Kawasaki Motorcycles reviews

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2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400

2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400

The New Big Small-Displacement Ninja

Kawasaki takes the next step in the struggle to find that perfect balance between displacement, performance and affordability with the new-for-2018 Ninja 400. This all-new ride delivers the aggressive styling that one expects from the Ninja family with a host of improvements over the previous generation. More power, less weight and a mature presentation should hold the new Ninja in good stead in the highly-competitive small-displacement sportbike market that serves as the main battlefield in the contest to instill some brand loyalty in the increasingly important Millennial buyer base. It appears that the Ninja 300 is going by the wayside as the factory tries to unload the 2017 300s with a discounted price tag, so it’s probably safe to say the 400 is the replacement ride; at least in the U.S. market. After a race to the bottom, it looks like Kawi has decided the sweet spot lies somewhere uphill for American riders.

Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Ninja 400.

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2018 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX / H2 SX SE

2018 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX / H2 SX SE

See Nothing But Blurred Scenery On Your Journey

Kawasaki’s Ninja H2 made a splash when it hit the market last year, and if you missed the window-of-opportunity to score one of the first-run models — or perhaps it was priced a tad out of your range — then I have some good news for you. Introducing the Ninja H2 SX and H2 SX “Special Edition.” Brand new for 2018, the H2 SX line presents itself as a sort of hypersport-next-door with large-ish windshield and relaxed rider’s triangle as part of the comfort-oriented features package. This new line adds a dose of “super” to the sport-touring genre with its supercharged four-banger that cranks out a generous 101 pounds o’ grunt with enough electronic fandanglery to help you tame the beast, or at least protect you from yourself somewhat. Commuter or ’really’ fast tourbike, the SX siblings cover a lot of everyday-riding ground for riders who are looking for more than run-of-the-mill performance. Is it too much? Let’s dig in and find out.

Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki H2 SX and H2 SX SE.

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2016 - 2018 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic / 900 Classic LT / 900 Custom

2016 - 2018 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic / 900 Classic LT / 900 Custom

A Healthy Dose Of Americana In Every Bite

Kawasaki created its Vulcan line back in 1984 in an attempt to capture a slice of the American cruiser market, and it is still alive and kicking in 2018. The family includes a trio of models from the boulevard bruiser “900 Classic” to the heritage-style “900 Classic LT” and the home-cooked “900 Custom.” A 900 cc, V-twin mill and 600-plus pound curb weight put the range firmly in the mid-size cruiser category and give it the mass one expects to find an American cruiser.

Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic, Vulcan 900 Classic LT and Vulcan 900 Custom.

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2018 Kawasaki Z900RS

2018 Kawasaki Z900RS

A Modern Classic Tribute To The Original Z1

The race to grab a slice of the burgeoning Millennial market is heating up, and Kawasaki enters the fray with its sizzlin’ hot, retro-style Z900RS. Built as a tribute of sorts to the legendary Z1 superbike, the new-for-2018 RS packs a punch that does its predecessor justice with 111 horsepower ready to go with a twist of the mechanical throttle control. Suspension components are thoroughly modern as well, and at a glance, it seems Kawi has nailed the balance between nostalgia and nouveau with this ride. Modern performance and classic design are a common marriage nowadays, and Kawi is entering this market against some well-established competition so its success is far from ensured. Today I’m going to take a look at this retro-tastic Z900 variant to see if it really holds up the family name and is a viable competitor in the new millennial/hipster market.

Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Z900RS.

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2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Versys-X 300

2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Versys-X 300

A Street-Oriented Version Of The KLR

Kawasaki entered the 2017 model year with an eye toward the small-displacement adventure-bike market, and the all-new Versys-X 300 was its weapon of choice for this new front. The “X” joined the rest of the Versys adventure-bike lineup with the characteristic family flylines atop unique features all its own. Most apparent was the 296 cc engine attractive to riders looking to enter the adventure world as well as the young adults emerging as the new generation of pragmatic buyers.

Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Versys X-300.

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2016 - 2018 Kawasaki Vulcan S / S Cafe / S SE

2016 - 2018 Kawasaki Vulcan S / S Cafe / S SE

Ninja-Derived Power In A Mid-Displacement Cruiser

As the lightest bike in the Kawasaki cruiser lineup, the Vulcan S appeals to a variety of riders with adjustable footpegs and options for seat height and handlebar position. New from 2016, Kawasaki introduced the Vulcan S Café and the Vulcan S SE to round out its cruiser stable. Carrying the same low and lean profile of the bigger Vulcan cruisers, the S and its siblings combine Ninja-derived power and handling with the comfort and personalization capabilities of Kawasaki’s Ergo-Fit components

Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Vulcan S, Vulcan S Café and Vulcan S SE.

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2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 650

2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 650

A Saucy Middleweight Contender

The Kawasaki Ninja is one of the most recognized models in the world, right up there with the likes of Honda’s CBR and Suzuki’s GSX-R families. The 2018 650 models can trace their roots back to the original 650R that rolled out 12 years ago. In order to stay competitive in this market; there necessarily have been a number of changes through the years, and the ’17 models benefited from a number of updates and revisions. The ’17 MY lineup saw the new-and-improved Ninja 650 in both the ABS and non-ABS versions as well as the black and green, Kawasaki Racing Team livery. A very capable sportbike, the Ninja is powered by a 649 cc, water-cooled engine and all the wizardry needed to earn it a place in the iconic Ninja lineup.

Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Ninja 650.

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2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 1000

2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 1000

Ramped Up Tour-ability And Plenty Of Electronic Goodies

I’m not sure exactly at what point we can call a bike a “new model,” but I suppose if it has the same frame and engine as the previous year then it isn’t really ’new’-new. Such is the case with the Ninja 1000 ABS that saw an extensive rework in 2017 and carries over straight into the 2018 model year. The electronics suite is indeed sweet with Bosch’s Inertial Measurement Unit on board along with Kawasaki’s Cornering Management Function, Traction Control and ABS. Long-distance capabilities got a boost as well with better ergos, a lower saddle and a larger zone of protection due to the revamped fairing and windshield design. The delightfulness continues into the instrumentation with a new LCD screen display in an equally-new instrument panel. All this comes bundled with the proven 1,043 cc, 81.7 pound-foot engine to propel the Ninja 1000 into what Kawi hopes is a hybrid sport-touring niche that is a bit sportier than its tour-tastic Concours line, and more tour-capable than its other straight-up sportbikes and supersports.

Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Ninja 1000.

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2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Z900

2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Z900

This Ain’t No Ordinary First-Gen Naked Bike

Kawasaki steps up its bid to grab a slice of the growing naked-bike market with the Z900 ABS. As demand for the genre increased, so have expectations of performance along with polished looks. Kawi built this ride to replace both the Z800 and Z1000 moving forward into the 2017 model year, so buyers should expect to find plenty of both of those qualities. Aside from the 948 cc engine, what did the factory throw on this all-new bike to make it competitive in a minimalist, sportster/roadster market? How will it compare to the other “Big-Four” naked 750s? Let’s check it out and see.

Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Z900.

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2015 - 2018 Kawasaki Versys 650 / Versys 650 LT / Versys 1000 LT

2015 - 2018 Kawasaki Versys 650 / Versys 650 LT / Versys 1000 LT

Equally At Home On The Interstate Or On Twisty Roads

Introduced to the U.S. market in 2008, the Versys stable doesn’t really fit into any one slot. Sharing design elements with adventure tourers, sportbikes, and standard bikes, the Versys makes its own class of versatile commuter/weekender/tourer/grocery-getter bikes. Unless you want an all-out go-fast bike, the Versys lineup has a little something for everyone. A water-cooled 649 cc parallel twin drives the 650 and 650 LT and the 1000 LT gets a 1043 cc engine, also water-cooled, though engine size isn’t the only difference. The ’LT’ models are meant to take you on the long haul, but even between these two, one is more ’tourer’ than the other.

Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Versys 650, Versys 650 LT and Versys 1000 LT.

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2015 - 2018 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Vaquero / Vulcan 1700 Voyager

2015 - 2018 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Vaquero / Vulcan 1700 Voyager

A Muscular V-Twin With Plenty Of Roll-On

The Vulcan 1700 series from Kawasaki launched in 2009 replacing the the existing 1600 series and carried forward the Vulcan family that started in 1984. The Vaquero and the Voyager — a bagger and full dresser, respectively — both come with ABS and, as the name suggests, the 1700 cc engine in the V-twin configuration with liquid cooling and a six-speed transmission. Ready for a cruise around town or hitting the open road, the Vulcan 1700s are well fitted and all-around solid.

Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Vaquero and Vulcan 1700 Voyager.

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2015 - 2018 Kawasaki KLR 650

2015 - 2018 Kawasaki KLR 650

A Dual-Purpose Ride With Real Off-Road Roots

Equipped with a 651 cc thumper and what looks like a beefy front end, the KLR 650 from Kawasaki is a capable middleweight dual-purpose ride. Big enough to be an adventure bike, but not really intended as such, the KLR 650 has an ample-size fuel tank, frame, rims and suspension that show true off-road roots, yet has enough straight-line stability to handle the pavement. If not-quite-adventure, but more than dirtbike is what you need, the KLR 650 might be your Huckleberry.

Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki KLR 650.

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2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Z650 ABS

2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Z650 ABS

Hot New Contender In The Middleweight Streetfighter Market

"Supernaked.” No, it’s not a state of undress or a new movie starring Ron Jeremy. It’s Kawasaki’s description of its the mid-size streetfighter introduced last year, made to compete against rides such as the FZ-07 from Yamaha and Suzuki’s SV650 for a slice of the stripped-down pie. Much of the Z650 is new, but there are also plenty of carryover details that show some continuity of evolution alongside the Ninja lineup, specifically the Ninja 650. To some, the differences may seem a bit subtle, but naked streetfighters draw a different type of buyer than do the fully faired, race-style superbikes, and said subtleties make all the difference in the world to those kinds of buyers. This is an area where Kawi has been conspicuously absent, and the release of this ride signals a move by the factory into previously uncharted waters against established makes and models, so let’s see what all makes the Z650 tick and how it stacks up against the current market.

Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Z650 ABS.

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2014 - 2016 Kawasaki Z1000

2014 - 2016 Kawasaki Z1000

Power Delivery Down Low is Hang-On-To-Your-Hat Awesome.

Much like their fanbase, naked bikes are kind of a breed apart— some more than others. Kawasaki’s Z1000 is just such a bike with an almost cult-like following that has propped up the family since ’03 with their enthusiasm for the streetfighter flavor the Z1000 brings to the table. Minimal bodywork (by the factory’s estimation, anyway) and relaxed ergos come bundled with the 126-pony, 1,043 cc mill. The factory saved both weight and money on the electronic fandanglery by leaving it on the shelf for a rather raw ride that many of us still appreciate. Relatively simple and built for performance, the Z1000 served as Kawasaki’s flagship naked standard until it was replaced by the Z900 for MY17.

Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Z1000.

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2018 Kawasaki KLX250S

2018 Kawasaki KLX250S

Revamped And Reintroduced To The US Market

Kawasaki pulled the KLX250 out of the mothballs, updated it and released back into the domestic market for 2018. This comes on the heels of a three-year break, over which the KLX250 became kind of like the Loch Ness Monster, much discussed but rarely seen. Among the improvements are updated looks, revised suspension components and electronic fuel-injection that replaces the old Keihin carb from the previous generation. So, better looks, better ride and better performance in a market that hasn’t been glutted with KLX250 models for a few years. It looks like it could be a grand slam for Kawi here, but we won’t know for sure until the Spring sales numbers roll in, so meanwhile, I’m going to take a good first look at the new KLX250s and see how it stacks up against the now-entrenched competition.

Continue reading for my look at the Kawasaki KLX250S.

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2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Z125 PRO

2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Z125 PRO

Experience The Thrill Of Going Fast On A Small Bike

The mini-streetbike market heats up with the new-from-2017 Z125 PRO and the new-for-2018 Z125 PRO SE, obviously meant as a direct competitor for the Honda Grom and KYMCO K-Pipe 125. “Cheap thrills” takes on a whole new meaning — or maybe just a revitalization of the old meaning — when it comes to the Z125 PRO from Kawasaki. Small and relatively fast for the thrills, and good fuel economy and a bargain-basement price for the cheap. Sure, as a fun bike, it has that hands down. It’s also a commuter if you have to navigate congested traffic because it’s small, lightweight and narrow so filtering through traffic is a breeze. As a first bike for someone new to two wheels, this is a completely approachable bike, not intimidating at all and without the electronics that frequently get used as a crutch. On this bike, you learn how to ride.

Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Z125 PRO.

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2017 Kawasaki Ninja 1000

2017 Kawasaki Ninja 1000

The most serious sports tourer on the face of this planet, or any other planet for that matter.

Kawasaki seems to have mastered the dark arts of slaying the competition in everything they put their hands in. Especially the way all their Ninjas’ are up on the throats of every other faired motorcycle in their classes. Having diversified their skill sets in recent years, the fearsome Ninja brand got an upgrade on each of its models, with the latest one being this 2017 Ninja 1000. Basically, the sports bike which can hold a couple of bags on it and is a tad bit comfortable for longer stints.

The 2017 edition promises to be sportier and more eager to roar than the outgoing one to give you a competitive edge on those interstate highways and the streets. Like having the best of both worlds, this new bike takes on the pedigrees of the ZX-10R and the Concours brothers and puts them in a sought after package that leaves you with nothing to complain about. Here is our take on this new Green Machine:

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Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR

Feel the WSBK on the streets

Towards the end of 2015, Kawasaki surprised everyone with the much-awaited upgrade to its litre class supersport, the Ninja ZX-10R. The motorcycle, which has always remained as one of the one of the most user-friendly and equally precise-to-use supersport in the world, received a thorough upgrade in each aspect, be its design, performance, mechanicals and set of electronics.

Within a year of its official launch, Kawasaki has mildly updated the motorcycle by giving in a few more equipment and mild changes to its powertrain. But instead of launching it as the ‘all new Ninja ZX-10R’, Kawasaki is terming this new version of the motorcycle as an additional variant of the same. Say hello to the new limited edition Ninja ZX-10RR then.

It promises to be sportier and more eager to roar than the standard ZX-10R with the Japanese Green team giving it WSBK hardware and software and has dropped all unwanted stuff to give you a competitive edge on the track and the streets. Here’s a quick look at what all changes do the new Ninja ZX-10RR is adorned with, over the standard ZX-10R:-

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A Brace Of Woes For Kawasaki Motors Off-Road Division

A Brace Of Woes For Kawasaki Motors Off-Road Division

Weak Floorboards On Some Mule Pro and Teryx Models

Kawasaki announces the voluntary recall on a handful of its off-road products for a couple of different reasons. Both of these recalls expose a chink in the anti-terrain armor on almost 59,000 units sold in North America. First up we have approximately 28,000 side-by-side units sold between July 2014 and June 2016 from the 2015 through 2017 YM Mule Pro-FX/FXT and the Mule Pro-DX/DXT families. This bundle of trouble is closely followed by something around 30,094 Teryx and Teryx4 from a spread of years, specifically; 2012-13 Teryx4 750 4x4 units with four seats as well as the two- and four-seat variants of the 2014 through 2016 Teryx 800 4x4 range that were sold between November 2011 and November 2015.

Continue reading for more on the Kawasaki recalls.

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2015 - 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 300

2015 - 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 300

Launched in 2012 for the 2013 model year, the Ninja 300, displaced the old Ninja 250 with a few more cubes. This sport-bike looking ride offers the market a lightweight, easy to handle option with a 296 cc engine, a six-speed transmission and just enough alphabet-soup tech acronyms to be modern without whacking the price. As far as being a starter bike, yeah, you can call it that. It’s also for folks that want a sport-bike look in a commuter bike or just to have a bike with a smaller engine size so it doesn’t smack your wallet on insurance premiums. It’s smooth, it’s flickable and I might even call it a sport-bike trainer. As a starter or a trainer, you’ll outgrow it; but for a lightweight, fun bike, this could be your huckleberry.

Continue reading for my review of the Kawasaki Ninja 300.

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