wheelies when nobody is looking.


    Best bike I’ve ever owned. In japan they have a 400cc version as well. I’ll still take the Eddie Lawson replica colors though. In japan and every manufacturer has a bike like this. Big simple reliable with some character and enough guts for any of us average mortals.

    • Devin

      Man, I would jump on a midsized naked that is great to carry a passenger on right now. I’ve come to find out that niche isn’t serviced in NA. Which is annoying me, because I’ve determined that’s what I want.

  • Ed

    I had a velor shirt in the exact colors of that first bike. I like the green better.

  • jason

    This proves again how a strong classic design is important, no matter what the color. Too many machines are just plastic covered clones. I get hard telling all the GSXR looking things apart, let alone the year.