Kawasaki Z7 Hybrid: Battery Power Meets Dino Juice

Z7 Hybrid
The Kawasaki Z7 Hybrid, merging gasoline power with a battery bike motor. Credit: Kawasaki

Kawasaki continues to blaze its own trail into the world of alternative energy, with the new Z7 Hybrid introduced at EICMA today. Just like the earlier Ninja7 Hybrid, there are very few details on the new bike, but it signals that Kawi is deadly serious on its plan to make battery bikes practical.

Both the Z7 Hybrid and the Ninja 7 Hybrid borrow much from Kawasaki’s small-bore lineup. The chassis borrows heavily from the Z400. They run the same 450 engine that’s in the Eliminator, and the Ninja 500 and Z500 announced earlier today.

There’s also an electric motor with 7 kW output (it’s able to briefly surge to 9 kW) that’s connected to the gas engine’s input shaft. These separate powerplants can work on their own; you can ride under gas power, or under battery power. Or, you can combine them together, to get the rough equivalent of 650-class power out of the 450 when you activate E-Boost mode (on its part, Kawi claims litrebike-like acceleration).

Kawasaki calls these modes Sport-Hybrid, Eco-Hybrid, and EV, and while the battery is always providing a little juice, Sport-Hybrid is where you can active E-Boost, and it’s the most powerful mode, with the gas engine always engaged. Eco-Hybrid has no E-Boost available and uses the electric motor for low-rpm work. The EV mode is self-explanatory; that’s battery power only.

You won’t get far when strictly under battery power, as the 48V battery pack (jammed under the seat) has 1.3 kWh capacity. However, it’s enough to satisfy EU regulators, and that’s where these bikes are probably going to see most usage.

The Z7 Hybrid and Ninja 7 Hybrid have an auto-shifting gearbox, but there’s a paddle shifter on the handlebar as well, if you want it. In electric-only mode, you are restricted to auto-shifting though.

While the bike is heavier than the Z400 that inspired much of its design, it’s not as bad as you might think, as the battery and electric motor each weigh 13 kg apiece. The Ninja 7 Hybrid weighs 227 kg at the curb, and we’d also expect the Z7 in the same range, as it doesn’t really have that much less plastic. The upright seating position will certainly feel different than the Ninja’s crouch, though.

There are still many questions about these bikes’ specs and Kawi’s plans for them. All we know for now is that they’re on the market and they’re headed for Europe. If we hear about a plan and a price tag for Canada, we’ll fill you in.

Join the conversation!