2 Wheels

The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-25R: 250cc, 4 Cylinders, 17,000 RPM

Though it makes a motorcycle with a 200-hp supercharged engine, Kawasaki also offers bikes with engines better-suited to newer riders. Bikes like the Z125 Pro, and the Ninja 400 sportbike. And as bikes like Honda’s RC166 show, sometimes the smallest engines are the most impressive ones. That’s a sentiment the upcoming Kawasaki Ninja ZX-25R clearly shares.

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-25R details

2001 Acura Integra Type R
2001 Acura Integra Type R | Acura

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Many high-performance Japanese vehicles, both cars, and motorcycles tend to feature small but high-revving engines. For example, the Acura Integra Type R’s 1.8-liter four-cylinder redlined at 9200 RPM. That’s because large-capacity engines are taxed more heavily, and burn more fuel. One way around that is to raise engine redlines. Another is to add more cylinders. The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-25R does both.

Green Kawasaki Ninja ZX-25R motorcycle
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-25R | Kawasaki via Instagram

The current Ninja 400 has a 399cc two-cylinder that redlines at about 12,000 RPM. And on Cycle World ’s dyno, it makes 44 hp and 25 lb-ft. But the Ninja ZX-25R’s 250cc four-cylinder revs all the way to 17,000 RPM. All while howling like a possessed chainsaw.

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As of this writing, Kawasaki hasn’t released the Ninja ZX-25R’s output. But RideApart reports it’s estimated to 50-60 hp. That would put it squarely between the Ninja 400 and Ninja 650 in terms of output, according to Cycle World. And just like Kawasaki’s other ZX bikes, the ZX-25R comes with a host of track-focused features.

Green Kawasaki Ninja 250 SL next to green Ninja ZX-25R, in front of a hedge
Kawasaki Ninja 250 SL (left) next to Ninja ZX-25R | Kawasaki via Instagram

Firstly, the 6-speed manual comes with a quickshifter, Cycle World reports. The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-25R also comes with traction control and ABS, Revzilla reports, as well as multiple riding modes. And its steel-trellis frame is derived from Kawasaki’s World Superbike racers.

The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-25R calls to mind some of the Japanese sportbikes released in the 80s and 90s, Cycle World muses. Although these bikes were carbureted and two-stroke, they also had small-capacity four-cylinder engines. Ones which could rev as high as 19,000 RPM. In fact, the Ninja ZX-25R’s name is similar to a bike Kawasaki released back then, the ZXR250.

However, it’s possible the Ninja ZX-25R will share something else with the ZXR250 besides engine capacity: lack of US availability.

Pricing and availability

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As of this writing, Kawasaki hasn’t announced if the Ninja ZX-25R will come to the US. So far, it’s been confirmed for Indonesia, Japan, and New Zealand, VisorDown reports. Even European sales are still uncertain.

One potential reason may be the price tag. In New Zealand, the Ninja ZX-25R is listed for the equivalent of $10,440. That’s only $500 less than the ABS-equipped Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R goes for in the US. And while it only has 2 cylinders, the ZX-6R is more powerful.

But does that mean US sales are a total impossibility?

Could the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-25R still come to the US?

Black-with-yellow-pinstriping 1973 Honda CB350 Four motorcyle parked on lawn in front of artwork
1973 Honda CB350 Four | Bring a Trailer

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The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-25R wouldn’t be the first small-capacity four-cylinder motorcycle sold in the US. Honda did it in the 70s with the CB350 Four. Unfortunately, because of its higher cost and minimal performance gains over the two-cylinder CB350, it only lasted 3 years. It’s likely, therefore, that the Ninja ZX-25R would be too-niche of a product to be viable in the US.

However, the bike wasn’t originally intended for the New Zealand market. But strong and persistent customer demand caused Kawasaki to reconsider.
Plus, the US has less-restrictive emissions regulations. If the 250cc four-cylinder is clean enough for Europe, it’s clean enough for the US.

And although the CB350 Four wasn’t popular in the 70s, today it sells at higher prices than the two-cylinder model. If enough US riders want it, perhaps the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-25R could be sold here.

There are 17,000 reasons why we’d like that.

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