Kawasaki appears set to not just compete in, but dominate, the small and middleweight sportbike category for 2013. EPA certification documentation, not subject to manufacturers’ embargo agreements, show Kawasaki has been busy testing three new Ninja sportbikes for possible introduction to the U.S. market, including a fully revamped 636cc ZX-6R, a 300cc evolution of the Ninja 250R and the (previously) Canada-model Ninja 400R. Also listed by the EPA is the Versys 1000 adventure-tourer, a machine already on sale in Europe as a 2012 model.
Yes, test data of all the certified 2013 motorcycles is available on the EPA website, and it includes model names, displacements, engine types and manufacturer claimed crankshaft power in kilowatt hours, making it easy to discern what models an OEM is bringing to market—or at least has paid big money to certify. Note that a certified model does not have to be put on sale (the Ninja 400 was previously certified by the U.S. EPA, but not made available here).
As we speculated not too long ago, the rumored 636 will be coming, but there appears to be no 600cc version available for racers—presumably, Kawasaki will just petition AMA Pro Racing to allow the 636 into Daytona SportBike with the other non-traditional models already competing in that class, like the Triumph 675 Daytona and the Ducati 848. There aren’t too many surprises (or details) in the technical data, but Kawasaki claims 129.4 horsepower at 13,500 rpm, up 5 hp from the old 2012 ZX-6R. Expect it to be lighter and boast other improvements as well (including available ABS). Spy shots on the Motorcycle News website show (blurrily) that the 636 is visually similar to the current model.
The 300 configuration is also interesting. Significant because it’s a major update of the Ninja 250R just 5 model years after that bike’s introduction in 2008, and also because it boasts an extreme boost in power. Claimed output is 39 hp at 11,000 rpm, up from the 250’s 32 hp at the same rpm. Not bad for a 47cc boost in displacement—there must have been other tuning tricks, or maybe the engineers gave the bike more of the slightly peaky powerband that made the earlier Ninja 250s such a hoot to ride (not that the present model isn’t), relying on the bump in cubes to keep the bottom end noob-friendly. The EPA indicates the U.S. model will be fuel injected next year. We have already shown you the redesigned Ninja 250R here, and the 300 should be based on this same redesign.
The 400 may be intriguing at first, but it’s an odd choice for the USA market. Essentially a sleeved-down Ninja 650R, the 400R retains most of the weight and price of its big brother while offering up just 43 hp (the 650 makes 71). It makes sense in a country with stepped licensing requirements, but at a price not much lower than the 650R, I’m not sure what the market is for this bike (and it couldn’t be available in California in any event, with only 49 state certification).
Judging by all the plus-sized Adventure Bikes I see on the roads, there should be no problem selling the Versys 1000, also certified for just 49 states. With a claimed 116.4 hp, it’ll be a big, fast and comfy roadburner.