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Kawasaki ZXR400 Sports Motorbike Review

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Kawasaki ZXR400 motorcycle review - Riding
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MCN overall verdict rating is 4

‘Extreme’ is a word that’s bandied everywhere these days. But when it comes to motorcycling, they don’t come much more so than Kawasaki’s ZXR400. Small (so popular with the ladeez), light, stumpy, extremely revvy and a fabulous handler, the little ZXR is refined essence of four-cylinder sportster with all the good and bad that implies. It’s not big, it’s not particularly clever, but show it some well surfaced bends and it’ll show you how good handling can be.

Engine

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

Dinky four-cylinder addictively shrieks and screams and comes complete with the frenzy of a 14,500rpm red line. Nothing much happens below 10,000rpm, so any progress is accompanied by a flurry of revs and a banzai-like howl from the end can. But all this fury is worth it because the little ZXR produces 62bhp, which can propel it to an almost unbelievable 140mph-plus top speed.

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

Exceptionally firm and taut, the suspension is unyielding and doesn’t compress much even with a heavy rider on board. On smooth roads or track days this equates to scalpel-like precision, but throw in some undulations and the wheels are in contact with the ground about as much as a freestyle snowboarder. It’s a jarring and pummelling ride that makes it hard to stay in the saddle, but then people don’t buy sporting 400s for their comfort.

Equipment

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 3

Fairly typical mid-90s Kawasaki fare. Reasonable analog instrumentation squeezes inside the cockpit; half-decent mirrors (the other half show your elbows, natch) sprout off the compact full fairing and so on. That said, for a 400 it’s got everything the 750 version and more have, so is a quality bit of kit.

Kawasaki ZXR400 (1995-1998)

Detail Value
Used price range View Kawasaki ZXR400 bikes for sale to see current asking prices
Engine size 398 cc
Power 62 bhp
Top speed 139 mph
Insurance group 12 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 4 rating is 4
Engine rating is 4 rating is 4.5
Ride & Handling rating is 4 rating is 4
Equipment rating is 3 rating is 3
Quality & Reliability rating is 3 rating is 2.5
Value rating is 4 rating is 4

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 2.5

It’s all bolted together well enough and (unlike some 600s which, being built down to a price, are often the poor relation of their superbike kin) it gets everything its big brother 750 has. But, as they demand thrashing, servicing and being looked after is critical even though the ZXR is reasoanably robust…

Value

MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

Even though it’s ‘only a 400’ you still get an awful lot of bike for the money. The ZXR is also one of the best value, most robust of the Japanese 400s, was the one officially imported for the longest period (although watch out for cheaper grey import versions) and posts the highest top speed. Choose wisely (and there’s lots out there) and it’s good value. Find a Kawasaki ZXR400 for sale.

Insurance

Insurance group: 12 of 17

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Model History

1991: Model launched.
2003: Model discontinued.

Other Versions

None.

Specifications

Top speed 139 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 12.9 secs
Max power 62 bhp
Max torque 26 ft-lb
Weight 160 kg
Seat height 160 mm
Fuel capacity 16 litres
Average fuel consumption 42 mpg
Tank range 140 miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 12 of 17
Engine size 398 cc
Engine specification 16v transverse four, 6 gears
Frame Aluminium twin spar
Front suspension adjustment Preload, rebound damping
Rear suspension adjustment Preload, rebound damping
Front brakes 2 x 310mm discs
Rear brake 240mm drum
Front tyre size 120/60 x 17 in
Rear tyre size 120/60 x 17 in

See all Kawasaki ZXR400 motorcycles for sale

Kawasaki
ZXR400

12900 miles

£2,900

Kawasaki
ZXR400

25950 miles

£2,150

Kawasaki
ZXR400

23800 miles

£800

Kawasaki
ZXR400

34000 miles

£999

Kawasaki
ZXR400

15468 miles

£3,295

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 3.5(3 reviews)

  • Pocket Rocket

    Anonymous

    Average rating rating is 4

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    This is a genuine pocket rocket. It has crisp, precise handling and an engine that is unbelievable. For a 400cc this bike packs quite a punch. The super stiff suspension and very racy position makes this bike highly uncomfortable to ride. You soon forget about this though as you a propelled to ridiculous speed, ridiculously quickly. Cornering on a smooth road is impeccable and the chassis gives you the confidence to keep pushing it that little bit quicker. Feedback from the tyres is incredibly clear thanks to the super stiff forks and shock. It is quite possible to achieve knee down with a pillion on the back although I would not recommend it (I discovered this by accident). The engine lacks the top end power of a 600cc bike but is more than sufficient to propel you to a genuine 130mph. This in my opinion is more than compensated for by the sweet handling. The engine starts to redline at about 14500 revs by which point the engine is screaming like a banshee. I warn you this noise is addictive. When I bought the bike it had a straight through exhaust on it (no baffles) and you could hear the bike coming from several miles away. The reliability of my bike seems to be pretty good considering that it has 45k+ on the clocks. The dashboard is literally the bare essentials so don't expect any gadgetry. As far as maintenance and repairs go, it is very easy to work on yourself. There is a great website called www.zxrworld.co.uk that has all the workshop manuals for free download. I cannot recommend this bike highly enough. If you can find a good condition example have no hesitation about buying. There will be no disappointment and silly quantities of fun to be had with this bike.

    24 October 2012

  • Stunning

    Paul Brown

    Nottingham

    Average rating rating is 3.5

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    Since the day I first started getting into motorbikes, the ZXR400 was always the bike I wanted. Saw a few in magazine articles, then a few in the flesh, and they look absolutely stunning. After a few years of pootling round on 125's, I finally bought one. Everything I'd ever read about was true, the front end is brilliant, superb brakes when they're sorted out, average when in typical neglected condition. The rear suspension is trademark kawasaki hard but it never bothered me too much, I was too busy enjoying the bike. Of all the 400cc's these were always reportedly the fastest, and compared to the NC30's and the like, they are physically large too. The engine always seemed smooth, powerful, always ready, but then having just stepped up from 125cc 2 stroke, it would do! 400cc bikes are great bikes for new riders, something of a stop gap instead of jumping straight on a 600cc machine. They are brilliant for getting some confidence and experience on. Would I have another one? Absolutely, even today they are still one of the best looking bikes around in my opinion, trouble is, after this length of time, many are in need of some money spending on them to get them back up to scratch, but when they work, they work very well.

    23 May 2007

  • Beautiful looking, but potentially let down by reliability

    bartelski

    Average rating rating is 3.5

    Show Details

    Overall
    Ride and Handling
    Equipment
    Quality and Reliabilty
    Value
    Engine

    I bought a mint-condition 2003 model and was staggered by its speed and handling. I was also reasonably impressed by the build quality. Like everyone says, the front end is planted and truly confidence inspiring. It's the only bike I've ever ridden that lets you get away with braking mid-corner! The rear suspension's just too hard and no amount of adjustment seems to work. All this aside, I loved that bike and used it everyday for commuting into London, which it managed with no problems at all. For a tiny 400, it was remarkably comfortable (much easier on the wrists than my gsxr 600). And then one day it all went horribly wrong. I started it on a cold morning on full choke, the revs jumped to 4000 (as was usual) and the next thing I know there's an awful rattle. The same day the dealer diagnosed the problem: the cam had become dislodged and wrecked the engine. Apparently, it's not particularly uncommon, regardless of how well you maintain your zxr400! Strengths: Handling, looks, speed. Weaknesses: The one that effectively wrote it off.

    17 March 2006

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danilobottini

danilobottinisays

Buenas amigo por favor necesito su ayuda por favor...ya la falla que tiene mi moto me va volver loco....tiene el siguiente problema cuanto la enciendo en la mañana perfecto prende bien salgo doy una vuelta de 30 a 40 minutos cuanto regreso que apago la moto........y la quiero volver a prender no quiere prender por nada del mundo por el run....tengo que esperar una hora para que vuelva poder prender que tendra la moto por favor....ya le cambie bobinas arranque bateria y sigue igual.....responda por favor me urge?

13 July 2012 05:43

gavinfdavies

User's Badge

gavinfdaviessays

tires

oh, forgot to mention in my review - i'd recommend pirelli diablo supercorsa's, hard front medium rear. These feel very stable, they inspire alot of confidense, and are surprisingly good in the wet. They don't seem to track any irregularities either, which my metzelers do rather severly.

Also, due to this bike being more about low weight than high power, I got 2600 miles out of the rear with maybe about 600 left in it (right to the limit), but the front was nackered by 2000 miles (and i waved byebye to any tread by 2600!), but still sweet. Hence my recommendation for the hard/medium combo. This should get you 3000 miles a pair with hard riding. The rear also did not square off.

Not cheap, but worth every penny.

23 September 2010 12:12

motoxmad80

User's Badge

motoxmad80says

depends on your previous if any riding,height, weight and so on. it is a brilliant bike to learn on,just dont be scared by it. if yiur looking for an easier ride then the gsxr 400 is personally better for me but the zx is fastyer and sticks to the road better depending on tyres. try and have a ride of both. biketrader has a few of each. let me know what you choose and how you get on?

16 January 2010 18:49

motoxmad80

User's Badge

motoxmad80says

Age 7, And after approx 10 years of riding motorcycles at the woods,motocross tracks and anywhere we could (those were the days) I had a tzr 125. Very nice bike to learn on if you have throttle control see itto control the powerband. I kept seeing a 6 month old zxr 400, in pearlesant black and purple. Hoover pipes and all, I fell in love with it. I eventually bought it after approx 3 months of it keep catching my eye. I used to ride that way just to see it in the window. Anyways, the bike is fantastic for 1st big bikes, and it handling is very solid and inspires confidence. As with any bike it will go as fast as you want it to. Be rough and it will you'll know it, be nice and smooth and it will be kind to you too. Excellent bike!!!  If your fairly short,(im 5'9) I found the gsxr 400 to be a better 'feeling' giving me even more confidence. Even though it was essentially slower with less power (3-5 bhp) depending on model of each bike. If your above 5'9 then the kawasaki would be better. Hope you enjoy whatever you choose. As always, ride then for a fair bit 1st.

Ciao

14 November 2009 16:31

killer-ted

killer-tedsays

zxr400

so mate I'm doing my full license as soon as i can afford it and fancy a ZXR400 would u say thats a good choice then?

25 October 2007 01:29

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