Kawasaki ZX-4R 2023 Short-Term Test: Exploring the Ambitions of a Compact Motorcycle

Inaugural Encounter with the Kawasaki ZX-4R 2023.

As a newcomer, I delve into the trial of a four-cylinder, 399 cc small motorcycle for the very first time, just like with the Kawasaki ZX-4R 2023.

Before committing to the ride of this sporty motorcycle, some multiple questions and considerations necessitate careful thought. Why opt for such a small engine displacement for a motorcycle of this type? Sport bikes are often equated with horsepower under the tank. How does this notion apply to this petite Kawasaki?

Even during the short-term test, it didn’t take long to grasp what the ZX-4R had to communicate. All it required was attentive listening and pushing it to its limits.

The Engine.

Right from the outset, once the engine comes to life and reaches operating temperature, the petite Zx-4 reveals its character. The redline is set at 16,000 rpm, fearlessly embracing high revs. Fortunately, since this engine configuration prioritizes power at higher revs rather than low-end torque, one needs to manage the throttle to keep it within the desired range. While the gear changes are smooth, I would have favored the “quick shifter” from the RR model. Why? To achieve even quicker accelerations and minimize power loss during shifts.

Expect around 55–60 horsepower in Canada, in contrast to the 80 possible with Ram Air in other parts of the world, courtesy of noise regulations. The silver lining is the potential to have the engine parameters tweaked by a skilled performance tuner to unlock the full power.

Four Exhaust Outlets for a 399 cc Compact Engine: 16,000 RPM Symphony for the Ears

The Suspensions.

The 4-R model’s fork lacks adjustments, yet it’s finely tuned. It features a ø37 mm SFF-BP fork, where SFF stands for “Separate Function Forks,” denoting a fork with one leg containing the spring and the other housing damping. BP stands for Big Piston. The rear shock only offers preload adjustment.

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The suspensions handle road imperfections remarkably well. It’s impressive how comfortable this sports bike is. Furthermore, the setup is firm enough to maintain stability during high-speed straight-line runs and corners with solid momentum. On the braking side, there’s slight diving and fork compression when applying the brakes aggressively over an extended period. Generally, the package performs admirably on the road. Its performance on the track would determine if these suspensions maintain their composure under more aggressive conditions.

Well-Tuned Suspensions, with Only Rear Spring Preload Adjustment Available

The Brakes.

The bike is equipped with two semi-floating ø290mm discs at the front, featuring radial-mount callipers. It also includes a ø220mm disc with a single-piston calliper at the rear. The petite motorcycle has no trouble coming to a quick stop. The braking is precise and easily modulated with just two fingers. Highly capable of this type of machine, leaving nothing to complain about. Moreover, the system is equipped with ABS to prevent wheel lock during ambitious braking maneuvers and offers excellent traction on slippery surfaces.

Semi-floating ø290mm Discs with Radial Mount Calipers and Front ABS.

Ergonomics and Overall Behavior.

One surprising aspect is the rider’s space on such a small motorcycle. The handlebar-seat-pedal relationship isn’t cramped, allowing for easy movement left and right. Additionally, the wind protection is impressive. The windscreen effectively shields the lower body and applies just enough pressure on the upper body to alleviate weight from the hands on the handlebar. The airflow remains consistent around the helmet, and turbulence levels are minimal.

Kawasaki ZX-4R
Surprisingly, despite its Small Stature, the ZX-4R Offers Good Rider Protection

In Conclusion.

The 2023 Kawasaki ZX-4R is an excellent option even for passionate beginners in the sport bike scene. Despite its sharp performance, it offers an approachability suitable for all skill levels.

Surprisingly, despite its Small Stature, the ZX-4R Offers Good Rider Protection

With features like traction control and riding modes, novices can adjust the bike’s settings, tailoring it to their experience level and building confidence over time. Its lightweight chassis and maneuverability make it easy to handle. It’s astounding how it can swiftly change trajectory in corners while remaining stable during highway acceleration.

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Kawasaki ZX-4R
Kawasaki Ninja ZX-4R 2023

Advantages:

  • Solid stability.
  • Forgiving suspension.
  • Adequate braking.
  • Good ergonomics and wind protection.
  • This motorcycle falls within the sub-400cc category, not classified as a SuperSport.
  • The low seat height aids in easy stops and starts.

Points to Consider:

  • Due to the nature of its 4-cylinder 400 cc engine configuration, the motorcycle needs to be revved for optimal performance.
  • The motorcycle is restricted in Canada, limiting its maximum power.
  • While the 400 cc displacement offers adequate power, experienced riders may desire more and quickly seek it.