Pocket rocket: Kawasaki Ninja ZX-4R is ready and it's headed for Europe in 2023

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Kawasaki are channelling their inner 1990s and have confirmed that a new Ninja ZX-4R four-cylinder screaming sportsbike is on its way to Europe in the Autumn of 2023.

A recipe unseen in the Japanese firm’s line-up since the iconic ZXR400 of almost 30-years-ago, the ZX-4R borrows styling traits from its larger sporting siblings and will produce a claimed 78.9bhp from its 399cc DOHC four-cylinder engine – revving to in excess of 15,000rpm.

This motor will be housed in a high-tensile steel trellis chassis borrowed from the smaller four-cylinder ZX-25R, with the whole bike suspended by quality Showa springs.

2023 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-4R right side

Up front you get upside down seperate function, big-piston forks, with a mono shock found at the rear of some models also shared by the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R superbike. Meanwhile, the curved rear swingarm appears to share similar design cues to that found on the parallel-twin Ninja 650, with the right strut partially obscured by a single exhaust can.

The frame is also said to offer a nice balance of rigidity and flexibility, alongside nimble handling – meaning it should remain useable every day and not simply capable of just flat out thrills.

The bike will be available in three flavours across the globe: the standard machine, an SE and an RR version. The SE gets a Kawasaki Racing Team paint job, up/down quickshifter, smoked screen, USB power socket and frame sliders.

2023 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-4R left side

The RR also gets the shifter/blipper function as well as RR graphics and Showa’s BFRC-lite shock mentioned earlier. Both the SE and RR also have pre-load adjustable front forks.

Kawasaki claim that the engine – complete with a ram air system will “combine strong low- and mid-range torque with strong power at high rpm” but the reality is this will likely be a motor that will need to be thrashed to get the most out of.

When you do decide to give it the berries, braking will be provided by dual 290mm semi-floating front discs and radially mounted calipers. You also get a 120/70×17 front and 160/60×17 rear tyre, meaning plenty of choices for grippy modern rubber.

2023 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-4R white background

Completing the bike is a myriad of electronic gadgets, with traction control and four different riding modes included. You also get a 4.3in LCD display, with mobile connectivity plus full LED lighting.

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-4R details

  • 399cc DOHC liquid-cooled inline four
  • Power 78.9bhp
  • Kerb weight 188kg (189kg SE)
  • Fuel capacity 15 litres
  • Seat height 800mm

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-4R launch ready: Return to the golden age of 400s is on the cards

First published 12 January 2022 by Phil West

Kawasaki ZX-4R render

Forbidden fruit is always the sweetest and as such Kawasaki’s jewel-like ZX-25R – a 250cc four-cylinder sports bike that’s offered in some Asian markets but not in the West – seems all the more desirable.

Now Kawasaki are planning to launch an even more tempting machine in the form of a more powerful 400cc version retaining all the lightweight, high-revving appeal of the original.

While rumours of such a machine have swirled ever since the original ZX-25R was launched, sources in Japan now say that the bigger ZX-4R is all but certain to be launched soon.

What’s more, there’s hard evidence for the bike’s existence in the form of patents filed by Kawasaki themselves. A document first published by the Japanese patent office in 2019, clearly states that the design is “preferably applied to a vehicle having four- cylinder 400cc engine”.

This could be what the new Kawasaki ZX-4R looks like

As shown in this computer illustration of the upcoming ZX-4R, the new bike is expected to share the vast majority of its parts with the existing ZX-25R, including the tubular steel frame, banana swingarm and most of the bodywork.

The lower panels, already used on the ZX-25R, are at the heart of the patented cooling system, with internal ducts to feed air to the alternator on the left and clutch on the right.

Sources say the new ZX-4R will sport a new nose and headlights, mimicking the look of the latest ZX-10R superbike, along with a ZXR750-inspired paint scheme.

Since the ZX-25R manages a claimed 50.3bhp at 15,500rpm with the help of ram-air, the ZX-4R could be capable of as much as 80bhp. Perhaps more importantly, its torque is certain to rise from the 250’s limp 16.9lb.ft (which doesn’t arrive until 14,500rpm) to about 24lb.ft.

Like the ZX-25R, the ZX-4R’s main target market is likely to be Asia, but its larger capacity and increased performance might be just enough to persuade the firm to jump through the type-approval hoops to offer it Western markets.