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Is Kawasaki About to Announce a Four-Cylinder ZX-4R for the U.S. Market?

This is the ZX-25RR currently available in other markets, which may resemble a new ZX-4RR.

Federal and California agencies have a tendency to spoil surprises for vehicle manufacturers. After the federal NHTSA received a filing from Kawasaki identifying a 399cc four-cylinder model last year, the California Air Resources Board has now certified a Kawasaki with the same model designation and displacement.

This coincides with Kawasaki’s plans to introduce two new motorcycle models on February 1, next week. Will these be a Ninja ZX-4R and ZX-4RR? These models are rumored to be on their way to the U.S. market. Do not confuse these with the existing Kawasaki 399cc twin-cylinder models, the Ninja 400 and Z400. The rumored four-cylinder bikes should have much improved chassis and suspension components, as well as much higher horsepower … rumored to be as much as 70 hp! We will see what Kawasaki unveils in a few days time.

This teaser photo for the February 1 reveal comes from Kawasaki’s U.S. website.


  1. ORT says:

    After looking at Kawasaki’s site I truly think, not feeeeeeel, that is bike will sell out. The caveat to that will be dealers pulling an HDR (Harley Davidson Ripoff) and putting a few thousand extra $$$$ as “market driven markup”. FTN.

    I cannot abide clip-ons nor the origami leg positioning but then I am closer to 70 than 60 now and while I am certain there are folks my age that can ride this sweet bike without problem, I am not one of them. Dammit! 🙂 If I were 50 years younger? I would order one. I could not locate how much fuel it holds…Probably my fault due to congenital stupidity, LOL! I was hoping against hope that a ZRX400R inspired model with a more upright handlebar and mid-set pegs would be available and perhaps it will be down the road.

    Until then, I will be both happy for and envious of those who buy this gem of a motorbike! Dirck, I hope you get one to review, brother!


  2. motorhead says:

    Get our answers Wednesday morning. Click here:

  3. Rendell Dolan says:

    Wow! I cannot wait to see this new model. Exciting times and news! Stay safe everyone.

  4. Mick says:

    I rode a CB-1 back in the day when it was current. It’s Wiki says it was 403 wet and 35hp. As truly unimpressive as is sounds, if you just rode it you stole it, it was fun. You had to draw up a suitable route to where you were going with it. But I always do that. The path of most resistance.

    The engine and frame was key on that bike. Low gyro and very predictable tracking. What’s not to like.

    I learned a similar leason a little more than a decade later. I had a 525EXC (really a 507cc) and a friend had the same year 450EXC. These two bike were identical save for their bore and crank, cam and valves, there were identical in weigh as well. You could literally turn one bike into the other by swapping a few parts.

    Ride the two back to back and you would swear that they were make by different manufacturers. A little less gyro here and a totally vibration and sound profile there transformed the bikes. One was clearly a 450 and the other, with 57cc more displacement, was clearly a thumper that felt heavier and was a bit more reluctant to be tossed around.

    What would be interesting is to test the above bike, should it materialize with about 70hp, against a Kramer 690 in a demanding venue like The Tail of the Dragon. Both Kramer 690s are under 290 pounds and sport about 80hp. The Kawi is going to come in at the self imposed street bike minimum weight of around 400 pounds.

    One would think that the Kramer would be the hands down choice. But a big thumper is going to have more gyro and vibration than a 400 four cylinder and the friendly dragon is going to put a premium on how quickly you can go from full lean right to left.

    So there you go. When you have the bikes and the date set, gimme a call. I’ll spring for all the post ride beers.

    • Dave says:

      You can’t do that test because a Kramer is a track toy, not street legal. If you want to begin by buying the Kramer to conduct the test that would go a long way. You can skip the 50+ lbs of street legality and test them on a track. I’d assume the Kramer is better but not likely 2x better, which is about what they cost. Given the position you hold on 2 stroke vs. 4-stroke I am surprised you’re glossing over the Kramer’s nearly 300cc displacement advantage, they’re even both 4 strokes.

      That said I wonder if the Kramer will have less gyro effect by virtue of it’s single cylinder and resultant short (lightweight..) crankshaft and cams.

      • Mick says:

        1. My personal street bike is a street legalized dirt bike. I have had at least one such since the early eighties. Romantic notions about what is legal and what is not don’t make any sense to me at all. I have nothing against people who want to play that game. Just don’t even expect me to to join in.

        2. Ever heard of an LED? They have made lighting systems even lighter that the thr or four pounds that they weighed in the eighties.

        3. I really think that a bike with considerably less gyro would have more of a shot than you might think in a venue like The Dragon.

        4. I didn’t mention cost because it is irrelevant to my premises. No amount of money can buy a light street legal off the rack bike. They refuse to make the at all. Pass the beer nuts.

        5. I didn’t make up the double displacement BS two stroke four stroke fairy tale and will never believe a word of it. Both systems make power roughly 25‰ of the time. Ever look at a two stoke cylinder? They have big holes in them.

        6. The 690 is sure to have considerably more gyro. All those old 400s were awesome because of their lack of same. When Honda made the XR650R they changed the assembly line to include a little gantry for the crankshaft because it was so heavy. It was about 40 pounds if I remember correctly. That may not sound like much. But it needed to be in placed with care repeatedly for the whole shift of the guy that was installing it. The 690 KTM engine is very probably little different. Then everything down stream has to deal with one big thump rather than four small ones.

        • Tom K. says:

          Per your #5, I used to work with an Engineer (who lost his license at least once on his “Widowmaker” 750 H2) who summarized the two-stroke / four-stroke debate as, “Two-smokes make half the power twice as often”. Always made sense to me.

        • Dave says:

          “2. Ever heard of an LED? ”

          Why yes, I have. Ever heard of the D.O.T.? It isn’t legal to zip tie flashlights to a motorcycle.

          I’ll remind you again, you’re comparing a custom shop track toy with a production product built to a price. You asked to play the game but you want to make the rules to favor your bias.

          A much more fair comparison would be the Duke 690 road bike, which is lighter than the ZX4rr and road legal in all 50 states. Even with the 290cc disparity that is more of an apples to apples comparison.

          I’ll also remind you again that the reason that there are no super-light road bikes like you’re dreaming of is because they simply cannot be made to a price that enough people can or will pay to justify the effort. Light weight is a universally desirable attribute for motorcycles. If it could be done, it would be done by everyone.

  5. RD SHOW says:

    FZR 400 in 1988 !!! This is big news lol..Slow Moto price will be high better buy nice used Gixxer 750

  6. Curt says:

    This should be really entertaining if they do it right. And who it will be “right” for? New riders? Or riders who remember the high-end 400s from a couple of decades ago? (Oops, 3+ decades. Time flies).

    • ORT says:

      I remember the excellent and gorgeous Honda CB350 Four from the early ’70s! I wanted to buy one but again, I was not making enough money at the time.


  7. Grover says:

    Everyone is excited about this new Kawi until they realize that it’s priced close to 10k after dealer markup, taxes, freight and setup. Then they’ll lose interest and move their enthusiasm to a more practical bike. Also, a screaming 4-cyl will have less bottom end torque than a parallel twin and probably weigh a bit more. Sure, you get an upgraded suspension, but for the street speeds we ride at, it may we’ll be a waste outside of the track. Still, for the right person it’ll feed that desire to own what they consider the ultimate small displacement bike. Not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, but that’s the reality of it.

    • TimC says:

      If I move to Tennessee (as I’m considering) I will buy one.

    • Xootrx says:

      The lack of lower end power wasn’t as big an issue as I expected when I had the chance to ride my cousin’s mid-70’s CB400F way back when. In fact the bike was a blast to ride, no difficulty at all. The bike I owned at the time was an ‘82 Honda CB900F, which for its day was no slouch. I rode the little 400 all around town before giving it back to him. And after all, having fun is what it’s all about, isn’t it?

    • ORT says:

      For the street speeds we ride at, most bikes have more horsepower than their owners have brainpower so suspension that is usable in the street environment is what’s needed. Those that might use this bike on a track will doubtless upgrade the suspension accordingly.

      And no, I am NOT talking about you sir, but rather making a point and a valid one at that. And as for Dealer markup? It only works if someone pays it. I refuse to pay money for nothing (and no chicks for free!) and would rather use that money for service and/or accessories from my dealer.

      I hope the bike comes with triple disc brakes (w/ABS!) and a 4+ gallon (US) fuel tank and I want the more street oriented version that does not have clip-ons. I am practical in my wants and needs.

      As for one person saying it needs to be under 400lbs. and he will take a look? If you get your wish, good for you and others like you, sir!

      I like smaller motorbikes. They are more than capable in the real world and this one looks to be even more so. I do not blame people for wanting what they want. I just find it odd when that which they have asked for shows up and few, if any, actually buy it. This has happened before with both Honda and Suzuki 400 class motorbikes.


    • Jim says:

      I let it sit in the showroom for the next year or two, then buy it marked down.

  8. Norman Scott Packard says:

    As the proud owner of a . . . Yikes it’s over 20 years old, 2002 ZRX1200R I know about Big Bikes without a faring with Stomping Power, but most of these guys commenting seem to be about my age an I couldn’t agree with them more. Smaller bikes are as capable as the bigger ones and a lot more fun if you’re not carrying pillion. They have less weight therefore less inertia to overcome.
    It’s simple science. Less IS More sometimes !

    • TimC says:

      I still miss my 1st-gen Ninja 250 with rich jetting, a Ninja 600 rear shock, and cartridge emulators/stiffer fork springs. That thing was TELEPATHIC.

      I looked kinda funny at 6’2″ on the thing, but I could run with all but the craziest class (the Gixxers at Alice’s with no chicken strips types).

      • motomike says:

        The first Ninja 250 (86-87) was an odd little fellow but when we sold the first one and I prepped and test rode it I agree it would you go wherever you looked. Pretty gutless compared to my 85 ZX600A but way fun nonetheless!

    • ORT says:

      Yours is a truly gorgeous motorcycle! If Kawasaki would make a new version of the ELR1000 and then put it in the dryer on high ’til it shrunk down to an ELR400 I would buy that in a heartbeat, brother!

      I would even buy an updated ZRX1200 with that sweet styling even though I do not need that much horsepower. A beautiful, traditionally styled MOTORbike!


      • Anonymous says:

        “I would even buy an updated ZRX1200 with that sweet styling even though I do not need that much horsepower. A beautiful, traditionally styled MOTORbike!”

        That wish of yours came true, in the form of the Z900RS Cafe edition.
        Faded away with lack of sales.

        • jim h says:

          Z900Rs was bulbous and odd when you sat on it. Zrx doesnt feel that way though I know its a larger displacement bike.

        • Motoman says:

          The Z900RS was meant to pay homage to the original Z900 not the Eddie Lawson early 80’s superbike, and it’s replica made at the time, as the ZRX1100/1200 was.

  9. Jim says:

    Under 400lbs and I’ll take a look.

  10. Gary says:

    “Is Kawasaki About to Announce a Four-Cylinder ZX-4R for the U.S. Market?” Wait … you’re asking >me<?

  11. Tank says:

    I would like to see an Eliminator with this engine. Don’t really care for Vulcan style. Too old for a Ninja, not to mention they are cop magnets.

    • Tom K. says:

      The Eliminator was a darned attractive bike. I’ve got a friend with the final iteration (an ’87 ZL1000) currently parked under a carport, it was in very good condition when he parked it in a garage almost two decades ago with about 5000 miles on it – the garage fell down and he moved it under a carport about five years ago, I doubt it’s been started for at least a decade. I’ve tried many times to get him to move it up by me so I could find it a good home, but no luck, he plans on fixing and riding it “one day”. Hoarders, I don’t know whether to feel sorry for them or just hate ’em. My onboard calculator says it’s had 35 birthdays now, maybe there’s not much hope for it anymore. Shame. Anyhoo, I agree with your sentiments, the world needs more Eliminators and less Ninjas.

  12. Artem says:

    Jack Bruce. “Theme of an imaginary western”.
    Harley, always.

  13. Donk says:

    Wicked cool, hope it happens. Nice to see quality in smaller displacement bikes. Bigger isn’t always better.

  14. Rah says:

    We all know what opinions are like

  15. Mr.Mike says:

    I’m holding out for a 6 cylinder version

  16. Grumpy farmer says:

    Just when I thought Japan was giving up on high performance this little nugget shows up. Would Look good in red.

  17. GenoRocket says:

    Forty years ago my first motorcycle was a yellow 1975 Honda CB400F. It was a pleasure to ride, reasonably light, well handling and smooth. Great memories. I sure hope this new Kawasaki provides similar good memories to new riders.

    • jim h says:

      Count me as another whose super proud of my Kawasaki brand for bringing this machine to market. I have owned the Bandit 400 and CB-1, and currently have a KZ550A sitting next to my ZRX. If they see fit to sell something with this motor, and styled similar to their W series twins, I would come off the hip! I’m older, and not at all in the market for a new street bike, but something like that would just light me up! Any traditional color please, not interested in the weird grays or wet cement colors that are in vogue these days.

    • My2cents says:

      Funny thing is at 15 I had a crush on a CB 400 F in red, the yellow ones weren’t ripe yet. The most beautiful exhaust header in motorcycle history.

    • todd says:

      I have my dad’s 76 400F that he bought second hand in 79. Thankfully the bike sat in his garage since 82 under a cover until I brought it to my house last year. The bike cleaned up beautifully and is a blast to ride through the canyon roads. The sound and RPM is intoxicating and people stop and stare at it everywhere I go. It is, though, not really any better than a 25 year old Ninja 250

      • jim h says:

        Inline sound and a nice looking visible pipe are key. I personally would like an iteration with little plastic and an old school look. Just me.

  18. Gremlin says:

    Kawasaki USA still has the H2SX supercharged sport-tourer listed as a 2022 model on their website. The bigger bike on the back left is the updated 2023 model H2SX with auto high beam. This bike has already been announced and shown on other Kawasaki websites (Kawasaki UK for example). The smaller bike on the right is the ZX4R. Kudos to Kawasaki for designing and bringing this bike to our market.

  19. Vishal says:

    Kawasaki lover

  20. Reginald Van Blunt says:

    I rode a Honda 350 4cyl with a little tighter gearing once and was enthralled with the small displacement 4s ever since. It handled like a CB160 with snap. More power to this small 4 and all the itty bitty parts whizzing around. Big 4s, – not so much.

  21. Gary in NJ says:

    I’ve been waiting for a bike like this for 30 years. Of course I was 30 back then…

    I do prefer my hands above the T-clamp, but I don’t insist upon it. I have wanted a CB400F (and all of its variants) for so long…this will do.

  22. Tygaboy says:

    20-ish years back, I was fortunate enough to have a couple NSR 250 (v-twin, 2-stroke), VFR 400s and RVF 400s. Each packed about 45- 50 hp. I owned these at the same time as an RC51 and Duc 748. Every time I wanted to ride, I found myself walking past the big bikes. Ended up selling everything over 400cc. Granted, I rode for fun/back road but give me a “little bike” every time. Good on ya, Kawasaki!

  23. J S Bryan says:

    This should be a fun little screamer – perfect twisty road, Sunday ride machine. College buddy had a Honda CB400F that was an absolute hoot, though I liked my Yamaha RD400 better (other than the foot pegs, his OEM rear sets were way better than the boat anchors Yamaha used). But why this bike when it looks like there’s no 400 Versys or Z400RS coming? How many of these at what will probably be a near $7K MSRP does Kawasaki think they’ll sell here in the land of bigger is better?

    • Dave says:

      I’ve been following this one a little bit. It’s a very interesting proposition and very much against the trend of cost cutting (steel frames, p-twins, etc.). If all of the content rumors are true then this bike has everything a 600 supersport does and Kawasaki’s own ZX6r for over $10k. Even if they make this in Thailand I will be surprised if it costs any less than $9,000. It must also sell alongside the popular Ninja 650, after all.

      • J S Bryan says:

        Your estimate of the MSRP is probably closer to correct than mine, I made a quick WAG based on the current Ninja 400 price. Which makes my question even more relevant – how many of these little hot rods does Big K think they can move? Don’t get me wrong, small 4s are really cool and I’ve lusted after several JDM and Euro 400s and 250s over the years but in today’s market wouldn’t the development and compliance money spent on this somewhat esoteric bike in a shrinking segment have been better used on a bigger Versys and cool retro 400? Both the ADV and retro markets seem like better paths to sales (and profits) than a specialty sport bike.

        • Dave says:

          Agree on all points. I think they could do a really cool “Z” or standard on this plaform, can’t see a small displacement 4-cyl applied to an adventure style bike.

  24. Mick says:

    It seems that the market for small displacement bikes is pretty hot. It might be where I live and the places that I go, but I don’t see that many of them in the wild.

    I haven’t been in a city since I moved out of Paris six years ago. Cities are different places and lots of people live in them. There could be boat loads of small displacement bikes running around in cities that never make it outside the gravity well.

    Take Mash motorcycles for instance. They are all over Paris. But I don’t recall seeing one anywhere else.

  25. My2cents says:

    Hopefully the Kawasaki spawns a whole new generation of amazing motorcycles. I rode the 1989 Honda CB-1 or NC 27 at a test ride session. It was stunning and the sound of the gear drive for the camshafts was a rush like no other. Honda was brash enough to look the other way and kind of let the test ride group unleash the motorcycles. With only one CB-1 in the group it dominated all other sport bikes of much larger displacement over a twisting series of roads. It seriously wasn’t my riding ability it was just that easy to ride fast and 58 hp simply out cornered and out ran others with 100 hp or more. If this Kawasaki comes through with 70 hp and the same or less weight you could be the next backroad hero.

    • Stinky says:

      That’s what came to mind when I saw this, here and in an email that came to me. That little buzzbomb CB1 was an absolute hoot! I only got to thrash one for a test ride (not in twisties unfortunately). This might be something to get my checkbook (see how old I am) out.

  26. ORT says:

    A four cylinder 400cc “standard” would be most excellent. Clip-on bars are ridiculous for the street but if some thing that’s comfy, then by all means sell ’em the Ninja 4 X 400. Make the standard model with a minimum 4 gallon (US) tank and if Kawi does not cheap out, dual discs up front.

    Smaller displacement motorbikes are just fine in traffic and if this bike’s motor delivers that 70 horsepower it will sell. As stated, I think clip-ons are ridiculous for street bikes but realize they are the preferred setup for the motor-midgies who wage a daily style-battle against the HOGins and their aptly named “ape-hanger” equipped Harleys. Both handlebar extremes are stupid useless in the real world and are poopular amongst those with more ego concerns than ergo concerns.

    I hope we in teh USA get a pair of nice 400/4s from Kawasaki. Thanks for the news, Dirck!


    • TimC says:

      Clip-ons are fine for this application (supersport). There already is the Ninja 400 (as the article notes) for less-extreme ergos/usage.

      Also, as-pictured at least, the bars aren’t even that low.

    • Stinky says:

      I spent so many decades on road bicycles that I’m still most comfortable with clipons. Sit up and beg bikes aren’t kind to my back.

      • Grover says:

        For whatever reason, I last hours on a drop-bar road bike with no issues than I do on a motorcycle with low mounted clipons. It may be that constantly putting pressure on the pedals relieves pressure on the wrists and shoulders. Also, once I’m used to the seat on a road bike it’s less painful that most motorcycle seats that I’ve sat on. Go figure.

  27. TP says:

    With memories of the late, very great GpZ550 I was holding out for this but am getting a 2023 Triumph Street Triple-R instead because it’s more appropriate for the trip I’m planning. But thanks to Kawasaki for offering this screaming Ninja.

    • Billy says:

      Had a GPZ 550, 750, and a 750 turbo. All amazing bikes. Wish I’d never sold the turbo. An icon.

  28. Jeremy says:

    That could potentially be a very fun bike depending on engine tune.

    • Dave says:

      Indeed. I wonder what 30 years of engine development knowledge will translate to. While the 400’s in the carburetor days has respectable peak hp they were really gutless below 10k rpm and thus not very enjoyable for street riding the way most people rode. I’m excited that they’ve decided to offer a smaller bike with a more premium chassis. Hopefully the value proposition and interest is there to gain some popularity here in the US.

      • Jeremy says:

        Yeah, I’ve read rumors as high as 80hp, though the general consensus seems to be wagering on 70hp, presumably at the crank. A 65ish hp output at the wheel probably still provides a very usable spread of power, though it would still no doubt be a pussycat until it gets on the cam. Honestly, I’m much more interested to see what it weighs than how much power it puts out.

        • Dave says:

          Probably good estimates. The higher they reach for peak hp, the softer it’ll be in the midrange and bottom.

          As for weight, I think some will be disappointed. The ZX-25RR weighs 183kg/403lb. Another example of how hard/expensive it is to slough off that last 25lb.

          • todd says:

            A 250 that weighs 403 lb? That’s got to be a new record. That’s 74 pounds heavier than my 690, wet.

          • Scott says:

            Your numbers only work if your 690 now weighs 328 pounds WET. KTM claims about 328 pounds dry.
            I have a GasGas SM700, and yes, the supermotos are light, but you can’t directly compare dry to wet.

          • Dave says:

            It is a bit of a head-scratcher, isn’t it?

          • TimC says:

            Euro 5 emissions equipment? The under-bike pipes have gotten MASSIVE which I presume is a honkin cat. Not the lightest component and there’s the big muffler too…I assume because these have to sounds like an e-scooter going by….

          • todd says:

            Yes, I weighed my bike at 329 lb wet. The tank wasn’t full but there was a couple bars on the fuel gauge. The original exhaust system weighs more than a full tank.

          • Dave says:

            Re: Euro5, I think that depends on how much they spend. There are examples of Euro3, 4, 5 compliance updates that don’t gain appreciable weight or lose any power.

            Interesting to see just how much bike they’ll deliver here. We can already see it likely has a steel frame which for the Japanese brands usually means cost cut (any of them could make an extremely light and expensive fro-moly frame if they wanted).

            Still can’t get my head around the weight of the 250, though. That’s many pounds more than the Ninja 400 we already get.

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