Some of us may remember back in the late '80s and early '90s when every major Japanese motorbike manufacturer produced high-quality 400cc sport bikes. They were direct copies of Superbikes of the time. The only problem was, we couldn’t get one here in the States. The closest we could get was Yamaha’s FZR 400, but it wasn't anywhere near the quality of build or styling as its gray market sibling, the FZR400RR SP. Kawasaki had its own mini Superbike in the form of a ZXR400.
Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A., announced an updated Ninja ZX-10RR model for 2024, giving the superbike a new variable air intake system. The VAI system is new for North America, but it was already previously announced for Europe, and the Kawasaki Racing Team has been racing the updated model for the 2023 World Superbike Championship.
One of the worst-kept secrets in motorcycling is now a secret no more: Kawasaki has announced the Ninja ZX-4RR KRT will be coming to the US in 2023, (hopefully) ushering in a revival of 400cc four-cylinder sportbikes that were all the rage in the 1990s. But unlike the current parallel-twin Ninja 400, which is essentially a budget bike dressed in sportbike clothes, this newest model is worthy of the ZX prefix, as it boasts proper suspension, twin radial brakes, a full electronics suite, and chassis geometry inspired by its ZX-6R and ZX-10R siblings – oh, and let’s not forget – a compact four-banger that will rev to over 15,000 rpm! But more on all those things in a minute.
Now we need a good reason and a Master Plan: 20 years ago we just needed three cool motorcycles and an open invitation to California Speedway (which I hear just hosted its last trackday. RIP.) Earlier we’d already deduced the Kawasaki ZX-6R was the best 600, the Suzuki GSX-R1000 was the best 1000, and the Aprilia Mille R was the best Twin (and the one you most wish you’d embezzled). So why not compare them all to each other? In the hands of non-professional riders, the results are sometimes surprising. Miss you, Dirty Sean. Hope you’re well in the Las Vegas bunker, Willie T!
Kawasaki is bringing back both the Ninja 650 and Z650 for 2023 with one significant update – traction control. Formerly a rider aid only for the most powerful sportbikes on the planet, the safety benefits of traction control reach far beyond trying to go quickly around a racetrack. The two-step KTRC system does not feature the exotic IMUs that flagship sportbikes use, but a more modest system. In mode 1, KTRC allows the rear tire to slip a little more and doesn’t intervene as early. It’s a sport setting designed to allow the rider maximum drive and acceleration off a corner.
A new Vehicle Identification Number decoder released by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirms that Kawasaki will be introducing a 399cc Inline-Four Ninja ZX-4R model for 2023. While the VIN decoder does not provide any clue to what the ZX-4R will look like, we expect it will be styled similar to the 249cc Ninja ZX-25R (pictured above) currently offered in Japan and other Asian markets.
This isn’t quite Part 2 of the Earl Roloff saga, which we haven’t quite got around to yet. But it is an important digression – the story of the Kawasaki Ninja 1000 that won the first Formula USA championship in 1986, and still glowers at intruders from its glass enclosure at the Willow Springs International Raceway office. As told by Earl, Jr., himself. – John Burns
Inflation, inshmation: A new Kawasaki ZX-14R is only $600 more than it was ten years ago, and a new Hayabusa, well, it’s $18,799 – which is $4500 more than in 2012. But if you wanted the fastest Kawasaki today, you’d need a supercharged one like the Ninja H2, which is more like $30k (and worth every penny). Which makes the new-for-’22 Hayabusa a comparative bargain. You deserve one. Ask your doctor if your heart is healthy enough for either one.
With the calendar flipping over to July, we are now officially in the second half of 2022. That also means motorcycle manufacturers are starting to make their model announcements for 2023. Around this time of year, we typically hear about updated models returning with the always-popular “Bold New Graphics,” such as last week’s news of 2023 BMW paint options.
It’s good to be the king. At least, that’s what it feels like to anyone racing a Kawasaki Ninja 400. When it comes to small-bore track or race bikes, what is a field of several – Yamaha R3, Honda CBR500, and KTM RC390 included – has been whittled down to a field of one: the Ninja 400. Virtually anywhere in the world that has a class for little bikes of this size will see a field dominated by the little green machines. Heck, we called it the winner back in 2018 during our Lightweight Sportbike Shootout, too.
And so it came to pass, ten years ago, that Trizzle, Pete and Duke did verily pilgrimage to Buttonwillow. And so we give a shoutout to the shootout of the most exciting new 2011 ZX-10R against the most exciting superbike of the year before, the BMW S1000RR… you know the drill.
What Johnny Rea wants, Johnny Rea gets. That’s the kind of pull you have when you become the most dominant rider in World Superbike history and help Kawasaki become the dominant manufacturer from the moment you join the team. It’s also the short history behind the latest incarnation of the Kawasaki ZX-10R for 2021. It’s not a new motorcycle from the ground up, but comes with some significant revisions over the previous model to help Johnny keep one step ahead of the chasing pack.
Gennelmen, start your engines. Ten years ago, Tommyguns Roderick still had his video-star good looks, EiC Duke was Eic, and where is Kevin Smith today? The Suzuki GSX-F, also now defunct, was the spiritual (and mechanical) descendant of the mighty Bandit 1200, and the FZ1 was the Jeb Bush of the family. Ten years on, only the Ninja 1000 soldiers on, MO’s Runner-Up for Best Sport Tourer of 2020.
Kawasaki’s much anticipated, and heavily revised, ZX-10R has finally been announced, and it’s bringing along its race-bred sibling in the ZX-10RR, too. Rumors about an updated ZX-10R had been swirling about for some time, and armchair warriors really went crazy once early pictures were released from Australia. Buzz really started swirling last week, when the Kawasaki World Superbike team took part in the championship’s winter test, revealing the 2021 ZX-10RR in full race trim.
Kawasaki‘s World Superbike racing team has begun testing of the 2021 Ninja ZX-10RR, revealing the superbike’s new look. As KRT riders Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes take the new Ninja out on the Jerez circuit, Kawasaki confirmed the production model ZX-10RR, and presumably the Ninja ZX-10R as well, will be revealed on Nov. 23. (Updated with high resolution photos).
An updated 2021 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R and ZX-10RR have been confirmed in vehicle certification data submitted in Australia. The certification documents reveal a new fairing for the Ninjas, plus some engine updates that were likely aimed to meet Euro 5 requirements.
An Italian and a German walk into a bar… wait, Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. Ten years ago, two serious new players from Europe appeared on our shores, intent on upsetting the 1000 cc Japanese applecart. “Inhaling slower bikes like the way an ’84 Seville’s radiator grill consumes flies,” these intoxicatingly fabulous sportbikes – especially the winner of this epic contest – reset the course to where we find ourselves today, which is to say, without a Literbike Shootout. So far anyway. But remember: Whoever is slothful will not roast his game, but the diligent man will get precious wealth. Amen. Wait, what?
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.” Which is interesting, because at the millennial, when Kawasaki updated its sweet ZX-6R, I was 66.6% as old as I am now. Coincidence?! I think not. I have to say, though motorcycles really have cometh a long way, everything else seems to be slipping backward. COVID 19, killer hornets, a springtime with no MotoGP… Washeth thine hands, friends, amen.
Nope, this is not a First Ride review. Yes, I’m annoyed too. But hey, COVID-19 is affecting everyone in different ways. I won’t whine about not getting to ride new motorcycles for X number of weeks if you folks promise not to whine about, “Where’s the Ninja 1000 SX review!” I understand your anticipation, we feel the same way over here. When our comprehensive Ninja 1000 SX data dump (basically just a giant Kawasaki press release) was published last November during EICMA 2019, Kawasaki spilled all of the beans on the new model. Last week we had a “virtual press launch” which was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, there was no new information to publish since Kawi had already released it all.
Yea verily, I owned one of these, in about 2008, in all its purpleness, and did we not unveil all its nakedness, and throw upon it a Spiegler handlebar kit, and did we not fool with ways to keep its pressurized airbox under pressure so that all four big carburetors would wail and its mighty teeth gnash through six massive gears in anger, and lay our mighty carbon footprint upon the land, yet be so pleasant and joyful that hot young mamas who then roamed the land, wouldst steal it to ride to work? Those were the days, my friend.
Don’t you ever get tired of reading track comparisons from guys that are riding at international race-winning levels? From guys who have been racing their entire lives and who drag elbow like it’s their job (literally)? Me neither, but the guys here at MO and I thought there might be someone out there who could appreciate insight from what a novice track rider might experience when comparing some of the latest 600-class supersports. The two most recently updated of which happen to be the Yamaha R6 and Kawasaki ZX-6R.
Last week, Kawasaki presented an electric motorcycle concept at EICMA, but did no reveal many details about it during the show. Today, Kawasaki finally released more information, confirming that the company has been researching electric vehicles for quite some time, including testing both on a race track and in urban environments. Unfortunately, Kawasaki says it remains purely a research project with no plans of releasing an electric motorcycle in the near future.
Earlier this month, Kawasaki announced an updated Ninja 650 for 2020, along with a number of street bike models returning unchanged except for new graphics. One model that was conspicuously left out was the 650’s larger sibling, the Ninja 1000. We now think we know why, as the California Air Resources Board released an executive order certifying an updated 2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000.
And in those days, MO’s staff consisted of whoever Cashley Hamilton could rope in, not that that was a bad thing. Since MO was heavily invested in racing Buell motorcycles while it was trying to be born, it was no surprise that the Apostle Shawn Higbee (1994 AMA Harley-Davidson Twinsport Champion) could be enticed into writing up a quick Kawasaki ZX-7R review.
For the past decade we’ve all been witness to the steady decline of the 600 supersport category. It’s amazing to think about, especially considering that, before the economic recession, the four Japanese players in this very same class were pumping out brand new contenders every other year! Since then, however, 600s have become more than stagnant – the class has been teetering on life support. Suzuki and Honda have soldiered on with the same GSX-R600 and CBR600RR for years – the latter even halting sales in Europe due to increasing emissions standards and declining sales. Meanwhile, Yamaha introduced an “update” to its venerable YZF-R6 which amounted to new bodywork, electronics, and a series of relatively minor improvements. Compound that with rising costs rivaling prices for liter-class machines and many questioned the reason to buy a 600.
Unveiled today at the AIMExpo in Las Vegas, Nevada, Kawasaki has taken the wraps off the new 2019 Ninja ZX-6R. While the 600 supersport category may be far from the glory days of the past, we’re thankful companies like Kawasaki have kept it in their lineups – even if the updates are less than ground-up redesigns.
Kawasaki revealed two small-displacement models for Europe’s A1 entry-level licensing tier. The 2019 Kawasaki Ninja 125 and Z125 share a 125cc engine, a full-size chassis with 17-inch wheels and similar styling to the larger Ninja and Z models. Unfortunately, neither model is likely to come to North America where there’s no equivalent to the A1 class to create enough of a market. It’s a shame, though, as these two look like they could be a lot of fun.
Kawasaki Europe has announced some updates to the 2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R’s engine, pushing its claimed power output up to 200 hp from the previous 197 hp with improved power and torque across the rev range. Also receiving updates for 2019 are the more track-focused ZX-10RR and the electronic suspension-equipped ZX-10R SE. As of this writing, these updates have not been announced for the U.S. market, but we expect to hear official news from Kawasaki USA shortly.
When Kawasaki announced updates for the 2019 Ninja H2, the headline-grabbing change was the 30-horsepower increase, raising the claimed maximum output to 227.8 hp. One change that drew much less attention was the new Highly Durable Paint treatment that Kawasaki claims is self-repairing.
Despite what you may have heard, the supersport class is not completely dead, as Motorcycle.com can confirm that an updated Kawasaki ZX-6R is coming for 2019. We can also confirm the new 2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R will be announced (at least, for the U.S.) on Oct. 11, which happens to be the first media day at the 2018 AIMExpo show.
Kawasaki announced a number of updates to the 2019 Ninja H2 and Ninja H2 Carbon, making the supercharged engine more powerful, while maintaining the same fuel efficiency as the previous iteration. While Kawasaki USA hasn’t released any power figures for the H2, its European counterpart claims a substantial increase from 197.3 hp to 227.8 hp. We’ll have to wait to see if the North American-spec version gets the same boost. The 2019 Ninja H2R also receives some updates, though its engine remains unchanged.
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, we – err, at least I – really love the Kawasaki Ninja 400. Ryan came off the bike at its press intro and was happy as could be. He’s such a fan that he pointed out the 10 things he specifically likes about it. Then, once we stacked it up against the KTM RC390 and Honda CBR500R in our 2018 Lightweight Sportbike Shootout, the Ninja 400 came away a winner, yet again. As far as lightweight sportbikes go, this one is sweet. It’s a great entry-level motorcycle for the new or returning rider, but has plenty of performance for the experienced rider to exploit.
You’ve heard the adage a lot if you’re a consistent Motorcycle.com reader – it’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow – and with our recent Lightweight Sportbike Shootout we’ve gone ahead and proved it. By now we’ll assume you’ve already read the shootout, seen our conclusions, and also drawn your own; but what exactly do these three motorcycles look like at speed around Laguna Seca? This is your chance to see for yourself, as we’ve captured a quick lap aboard all three bikes, courtesy of Yours Truly.
It’s getting to be a bit silly what’s passing for a lightweight sportbike these days. In the beginning, it made sense: You had the Kawasaki Ninja 250. And, well, that was it. It only took twenty-odd years, but the other manufacturers eventually took notice that building small bikes to entice new or returning riders was probably a good thing for the industry, and hence, started building little bikes of their own. Honda came around with the CBR250R…just as the competition upped the ante again. Kawasaki pushed the bar with the Ninja 300, then Honda made a weak attempt to follow suit with the 286cc CBR300R. Yamaha then jumped in the game, shoving displacement rules out the window with its 321cc R3 – but not to be outdone, the brash Austrians (via India) at KTM one-upped all of them with the 373cc RC390.
We already performed a complete road test with amazing video on Kawasaki’s amazing new H2 SX SE a while ago. But why let that stop us from revisiting the highest-ranked bike I ever raved about, with a 97.5% approval rating, and with the first engine I ever gave a perfect 20?
The kids at Bexton Moto in Cary, North Carolina, decided to do something a bit different with an almost-new scuffed-up 2014 Ninja 300. It involved a TZ250 fairing, an H2 replica seat, some fancy metalwork to the gas tank, upgraded suspension items, and quite a bit of imagination and craftsmanship.
Kawasaki may have just found the sweet spot with its new Ninja 400. At a glance, the new motorcycle has undergone a substantial weight reduction treatment, a displacement boost of 103cc, and a sexy styling redesign – all while remaining at the exact same price point. Non-ABS models start at $4,999 while ABS is an additional $300. Kawasaki was out for blood when it went back to the drawing board for its new entry-level motorcycle.
After unveiling the Ninja 400 at the Tokyo Motor Show and seeing it again in Milan at EICMA, Kawasaki officially announced the new 399cc sportbike for the U.S. market. Impressively, American pricing starts at $4,999 for the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400, the same MSRP as the outgoing Ninja 300 (the ABS version is also priced similarly, at $5,299). We’ll also see a KRT edition color option (with ABS) in dealerships carrying a $5,499 price tag.
When Kawasaki introduced the Ninja H2 and H2R, it raised the bar for high performance motorcycle exotica with its supercharged 998cc engine. As impressed as we were by the H2, one superlative we would not use to describe it was “practical.” Kawasaki hopes to change that with the 2018 Ninja H2 SX, a supercharged sport-tourer that sacrifices some of the H2’s high performance aspirations for better everyday usability.
The California Air Resources Board has issued an executive order certifying a 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 with a 399cc engine. The certification confirms what we assumed earlier this year after a local television news program aired a story about Kawasaki filming a commercial in Milwaukee, revealing the Ninja 400 name.
For those who’ve lapped up every word, expression, and metaphor of the performance novel that was our 2017 Superbike Track Shootout and Superbike Street Shootout, the heir apparent is as obvious as the bike coming in last place. For those still wallowing in anticipation, unable to decipher our MOrse code, you can take a breath because, without further ado, we give you…
It’s been two years since we summoned together the superpowers of the sportbike world. In that time the Aprilia RSV4 RR, Honda CBR1000RR, Kawasaki ZX-10R, and Suzuki GSX-R1000 have either been heavily revised or completely overhauled. These changes beg a reinspection into the pecking order of world’s premier street-legal superbikes. Can Japan wrest away the literbike crown from the European OEMs, Aprilia and BMW, that have dominated the class since 2010?
Up until now Kawasaki’s Ninja 650 has been recognized as a genteel gateway drug to the company’s true supersport model, the ZX-6R. For 2017 Kawasaki has further distilled more performance from the beginner-ish Ninja while maintaining the bike’s streetable mannerisms. In other words, the 2017 Ninja 650 is a more potent sportbike capable of shredding a twisty canyon road or closed course race track on the weekends, while performing commuter duty during the weekdays.
EICMA and Intermot have come and gone and the question on most American consumers’ minds is which of the wonderful new models will be making their way to the U.S.? Today, Kawasaki answered their part of the question, confirming the ZX-10RR, Ninja 1000, Ninja 650, Z900, Z650 and the Versys-X 300 for the U.S. market.
Kawasaki’s jaw-dropping Ninja H2 and H2R are back for 2017, and joining them is a third member of the family, the Ninja H2 Carbon. While Kawasaki are calling the Carbon a third member of the Ninja H2 family, the title is slightly deceiving as the bike is essentially a standard Ninja H2 with a carbon fiber upper cowl, bringing it visually closer to the Ninja H2R. The carbon cowl will also be available as an accessory from Kawasaki, able to retrofit onto prior H2 models.
Kawasaki is taking its superbike up another level, introducing the new ZX-10RR at Intermot. Limited to just 500 units in Europe (we’ll have to wait to hear if any units will be reserved for the U.S.), the double-R was designed with feedback from its championship-winning World Superbike program, and Kawasaki hopes to see the ZX-10RR filling superbike and supersport paddocks in the seasons ahead.
A few days ago, some images began floating around reportedly depicting a supercharged 600cc Kawasaki expected to be called the “Ninja R2.” But just like we did last week with a design patent for a 125cc Honda Monkey prototype, we’re going to explain why these reports probably aren’t true.
Look around the liter-class sportbike landscape. The field is littered with some of the most technologically advanced and blindingly fast motorcycles the world has ever seen. Trickle-down technology from the world of MotoGP and World Superbike is making its way to production motorcycles faster than ever before, and it’s hard to deny the sportbike landscape is all the better for it.
Crouched down behind a wing-festooned carbon-fiber fairing about one-third of a mile down an Oregon airstrip, I shifted into fourth gear at wide-open throttle and was both thrilled and alarmed when the front wheel departed the tarmac. I stole a furtive glance at the speedometer and saw three mind-blowing digits unexpected while wheelying: 170.