Forty Years Of Speed: Kawasaki Goes Retro With The Ninja Line

Even the ZX-14R hyperbike gets the retro paint for 2024! Credit: Kawasaki

Those madlads at Kawasaki have seen which way the wind is blowing—and it is blowing right back into the past. Retro is cool in the moto world, and that now includes retro sportbikes. So, for 2024, we are getting the Ninja lineup in 40th anniversary livery.

Retro is in, so why not combine a 40th anniversary celebration with a throwback paint job? Credit: Kawasaki

That’s right—the Ninja series debuted four decades ago. Or as Kawi’s PR puts it:

“In 1984, an icon of the motorcycle industry was born; the Kawasaki GPZ900R introduced many leading technological innovations, from its diamond frame that used the engine as a stressed member to the air-assisted fork springs. It also became the very first sportbike to receive the Ninja nameplate.”

It was also the first motorcycle that Tom Cruise rode to movie notoriety—sans helmet, setting a pattern for decades to come (a theme we’ve explored in the past, here at CMG… ).

Don’t watch that clip too closely, or you’ll see the tie-downs on the fork. Ol’ Tom was forced to ride the bike on a trailer for this clip. Nowadays, he wouldn’t be forced into such indignity.

Want some more fun YouTube footage? Here’s a promo clip for the original GPZ900:

Uh, where were we… Oh yes. The Ninja. As you can see in that clip above, the OG GPZ900 was shipped to North America in very sensible red and black paint. At later points, the line grew in both available engine sizes, and in garish paint choices. Chances are, if you’re a sportbike fan, you remember lots of purple and yellow livery. But Kawasaki’s 40th anniversary paint is a rather tasteful green, white and blue. Kawi claims it’s inspired by the Ninja ZX-7 of the early 1990s, when it won three FIM Endurance World Championship titles. And if you remember your CSBK history, you’ll also remember that ZX-7 won the national superbike championship nine straight years, 1991-1999.

The ZX-6R, one of the most dominant sportbike series ever built, will return to Canada as the only truly modern 600, and with this 40th anniversary paint. Credit: Kawasaki

Overall, Kawi’s Ninjas have taken 14 national superbike championships in Canada—a solid record. Team Green’s 600-class machines have also won 15 titles in the Pro Sport Bike bracket as well. Of course, the company’s bikes have also dominated regional series across Canada for decades as well, from their smallest 250-class sportbikes all the way up to the litre class.

It’s not just blue/white/green paint. Other accents include touches like this badge on the tank. Credit: Kawasaki

With all that in mind, it’s no wonder they felt in a celebratory mood, adding a set of green wheels and a 40th Anniversary badge to the tank of these special-run models. The new-for-this-year Ninja ZX-4RR also gets silver paint on the fairing and swingarm. The ZX-6R and ZX-10R get that same splash of silver, and gold-painted fork tubes. Pricing for 2024 is as follows:

  • 2024 Ninja ZX-4RR 40th Anniversary: $11,699
  • 2024 Ninja ZX-6R 40th Anniversary: $14,399
  • 2024 Ninja ZX-10R 40th Anniversary: $21,899
  • 2024 Ninja ZX-14R 40th Anniversary: $20,399

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