Top Speed 2019 Kawasaki Buying Guide
Kawasaki’s 2019 Lineup Explainedby Allyn Hinton, on
As an umbrella marque, Kawasaki claims expertise in a number of areas to include industrial engines, heavy industrial equipment, gas turbines, robotics, precision machinery, and of course, motorcycles. Kawi is one of the Japanese Big Four, but it spreads the love around with factories at home, throughout Asia and in the U.S. to place it among the most prolific bike builders in the world. As with the other major sportbike manufacturers, Kawasaki maintains a presence around a variety of racing sports.
Kawasaki started life the same way as many post-war bike builders; as an aircraft manufacturer. It bought out the Meguro Manufacturing company, a brand of which Kawasaki had been a partner, and by 1966 was producing motorcycles for sale under the Omega marque. The rotary-valve Samurai and Avenger models put Kawasaki on the map, and in ’68 the H1 Mach III joined a number of enduro-style racing machines to compete against the other three of the Big Four. Jet Ski personal watercraft joined the lineup in 1973, and the ’80s saw an expansion into the off-road, four-wheel ATV craft. Kawasaki currently operates a pair of factories in the continental U.S. – the 700,000 square-foot plant in Maryville, Missouri, and the massive 1.3 million square-foot facility in Lincoln, Nebraska – and sales are funneled through a series of 1,500 official domestic dealerships.
KRTC: Kawasaki Traction Control. It allows a certain amount of controlled rear-wheel slip with 9 levels of intervention plus an “Off” setting. Data from the inertial measurement unit gives the system a corner-sensitive quality.
Kawasaki Engine Brake Control: This feature lets you select how much backtorque the system will developed. It intervenes by increasing the throttle setting on hard downshifts so as to prevent the rear contact patch from breaking loose.
KLCM: Kawasaki Launch Control that monitors rear-wheel slip and front-end lift to deliver the best acceleration that the conditions will allow. It will also let you launch with a wide-open throttle.
KQS: Kawasaki Quick Shifter that delivers clutchless shifts both up and down the range.
KIBS: Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Braking System that delivers corner-sensitive ABS protection.
Power Modes: This feature lets the rider dial in the full power delivery or tune it down as conditions permit.
KECS: Kawasaki Electronic Control Suspension that delivers automatic, real-time adjustments.
KCMF: The Kawasaki Cornering Management Function that bundles the KRTC and KIBS together under the IMU to help stabilize the chassis in corners and allow for a shorter turning radius.
K-ACT: Kawasaki Advanced Coactive-braking Technology that links the front and rear brakes for balanced, stable braking events.
Kawasaki Motorcycle Models
Kawasaki Ninja Sport
The Ninja Sport range covers the spread with a line that starts out at 399 cc for the entry-level market, a 649 cc for the midrange, and a 1,043 cc mill at the top end. Built for commuters/[tourers2669] who are looking for a racebike panache with a bit of comfort and safety, the Sport line is a good place to start shopping. A full cowling forms the sport-typical scoop with recesses that pull the front turn signals in and out of the slipstream. Short bars and jockey footpegs encourage an aggressive riding posture and attitude. ABS is a constant across the board, and the electronics suite is more robust as you progress up the range.
|Ninja 400||$4,999||399 cc|
|Ninja 650||$7,399||649 cc|
|Ninja 1000||$12,100||1,043 cc|
Kawasaki Ninja SuperSport
Kawasaki’s Ninja SuperSport range carries itself with much the same sporty mien as the Sport line, but with more features meant to appeal to a more race-tastic breed of riders. Decidedly not built for the entry-level market, the line starts out with a 636 cc mill and ride-quality controls such as the KIBS and KTRC. The 998 cc “10R” holds the middle ground with the addition of the KLCM and KCMF to the electronics, and at the top of the SuperSport food chain is the “14R” that rocks a 1,441 cc plant and a monocoque aluminum “stressed-skin” frame.
|Ninja ZX-6R||$9,999||636 cc|
|Ninja ZX-6R KRT||$11,299||636 cc|
|Ninja ZX-10R||$15,099||998 cc|
|Ninja ZX-10R KRT||$15,399||998 cc|
|Ninja ZX-10RR||$24,899||998 cc|
|Ninja ZX-14R||$14,999||1,441 cc|
Kawasaki Ninja Hypersport
For the fiery-eyed pegdraggers out there, the Kawasaki Hypersport line is built with you in mind. The family carries itself with an edgier finish than that of the “lesser” Ninjas. Generous vents in the cowling run with a distinctive ribbed look and leave quite a bit of the drivetrain exposed compared to the rest of the Ninja family tree. All of the models within the line come with the same, 998 cc in-line four, but Kawi puts the “H2” Ninjas in a class all their own with a supercharger that punches up the volumetric efficiency. Engine size may be a constant, but output decidedly is not; the H2 SX SE+ rolls at the bottom of the pecking order with 84.6 pound-feet of torque on tap. Next up is the base H2 with its 104.9 pound-feet of torque to top the street-legal models, and at the apex is the track-only H2 R with a staggering 121.5 pounds o’ grunt. Top shelf electronics abound across this branch of the Ninja family tree. In addition to its clear performance bent, the two street-legal models lend themselves to sport-touring quite nicely.
|Ninja H2||$29,000||998 cc|
|Ninja H2 Carbon||$32,500||998 cc|
|Ninja H2 R||$55,000||998 cc|
|Ninja H2 SX SE+||$25,000||998 cc|
In Kawasaki’s Mini-Naked category, the Z125 Pro is built to compete against bikes like the Honda Grom in the entry-level, 125 cc pocket-bike field. It’s essentially a monkey bike, but with a modern finish that borrows from the contemporary sport sector rather than than the nostalgic ’60-era design. The small size and low price of the Z125 Pro makes it a good choice as a first commuter for a young rider or a fun bike for experienced riders who understand the joy of riding a small bike fast.
|Z125 Pro||$3,199||125 cc|
Kawasaki’s Supernaked bracket covers much the same ground as its Ninja Sport class with a 399 cc model at the bottom and a 649 cc engine in the middle. At the top of the range is a 948 cc model, and while ABS is available across the range and fully adjustable suspension makes an appearance at the top, the electronics suite is as sparsely populated as the body panels are. Minimal appointments are the rule of the day, and that essential nature helps to keep prices low.
Kawasaki’s Retro class has but two entries thus far in the U.S. market, but they are a historically significant pair that takes us all the way back to the UJMs of 1973. The Z900RS makes a connection to the café racers of old through the Z900RS Café. Design elements from the original Z1 900 join an all-new platform to deliver a dose of nostalgia along with the power of a modern powerplant, to the tune of 72.3 pound-feet of torque from the 948 cc engine. Fully adjustable suspension and ABS round out the ride-quality and safety gear across the board, and of course, the Café rocks the classic bullet fairing that ties it to the racers in the heyday.
|W800 Café||$9,799||773 cc|
|Z900 RS||$11,199||948 cc|
|Z900RS Café||$11,699||948 cc|
Kawasaki Adventure / Touring
The Versys line covers the adventure-touring bases for Kawasaki with a trio of engine sizes. At the entry-level, we find the Versys-X 300 with its 296 cc twin, ABS option and rider protection from a front fairing and windshield. Next up is the Versys 650 that comes in an ABS-equipped base model and an “LT” variant that has stock handguards and quick-detach panniers to turn it into an excellent commuter/tourer. At the top of the totem pole is the 1000 SE LT+ that replaced the “regular” 1000 LT from last year’s lineup. The SE LT+ takes it to a new level for MY2019 with quick-detachable, hard-side panniers for storage plus handguards, wide front fairing, and a tall, vented windshield for pilot protection. At the top end, the robust electronics suite pulls from the top shelf with nearly all the gadgets Kawi has to offer.
|Versys-X 300||$5,499||296 cc|
|Versys 650||$8,299||649 cc|
|Versys 650 LT||$9,199||649 cc|
|Versys 1000 LT||$12,999||1,043 cc|
|Versys 1000 SE LT+||$17,999||1,043 cc|
Kawasaki Supersport Touring
If you like to put state lines behind you in a hurry, the Kawasaki Concours 14 may be the bike for you. Windtunnel-tested body panels form a sportbike-like cowl and serve as stressed members for the monocoque structure. The 1,352 cc, four-cylinder mill comes with the Variable Valve Timing feature that deepens the torque well without sacrificing top-end performance. Hard bags and an electronically adjustable windshield make for comfortable touring right out of the box.
|Concours 14||$15,599||1,352 cc|
Kawasaki Sport Cruiser
The sport-cruiser Vulcan S line from Kawasaki leans toward the American style with mid-mount controls and pullback bars that put the rider in a relaxed, upright riding position. Power comes from a Ninja-derived, 649 cc parallel-twin plant, and in spite of its laid-back looks, the chassis is set up to have a sportbike’s handling characteristics to match its sportbike heart. The Café model adds a bullet-shaped windscreen as its main claim to the name, and the Special Edition rocks a unique two-tone graphic, but ABS and an adjustable rider triangle are constant features throughout the family.
|Vulcan S||$7,099||649 cc|
|Vulcan S Café||$8,099||649 cc|
|Vulcan S SE||$7,699||649 cc|
Kawasaki Classic Cruiser
The Kawasaki Vulcan 900 family brings even more Americana to the table with laced wheels, whitewall tires and a rigid-esque frame layout that looks similar to Harley-Davidson’s Softail line. While the Classic has an abundance of blackout treatment, the Classic LT trades most of that achromatic finish for a chrome one, and adds a windshield, studded-leather bags, and passenger backrest to the package. The Custom runs with plenty of blackout as well, and it trades the wire wheels for cast ones with forward foot controls that put the rider in the windsock position. The first and last models in the line are more appropriate as boulevard bruisers/commuters since the lack of stock baggage limits their utility as tourbikes. Power comes from a 903 cc V-twin across the board.
|Vulcan 900 Classic||$7,999||900 cc|
|Vulcan 900 Classic LT||$8,999||900 cc|
|Vulcan 900 Custom||$8,499||900 cc|
Kawasaki Bagger/Touring Cruiser
Kawi added the Vaquero to its Vulcan 1700 stable to compete in the American-style tourbike and bagger market. Power comes from a 1,700 cc V-twin plant across the range and the K-ACT feature is a constant as well, but the attitude difference between the two are like chalk and cheese. The bagger-tastic Vaquero runs with a custom vibe from its chopped-down windshield, sleek rear end, and blackout treatment, while the Voyager adds a tall windshield, top case and passenger backrest to the hard bags for heavy-duty touring duties and serious grocery-getting missions. Big and heavy, the Vulcan line places long-range comfort at a premium.
|Vulcan 1700 Vaquero||$16,799||1,700 cc|
|Vulcan 1700 Voyager||$17,499||1,700 cc|
Kawasaki Dual Purpose
The dual-purpose line at Kawasaki is the natural successor to the old enduro racers, and it brings the same dual-surface capability to the table along with the lights needed to meet street-legal standards in the U.S. Power comes from a 249 cc engine with adjustable, long-stroke suspension front and rear and stealth-knobbies on wire wheels to make the connection to your surface of choice. This family keeps its gear limited to the essentials, so there are no higher electronics available, only a pure-raw ride.
|KLX 250||$5,349||249 cc|
|KLX 250 Camo||$5,549||249 cc|
Kawasaki Concours 14
See our review of the Kawasaki Concours 14.
Kawasaki KLX 250
See our review of the Kawasaki KLX 250.
Kawasaki Ninja 400
See our review of the Kawasaki Ninja 400.
Kawasaki Ninja 650
See our review of the Kawasaki Ninja 650.
Kawasaki Ninja 1000
See our review of the Kawasaki Ninja 1000.
Kawasaki Ninja H2 / H2 Carbon
See our review of the Kawasaki H2 / H2 Carbon.
Kawasaki Ninja H2 R
See our review of the Kawasaki Ninja H2 R.
Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE+
See our review of the Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE+.
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R
See our review of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R.
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R
See our review of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R.
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR
See our review of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR.
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R
See our review of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-14R.
Kawasaki Versys 650 / 650 LT
See our review of the Kawasaki Versys 650 / 650 LT.
Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+
See our review of the Kawasaki Versys 1000 SE LT+.
Kawasaki Versys-X 300
See our review of the Kawasaki Versys-X 300.
Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic / Classic LT / Custom
See our review of the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic / Classic LT / Custom.
Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Vaquero / Vulcan 1700 Voyager
See our review of the Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Vaquero / Vulcan 1700 Voyager.
Kawasaki Vulcan S / S Café / S SE
See our review of the Kawasaki Vulcan S / S Café / S SE.
Kawasaki W800 Café
See our review of the Kawasaki W800 Café.
Kawasaki Z125 Pro
See our review of the Kawasaki Z125 Pro.
See our review of the Kawasaki Z400.
See our review of the Kawasaki Z650.
See our review of the Kawasaki Z900.
Kawasaki Z900 RS
See our review of the Kawasaki Z900 RS.
Kawasaki Z900RS Café
See our review of the Kawasaki Z900 RS Café.
See our review of the Honda Grom.
Read more Kawasaki news.