Insiders in Japan are hinting that the bike to replace Kawasaki’s ZX-7R will look very familiar… because it will be a green-painted Suzuki GSX-R750 with a Kawasaki badge slapped on it.
It’s a move that’s likely to inflame die-hard Kawasaki fans but looks the most likely next step after the two firms announced a series of shared models earlier this week.
Sources in Japan suggest the new 7R will have just a handful of changes to distinguish it from the Suzuki.
The demand for 750cc sports bikes has been squeezed by the increasing superiority of the litre class and the rapid improvements in the power 600s offer. So having one basic bike to serve two brands looks a sensible and economic solution for both firms.
But who will buy the Kawasaki? 7R owners looking to replace their machine will need some serious convincing. Kawasaki addicts are unlikely to be fooled by a lick of paint.
The brand loyalty issues raised by the 2003 ZX-7R have far less impact in the new shared models the firms revealed earlier this week.
We reported on those when the news broke, and now we’re adding first pictures.
There are six models in total (effectively three models with a different set of badges, name and paintwork for each firm).
Only two will be sold outside Japan – the Kawasaki KLX125 derived from the Suzuki DR-Z125 and a Suzuki RM65 kids’ motocrosser based on Kawasaki’s class-leading KX65.
In Japan there’s also the new Kawasaki Epsilon 250 scooter, a rebadged Suzuki Burgman 250, as well as a 150cc Epsilon based on the Suzuki Epicuro. Suzuki also inherits two Kawasaki models – the Balius II-based GSX250FX commuter bike and the 250SB, which is identical to Kawasaki’s D-Tracker supermoto.
Suzuki’s senior managing director Katsuhiro Yokota admitted the new bikes were only the first sign of a rapidly-growing alliance.
He said: " For now, all we are doing is changing the colour of the bikes and selling them under our name. But we’ve only just started dating. "
But Suzuki chairman Osamu Suzuki added that the two firms would join forces on development of future models in a bid to halve the current bills of £2.6 million per machine, mainly through staff cuts.