Kawasaki ZXR400 (1995-1998) Review | Specs & Prices
- Fantastically entertaining 400cc screamer
- Race-spec handling
- Decent build quality
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£320|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
‘Extreme’ is a word that’s bandied everywhere these days. But when it comes to motorcycling, they don’t come much more so than the Kawasaki ZXR400. Small, 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.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
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.
EngineNext up: Reliability
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.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
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 reasonably robust…
Our Kawasaki ZXR400 owners' reviews show one thing that jumps out. There's a potential weakness in the engine. Our reader reports: "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."
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
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.
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.
|Engine type||16v transverse four, 6 gears|
|Frame type||Aluminium twin spar|
|Fuel capacity||16 litres|
|Front suspension||Preload, rebound damping|
|Rear suspension||Preload, rebound damping|
|Front brake||2 x 310mm discs|
|Rear brake||240mm drum|
|Front tyre size||120/60 x 17 in|
|Rear tyre size||120/60 x 17 in|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||42 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£47|
|Annual service cost||£320|
12 of 17
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two year unlimited mileage|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||62 bhp|
|Max torque||26 ft-lb|
|Top speed||139 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||12.9 secs|
|Tank range||140 miles|
Model history & versions
- 1991: Model launched.
- 2003: Model discontinued.
Owners' reviews for the KAWASAKI ZXR400 (1995 - 1998)
7 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI ZXR400 (1995 - 1998) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£320|
Annual servicing cost: £500
Wonderful bike but not really comfortable especially in traffic and low speed
Ride is not so easy for wrists and thumbs
Very reliable after nearly 23years, some difficulties sometimes to fine tune intake
Insurance quite high (France)
Feel like Valentino Rossi on his bike
Buying experience: Bought privately, 3400€ @22yo, it is high, but I really wanted it (displayed price was 4200€)
Annual servicing cost: £350
Its not big but its clever! The most confidence inspiring bike Ive ridden to date, razor sharp turning, with surefooted and planted flickabilty incredible feel from the front end, the back skips about a bit under hard braking although it never feels unsafe. This is a small light arse up road race replica the forks chassis and brakes can take a whole lot more than they have to endure with this 65 pony engine. The end result is a moto gp handling, braking, turning bike of not so long ago. Its a great first bike and a hoot round a circuit, Ive taken a few scalps in the bends : ).
Sublime handling and braking just needs more ponys!
Nice screaming banshee over 7500 nothing much happens below then you have the wonderful 14,500 redline howl! Easy for filtering commuting will pull along at tickover.
95 model used for sunny afternoons and the occasional track day over two years didnt miss a beat. Normal service plus front warped discs (my fault) front tyre wears quicker than the rear for me.
with new discs and braided hoses over two years.
Its a sportsbike what equipment do you want, although the need to flick a lever for reserve fuel is annoying .
OK I have owned three of these now. First one I bought in 1995 - then again after an R1 and a CBR600 I went back to one - then I bought another one last year. One blue and two maroon. The colour doesn't matter the engine and frame are all the same. The L9 supposidly had some engine tweaks - but not much to speak of. Obviously the H1s (89 and 90) are different - but anything from 91 onwards they are all the same. So. What to say. Well. We're talking about a 400cc with a shade over 60bhp. And a power band where not much happens till around 10,000rpm - and then all hell breaks loose. Well all the hell you can pack into 62bhp and around 160kg. But what a great little bike. Like I say I've had some big fast bikes - the R1 in particular - but this little thing in most riding conditions can keep up with the best. The handling is like everybody says spot on. The brakes are superb. The riding position is a bit cramped - I am 5'10" and its still pretty cramped. Its actually pretty good for pillions - because unlike modern sports bikes the pillion seat does not put them up with the Gods - so they have an OK time too - and its quite wide. But mainly you want to be on your own. And then this thing really howls. Between 10,000 and 14,500 it really does have a kick - and a great noise to go with it. Yes the rear shock is hard. Like hard. But really who cares on most modern roads the surface is pretty good - and there are some roundabouts where you just want to go round - and round - and round - OK you get the idea. Watch out for: People who say 'the carbs just need balancing'. Not they don't - they are most likely broken. We're talking carbs that will now be 20+ years old. Thats why fuel injection became the norm - because after about 15 years carbs just wear out - and a clean and balance will not likely sort them out. So you want one thats sorted. And don't worry about Japan imports - in case nobody told you they all came from Japan. If you can find one with less than 20,000 miles - for around £2500 - well - whats not to like?
Annual servicing cost: £100
It would be 5 out of 5 because this sports bike ride is why it is so popular. But still it is a sports bike and even on a light suspension it's a hard ride.
This is the reason you should buy it.
Even after 20+ years it still runs like it should without problems. Although mine has only done 15000km.
It's a bike you would want to modify in some ways but I see that as a good thing. A hobby.
Buying experience: A decent one of its age could be bought for 1500 pounds.
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.
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.
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.