Bigger but still bonkers | All-new Kawasaki ZX-4R previewed

The much anticipated Kawasaki ZX-4R looks to be on the way... and it will bear close resemblence to the larger ZX-10R sportsbike

Kawasaki ZX-4R [credit: Young Machine]

A preview of the much rumoured Kawasaki ZX-4R has surfaced in its native Japan as the manufacturer prepares to unleash a new generation of sportsbike for Europe.

Talk of a new 400cc inline-four sportsbike have been rife for some time, ever since Kawasaki invoked the golden era of ‘screamers’ with the launch of its low-capacity, high-revving ZX-25R in Asia in 2020.

With emissions regulations preventing Kawasaki from importing the ZX-25R to Europe as it is, it has instead applied the ethos to a 400cc drivetrain with confirmation of its impending arrival seemingly confirmed by patent documents last year.

Now Young Machine - the authority for forthcoming Japanese motorcycles - has made the ZX-4R its latest cover star with a render that is likely to bear very close relation to the final product. Its headline feature also suggests Kawasaki is gearing up for an official world premiere very soon.

Though it is related to the ZX-25R, the ZX-4R is expected to borrow heavily from the latest generation ZX-10R for design, notably an evolution of the sunken headlight and sharp nose, while the fairing design shows a revision with an addition of a built-in air-duct.

It is also likely to feature premium touches such as Kawasaki Traction Control and anti-wheelspin, upside down front forks and different power modes. The jury is out, however, on whether Kawasaki will cave to public pressure and launch it in full retro green, white and blue livery following an overwhelmingly positive response to a one-off WorldSBK livery evoking the ZX-7R of the 1990s.

There is no talk of how much power and, well, torque the ZX-4R might produce, but somewhere in the region of the ZX-25R’s 50bhp would be the minimum, though it could also push up towards 75-100bhp to put it in range of the Yamaha R7 and Aprilia RS 660.

What is less clear is whether the ZX-4R is being touted as a replacement for the now out-of-production ZX-6R.

Having quietly slipped off price lists, though there remains stock of the ZX-6R, there have been conflicting reports as to whether it will be replaced like-for-like or whether the combination of the ZX-4R and the better-selling 650 Ninja will act as de facto successors.

It’s a similar approach adopted by Yamaha, which has discontinued the R6 and launched the much milder, but more mainstream R7. It is expected to launch an R9 - based on the MT-09 - this year, however.