Kawasaki Ninja – your guide to the sportsbike legend

2019 Kawasaki ZX-6R cornering with MCN rider on top

The Kawasaki Ninja name has been synonymous with sports motorcycles for over 30 years. Launched in 1984, the GPZ900R announced the Japanese manufacturer as a serious sportsbike contender, by being the first water-cooled, fully-faired, 150+mph Japanese bike ever produced.

No bike had proved to be more exciting or cutting-edge and it was an instant sales success – inspiring a generation of head-banging, sportsbike-crazed Brits who enjoyed nothing more than a high-octane thrash of a weekend. It also claimed the 1984 Production class win at the Isle of Man TT, ridden by Geoff Johnson.

In fact, the 900R was so good that it outlived its replacement; the GPZ1000R, and the ZX10 that followed that, remaining in production for certain markets until 1996.

As your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about the most important bikes, MCN has a raft of reviews and long-term tests alongside a huge selection of Kawasaki Ninjas for sale.

2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX

Kawasaki Ninja reviews on MCN over the years

Junior Ninja that can be ridden with a CBT for anyone over 17. The stepping stone to the naughtier Ninjas.

Kawasaki Ninja 125

An entire 33bhp of Ninja aimed at the American market, but available in Europe and indeed the UK. Was suitable for probationary riders.

A basic lightweight sportsbike done extremely well. Good enough for a 5-star review, in fact.

Aimed at younger riders and also females, this affordable entry-level machine will also suit shorter and less confident riders.

Replacement for the Ninja 300 offers punchier performance, lower weight and extra prestige to the sector.

Kawasaki Ninja 650

Middleweight twin is a replacement for the popular ER-6F, and as a result is lighter and more agile.

Upon launch this bike redefined what ‘fast’ actually means. It’s no laptime legend, but its performance was unrivalled.

Claimed to have even more power than the 2015 H2, this one’s a better bike in every way that matters; except it’s more expensive.

Kawasaki Ninja H2

It’s the most extreme production bike ever, but isn’t road legal. A Claimed 310bhp is sure to wake you up in the morning.

Supercharged performance and a comfy ride. It’s the King of the Autobahn.

Kit-laden tourer with a spec sheet almost as large as its price.

Small, light and powerful, most were imported, as built for the Japanese market. Brits went bonkers for this 20k rpm-equipped beast. Also popular with female riders due to ride height.

Kawasaki ZX-6R

First ZX-6R went up against the Honda’s CBR600 but never made the mark, feeling harsh and crude.

This iteration was far better, and started edging towards the performance of some 750s.

Vastly improved thanks to a new more powerful engine and revised chassis parts. Still no CBR rival, but a better bike than before.

When launched this was the most advanced 600 of the lot.

Got a little softer for this iteration, and as a result a little better too.

Race-ready 600 is aimed solidly at track riding, but not quite as good on the road.

MotoGP tech arrives and joins 115bhp at the back wheel…

Again, more useable for the road, with a new 636cc motor.

Not a huge leap forwards in any way,and now lagging behind more capable rivals.

Kawasaki ZX-7R Daytona

Didn’t exactly make waves with the motorcycling media, but was a strong seller.

A sportier sports tourer rather than an outright sportsbike.

Kawasaki ZX-10 vs Suzuki GSX-R1000

It’s a handful on the road but mighty on the track.

A friendlier version of the wild 2004 bike above.

When launched, the fastest 1000 of the lot.

Another friendly fire-breather,but not quite up at the top of the class.

We said this was the closest thing to a WSB machine.

Spectacular track bike, but not so approachable on the road.

Electronic suspension broadens the ZX-10’s appeal.

Kawasaki ZX-10R

A sports tourer that begs you to ride it hard.

Kawasaki H2 reviews

Unlike older H2s with their two-stroke three-cyclinder engines, the latest interpretations of the Kawasaki H2 are supercharged litre bikes. The vast majority of them are Ninjas, and the only exception to the rule is the Kawasaki Z H2. The Ninja H2s are:

Kawasaki Ninja long-term tests

We spent a year living with both the Ninja 650 during 2017 -  treating it to tyres, trackdays, mega miles and a few modifications - and the supercharged Ninja H2 SX SE, during 2018, which proved a capable and practical take on the super-sportsbike class.

Racing fans can also get our road test of the homologation special Kawasaki ZX-10RR here.