Eye Candy: ‘Project Z,’ The Top Gun Tribute Everybody Wanted

A Kawasaki H2R/GPZ900R Chimera from the shop of FTG Moto

Top Gun Tribute - The Kawasaki H2R ‘Project Z’ by FTG Moto. Media sourced from Pipeburn.
Top Gun Tribute - The Kawasaki H2R ‘Project Z’ by FTG Moto. Media sourced from Pipeburn.

Who’s a thrill-seeking flyboy, sports an excellent set of peepers and rides a set of bikes designed to send any rider into apoplectic fits of ecstasy?

If you guessed Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell – played by Tom Cruise in the new motion picture “Top Gun: Maverick” (2022), you’d be right; and apparently the blokes over at Milan-based FTG Moto are of the same mind when it comes to the two-wheeled beauties that took over the main screen (and top box office) this past month.

Top Gun Tribute - The Kawasaki H2R ‘Project Z’ by FTG Moto
Top Gun Tribute – The Kawasaki H2R ‘Project Z’ by FTG Moto

Meet a stunning tribute to the hit flick of the year; a Kawasaki H2R, christened the ‘Project Z,’ created by brothers Filippo and Giacomo Tagliabue of FTG Moto.

According to Pipeburn, the brothers were inspired by the initial trailer of the film, which lauded the Kawasaki H2R as the lady of the hour, with the original GPZ900R still sitting in the fuzzier part of our hearts (and Tom’s garage in the new flick.)

Tom Cruise, both in the original "Top Gun" hit flick as well as this year's similar 2022 iteration. Media sourced from The Aviation Geek.
Tom Cruise, both in the original “Top Gun” hit flick as well as this year’s similar 2022 iteration. Media sourced from The Aviation Geek.

Naturally, the brothers took a gander at both machines and thought to themselves, “what if someone creates the bets of the past and present in one inspirational build?”

It was a daunting task, especially since this particular chimera would have been deadly if they used the right parts of each bike in the wrong order. 

Top Gun Tribute - The Kawasaki H2R ‘Project Z’ by FTG Moto
Top Gun Tribute – The Kawasaki H2R ‘Project Z’ by FTG Moto. Media sourced from Pipeburn.

“A 300bhp H2R with the back end of an ’80s sport bike would be a death trap, so that aspect of the build was sorted early;  it would simply have to be the other way around,” admits the report.

Once the GPZ900R’s frame and H2R’s back end were in order (3D prototyping and printing may or may not have been a part of this phase), the dynamic duo enlisted the aid of Special Parts Italy to help with the CNC-ing and got to work. 

Top Gun Tribute - The Kawasaki H2R ‘Project Z’ by FTG Moto
Top Gun Tribute – The Kawasaki H2R ‘Project Z’ by FTG Moto

With a shiny new Rotrex Centrifugal supercharger compressing the air and punching the power potential of the Z900R up a few notches, the brothers added a custom bracket and pulley setup, hooked up to a Smart Carb and set the whole kaboodle on 16-inch tyres. 

The trickier part of the build? That would have to be the rear end, where the shop had to marry together the best of both bikes in a way that wouldn’t have the front half of the rider skipping across the circuit into next Tuesday.

Top Gun Tribute - The Kawasaki H2R ‘Project Z’ by FTG Moto. Media sourced from Pipeburn.
Top Gun Tribute – The Kawasaki H2R ‘Project Z’ by FTG Moto. Media sourced from Pipeburn.

“You can’t just bolt a modern single-sided swingarm to an old bike. But brilliantly designed, the guys have incorporated a set of CNC machined centre plates that help tie the two eras together.”

“That distinctive contrast cut wheel remains, and with good reason, the wide rubber is needed to get all of that power to the ground. Wanting to retain the tuneability of a linked suspension setup, the guys then worked with Bitubo to come up with the perfect rear shock to meet their needs.”

Top Gun Tribute - The Kawasaki H2R ‘Project Z’ by FTG Moto
Top Gun Tribute – The Kawasaki H2R ‘Project Z’ by FTG Moto

After the rear shock, the next step was grafting the bodywork of the H2R to the subframe, then the Z900R’s bodywork next – a less-than-easy task, given all the piping and the custom air filter requiring neat cutouts of the latter. 

With a shiny fiberglass overlay to finish the job, (and the iconic paintjob and matching stickers to boot), the end result is simply glorious. 

Here’s a list of the rest that went into the build:

  • Custom oil tank 
  • In-Shop fabricated pipes (stainless steel)
  • Full exhaust system (stainless steel)
  • HP Corse muffler 
  • Brembo calipers
  • New Suspension
Top Gun Tribute - The Kawasaki H2R ‘Project Z’ by FTG Moto
Top Gun Tribute – The Kawasaki H2R ‘Project Z’ by FTG Moto. Media sourced from Pipeburn.

What do you think? Would you have done this build differently?

Drop a comment below letting us know what you think, and as ever – stay safe on the twisties. 

*Media sourced from The Aviation Geek Club and Pipeburn*

Leave a Reply

    1. Hello ADStryker,

      Good question.
      Though my source didn’t say the specs of the Project Z, given that it bears the innards of an the GPZ with everything needed to boost the ponies a bit (cough, Rotrex Centrifugal supercharger, cough), I’d assume that (provided overheating doesn’t become an issue), you’d be looking at a MINIMUM of 86kW of power and 85Nm of torque for a top speed of 254km/h.

      We’ll shoot the brothers a message for you and see what they say. 🙂

      Stay tuned and thanks for reading,
      Amanda