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KAWASAKI Z125 (2019-on) Review

Published: 08 November 2018

A return to the A1 licence class for Kawasaki after a 25-year absence

Mirrored: The 2019 Kawasaki Z125

A return to the A1 licence class for Kawasaki after a 25-year absence

  • At a glance
  • 125cc  -  14.7 bhp
  • Medium seat height (815mm)
  • Suitable for A1 licence
  • New: £4,099

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

The naked Kawsaki Z125 shares the same four-stroke engine and rolling chassis as the 2019 Kawasaki Ninja 125, but the dramatic naked version benefits from a taller riding position and less weight, 2kg.

The pair of new Kawasaki 125s represent a return to the A1 licence class for Kawasaki after a 25-year absence, after an 'extensive' market research program by the firm's R&D team revealed a hunger for bikes in this segment.

Marking the start of a claimed stronger focus on the European market, Kawasaki promise a mixture of midrange and top end from the new four-stroke engine, and with close to 15bhp on offer, it’s certainly one of the more attractive A1 propositions.

Both bikes also feature a trellis frame, although it is more obvious on the naked Z125 than its faired Ninja counterpart. The design of both bikes apes that of larger capacity machines, meaning street-cred a plenty for new owners.

The 2019 Kawasaki Z125

The baby Zed is even more user friendly due to a more relaxed riding positon, with higher bars.

The wider mirrors are more effective, the riding position is roomier and personally I prefer looks and overall appearance of the naked bike over the pricier Ninja 125.

Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

The taller riding position makes the Zed easy to manage. It’s at home darting between traffic and making light work of heavy congestion.

The naked Kawasaki should prove popular with riding schools up and down the country, it’s user friendly and a doddle to ride.

The Zed’s attractive trellis chassis and basic suspension, with only pre-load adjustment on the rear is again very similar to old Ninja 250SL. It might be basic but it works.

Kawasaki don’t appear to have cut costs on the suspension, both ends are on the sporty side, but have progressive damping and aren’t simply uncontrollable springs at either end like some ‘budget’ 125 machines.

MCN Senior Road Tester Adam Child riding the 2019 Z125

The sporty set up, same as the Ninja 125 still works around town, taking speed humps and large pot holes with relative ease and comfort.

For a naked light bike the stability is excellent, even when pushed beyond its design parameters.

Thankfully, Kawasaki haven’t economised on tyres either, decent Dunlop’s give enough grip and feel, more than enough for this type of bike on the road. Even the ABS assisted brakes aren’t bad – more than adequate.

Engine 4 out of 5

It's powered by a water-cooled, four-stroke 14.7bhp single-cylinder engine which is loosely based on the old Ninja 250SL engine.

Peak power comes in at 10,000rpm, just 500rpm short of the redline and maximum torque of 8.7ftlb at 7,700rpm. To get the most out of the engine you have to disregard any mechanical sympathy and thrash the poor little.

Flat out, the digital display indicated 72mph; a fraction less than the Ninja 125 due to the lack of bodywork and reduced aerodynamics. However, it was more than happy to buzz along at an indicated 60mph.

There isn’t much left after 55mph, overtakes have to be planned. But below that the new Zed is more than capable of embarrassing dawdling traffic as long as you keep the revs buzzing, which does result in some vibrations.

Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5

Reliability shouldn’t be a problem as the motor is loosely based on the old Kawasaki Ninja 250SL, as are many of the suspension and chassis parts.

Insurance, running costs & value 3 out of 5

The naked Z125 is £300 cheaper than the fully-faired all-new Ninja 125 which it’s heavily based on.

Compared to other rival Japanese manufactures it’s priced in the same ballpark, and a fraction under KTM’s Duke 125 and considerably cheaper than Aprilia’s Tuono 125, however it doesn’t have the technology of the pricier competition.

The Z125 also comes in a Metallic Flat Spark Black/Pearl Flat Stardust White. Prices for this paintjob start from £4199, £100 more than the standard Candy Lime Green / Metallic Flat Spark Black and Candy Plasma Blue / Metallic Spark Black colour options.  

Equipment 3 out of 5

ABS comes as standard, as do the petal brake discs and digital clock. However, the clocks are very basic, dull and missing a gear indictor. Just like the 2019 Ninja 125, the Zed misses some of the bling and special touches of the competition, like a full colour clock or a quick-shifter.

The Z125 rear wheel

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2019
Year discontinued -
New price £4,099
Used price -
Warranty term Two years
Running costs
Insurance group -
Annual road tax £19
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 14.7 bhp
Max torque 8.6 ft-lb
Top speed 72 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption -
Tank range -
Specification
Engine size 125cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, four-stroke single
Frame type Tubular diamond, steel
Fuel capacity 11 litres
Seat height 815mm
Bike weight 146kg
Front suspension 37 mm telescopic fork
Rear suspension Uni-Trak, gas-charged shock with adjustable preload
Front brake Single 290 mm petal disc. Caliper: Dual piston
Rear brake Single 220 mm petal disc. Caliper: Dual piston
Front tyre size 100/80-17M/C 52S
Rear tyre size 130/70-17M/C 62S

History & Versions

Owners' Reviews

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Photo Gallery

  • Mirrored: The 2019 Kawasaki Z125
  • The 2019 Kawasaki Z125 on the launch in Spain
  • The 2019 Kawasaki Z125 side shot in Spain
  • The 2019 Kawasaki Z125 left side
  • The 2019 Kawasaki Z125 rear shot
  • The 2019 Kawasaki Z125 night shot
  • The 2019 Kawasaki Z125 aftermarket Arrow exhaust
  • The 2019 Kawasaki Z125 seat cowl
  • The new colour options for the 2019 Kawasaki Z125
  • The 2019 Kawasaki Z125 additional options
  • The 2019 Kawasaki Z125 close-up
  • The 2019 Kawasaki Z125 frame
  • The 2019 Kawasaki Z125 tail light
  • The 2019 Kawasaki Z125 headlight
  • The 2019 Kawasaki Z125 engine
  • A close up of the parts on the 2019 Kawasaki Z125
  • The Z125 rear wheel
  • The 2019 Kawasaki Z125 tank view
  • Clock watching: The 2019 Kawasaki Z125
  • The 2019 Kawasaki Z125 handlebars
  • The 2019 Kawasaki Z125 tank and handlebars view
  • MCN Senior Road Tester, Adam Child, riding the 2019 Kawasaki Z125
  • MCN Senior Road Tester, Adam Child, riding the 2019 Kawasaki Z125 in Spain
  • MCN Senior Road Tester, Adam Child, with the 2019 Kawasaki Z125 on the launch
  • MCN Senior Road Tester Adam Child riding the 2019 Z125
  • Beautiful scenery featuring the 2019 Kawasaki Z125
  • Kawasaki's 2019 Z125 being ridden by MCN Senior Road Tester, Adam Child
  • The 2019 Kawasaki Z125 in action
  • Riding the 2019 Kawasaki Z125 in Spain
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