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

Thanks to for sponsoring today’s episode. Click here to check out their massive inventory of car parts.

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 ACURA channel for more:

New to the Channel?
►Watch this:

We upload almost every day, subscribe so you don't miss out!
►Subscribe here:

Click here for more info on joining the Donut Underground!

Shop Donut Merch:

Donut Media is at the center of digital media for the next generation of automotive and motorsports enthusiasts. We are drivers, drifters, and car enthusiasts who love to tell stories.


  1. Donut Media

    Donut Media

    Month ago

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

    • Oli O’Connor

      Oli O’Connor

      6 hours ago

      Most likely? No he wouldn’t.

    • Don Sal. T.

      Don Sal. T.

      9 days ago

      Me da and I are solid I just wish me make would snap out of her new alternative lifestyle.. maybe that race would help... now to training

    • joel China

      joel China

      13 days ago

      doubt it

    • Tyler Debo

      Tyler Debo

      18 days ago

      Tom Cruise?

    • C 2

      C 2

      22 days ago

      Up to speed about KTM?

  2. patrick miller

    patrick miller

    2 hours ago


  3. bbdaddy98


    3 hours ago

    Just to have it mentioned, since it got jumped over, ZX 14 one of the most well balanced and nimble monsters I've ever been on. And it did get up on the world record thingy, slapping the 'Busa stepdad anyhow, just not as buff looking.

  4. bob gnarly

    bob gnarly

    3 hours ago

    the Tyler the creator joke was actually kinda prophetic

  5. bbdaddy98


    3 hours ago

    Love it Jimmie! Nice one!

  6. Common Sense

    Common Sense

    6 hours ago

    So Why Didn't you Talk About the Kawasaki H-1 and H-2 Two Strokes of the 70's I Rode my Brother's H-1 500cc and the Power Band comes on With NO Warning The Shifting Was Neutral all the Way Down and 1-2-3-4-5 all up Made for Drag Racing.

  7. Tilon69


    7 hours ago

    Styles change, Young and cool becomes old and lame. But speed, Speed is forever. -James Pumphrey 2021

  8. Tyler Nelson

    Tyler Nelson

    17 hours ago

    Now now. We all know Harley Davidson obviously makes imbalanced engines on purpose. Silly as Donut Media. Just kidding.

  9. Ramos Thomas

    Ramos Thomas

    Day ago

    Dude your weird but cool still

  10. Steven Bissiri

    Steven Bissiri

    Day ago

    Donut sucks Cleetus for PRESIDENT.

  11. Thomas Smith

    Thomas Smith

    Day ago

    tjhis was really good and i liked it. there were Gpz 750 and 500 also i had a 750, there also was a turbo ninja that was totally insane once the turbo spooled up!! big GREEN K forever!!!!

  12. Texas Exile

    Texas Exile

    Day ago

    It was the 1969 Honda cb750/4 that killed Harley, the British motorcycle industry and most of the euros. Everything that came before it was instantly obsolete.

  13. Roger Miller

    Roger Miller

    Day ago

    Did you forget that Charlie Hunnam and Ron Pearlman existed on a TV show together?

  14. James Fogarty Sr

    James Fogarty Sr

    2 days ago

    THE 750 FOUR CYLINDER STARTED ALL THAT.I had a built 750 w/yoshi 836 piston's kenny harmon d grind cam a little carb work, I ran 11.80's in 73 I sold my harley to get that honda.I have an f3 600 3 goldwing's and another 836 750 still working on that.I sold a kz1000 to buy my 600 f3 that blew me away. Kawi was a harley eater unless you put $10,000 in the motor and i still beat them. Kawasaki

  15. Steve G

    Steve G

    3 days ago

    unsubbed, too many weird references and too many unnoted staples in too many videos

  16. Joseph Rodriguez

    Joseph Rodriguez

    3 days ago

    Coñooooo thank you for motorcycle content!!!

  17. Darragh Kinahan

    Darragh Kinahan

    3 days ago

    Fun fact, Vincent used a stressed member angina in the 1930s 🤔

  18. Angry Jordan

    Angry Jordan

    4 days ago

    Isn't harleys for gay bear like looking men

  19. Wilder Transit

    Wilder Transit

    4 days ago

    So corney. But after watching the whole thing yall did great.

  20. Dian Dane Butay

    Dian Dane Butay

    4 days ago


  21. Joe Diaz

    Joe Diaz

    5 days ago

    Now the super sherpa!

  22. Anthony Mauger

    Anthony Mauger

    5 days ago

    Kawaski Gpz900r , rider took around the isle of man race track , it won , great bike , used in top gun by tom cruise , use to have A2 version ,

  23. It’savek


    5 days ago

    The infamous Mongols Of California

  24. Daniel Segewitz

    Daniel Segewitz

    5 days ago

    this video is soooooooooo funny. i love it

  25. fly bobbie

    fly bobbie

    6 days ago

    Above a 100, the Gpz was on rails, it didn't want to steer left or right.

  26. matthew poirier

    matthew poirier

    6 days ago

    Finally an up to speed on a vehicle I own.

  27. Kevin Bundschuh

    Kevin Bundschuh

    6 days ago

    wow, factually wrong. have you ever heard of the 1983 Honda Interceptor? Dissapointed

  28. Chris Andrew

    Chris Andrew

    6 days ago

    The Japanese produce good sports bikes. But somehow I feel that the Chinese might take away that crown in the near future. Companies like CFmoto are producing good powerful bikes with lesser price tag. Think about it.

  29. Bryan Zamorano

    Bryan Zamorano

    6 days ago

    Bruh wen u said ima dumbass icant feed myself😂🤣🤣🤣💯

  30. Frosti Gamer

    Frosti Gamer

    7 days ago


  31. suckafish2k9


    7 days ago

    "I'm a dumbass, I can't feed myself...we can't keep track of all these letters and numbers!" 🤣🤣🤣🤣

  32. Kaneowaikiki


    7 days ago

    I don't know if Kawasaki was the first to introduce the perimeter frame. The Honda Nt650 came out in 1988 w/a perimeter frame as well with a single sided swingarm too, which was a design team up with Honda and Elf Racing.

  33. Caput Draconis

    Caput Draconis

    7 days ago

    More power baby

  34. Ramadlan Badar Mahangkoso

    Ramadlan Badar Mahangkoso

    7 days ago

    The best superbike for short ppl

  35. wf fw

    wf fw

    7 days ago

    The addicted pain conventionally desert because married radiologically annoy before a wonderful sunflower. attractive, lethal birthday

  36. Jaime Rodriguez

    Jaime Rodriguez

    7 days ago

    Can you do an Up To Speed on Buell Motorcycles?! 🙌🏽

  37. da streets part 3

    da streets part 3

    8 days ago

    you guys did too much weed and shrooms before filming this. it was almost unwatchable.

  38. Anthony Delatore

    Anthony Delatore

    8 days ago

    It's pronounced Kawasexi

  39. ontheedge33371


    8 days ago

    Movies especially Tom cruise movies had no impact on how I thought about bikes ! Bikes are awesome and they all have awesome and less than awesome attributes ! Movies have less impact on people now than ever before ! And thank FN goodness for that !

  40. J HNV.

    J HNV.

    8 days ago

    First motorcycle to use the engine as a stress member? What about the Vincent's? The black shadows and the black lightning?

  41. B. H.

    B. H.

    8 days ago

    Yo man this video is a great blend of Info/comedy/entertainment. def gonna subscribe bro you had me rolling

  42. Jorge A.

    Jorge A.

    8 days ago

    My first motorcycle was a 2011 Ninja 250r

  43. lampo1025


    8 days ago

    I love my ninjas. Best bikes hands down

  44. Abid Niaz

    Abid Niaz

    8 days ago

    What is that song in the beginning? I have no idea how to find it and it’s so good

  45. XANi


    8 days ago

    Seriously, there is no need for shit humour

  46. ISPY4ever


    8 days ago

    "Harley - Everything else is LESS." That ages like parmesan cheese xD

  47. Nick Pierce

    Nick Pierce

    9 days ago

    Is he okay?

  48. Devo491


    9 days ago

    Umm, didn't Vincent use the engine as a stressed member? In the 1940s. And the Black Lightning (1948-50) had a top speed of 150MPH. All with a big V-twin.

  49. R B

    R B

    9 days ago

    lol what. motorcycles have literally never not been cool. if you really want to see why the overpriced trash called harley is dying fortnine's video on the subject is excellent.

  50. Landscaping Specialist

    Landscaping Specialist

    9 days ago

    My first bike besides my kx’s was a neenjahhh

  51. Landscaping Specialist

    Landscaping Specialist

    9 days ago

    Hey I have have Top Gun too 🥺

  52. Connor Kearns

    Connor Kearns

    9 days ago

    The gpz may have been “the first bike to top 150 miles per”,, but wasn’t it Rollie Free who was first to reach 150mph on the Vincent Black Lightning at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1948?

  53. John K Lindgren

    John K Lindgren

    9 days ago

    *Harley-Davidson hugely popular here in THAILAND. A tropical Bikers Paradise. Do you Donut-Dudes know that HD is also Made in Thailand. These non-Japanese, but premium motorcycles are also assembled in Thailand (not TAIWAN ;) The factories are locate approximately 50-80 km from BKK. Please do more motorbike content! Thanks, BikeSanooK-Johnny one of your fanboys from the FAR EAST*

  54. Michael Rigdon

    Michael Rigdon

    10 days ago

    2015 ninja 300 my first and only bike so far.. plan to buy new 600 someday. Idk when

  55. Willem Boudestijn

    Willem Boudestijn

    10 days ago

    i ride a Z1000 ST from 1981... and stil boing strong

  56. Krash TV

    Krash TV

    10 days ago

    no mention of the Y2K bike ???

  57. Rohan Grant

    Rohan Grant

    11 days ago

    My dad had one of these and it was so fast I remember riding on the back and it was so fun

  58. Kenneth Powers

    Kenneth Powers

    11 days ago

    See what people don’t understand about cars vs bikes is that as far as absolute traction a car is always going to win. You are always going to be able to accelerate faster, corner faster, etc. with 4 tires vs 2. Now it takes a well built and engineered car to stand up to the blistering performance of even an average super sport, your Moms Accord coupe isnt going to cut it, but as far as max performance goes more tires is always going to win so it’s not surprising the Tesla can put up a better 0-60 than the Ninja because it has better traction and the benefits of the instant torque of an electric motor. Side note, did you know electric cars and hybrids are actually the only cars that have motors?

  59. Peter Houlis

    Peter Houlis

    11 days ago

    Kawasakis have been changing the world since the first z 750 , z1 come off the production line back in the late 60s early 70s , who cares about harleys , i dont

  60. iamblamb


    12 days ago

    If you're gonna talk about how harley got big, you should really look at WW2.

  61. King Trident

    King Trident

    13 days ago

    I love my ninja 🤘🏼

  62. Andres Chavez

    Andres Chavez

    13 days ago

    hahahahah that duo at the explanation was so funny!!

  63. J. Neely

    J. Neely

    13 days ago


  64. Abduraghmaan Amardien

    Abduraghmaan Amardien

    13 days ago

    The zc 12 was faster than the black bird

  65. Wasi Gupito

    Wasi Gupito

    13 days ago

    Kawasaki Ninja is so iconic in Indonesia because of its premium and distinguishable features that makes its price so expensive Even the Girls in Indonesia have such catchphrase as follow : "If your bike is not Ninja, you can't take me out" Or "No Ninja, No Love"

  66. Kresimir Milisa

    Kresimir Milisa

    13 days ago

    nice explained good video about kawasakis ninja model thanks donut media team.

  67. HippyWithAHemi


    13 days ago

    so James has a hand fetish

  68. Daniel De La Paz

    Daniel De La Paz

    13 days ago

    You a Jack Parsons fan?

  69. Jasper Genuino

    Jasper Genuino

    13 days ago


  70. Words


    13 days ago

    10:47 Sorry, LN2 is cooler than water. Y'all need to up your overclocking game.

  71. Need coffee

    Need coffee

    13 days ago

    Why has no one mentioned the fact that it was really Vanilla Ice in his GSXR that made motorcycles cool again?

  72. joel China

    joel China

    13 days ago

    Anyone else notice Clumsy Carl's bouncing breasteses on the back of that b2000? just me ? I hope Mr. Pumphreys hearts doing well !! He makes me laugh! They all seem like good eggs at Donut so thanks yall!!

  73. Chris Pasch

    Chris Pasch

    14 days ago

    Y'all should do the Subaru Baja

  74. fewedzi VK

    fewedzi VK

    14 days ago


  75. Sufferr


    14 days ago

    Hey donut are you gonna make an R32 stocky yet or what? I see that fucker in the background

  76. lezzbmm


    14 days ago

    4:38 'no doubt' lmfaoo

  77. Catching Urchin13

    Catching Urchin13

    14 days ago

    You should do up to speed on the Chevy Nova

  78. Rey Camacho

    Rey Camacho

    15 days ago

    Again what happen with Yamaha

  79. Patrick Dozier

    Patrick Dozier

    15 days ago

    Great video

  80. Brian Mckenzie

    Brian Mckenzie

    15 days ago

    The information on the Ninja is inaccurate. I *cough* ok my uncle had, but I got it later, a 1985 Yamaha V-Max with Ram air Gutsiest mo-powa cruiser you ever saw. Great vid - a VMax vid would be cool too. More Motorcycles ! We love Donuts too !

  81. Sibu Langa

    Sibu Langa

    15 days ago

    The scoring of 80's soundtracks in this video just make it so much cooler 😭🔥 it's genius. That given, anyone know the name of the track that starts at 18:25?

  82. Stephen Black

    Stephen Black

    15 days ago

    Can we please get more Up To Speed. Like Ayrton Senna would be freaking dope just saying.

  83. 850 Crawlers

    850 Crawlers

    16 days ago

    Not a word about the ZX14. That hurts

  84. tomas faial

    tomas faial

    16 days ago

    You guys should make an Up to Speed episode about Top Gear.

  85. Valerie Sorrells

    Valerie Sorrells

    16 days ago

    my first bike was the Ninja 500... loved that bike!

  86. Sams Lab

    Sams Lab

    16 days ago

    James you were wrong h2 dosent get the supercharger from h2r it gets the same engine with a turbo !

  87. Chef Evans

    Chef Evans

    16 days ago

    Gotta admit, I love this guy's enthusiasm.

  88. Daniel Dulu

    Daniel Dulu

    16 days ago

    As a former motorcycle rider I can assure you that 50 miles per hour is deadly.

  89. Raiz Ahamed Muzafir

    Raiz Ahamed Muzafir

    16 days ago

    i miss "everything you need to know to get up to speed"

  90. nielsvanesch7


    16 days ago

    Will we see a jaguar episode?

  91. Nathan Hagerman

    Nathan Hagerman

    17 days ago

    How about an up to speed on Citroen?

  92. al_in_philly


    17 days ago

    AMF's take-over of H-D, and the manufacturing malaise which followed, did far more to erode Harley's dominance of the US market than the arrival of the GPZ 900 Ninja. In fact, their sales had slumped so much by 1983, Ronald Reagan put a huge 45% tariff on Japanese motorcycles over 700cc. Plus, the Ninja appealed to an entirely different market segment than any of the models which Harley made, aside from the 1977 XLCR cafe racer (which didn't sell well at all).

  93. Bren Doherty

    Bren Doherty

    17 days ago

    hey guys can you do an upto speed on vauxhall corsa

  94. Jose Vargas

    Jose Vargas

    17 days ago

    I been a Donut Media fans the Dodge Viper Up to Speed episode, and I freaking LOVE Donut Media!!!!

  95. SuperAngelo8


    17 days ago

    What about the land rover defense?

  96. Brice Ligget

    Brice Ligget

    17 days ago

    I have no idea where you come up with these funny little bits, but it's amazing.

  97. Advait Talekar

    Advait Talekar

    17 days ago


  98. Farhan Yuda putra

    Farhan Yuda putra

    17 days ago

    Ngl, after that stepdad joke read the supercharged emblem as "super stepdad" instead 😂

  99. Jeet Francis

    Jeet Francis

    17 days ago

    Excellent video as always. However can someone tell me the music at 15:55?

  100. Kev Wilks

    Kev Wilks

    17 days ago

    Isle of man needs it's own episode