Is Kawasaki about to make the 250 great again? The just-unveiled ZX-25R suggests that Team Green may be about to do just that.
For a while, there have been rumours of a new quarter-litre sportbike from Kawasaki, and that’s indeed what was unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show. But unlike most of the current crop of beginner-friendly sportbikes, with their emphasis on affordability, the ZX-25R features high-end components that will no doubt bring the price up, but also provide increased performance.
Let’s start with the motor. Instead of a parallel twin or single, the ZX-25R has a liquid-cooled inline four. We haven’t seen a proper four-cylinder 250 in decades, so that’s newsworthy enough. But wait, there’s more! Web rumours suggest output could be as high as 60 hp, which would make this an absolute screamer, even by old two-stroke standards (for the sake of reference, the old Honda NSR250 two-smokers made about 45 hp).
The ZX-25R uses decent Showa SFF-BP forks, the sort of decent bits you’d see on a 600-class supersport. Same goes for the radial brakes (single front disc and rear disc). It’s also expected to have traction control, a quickshifter and a selection of different power modes. All in all, it sounds like a proper sporting motorcycle, even moreso than the excellent Ninja 400. It’s worth noting that, at this point, the ZX-25R sounds more technologically advanced than some of the current 600 cc supersport offerings. The frame is steel, not aluminum, but the rest of the machine seems engineered for performance, not affordability. That’s very unusual in this displacement class.
Kawasaki claims this machine is for the world market, although whether that includes Canada remains to be seen.