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EPA Public Certification Documents Reveal 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 300 and Ninja 400, Confirm 636cc ZX-6R

Redesigned Ninja 250R already revealed by Kawasaki Japan

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.

Canadian Model Ninja 400R

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.

39 Comments

  1. Wayne says:

    So glad to see the 400 class back in the states. A 400 makes a perfect light 2nd bike for a seasoned rider. I looked at the 250s, but they are under-powered for a full-sized man on the freeway, and the 600s have more power than you can safely use on the street.

    400 today is like a 250, back when the speed limit was 55 and I weighed 155 Lbs…

  2. bdog488 says:

    The ninja 300 is no longer listed in the linked excel file

  3. todd says:

    I don’t quite understand the increase in capacity for the 250/300 Ninja. Isn’t the whole reason for getting a 250 because it’s not playing the horsepower wars? Really, if someone wanted more power they’d just buy the 600, er, 636. Small bikes are primarily for learners. Learners need small and manageable. Gone are the days of 125’s weighing half as much as the current 250’s. I’ve come to find that even the 250’s are intimidating for some new riders.

    • Dave says:

      For better or worse, we’re a highway society. We’ve had the 250 all this time because that displacement is a global “catch weight”. The 300 gives more power, while not changing the character of the bike. In the late 80’s we lost everything between 250 and 600cc because the 600’s were excellent and cheap. In the US we don’t have license or insurance stipulations based on displacement so there’s no incentive to buy below 600cc unless you want a small bike.

  4. Johnny Ro says:

    California sets its own emission standards which are more stringent than the federal standard.

  5. RichBinAZ says:

    I take it the EPA list is imcomplete as it only shows Honda with 4 bikes, all 250 and under. This could explain why the arrival of the NC700 hasn’t happened yet. Perhaps when they say “summer”… or is the EPA list bad.
    Honda has just updated their site to show a picture of the manual gearbox bike.

  6. Yunus says:

    New Ninja 250R will not come europe?

  7. VJ says:

    It’s a shame that this new Ninja 250 looks so much better than the Ninja 1000 or Z-1000. Kawi really needs to stop smacking those things around with ugly sticks.

    • RedFZ1 says:

      Yea like the one Suzuki uses for the ‘Busa….oh wait they don’t use a ugly stick on the ‘Busa….they use the whole forest!!

  8. JSH says:

    The 2013 EPA spread sheet I downloaded does not show a Ninja 250, only a Ninja 300 and Ninja 300 ABS. I suspect that the USA will get the Ninja 300 instead of the Ninja 250. That will allow Kawasaki to further distance themselves from the Honda CBR250 and should allow them to price it at least $500 more than the Honda. I expect the Ninja 300 to be priced at $4999, and the Ninja 300 ABS to be $5,499.

    The Ninja 400 will be a Canadian only model, just like it was for 2011 and 2012. While a sleeved-down Ninja 650 doesn’t seem to make sense on paper it does when you talk about Canadian insurance. Reports from Canada quote insurance prices at ~$1500 per year less for the 400 compared to a Ninja 650.

    • Dave says:

      +$500 on the CBR puts retail @ $4599 base.

      • JSH says:

        Notice I said “at least”. The lowest pricing I could see is $4499 / $4999 while $4999 / $5499 is the top of my estimate. $500 seems to be the going rate to add optional ABS.

    • Lynchenstein says:

      ~$1500 difference per year between the 650 and 400? I “only” pay $1200/year for my VFR800 (with my safe (heh) driver’s discount). I think the math is off.

      • JSH says:

        Are you Canadian? I’m just relaying what I’ve read on some blogs from Canadians. My understanding is the some Canadian Providences have a huge jump in insurance rates for bikes over 400cc’s.

  9. Norm G. says:

    re: “As we speculated not too long ago, the rumored 636 will be coming, but there appears to be no 600cc version available”

    not yet. petitioning the FIM…? yeah, that’ll blend.

    • Dave says:

      Ducati and Triumph have displacement advantages. If FIM values the Supersport class they’ll bend/adjust (restrictor plates?). If not, Kawi can walk away. How many SS bikes to they sell on the EU mainland anyway?

  10. randy says:

    Hdere’s hoping they bring the 300 into Kalifornia. Long overdue for a small bike with more than 25-29 HP.

  11. v says:

    How on earth could the new ZX-6R be lighter if it gets ABS? That feature alone is worth a lot of weight that can’t be (economically) reduced elsewhere. Long term trend har been weight increase not reduction on all motorcycles, sportbikes and motorcrossers and even MotoGP bikes included.

    • Dave says:

      The GSXR has a great history as you describe. 1st models were way light and it got heavier and heavier until 96’s when they turned the world on it’s ear (shortly after Honda’s CBR900rr) with incredible light weight, which has steadily been going away. It is pretty hard to make a raceable bike that will be lightweight in street legal trim and carry a sub $10k price. See Honda RC51, Kawasaki &x7rr and Suzuki TLR1000. I honestly don’t know how they’ve done it with the 600’s all this time.

    • Chris says:

      The ABS on the 10R only adds about 6 lbs… It sure isn’t the system used by Honda. The current 6R (2012) version is about 10 lbs heavier than the lightest in class, so there is room to reduce…

      The “long term trend” on weights for sportbikes has largely depended on the company. Some start heavy and reduce, some started light…

      MotoGP is a completely different animal. The rules set the weight minimums. If the rule makers set a minimum weight in MotoGP to 300 lbs… You can bet that all the bikes will weigh 301 or 302. The rules on weight were changed upwards to try and reduce costs.

      Hmmm…. I wonder if there will be a Ninja 300R ABS in my garage next year… Time to put in some OT. :-)

  12. Dave says:

    Kudos to Kawi for coming back to the smaller displacement classes. I was initially excited about a 400 when I was seeing a slightly beefier Ninja 250 in my mind’s eye but I don’t see how they can expect it to sell against the 650 at similar weight and such a large drop in power. The new 300 is 4hp less and presumably far lighter.

    That 300 sounds like a great little bike. I’m a taller guy, if it fits comfortably I might just have to join the little bike crowd.

  13. Jaybond says:

    Though initially the new Ninja 400R sounds quite tempting, was hoping that it will continue the DNA of the old ZXR 400, which is of proper sportsbike design and powered by shrieking 4 cylinder engine, but this time it will be more like a sports-touring bike and powered by 2 cylinder engine..Shame..

    • mpolans says:

      I agree. Even bringing back the old ZXR400 and/or the ZXR250 without even updating it
      would be better than either of these bikes. I know they’re trying to take their crappy Poor-Asia market bikes and sell them to the west, but these kind of suck.

  14. Gabriel Nagib says:

    Hi, i’m from Brazil, and i didn’t understood why the 400 and versys are certified only for 49 states? what’s the matter with California?

    • JSH says:

      Canadian bikes don’t need to meet California emission requirements. In 2012 Kawasaki only certified two motorcycles for 49 states, the Ninja 400 and Versys 1000. Both were sold in Canada but not the US.

  15. T. Rollie says:

    Why can’t they just put 750 cc into the Ninja 250R? Then we’d have something

  16. ABQ says:

    What? No 500? I liked that on, and was hoping for an updated version.

    • xootrx says:

      I agree. The old Ninja 500 was powerful, stable and a good bargain. I was hoping they’d go that route also. Maybe the 400 will surprise us all.

  17. Provalogna says:

    Still want the following adventure Frankenbike (a pro Kawi mechanic built one already): the Versys 650 injected horizontal twin stuffed in a KLR650 chassis. From what I’ve read it’s the ideal adventure bike.

    • MGNorge says:

      Don’t you mean “vertical”?

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “horizontal twin”

      boxer…?

    • Rooster says:

      “the Versys 650 injected horizontal twin stuffed in a KLR650 chassis.”

      IF we are making a wishlist for the KLR, how about a decent front end and brakes? A little extra power would be nice, but it took a lot of tinkering and aftermarket parts to make the front end of my ’07 KLR useable offroad. If you are a faster or agressive rider, you will quickly find yourself outside of the envelope of the stock boingers and brakes. I also realize that carbs are a dead technology and within a few more years ALL bikes will likely be injected, but I sure do notice a lot of traffic on the ADV website about g-whiz injected adventure bikes leaving their owners stranded after hard crashes or deep water crossings. I love fuel injection on my street bikes, but i still have lingering doubts about the durability of injection in a serious offroad application. Just sayin….

    • Ayk says:

      It’s what Kawi should have done long ago, but also requires serious frame and suspension upgrades. I’ve been riding my F800GS for 4 years now while they’ve produced nothing but more KLRs. Great bikes, but Kawi should offer something to compete with middleweight, mile-eating Adv bikes.

  18. Bud says:

    Hey! Kawasaki is bringing back the 400 class! Cool!

    Oh. They’re doing it that way. Not cool at all.