Understanding Kawasaki Date Codes

Content provided with appreciation and permission from John Brookes http://www.freewebs.com/750rs/
© John Brookes

Date Codes

Another page aimed more at the restoration anoraks. Anyone who has looked closely at Kawasaki bikes from the Seventies may have noticed various numbers/letters stamped or marked on some of its components. These are date codes.

Not only does the following apply to Z2’s but equally to Z1, H1, H2 and probably to any other Kawasaki from this era.

It should be pointed out that these date codes relate to the manufacture date of the part and not the Motorcycle, but in general it is normal to see a date of between 0 to 2 months before manufacture date of the bike.

Before reading further, it is necessary to understand a little about Japanese dating practices. Since 1868, when Japan switched rulers from a shogun to an Emperor, there have been four reigning Emperors: Meiji, Taisho, Hirohito (Showa), and Akihito (Heisei). Japan's traditional era is based on the emperor's reign. During the seventies, Kawasaki’s were manufactured during the Showa reign. Hirohito (Showa) came to reign in 1926 and therefore a Gregorian date of 1973 would be the 48th year of Showa. Therefore the following numbers relate to Gregorian year:  47=1972, 48=1973, 49=1974 etc.

Parts can be dated by either the Showa code or Gregorian code. 

It is interesting to note that date codes are far more widespread on ‘later’ models. For example a 1972/73 Z1 will have far less than a 1975 Z1B 

Here goes:



On the top of the swing arm, by the grease nipple, is the date code. The code uses the Gregorian format Y MM where the first number is the LAST digit of the year and the other numbers are the 2-digit month. For example: 4 11 is November 1974.

      This swing arm is ‘5 05’ which would be May 1975.


On the back side of the Torque Arm is the number which follows the same procedure as the swing arm (although the month number is only 1 digit for Jan to Sept). For example: 3 6 would be June 1973. This torque arm is ‘5 5’ which like the Swing Arm would be May 1975.  



A couple of pictures showing the date stamped on the carb body -  Sept 73 and May 75




These are the final parts I know of on Kawasaki Motorcycles that uses the Gregorian Y MM format. For both switch blocks, the code is on the side facing the handlebar grip. This block was manufactured in November 1976. The right hand picture shows the code on the rear shocks. Clearly September 1973.



These were ink stamped on completion with the full date of manufacture in Showa style. This NOS front hub for a Z900/ Z750 Four was made on 22nd September 1977, while the rear hub was made on 20th December 1974.




Several cast parts were ink stamped on manufacture. I have seen them on many engine internals even present after being submerged in oil for 30 years. I’ve seen them on clutch plate, oil pump, cam cover, points cover. I suspect many other items too.

   Here are a three:

Interesting to see that the Points cover and Clutch plate (from the same bike) were both made on the same day, ie 21st April 1975, while the sprocket carrier (below), also from the same bike, was made about 3 or so weeks later,







Once again, Showa date. No need now to tell when this part was made.











Up until 1976, these parts use a Numeric/Alpha code based on Gregorian date. The number relates to year (with the first number dropped). For example 4 = 1974. The letter relates to the month running from ‘A’ for January, 'B' for Feb thro to 'L' for December. The first rim shown is ‘5D’ and is April 1975 fitted to a bike manufactured in May 1975. The second picture shows Takasago moving to a more conventional MM YY format. This rim is stamped 1077 and is therefore of October 1977 manufacture. It is the rim fitted to the hub shown above and clearly ties in with the date of the hub.



Example: TAKASAGO   185  X19   4K  303

First stamp is the manufacturer Takasago, then the rim size, then a number, then a letter, then 3 numbers.

The number after the rim size is the year the rim was made. 2, 3, 4, 5 etc....197(2) 7(3) etc.

The letter denotes the month of manufacture.....A-L. Jan- Dec.

The last 3 numbers tell you if the rim is H1 or H2 or other model. The H1's are 305 rear, H2 is 303, S3 front is 308, S3 rear 307.

S1/2=303 fnt
S1/2=307 rr
S2A=304 fnt
S3=308 fnt
S3=307 rr
H1/A=302 fnt
H1=305 rr
H1/H2=303 fnt
H2=303 rr




This is perhaps the most confusing of all date codes. It uses a Numeric/Alpha code based on Showa date. The number relates to year (with the first number dropped). For example 9 = 1974 (49 Showa). The letter relates to either a batch code, month code, or as I suspect, a 4 weekly code. (Unless anyone tells me differently) there are 13 letters I know of:

A, B. C, D, F, H, K, L, N, R, S, T, V

It would seem reasonable to assume that these letters would relate to a 4 week period with A being the first 4 weeks of January and V being the last 4 weeks of December and every other letter, 4 weeks inbetween. This is also backed up by the fact that the 'lower' the letter, the earlier in the year the manufacure date is.

 If you know differently, let me know.

Anyway, this disc is, I suspect, Dec 1975