This Japanese Bike Took Down Harley-Davidson | Up to Speed

Avaldati 2 sept 2021
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Motorcycles: the rebel’s vehicle of choice. For the longest time those motorcycles were Harley-Davidsons. But by the ‘80s Harleys had lost their edge, and motorcycles as a whole were hemorrhaging cool. Then Tom Cruise raced a fighter jet on a new bike called “Ninja” in the biggest movie of 1986, and everything changed. The Kawasaki Ninja made motorcycles cool again through a combination of advanced engineering, aggressive design, and killer branding. This two-wheeled speed demon kick-started the sportbike segment, and spurred an intense battle for the title “Fastest Motorcycle in the World” that continues today. Join James Pumphrey for a face-melting ride into the history of the world’s most famous sportbike, the Kawasaki Ninja!

Big ups to Bridget Davies for absolutely crushing this episode. So stoked to have her back on team UTS. Follow her on Instagram for a lot of water-cooled Volkswagen content. @bridgetinabox

Thanks to Megan Stump for the incredible, ridiculous “King Hog” and “Ninja Stepdad” animations. Check out more of her work at

High-five to Raghav Arumugam for the hilarious Ninja boardroom animation. Check his EEpush channel for more:

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  • if you could race Thomas Cruz on any motorcycle, would your dad finally pay attention to you?

    • Please just do a up too speed on the Isle of Man TT

    • lmao no

    • Lmaoo nigga called him Thomas

    • Wow! How dumb of a statement, “old movies suck”. Yeah fast in the furious is way better than oh idk not a lot of movies... I like fast and the furious, but let’s be honest the acting sucks, the story line is stupid, it’s about stealing DVD players hahaha

    • No he is dead.

  • Who wrote this script? awesome work!

  • For me it wasn't that movie that made me want one. But the TV show that came out a year earlier, Street Hawk. The motorcycle version of Knightrider.

  • Please do up to speed on Fiat Coupe

  • hey donut can you make an up to speed about TWR (Tom walkinshaw racing)

  • Hahahaha US customer are so silly 😎

  • Your research is great but sorry your presentation to me is tiring hope it continues to works for you but wish you just presented the facts

  • I feel like an up to speed on Audi s-lines would be cool

  • Good stuff doods

  • This channel appeals to the 12 year old boy in me.

  • Kawasaki green is one of the best colours ever!

  • Can you do a video on Mercedez Benz Commerical trucks as you did on Peterbilt video.

  • What about the 1983 V-65 Honda engine first used in the Cruiser Magna and Pee Wee Gleason did the first quarter mile in the 10s on a stock bike in 1982. The next year the motor was put into the sporty Interceptor Chassis. I think both were before the 900 Ninja?

  • My dad had Harleys and Triumphs in the early 70s. He always said he was jealous of the CB 750 Honda with the riders never having to tune up every single ride. Honda effected Harleys a long time ago.

  • Harley Davidson will never be "taken down."

  • NEED CBR CONTENT NOW!!! Pretty plz

  • In 1990 I bought a used 1987 GSXR750. I spent 4 month, working on it. Jetted the Carbs, New Pipe, New Tires, Re-geared it. In May 1991 I took that bike to the Mojave desert and dusted Hondas and Ninjas. I hit 186mph that was confirmed by 2 different radar guns. In 92 I sold that bike for 2X what I paid for it and bought a GSXR1100. Worked on that bike and almost broke 200. In 97 met my wife and she was not a Motorcycle person. It was time for me to grow up. Sold my Ducati at that time and the next year I was a dad. fast forward to 2021. Boys are in college, daughter in HS and I got a 2021 NEW Harley-Davidson XL IRON 1200. Slow as heck but all black, smooth as ice and it feel so good to get back out on 2 wheels.Of all the sports bikes I have ridden judging on Speed, Handling, and ease of working on them, 1. Suzuki 2. Ducati 3. Kawasaki 4. Yamaha 5. Honda.

  • Yep and now we have the ninja h2

  • POLL: Road trip…new york to chinafornia….what would you rather be sitting on? A hog? Or a crotch rocket?

  • Motorcycle's are neat, but I'll take a Twin Turbo Scatpack Challenger over one any day. Much more comfortable to ride in, and I can stay dry and warm in the rain.

  • *Fast Japanese thing- they should have named it little boy or Fat man*

  • A normal (as in a non contemporary American) diet can enable you to have your bowels empty enough to not have to poop when riding a bike for 24 hours.

  • Haley sales dropped off In the 80s because of amf

    • They were not sold to AMF because they were doing great, so Harley had issues before that.

  • I remember having a blast on the Ninja back in Midnight Club 3!

  • 2:59 Danny DeVito whassup my guy

  • The Batman Robin race being included in the shots just brought this video from a 9 out of 10 to a 69.

  • We NEED a GSX-R one now. It just slapped the $30,000 Honda Fireblade 1000RR-R at the MotoAmerica STOCK 1000 race. Over took it on the last lap. Then it also won the Super Sport race as well! The GSXR-R is a $16,999 machine. God bless its insane low end power and ability to chew up competition with less tech and gadgets. Letsnot forget they are the most street comfortable of the true Sportbikes. The Original Sportbike.

  • there's a r32 behind him!!

  • Everytime someone takes a dump at Donut they make a t-shirt and 20 commercials for it....,I miss the old Pump'...., cocaine is a hellova drug!

  • You skipped the Hurricane!! That was the Ninja 🥷 killer of my day in the late 80’s

  • If you had a point it was lost in your sad attempt to be funny.

  • The Fireblade did it. It was much lighter than the opposition and that mattered a lot more than top speed. Still congrats to Kawasaki for their great Ninja

  • I’m just here for the Yota’s Tacos song XD

  • It’s all about making connection between pop culture and motorcycle ……

  • is it alright to do some UTS eps on like everyday vehicles? like toyota Hiace or something. i know its not like what you guys usually do, but it'll be nice to know tidbits bout it :)

  • Thumbnail looks like kawasaki took james down😛😛

  • Do an up to speed on Peter brock

  • I literally started looking for Ninjas for sale after watching this video XD

  • 3:26 not all old movies suck. In my country, the movies created by P. Ramlee in 50s till early 70s still being watched till this day.

  • Don't even like bikes. However, I learned a lot a d watched to the end

  • The music really hype up the video

  • He attacked like a ninja

  • I love what you guys are doing, keep doing it.

  • I traded my 2013 ninja 636 for a 2004 fat boy with $25k of mods. This bike is heavy, loud as hell, and I get way too many people stop and admire it and ask questions. The 636 didn’t get much attention but I used to knee drag it on i70 going over 180 mph and said I don’t need a vehicle that allows me to go that fast cause I will.

  • The ninja was by no means the first stressed engine bike; using the engine as a frame member had been common in V twins since the turn of the century with the Harley 1916 8 valve and the HD 1919. Vincent and Ducati also notably used stressed engines on their bikes to make them speed machines long before the ninja. Even within japan the 81' virago had a stressed engine very similar to a Vincent to create the unholy abomination that is the XV920 TR1. The Ninja's style isn't even original with it being inspired by the 81' suzuki katana along with yamaha XJ and the contemporary honda CBs. Kawasaki just got lucky with their movie promos.

  • its 0-60 we have to worry ab to beat the plaid.. its the 60-130

  • Hi Dude: You forgot the Kawasaki 750 two cycle first crotch rocket. Goo' oll' times!

  • Could you imagine going 109 for 24 hours? That’s it?

  • The noiseless fold lilly count because beauty molecularly close notwithstanding a useful textbook. able, coherent china

  • Sonny Berger I believe, made a comment that he wished he/they had bailed on unreliable Harleys and switched over to reliable Japanese bikes but the die was cast so he/they stuck with them. So sad.

  • The gpz900r was a joy to ride back in the 80s, it had a tendency to over heat, which could be easily fixed by installation of a electric fan toggle rather than the stock temp fan, having maxed it's top speed out once was enough, I don't have a need for speed and ride a Harley, but the 900r was awesome.

  • speed, speed is forever!

  • James I gotta say I cannot believe there isn't an up to speed on Abarth yet. I suggest it as the next one

  • Wow so.. late

  • Nice finish on the monoluge.

  • Looking at these comments I feel attacked :(

  • Watching the old videos of people going around the track on the GPZ in parts of this video makes me cringe. We have come along way in riding fast. They were not leaning correctly and had their bodies all kinds of twisted up.

  • Could you do up to speed on the Camry?


  • I respect donut for owning how fucking fast and dangerous a motorcycle is , ive always wanted but , but due to members of my family passing away idk if it will ever happen

  • A little late to this one but I still want an Up to Speed on James' dad

  • Yeah now check out the weight difference between the 893 and 1100.

  • Harley Davidson took themselves down, by focusing on a middle aged/older riders. Who in the next ten to fifteen years, the majority will give up riding, leaving H.D without a market. Sorry, but Vincent were producing engine stressed member framed production bikes, over a decade before Kawasaki were producing motorcycles.

  • Anyone else think these were better when they were 6 mins instead of 20

  • If you think this motorcycle story is awesome (which it is) you really need to check out the story of the Britten Motorcycles V1000. That is a real story when you look into it.

  • My first bike was a 1993 ninja 500. Super ugly back then but a super fun bike

  • Hilarious, when you farted I laugh so bad I pooped my self :)

  • Why are your videos so cringe?

  • lol, about a fast bike in a US video, in a country i fall asleep on the wheel, because the slow speeds they have to drive... here at home, 275kph on a Ninja 636 isnt that fast, we have VW Golfs going faster....on the Autobahn...

  • Me in 2024: top gun 2 delayed again?

  • Kawasaki ninjas rule kawasaki ninjas cool pow pow power wheels

  • Ninja!

  • I've never been a Harley fan but I respect what they do and build

  • Speed is forever 🔥🔥🔥

  • To the title shit

  • I don't like feet... I like hands ftstfysyfysyfysftsftf🤤👅

  • petition for up to speed on yamaha r1 or r6

  • Edge ? Harley froze their technology development before World War II. Hardly Junk-in-sons are WAY overpriced Pieces of oil blowing Trash. The Japanese completely Revolutionized the Motorcycle as we know it in every way. But the biggest was the PRICE ! They produced Hyper-Fast & capable cutting edged Bikes at a Fraction of the cost of what any country other than Japan could have done if they tried. AND ... They are crazy reliable and run FOREVER ! The Japanese Factories colluded in a perfect way to Dominate the Industry Worldwide. Rather than all of them build each part. Brake calipers & Master cylinders for example. They pooled their money & shared their technology with each other to come up with an Amazingly capable brake caliper that they could all use on all of their bikes. This cut cost tremendously and allowed them to out their resources in other more demanding & consequential components like the engines & frames. That is where they elected to compete amongst themselves rather than having each factory spend $millions on developing a Brake caliper or Master Cylinder. This pushed their products decades ahead of any other Manufacturer. This technology Dominance for Ed their competitors to keep up or Fall away. Or in Harley's case. Just hope & pray that their Rat Farmer Fanboy's begin to Not like oil dripping off of their Ass-less Chaps or even worse that they discover that bathing is a good thing. Ouch ! Sorry folks but that is All true. LOL !

  • Is that the same dude from high low

  • Bro I'm 15 and thisis the best vid I've ever seen brooo

  • Ninja KRR ZX150 the best 2 stroke 150cc BEAST

  • And don't forget the sweat! Remember the sweeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaat!!!!!!!!! 🤣

  • This video is indeed a strange and terrible saga.

  • "old movies suck".. says the channel that supports the F&F franchises.. 🙄🤷

  • @ 00:35 he speeds up the bike by Squeezing the break lever....sigh...u can't make this $hit up.

  • Not only is this guy the most punchable human in the world this whole video was bs

  • 19:27

  • Thumbed down for your stupid thumbnail.

  • 😝Yay Topgun 🥳Kawasaki😜

  • I heard that tom cruise was going to ride a grom in the new movie.

    • Wonder if he is still going to use the big training wheels that actors use for "insurance reasons"

  • So much so wrong in such a short time.

  • Thank you for increasing the value of our bikes 😂💯🔥🔥🔥🔥👌🏼💵💵💵💵

  • You didn’t mention the 1987 hurricane or the CBR 600 and the 1000rr

  • Actually, the bike that took down Harley (and everyone else) was the CB750 Four released in 1969. There's a whole world that exists outside of the movies folks.....

  • These damn videos are works of art... lol... Great great work

  • James, please do an episode on Kia!

  • Lucky for us Mike's boat wasn't called 'SS Minnow' otherwise this story might have ended differently.

  • Where is ZX 12 R NINJA ?

  • People still remembered ww2 so they wanted a american bike not one from japan. Cars the same, but now people relise tge crap is more reliable and care about china rather than japan now. Harley even made and still makes a harley davidson named after the bombs dropped on japan in ww2 so goes to show what americans thought about japan back then

  • Excellent impersonation of a Jewish movie critic 👍👍