Kawasaki’s Ride Day special – ZX-4R & ZX-4RR

It’s been many years since the introduction of a sub-650cc machine into Australia which was not LAMS compliant, but here’s one – the 2023 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-4R and 4-RR, machines perfect for ride days.


Australian Road Rider expects it’ll also be a heap of fun on a good winding road.
Australia largely missed out on the 400cc Supersport craze which was strongest in Japan, primarily due to licensing laws. We scored 600s, which were great, but essentially got too fast, too high tech and therefore too expensive – 400cc might offer 95 per cent of the fun with less danger at half the price.
Not half the cost of the bike – although at an estimated 14-15K it’s well under half the price of some of the exotic supersports – but half the costs of ownership, when you start looking at the whole package of buying, servicing and crucially buying tyres for track use. Interestingly the front tyre size is 120/70ZR17 (a very common sportsbike tyre size) while the rear is a 160/60ZR17, narrower than you’d find on most sportsbikes yet well suited to the performance of the Ninja ZX-4R.
Compact, fairly light and very manoeuvrable, the Ninja ZX-4R is designed to be a great stepping stone between the LAMS-approved machines and 600 Supersport class bikes. The Ninja ZX-4RR will not be LAMS approved, although it will be a great bike to learn track craft on.
The all-new inline four engine is hung in a steel trellis frame rather than an alloy bean frame found on the bigger and more expensive models.


Kawasaki claim the brakes and suspension are ‘high-grade’: SFF-BP (Single Function Forks with Big Piston) at the front, Showa BFRC lite rear shock, dual 290mm front discs with a radially mounted caliper.
The tech includes a quickshifter, power modes, ABS, LED lighting and smartphone connectivity.
Kawasaki hasn’t released power and torque figures for the bike, but with the 250cc version (which wasn’t imported in Australia) producing around 50 horses, we’d expect the ZX-4R to produce around 70-80.
They will be top-end horses too: Kawasaki claims “it revs beyond 15,000rpm”.
Coming in at 188kg wet means it’ll offer a pretty good turn of speed in the right situation – like a race track, where the ultra short-stroke four-potter can do its stuff without annoying the neighbours – but it won’t be setting performance records for the class – even back in the 1990s four-cylinder 400s were producing 60-odd horsepower while weighing in at 160-170kg.
We don’t have those bikes anymore for a whole bunch of reasons, with a big one being how easy the Superbike class became to ride when ABS and especially traction control arrived on affordable machinery – many riders simply skipped the smaller classes and went straight to big bikes.

As a pair of ageing track junkies, Chief Road Tester Phil James and I can’t wait to ride the ZX-4R and RR. It feels a little like a throwback to the days when sportsbikes ruled the roads, when seeing hoards of GSX-Rs and CBRs and Ninjas was nothing unusual.
Riding fast is a buzz, getting the most out of a bike on a track an absolute motorcycling joy – and with this bike it’s about to become affordable for a whole new bunch of riders.
– Nigel Paterson

Important Specifications – 2023/24 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-4R

Engine – Inline four cylinder, DOHC, 16 valves, 399cc
Intake – RAM Air, 39mm x 4 throttle bodies
Clutch – Wet, Assist & Slipper
Curb Mass – 188kg
Seat Height – 800mm
Wheelbase – 1380mm
Rake – 24 degrees
Trail – 97mm
Pricing and availability TBA.