Experience The Thrill Of Going Fast On A Small Bike

“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. It’s small and relatively fast for the thrills, good fuel economy, and a bargain-basement price. Sure, as a fun bike, it has that hands down. It’s also a commuter if you have to navigate congested thoroughfares 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.

  • 2017 - 2020 Kawasaki Z125 PRO
  • Year:
    2017- 2020
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    single cylinder
  • Displacement:
    125 cc
  • Top Speed:
    100 (est) mph
  • Price:
    3199
  • Price:

Kawasaki Z125 PRO Design

2017 - 2020 Kawasaki Z125 PRO
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2017 - 2020 Kawasaki Z125 PRO Exterior
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It has that classic Kawasaki styling and sound that identifies it as one of the “Z” stablemates.

The Z125 PRO pulls evenly through the powerband for predictable acceleration and behavior. It’s not an especially fast bike, but fast is not the point on these mini-streetbikes. Small, yes, but the bike has that classic Kawasaki styling and sound that identifies it as one of the “Z” stablemates.

Being a short person, I am okay, but a tall person will want to raise the handlebars lest you bang your knees with the grips when you turn. It’s not a monkey bike, but if you’re a big guy, you might start to feel like it is with your knees high and the handlebars low.

Kawasaki Z125 PRO Chassis

2017 - 2020 Kawasaki Z125 PRO
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2017 - 2020 Kawasaki Z125 PRO
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2017 - 2020 Kawasaki Z125 PRO
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Even though the brakes seem rather small, they're plenty big enough for stoppies.

In order to keep weight down on this little mini hooligan, Kawasaki used a minimal, backbone-type frame with a stressed engine in place of the downtubes and cradle pipes. The factory also took steps to make the Z125 PRO as inherently nimble as possible with a steering-head angle of 26 degrees for 2.7 inches of trail and a compact, 46.3-inch wheelbase. Ground clearance measures out at 6.1 inches, plenty of room for deep leans and speed bumps, and the 31.7-inch seat height keeps the bike from feeling as short vertically as it is lengthwise.

A set of 30 mm forks support the front end on 3.9 inches of travel, and they are of the inverted variety, so not only do they look cool, they will stiffen the front end and resist the forces generated during aggressive (read: fun) maneuvers. The yoke-style swingarm gets tamed by an offset, coil-over monoshock that comes with a four-way preload adjuster so you can dial in the ride based on the conditions, cargo and passenger load. The suspension is surprisingly adequate even for bigger riders — up into the 300+ pound range. The limiting factor is the engine that will determine how fast you can climb an incline under your weight.

Cast, 12-inch rims mount the street-style, 100/90 front and 120/70 rear tires. Braking duties fall to the single, 200 mm, petal-cut disc and single-pot, Nissin caliper on the front wheel, and the 184 mm disc with the same caliper in back.

Neither linked brakes nor any sort of ABS is offered for the Z125, but this is okay by me; new riders should learn to feel and use the brakes properly, and old salts already know how. Even though the brakes seem rather small, they’re plenty big enough for stoppies, if you like that sort of thing. I’m not a stoppies fan, but more power to you.

Front Suspension/Wheel Travel: Inverted telescopic fork/ 3.9 in
Rear Suspension/Wheel Travel: Swingarm, single shock/ 4.1 in
Rake / Trail: 26.0° / 2.7 in.
Front Brakes: Single 200 mm petal-style disc
Rear Brakes: Single 184 mm petal-style disc
Front Tire: 100/90-12
Rear Tire: 120/70-12

Kawasaki Z125 PRO Drivetrain

2017 - 2020 Kawasaki Z125 PRO
- image 867570
2017 - 2020 Kawasaki Z125 PRO
- image 679852
2017 - 2020 Kawasaki Z125 PRO
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The lower gearing compared to the Grom makes it feel more spunky and a blast to ride.

Kawasaki powers its little Grom-killer with one-lung, air-cooled, thumper engine, not unlike the mill used by its main competitor, in fact. A 24 mm throttle body with digital fuel injection feeds the mill through the SOHC, two-valve head, and the Kawasaki Automatic Compression Release (KACR) system lifts the exhaust valve just a touch to bleed off a little compression for easy startups.

The oversquare, 56 mm bore and 50.6 mm stroke engine gives us a 125 cc displacement, and predictably brings the power on high in the RPM range. You can get 6.5 pounds of grunt out of it at 6,100 RPM, but you have to wind it up to 7,800 to develop the full 8.3 horsepower. Not exactly stellar numbers, but plenty to move butt and bike briskly down the road.

Kawasaki couples an easy-pull clutch with a four-speed gearbox that feels and acts just like the bigger bikes, even though it surely was tempting to run some sort of semi-, or even full-auto transmission, which Kawasaki did outside the U.S. market. The lower gearing compared to the Grom makes it feel more spunky and a blast to ride. An O-ring chain makes the final connection to the rear wheel, and even though its s little more maintenance, I vastly prefer a chain to a belt.

Engine: 4-stroke, 1 cylinder, SOHC, 2-valve, air-cooled
Displacement: 125 cc
Bore X Stroke: 56.0 mm x 50.6 mm
Compression ratio: 9.8:1
Fuel System: DFI® with 24 mm throttle body
Ignition: TCBI with electronic advance
Transmission: 4-speed, return shift
Final Drive: Sealed chain

Kawasaki Z125 PRO Pricing

2017 - 2020 Kawasaki Z125 PRO
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2017 - 2020 Kawasaki Z125 PRO
- image 679857
2017 - 2020 Kawasaki Z125 PRO
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The price of fun for 2020 is $3,199.

MSRP on this little gem is $3,199, same as last year.. For 2020, you can get it in Metallic Matte Mysterious Gray, Pearl Storm Gray, or Pearl Stardust White with a 12-month limited warranty. Kawasaki offers you the option for extended protection for 12, 24, 36 or 48 months through Kawasaki Protection Plus.

Chassis Management Technology: Smart Regulator
Warranty: 12 Month Limited Warranty (Kawasaki Protection Plus: 12, 24, 36 or 48 months)
Colors:
└ 2018: Metallic Graphite Gray, KRT: Lime Green/Ebony, SE: Candy Plasma Blue/Metallic Spark Black
└ 2019: Ebony, Candy Steel Furnace Orange
└ 2020: Metallic Matte Mysterious Gray, Pearl Storm Gray, Pearl Stardust White
Price:
└ 2017: Z125 PRO: $2,999, KRT: $3,199
└ 2018: Z125 PRO: $3,199, KRT: $3,399, SE: $3,399
└ 2019, 2020: $3,199

Kawasaki Z125 PRO Competitors

2017 - 2020 Kawasaki Z125 PRO
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2018 - 2020 Honda Monkey
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Both bikes place the rider in the jockey position, arguably the best position for, ahem, enthusiastic riding.

The particular combination of displacement and disposition places the Z125 PRO in fairly rare company, and it lands in the august company of domestic foe Honda and its world-famous Grom. These two machines are like brothers from another mother with looks that are so similar they almost suggest a conspiracy between these two Japanese giants, so with that in mind, I decided to see how the Z125 PRO stacks up against a proper monkey bike, the 2020 Monkey.

Honda resurrected its popular little pit bike with a modern engine and equally modern front end that rocks inverted forks for the strength and stability they bring to the table. Comfort and compactness were front-burner topics for the Monkey, and unlike the Kawi that looks like a naked sportbike someone left in the dryer too long, the Monkey has a low fuel tank and over-sized seat that gives it an unusual profile, to say the least. Not an ounce is wasted, and Honda shuns the little chin fairing that sets the Z125 PRO apart from its very own Grom model.

The powerplant is similarly laid out with a 125 cc displacement that cranks out 9 ponies and 8.1 pounds o’ grunt against 8.3/6.5 from the Kawi, and while that doesn’t look like much on paper, expect it to make a difference in seat-of-the-pants feedback. Honestly, the biggest break between these two comes down to aesthetics; do you want a modern-looking machine or one that looks like it rolled out of a history book circa 1960s?

Honda is definitely prouder of its little Monkey as it asks $3,999 for the standard model and $4,199 for the ABS version, but if you’re looking for that ABS protection, Honda has the only game in town.

He Said

“Ya know, I see a lot of Z125 PRO and Grom models tooling around town, and I swear both have missed their calling as a one-design racebike for the would-be superbike-racer larvae out there. Agile and quick, but with a low curb weight and concurrent low energy levels to manage, I think they’re ideal for closed-circuit action, and not just as a pit-bike that tools around behind the scenes. Call me shallow, but I think Kawi’s little chin fairing finishes the Z125 PRO off quite nicely and leaves it looking more like larger-displacement machines.”

She Said

“No, this isn’t a monkey bike, I do protest vehemently. Mini hooligan? Yeah, I can see that. The price makes it easy to add one to your garage, heck get one for you and one for your kid. It’s a fun weekender. I can see this being an awesome commuter — easy to filter traffic, easy to park — and I know folks get uptight when you call a bike they like an entry-level bike, but it is that. Just because a bike is a good choice for new folks doesn’t mean experienced folks can’t love it. I thought it would feel scooter-ish because of the 12-inch wheels, but it doesn’t.”

Kawasaki Z125 PRO Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 4-stroke, 1 cylinder, SOHC, 2-valve, air-cooled
Displacement: 125 cc
Bore X Stroke: 56.0 mm x 50.6 mm
Compression ratio: 9.8:1
Fuel System: DFI® with 24 mm throttle body
Ignition: TCBI with electronic advance
Transmission: 4-speed, return shift
Final Drive: Sealed chain
Chassis:
Front Suspension/Wheel Travel: Inverted telescopic fork/3.9 in
Rear Suspension/Wheel Travel: Swingarm, single shock/4.1 in
Rake / Trail: 26.0° / 2.7 in.
Front Brakes: Single 200 mm petal-style disc
Rear Brakes: Single 184 mm petal-style disc
Front Tire: 100/90-12
Rear Tire: 120/70-12
Dimensions & Capacities:
Overall Length: 66.9 in
Overall Width: 29.5 in.
Overall Height: 39.6 in.
Seat Height: 31.7 in.
Wheelbase: 46.3 in.
Curb Weight: 224.8 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 2.0 gal.
Top Speed: 100 mph (est)
Details:
Chassis Management Technology: Smart Regulator
Warranty: 12 Month Limited Warranty (Kawasaki Protection Plus: 12, 24, 36 or 48 months)
Colors:
└ 2018: Metallic Graphite Gray, KRT: Lime Green/Ebony, SE: Candy Plasma Blue/Metallic Spark Black
└ 2019: Ebony, Candy Steel Furnace Orange
└ 2020: Metallic Matte Mysterious Gray, Pearl Storm Gray, Pearl Stardust White
Price:
└ 2017: Z125 PRO: $2,999, KRT: $3,199
└ 2018: Z125 PRO: $3,199, KRT: $3,399, SE: $3,399
└ 2019, 2020: $3,199

Further Reading

Honda Monkey

2018 - 2020 Honda Monkey
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See our review of the Honda Monkey.

Honda Grom

2017 - 2020 Honda Grom
- image 776527

See our review of the Honda Grom.

Kawasaki

ALLYN IMAGES: DO NOT DELETE
- image 795478

Read more Kawasaki news.

Allyn Hinton
Writer and defacto Motorcycle Editor - allyn@topspeed.com
If it had moving parts, it had Allyn's interest from a very early age. At age 11 when bicycles were too simple to hold her interest any longer, her father found her taking apart the lawn mower. When he asked why she was doing it, she replied, “I need to see how it works.” That curiosity and mechanical drive served her well over the next 40 years as she pursued careers in both the automotive and motorcycle industries. Having shared her love of motorcycles with her now husband, biker TJ Hinton, Allyn brings that love and knowledge to TopSpeed as writer and defacto motorcycle editor.  Read More
About the author

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: kawasaki.com, honda.com

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