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Kawasaki Headed to Production with 250cc Inline-Four Sport Model, the ZX-25R (with videos)

Kawasaki introduced this 249cc inline-four sport model at the Tokyo Motor Show last week with a fairly high spec, including a Showa SFF-BP fork, horizontal back-link rear suspension, radial-mount monobloc front brake caliper, and electronic aides normally found on larger displacement sportbikes (such as traction control, quickshifter and selectable power modes).

We might get more details on the ZX-25R from EICMA next month. Kawasaki Indonesia has released two videos, which you can see below.

See more of MD’s great photography: Instagram


  1. mickey says:

    An article from press launch in India I just read lists HP as 45hp @ 12,000 rpms (so much for shrieking redline lol) with 33 NM peak torque @ 9000 rpms

    • paul says:

      Another site states that there could be two variants of this bike, one producing 45hp and another higher performance version producing 59hp. We’ll have to wait and see I guess.

  2. paul says:

    If this bike comes to Canada I will be working a bit longer rather than retiring… have to have one.

  3. TP says:

    I just got a Yamaha R3 but I’d trade it to ride this. Oh heck yeah!

  4. MartyO says:

    This brings back memories of my 87 EX250R Ninja. The most fun bike I have ever owned (Black with read seat and white wheels, 350 pounds full of gas). I doubt they will bring it to the USA but would love to see it. It would probably cost more than the 400 though. Of course the 87 was a lot more comfortable and had a centerstand but this should be an awesome back roads weapon or track day bike. Quotes from the Cycle magazine road test from 1986. “You look for your riding partner, gripping 50 more HP in his right hand and see, nobody.” “Felling power giants with a peashooter” indeed! Just do it Kawasaki!

  5. Chris says:

    This could replace my Ninja 400 if they bring it to the US. Though I’d prefer a ZX-4R based on the Ninja 400…..

  6. MDM says:

    Guys, guys, guys, settle down and look at the string of tweets here. Kawasaki definitely knows it’s got a winner.

  7. fred says:

    I owned (and totalled) a ’77 CB400F back in the day, and was interested in the CB-1 when they were new. A used ’82 CB/X joined the fleet instead, and I never quite got around to the CB-1. Currently, 2 VTR 250 Interceptors are my daily rides, and the ZX-25R looks extremely inviting.

    The problem with small-bore 4-cylinder bikes is the price vs performance question. Is it possible to build the bikes profitably at a price that riders are willing to pay?

    I’ve been toying with the idea of picking up a Z400, or possibly a Ninja 400, for a while now. I’d rather have the ZX-25R, but there is a limit as to how much extra I’d be willing to pay. While the appeal of the 4 is great, the twins are a great bargain. Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to buy either a ZX-25R or (wild fantasy) a ZX-4R (4-cyl) here in the States.

  8. If this shows up here in the USA, I’m buying one and keeping it forever. How cool is this thing?

  9. gsbeliever says:

    It’s more fun to ride a small bike fast,
    then a large bike slow, lol.

    While not in the wheelhouse for most of the readers here, some of the most fun I’ve had in 50 years of riding
    was participating in a Moto Giro event back in 2012. If you’ve got an older (pre 1970) ride under 305cc and are
    fortunate enough to live somewhere these are held, by all means try one out.

  10. Kevin says:

    Guys this is not that different from the Honda CBR 250RR which has been on sale in the Indonesian markets. A small exotic bike that we likely will not see in North America.

    • Sparky says:

      These are f***ing light-years different from the current Honda CBR250RR you posted above.

      Now if you were talking about the late 80s – early 90s Honda CBR250RR (MC19 – MC22), you’d be closer. Hopefully the ZX-25R will be more like those, but with the benefits of modern technology to be even lighter and maybe a little more oomph, but with the same or better handling.

      • Dave says:

        They are similar in the same way a Ducati and a GSXR are similar. They’re both premium 250cc sport bikes. One is a twin, the other is a 4 cyl, but they do exactly the same thing, for the same rider.

  11. Bill Silver says:

    I am currently riding one of the most entertaining Hondas ever made IMHO.. 1988 CBR250R (MC19). 18k redline which it will achieve willingly, bouncing back down to 15k horsepower peak on the upshift. The sound is just unimaginable as you wind up through the gears. You feel like you are channeling your inner Mike Hailwood at IOM when you ride it. 45HP and 350 lbs wet. It is really a thrill ride even for us old folks. Little 250 Fours are an amazing audio-visual treat.

  12. PatrickD says:

    I’ve recently acquired and overhauled a 1989 RGV250. I was a student when these bikes were in their prime and I really wanted to know what the fuss was all about.

    I’ve been buying an enjoying) smaller bikes for a while now, and an SV650s with a few chassis upgrades have replaced the 600cc and 1000cc kicks of 1 years ago. Using gears 4, 5 and 6 in anger are now possible most days, which wasn’t the case with the faster stuff.

    Now, this Kawasaki is something I’ll give serious consideration to. I know it won’t have anything like the kick of the RGV, but the running costs and fragility are the downsides of the older bike.

    Whilst it’s sad that the 2-stroke is dead, I don’t think that modern consumers would tolerate the reliability issues, and nor would a manufacturer stay in business long addressing the warranty claims.

    I’m sure this bike would be great fun, and they’ve addressed the fact that a bike like this needs a top-level chassis to keep the corners speeds up!

  13. John A. Kuzmenko says:

    I’m curious to see whether or not this bike comes to the USA, and if it does, will it sell in justifiable numbers to warrant Kawasaki to continue importing it.

    All I know is that during the heyday of 4-cylindered sport bikes in this country, buyers would stay away from a 250cc sport bike in droves.
    Heck, most stayed away from the 400cc 4-cylinder bikes like the Suzuki Bandit and Honda CB400F (AKA CB-1), as light-weight and sporty as those bikes looked.
    They would have ogled over the high-RPM redline shown on the tachometer face, but would end up putting their money down on a 600, 750, or 1,000cc bike.

    It will be interesting to see if, how, and why.

    • Ralph W. says:

      “during the heyday of 4-cylindered sport bikes in this country, buyers would stay away from a 250cc sport bike in droves.”

      Back then people were still hanging onto the idea that bigger is better (some still do). These days speed limit enforcement is heavier and the penalties are tougher, which is taking the fun out of riding big bikes. And the big bikes are now so outrageously fast that we can’t use full power, even in first gear, without risking a speeding fine. It depends on your riding style, but many people are now learning that smaller bikes are more fun because of their usable power output and light weight.

      Yes, it will be interesting.

  14. MDM says:

    I want one. Passing the Euro 4 or 5 emission standards may be problem for this screaming 250. It’s been a problem in the past. I think Indonesia requires only Euro 3 for motorcycle emissions. That’s why it’s going there and not here. I hate regulations!

    • Curly says:

      Most of us bristle at regs but I’m going to go out on a limb and bet that you like breathing. 😆

      • fred says:

        Bah. Emission regulations have been about political control, rather than about clean air for some time now. Modern fuel-injected vehicles have been very clean for some time now.

        • Curly says:

          Investment tip. Look for companies making portable oxygen concentrating machines for people with COPD. The next generation will buy them like crazy.

        • Dave says:

          “Modern fuel-injected vehicles have been very clean for some time now.”

          Political control of what, exactly? If you roll back emissions standards, emissions get less clean.

  15. MDM says:

    Countries like Indonesia will get it but not the US I’m assuming. Euro 4 and 5 will see to that.

  16. Dave J says:

    From a 71 year old who started his riding career on a Suzuki 250 Super Six, all I can say is……..I wish I was in my teens again. I’d lay my money down for one of these!!
    (By the way, back in the UK in the 60’s a 250 was the largest capacity that you could ride on learner plates!)

  17. I WISH–I MEAN REALLY REALLY WISH Kawasaki would bring this bike over to the USA–BUT–have VERY STRONG DOUBTS it will EVER happen. WHY? Look at it from this perspective.

    In 1989 Honda brought the CB1–a 400cc inline four with Gear driven cams (high tech) into the USA. I forget actual pricing but if memory serves me correctly it was about the same price as a CBR600F1. For the same price a buyer could have a faster more fashionable 600cc bike. Guess what?? Honda had a heck of a time trying to sell the 400cc four. They languished on the showroom floors while the Hurricanes literally flew out the doors. Even with SUPER PERFORMANCE this 250cc four will face the same fate. A few will sell but in general the model will die on the floor due to price vs value when compared to other models. To also consider in this equation. Kawasaki sells a loss leader ZX6r 600cc Ninja for $9,999. Do we REALLY THINK this new bike will be CHEAPER than $9,999?? I am very doubtful.

    Back to my original statement–I REALLY REALLY WANT Kawasaki to bring this bike over AND at a reasonable price (same as ZX6R perhaps??). If they did I WOULD BUY ONE. I AM the TARGET CUSTOMER. I currently have FOUR (4) Honda CB1’s and one very special CB1.5 (600cc motor shoehorned into 400cc chassis). I WANT THIS BIKE –but–just will not hold my breath waiting for it to happen. Call me OPTIMISTIC but very skeptical–but certainly nice dream material.

    • Lono Francisco says:

      Boomer caps.

      Go yell at clouds.

    • Mark says:

      I’m not so sure. I’m seeing loads of small displacement bikes on US roads now. Plenty of 250 to 500cc bikes. Way more than before.

    • Sparky says:

      While that might’ve been the case back in the 90s, I think there’s been several fundamental changes in the motorcycle technology and the market that might make the smaller bike more palatable.
      First, the lower displacement bikes that are available have gotten better looking compared to back in the early 90s. Back in the 90s, that wasn’t necessarily the case (IMHO).
      Second, 600cc and up crotch rocket performance has gotten stupid fast…and gotten stupid expensive. I think cost of the technology for that performance has gotten high enough that there’s a space for cheaper, lower displacement bikes.
      Third, as 600cc+ performance (and price) has increased exponentially, insurance costs have also gone up…lower displacement bikes are cheaper to insure.
      Fourth, lower displacement bikes like the ones you describe had top notch tech and were manufactured in Japan…now, motorcycle manufacturers are leveraging factories in countries with much lower labor costs to build their lower displacement bikes, allowing them to be *much* more affordable. This last factor is huge.
      In addition, the smaller displacement bikes can be sold in greater numbers in displacement-restricted markets, primarily in Asia and Europe.

  18. Great to see quality brakes and suspension making it onto smaller capacity bike. They need brakes and suspension just the same as any other big bike. Criminal how manufacturers put lower quality brakes on smaller bikes!

  19. Ralph W. says:

    This is a really good looking bike. Maybe it will get young people interested in riding.

  20. Curly says:

    Back in the 80s I got to sample the

    • Curly says:

      Oops, WiFi glitch. Back in the 80s I got to sample the FZ250 and FZR250R when out to California for service meetings at Yamaha. The bikes were amazing and I’d like to have one now that they are over 25 years old and can be imported legally. Down low they feel pretty weak, like a 125 but over 14,000 to redline they feel like a good 400 and sound great doing it. Big Fun. Would the Kawasaki sell here? Under $8k, maybe but above that, not many. Being built in Indonesia they may be able to do it, let’s hope so.

  21. Harry says:

    I hoped for some engine sound and no music.

  22. Shoeman says:

    Kudos to Kawasaki. With supercharged models including the 320hp H2R, the 228hp Street legal H2, the 197hp sport tourer H2SX SE, the fire breathing normally aspirated ZX14R, and now the ZH2 and 4 cylinder ZX25R, Kawasaki continues to be the enthusiast brand I’ve always loved since being a kid. I’m just an adult kid now who appreciates a company taking chances and heavily investing in the market.

  23. Randy says:

    That’s so sweet! After regretting selling my VTR250, here this comes! I’d love to hear this on the boil running the gears! What was the little Honda 400/4? CB1? I got to ride one in the day. I thought it was a hoot. It’s so much fun to ride a slow bike fast. Cables stretched tight, cops shaking their heads.

  24. Neil says:

    That’s what I’m talkin about!

  25. Gary says:

    Dear Kawasaki,

    Please bring the ZX-25R to the United States.



  26. Harry says:

    Having owned an ’07 Suzuki GSXR-600, ’14 Kawi Ninja 300 and now the ’18 Kawi Ninja 400, some perspective. I am a person of small stature, 5’6″, 135#s. Don’t enjoy muscling a large machine. The lower the weight, the better. A 4 cylinder is smoother, normally revs higher and produces more power. The Suzuki was fun but overkill in normal city/highway riding. Great track bike. The Kawi 300 was under powered even in normal city/higway riding. Terrible brakes. The Kawi 400 is a great city bike. Nimble, IMHO best handing bike that I have ever owned. Easily keeps up with city traffic, good brakes. Under powered on the highway. Night and day difference between the 300 and 400. My ideal bike would be a V4 of 400cc displacement. High reviving, 18,000 rpm with close to 80 whp. Weight under 400#s. Great bike both in the city and on the highway. One can dream. 🙂

  27. My2cents says:

    Steel frame interesting departure from usual sport bike standards. Aluminum is lighter but transfers more vibration, maybe that and cost will add up to a comfortable screamer.

    • Provologna says:

      The difference in ride quality between steel and aluminum frames (favoring the former) correlates to Q factor as much as magnitude of vibration.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Too bad it’s going to have a price “normally found on larger displacement sportbikes”.

    • Selecter says:

      Makes me wonder what the dollar-equivalent will be in the markets it’ll be sold in. I wouldn’t guess that Southeast Asia would be a place where you could sell $10,000+ bikes, but I’ll admit to not knowing the first thing about that bike market.

      One also has to wonder if they would make up a lowered price through scale. There were 3.25 million motorcycles sold in Indonesia in the -first half- of 2019. Even if they took a *tiny* portion of that market with the 25R, they’re looking at more units than they sell in the US market in several years combined…

  29. Anonymous says:

    Kawasaki’s got a supercharged 320hp H2R, a supercharged street legal 228hp H2, the fire-breathing ZX14R, the supercharged H2SX sport-tourer, and now a 197HP supercharged naked bike and a 4 cylinder 250cc. Wow, just wow! Ducati, KTM, and especially Kawasaki are leading all other manufacturers in consistently putting excitement in their showrooms. Come on Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, etc. Time to step up your game and put some fun into your lineups.

  30. Ralph W. says:

    I’ve often thought about buying a 250cc four. Years ago there were some that revved to 18,000rpm. It would be fun riding a hi-tech ‘screamin demon’ to the limit of its capability without the excessive speed of the bigger 4s. But I’m of fairly big build and probably wouldn’t fit comfortably on one. For the people it does suit, this should be really good fun.

  31. Mark says:

    Just like the old 250cc inline 4s Japan had with 20,000rpm redlines, only de-restricted! 400cc inline 4s would be perfect. It’d be awesome if Honda would just bring over its CB400 Super Four that it’s been producing the last 25+ years!

  32. VLJ says:

    Selectable power modes, on a 250?


    • MGNorge says:

      Yes, some and some more.

    • mickey says:

      Best wishes for poster VLJ who was taken out on his Z900 Kawasaki yesterday and is in ICU with broken neck, double broken compound fracture of his femur, shattered hip, broken ankle and heel

      best wishes for a quick and complete recovery VLJ.

  33. Joe says:

    If this is such a desirable little bike, as a genuine sport bike, what does this say about the demise of the 600 class ?
    Cool piece of engineering but is it any more than a novelty ?

  34. Curt says:

    First thing I thought was, “Goodness, we don’t need a 2500 cc sport bike, do we?” hahahahahaha

  35. azicat says:

    There’s a lot of speculation elsewhere about this making up to 60hp, but I doubt it – except perhaps for a limited run. The original 250cc and 400cc fours produced in the 1990s were made for tiered domestic Japanese licences with horsepower restriction (around 40hp for 250cc and 53hp 400cc chugata licence, if I recall correctly). If it’s for A2 then it’s going to be below 47hp.

    • Dave says:

      I can’t imagine the usable rev range will be practical for street use if this engine were tuned to make a high hp figure, at least without a pretty wide-range VVT system. I wouldn’t expect to see more than 40hp.

      • todd says:

        Why not? A 1000 can easily achieve 160 horse, 180 – 190 being the norm. The four cylinder 250s were getting a reliable 45 hp back in the 80s and early 90s. It’s likely they will make performance and pricing on par or a slight step up from their more pedestrian 400.

        • Dave says:

          I think mostly because of emissions standards and expectation of streetable performance. Even 400 I4’s, as good as they were, wouldn’t fly in the US when 600’s were close to the same price.

          It should be a lot more expensive than the 400 with the features they’re talking about in the article. Americans historically won’t pay premium prices for small bikes, but I’d love to see that change.

  36. johnny ro says:

    Wonderful. I wish they consider US market to be OK for this, but highly unlikely

    All of the big 4 have designs on the shelf of high performance 250/4s to be um…easily renewed for 2020 production. Well maybe to be euro complaint, takes more than a refresh.

    Kudos Kawasaki

  37. John says:

    Really hoping Kawasaki brings this bike to the US. Also, hoping they put some racing contingency money behind it. This looks like a great lightweight race bike. My son turns 12 this year and will be ready to start roadracing, would love to get one for him (and maybe another for me). First legit lightweight race bike I have seen in a long time.

  38. Mark says:

    I think the zx25R is more exiting than the Z H2.
    Let’s hope full sized adults can fit on it.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Testicular fortitude as demonstrated by Kawasaki. Now then, send it stateside but get ready for the maelstrom here on MD because on this here site there will be those that say it needs to be a 275/307/350cc to be worthy of their “interest”.

    I think it should be a 314.159cc bike and called the Pi. Anyone want a piece? 🙂

  40. Neal says:

    You gotta love Kawasaki. While Honda’s bolting DCTs to parallel twins and Suzuki is making a retro reskin of an old bike every few years, Kawasaki is engineering the hell out of their motors to push the performance envelope.

    • Shoeman says:

      Right on Neal! Suzuki has been showing the retro Katana at motorcycle shows since January 2019, and the thing is still not in dealer showrooms. Suzuki even had to borrow an original Katana from the Barber Motorsports Museum to show at the Progressive International Motorcycle Show along with the new retro-Katana. Embarrassing not to treasure your own corporate history and have copies of your own key models. If its not important to Suzuki, why should it be important to consumers?

    • mark444 says:


    • mickey says:

      I can appreciate Kawasakis commitment to performance but in the end the bottom line is who is selling the most motorcycles and making the most money. True enthusiasts appreciate Kawasakis efforts but most people who buy motorcycles are not true enthusiasts, they are just people who think it would be cool to own a motorcycle.

      • Neal says:

        They’re definitely working on building the brand identity at the moment. I think they’ll have to move on from the 650 parallel twin before they get a bigger piece of the sales pie. I can’t see the Z H2 adding any glow to a Z650 that trails its competitors by 10 hp.

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