2018 saw the birth of the Ninja 400 which had to mean that Kawasaki must be working on its naked sibling already. Sure enough, Mean Green dropped the news that a new naked Z is coming, and it will share the Ninja 400’s motor.
It’s not major news considering that Kawasaki sells a Ninja 250 along with a Z250. There is a Ninja 650 as well as Z650. Up top, you have the Ninja 1000 (Z1000 SX in some markets) complemented by the mad Z1000. Kawasaki also announced a Ninja 125 and its corresponding Z sibling.
There is no doubt the Z400 is coming. The question is: When? Well, Kawasaki has filed new emissions documents with CARB (California Air Resources Board) that all but confirms the Z400’s existence. The documents reveal that Kawasaki will have two 400cc motorcycles sharing the same engine. One is, of course, the Ninja 400, while the other is listed as ‘ER400DK’. In Kawasaki speak, ER stands for ‘Naked Bike’ while the K at the end points to the model year, which is 2019 in this case.
So what can we expect from the 2019 Kawasaki Z400? A slightly detuned engine from the Ninja should still be good for more than 40 horses aboard the Z. Additionally, being a streetfighter, the Z400 will get upright seating courtesy of straight handlebars and slightly relaxed footpegs as compared to the faired Ninja. Note that the seating position will not be ramrod straight, instead feeling a little more relaxed than the Ninja’s track-attack ergonomics.
The stock Ninja 400 weighs 168kg leading us to believe the Z400 will be slightly lighter overall. Even a 5kg weight loss with the kind of power the 400cc parallel-twin engine makes should result in an agile, eager motorcycle. Upon its launch, the Kawasaki Z400 will compete with the Yamaha MT-03, Honda CB300R, and the facelifted KTM 390 Duke.
Kawasaki will likely unveil the new Z400 when it pulls the covers off its 2019 model range later this year. Look for the Z400 at the Tokyo Motor Show or EICMA, Milan.