Kawasaki A1 Samurai and A7 Avenger model differences

I’ll go into the nitty gritty later… here’s the short list of modifications made to the A series. It can help you to ID your basket case…
check also the “Model reference” category on the right. It’ll show you actual examples. Why not send me pics of your bike?
Just drop me a comment here (check the form at the bottom of the page) with your email.

1967-1968 models
These motors have the 2-part disc valve, with a pin retaining the disc. Disc are made in phenolic resin with a steel center.
Samurais have a 2-tone tank with knee grips and white hand made stripe, they came in candy red or blue. Combination unit for tach/speedo.
Side panels are in aluminium grey with a thin “Autolube” sticker.
Avengers  have a chrome panelled tank with knee grips and came in blue. Combination unit for tach/speedo. Side panels are in the color of the bike.
All have a deep, almost valanced, chrome rear fender.
These bikes are sought after because they look… well… vintage! But by the end of 1967, this design was already a bit outdated.

1968 models
Speedo and Tach are separated and round.
new headlight shape, similar if not identical to the early H1.
Tanks keep the previous design but don’t have chrome panels or knee-grips. The paint scheme is the same, with a hand made stripe.
Side panels are in the color of the bike, with a large trapezoidal sticker.
Similar to a 1967 Samurai tank sans knee grips. Red or blue, see my Scrambler to see the color. The colors are different from the previous year and have a LOT of metal flakes in them.
New Stainless steel rear fender, thinner design, will last until the end of production.
Note: these are the models that also were sold in 1969. Think of them as parts bin specials.
Low production run: ~ 1’500 made.

1969 models
New disc using a gear-like sleeve to  link them to the crankshaft. Much better design. The discs are entirely in resin.
the front fork has a new internal design, with new fork ear design, less triangular and with a reinforcement on the inside.
Speedo and Tach are separated and round.
New style (fatter)brake and clutch hand levers.
New style of rear light with round reflector part on top.
New style of hand controls (the markings on the LH are different).
Tanks keep the previous design but has a new oval paint scheme, red or yellow. The red is a very nice shade of candy burgundy. Tank paint scheme was obviously changed mid-year, as there are two different brochures.
New design for the gear changing drum.
New design for the rear swinger, specifically the bush.

350 Avenger gets new 28mm carbs, upping the power to 42 HP and new pipes (with a C engraved, previously there was an A. Don’t know where the B got lost)

1970 models
New tank with a rectangular form. Paintjob is an adaptation of the previous year. The red color is again different, not burgundy, but a “straighter” red. Tank has a recess on top (what for?).
The 250 gets a new head gasket in copper only (previously instead of a asbestos-copper mix).
The 350 has new rings with an expander ring under the 2nd ring. Colors are red or yellow, again different from previous year’s shades.

1971 models
New tank, same shape but no recess on top. New paintjob, white for all models with gradient-like stickers on side of tank and sidecovers.
Accents are blue for the 350 and orange for the Samurai. Last model year before the S1 and S2… End of the line.

If you’d love to agree or disagree with the above, just drop me a line here in the comment section.

Comments (6)

Tom JermstadAugust 19th, 2009 at 4:55 am

I was given a A1SS , early style rotary valve and points, but the frame # is A1-68783 & eng# is A1E 17095, need lots to put it together but have lower end of A7E 26392 with latter style rotary valves and hopefully have a set of cylinders/and a head , clutch etc coming from H. Wilvert. I’m going to rebuild the crank for the A7 using Dave Rays lab seal, then will clean up the ports and probably put on some 28mm carbs of a H1. Don’t know if it’ll work w/ the A1SS exhaust or if I’ll have to find some A7 exhaust. It would probably be cheaper to buy a running example. I’ll keep you posted on this project, will probably try to put on more modern suspension as well; Tom

mad dogSeptember 15th, 2009 at 8:29 am

Hi there, Just had this wonderful site pointed out to me by an Ozzie with an A1. I have an A1SS (68) and an A7 (70) that need to be brought back to shape. My A1SS is a 68 but it has the knee grips and the embossed emblem on the tank. Also, it has the unit tach/speedo.

Anyway, what are your sources for parts. I noted the bearing info you posted which will help, but I wonder where one finds rotary valves. I also have a full gasket set for the A1 and would probably need one for the A7 as well. Any info you could share would be appreciated. Also, although the bikes are in California, I live in Japan so if you need any help in finding stuff here, please let me know.

adminNovember 6th, 2009 at 12:48 pm

There is at the moment quite a few sets of valves on eBay… which is the best place to start hunting for parts.
Normally 68 is the first year for separate clocks, normally you wouldn’t have knee grips.
What is your frame#, that’s the only real reference.

Thanks for the help offer!

adminNovember 6th, 2009 at 12:52 pm

You want to put some Dencos on your bike, A guy on the KTW board remanufactures them in stainless with the dimension off mine… purty and although not yet dynoed, they seem to really wake up the bike (A7).

leeApril 24th, 2010 at 11:56 pm

i have bike# 51. a7 350 kaw 350 avenger:i bought in 68 and gave to my son’ he still has.i raced every thing and never lost.every track’ people feared me.this is one bad bike.he also obtained another.

adminApril 26th, 2010 at 11:15 am

Hi Lee,

Where are you? Thailand maybe? The A7 is a very good bike… even by today’s standard. it almost as good as a RD 350 LC (RZ350). The brakes and the suspension are what lets them down in comparison.

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