Say hello to the 2023 Kawasaki ZX-4R & ZX-4RR! This is certainly an unexpted surprise. Let’s take a quick look at what makes it scream.
1. MODEL LINEUP
The 2023 Kawasaki ZX-4R will be offered in three variants depending on the market; base Ninja ZX-4R, Ninja ZX-4R SE, and Ninja ZX-4RR. All share the same basic frame and engine package (covered below). There does not appear to be a learner-legal variant. This is a pure supersport, baby!
ZX-4R base version
The SE and RR variants receive some additional goodies over the base ZX-4R.
The ZX-4R SE features colours and graphics inspired by the Kawasaki Racing Team (KRT), and the below listed accessories are fitted as standard.
-Dual direction KQS
-USB power socket
The ZX-4RR, in addition to the KRT graphics, receives Showa’s BFRC-lite rear shock absorber, the same type used on the Ninja ZX-10R.
Here are some other notable features:
- All-new 399cc liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, in-line four cylinder engine
- Dual front disc brakes
- 4.3” TFT colour instrumentation with circuit mode
- Smartphone connectivity via RIDEOLOGY THE APP
- All LED lighting
- Power modes
- Integrated riding modes
- Assist & slipper clutch
The ZX-4R is expected in Europe in the Autumn of 2023, the US Spring, and the Australian Spring.
2. SO WHERE DOES IT FIT?
Let’s look at pricing to help us better place this bike in the market.
At the time of writing, pricing was only confirmed for the US, with the ZX-4RR KRT edition (the only version offered) costing $9,699 MSRP. Plugging that figure into a currency calculator gives us an AUD price of $14,000, a UK price of £8,045 and 8961 Euro. Considering the Ninja 400 is circa AUD 9,000, this is not a budget motorcycle. The 4R will, therefore, notionally compete with the likes of the Yamaha YZF-R7 and Aprilia RS660.
The competition – R7 & RS660
3. WHAT’S UNDER THE HOOD?
The 2023 Kawasaki ZX-4R is powered by a 399cc 4-stroke in-line four cylinder engine with a rumoured rev ceiling of around 16,000 rpm. Claimed power is 57 kW or 77 hp, which bumps up to 59 kW or 80 hp with the Ram Air system pressurised.
That compares to a peak of 74 hp for the 689cc engine in the R7. With the ZX-4R being an in-line four, torque characteristics will be quite different, meaning you will have to chase power higher in the rev range. Boy, I can see some fun being had in that pursuit!
4. CHASSIS & SUSPENSION
The frame and swingarm of the 2023 Kawasaki ZX-4R are formed from high-tensile steel with a trellis main frame design utilising various diameter piping. An interesting note is that the subframe is welded to the mainframe. This, combined with the use of steel, is an obvious cost measure as an aluminium frame would be too expensive for this category.
Furthermore, wet weight with a full 15L fuel tank is in the region of 189kg. Considering the capacity, you could argue this is on the portly side. Then again, emission control equipment probably contributes quite a bit to that.
Showa provides suspension in the form of a 37mm SFF-BP non-adjustable fork (Separate Function Fork – Big Piston), which has preload adjustment on SE and RR variants and a non-adjustable shock. In addition, the SE and RR are upgraded with the Showa BFRC (Balance Free Rear Cushion) Lite shock with full rebound, compression, and preload adjustability.
Brakes are equipped with ABS with a pair of 290mm semi-floating discs gripped by Kawasaki branded 4-piston radial-mount monobloc calipers at the front, while at the rear, a 220mm disc is slowed by a single-piston caliper with a 38mm piston. Dunlop Sportmax GPR-300 radial tyres are standard with a 160-section rear.
The 2023 Kawasaki ZX-4R receives a full suite of non-IMU electronic riding aides, including three-mode traction control, dual power modes (full and low), and integrated riding modes with four options – sport, road, rain, and rider (manual). Add to that an up-and-down quickshifter (on the ZX-4R SE and RR), and you have a comprehensive suite.
A 4.3-inch colour TFT display with different layout options (standard and circuit) and integrated Bluetooth connectivity for the proprietary Kawasaki Rideology app is standard and adds to the bling factor.
6. WHAT DO YOU THINK?
The 2023 Kawasaki ZX-4R is a welcome surprise. In the age of parallel twins and declining supersport sales, Kawasaki has seen it fit to buck the trend with a four cylinder screamer. Thank you, Kawasaki!
What do you think of the new ZX-4R? Is it a winner? Would you buy one? I invite you to comment below.
I will dive deeper into the relevance of this new bike in a later ThinK FasteR post, so look out for that.