Practical Performance

We Need the New Small Sport Bikes From Kawasaki, Here in the US


September 14, 2018 Cars : Motorcycles By Photo by Kawasaki
Kawasaki-Ninja-125-Gear-Patrol-Slide-1
Kawasaki-Ninja-125-Gear-Patrol-Slide-2

Kawasaki released the first images of its all-new Ninja 125 and Z125 pro sportbikes ahead of this year’s upcoming motorcycle shows. The only problem is, as of now, the two 125cc bikes are Europe-bound with no mention of US plans — but there’s still hope.

We already get the Z125 Pro here in the states, but in its current form, it goes head-to-head with the Honda Grom in the mini-bike segment which borders on novelty rather than legitimate motorcycles. For 2019 the Z125 Pro grows to full-size bike and lives as a naked version of the new Ninja 125. Aside from the styles, the bikes only vary in width and height by a few inches, but both get life from a new water-cooled 125cc single cylinder pumping out around 15 horsepower.

Historically the US motorcycle market has gravitated towards bikes with bigger engines, but with our long, vast open stretches of road, it makes sense. European riders, on the other hand, see a lot more city riding and tight twisty back country roads — all that power would go to waste or would be just plain overkill — so motorcycle brands push the smaller engine bikes over there more.

That trend, however, is shifting. With more and more people living in cities around the US and bigger, more powerful bikes proving impractical for urban dwellers and new riders, popularity in downsized motorcycles is on the rise. It would make sense for Kawasaki to swap out the mini Z125 Pro instead of just killing off and shipping over the Ninja 125 to give new riders a sportbike to get excited about.

Kawasaki used to have a great entry-level bike in the Ninja 250, but that grew to 300cc and then bumped up to 400cc (that was probably Kawasaki attempting to grow the bike along with the original 250 owners’ needs). Kawasaki Needs to bring these to bikes to our shores — new, younger riders need the option of a seriously-sized sportbike with a tame, approachable engine.

Today in Gear

The best way to catch up on the day’s most important product releases and stories. Read the Story