Boomerang rider here who hasn’t ridden for 20 years. The ZX4RR is the bike that pulled me back in.
Flashback to being a kid in the 80s and seeing Kenny Roberts RZ350 in yellow & black. Probably the first motorcycle that I knew by model. All the cool kids who raced motocross talked about this bike in the lunch room. Then came the Interceptors & Ninjas, GSXRs & FZRs. I was a huge fan . . . from a distance. I had the Hurricane 600 brochure on the fridge. Riding on the back of a Ducati as a teen through the streets of San Francisco was a thrill but hitting triple digits on the back of a GPZ900R through a curve on Hwy 359 put a bug in the back of my brain I could never fully dismiss. But my mom knew me too well and was a hard NO.
At 18 I bought my first bike - an ‘86 Yamaha FZ600. A few years old and a bit abused, she was temperamental but all I’d hoped she’d be. A fantastic bike to learn on, this was everything I’d imagined. Had to quit riding too soon but still read the mags and followed the explosive arms race of sportbikes. A new generation every few years faster, quicker and nimbler than the last. Now 600s were running what liter bikes did a dozen or so years before.
Jumped back years later in with a ‘00 Yamaha R6. Again, the perfect bike for me at the time, even if over my head. Fairly mild mannered below 8k….but hell was unleashed after that. The front wheel lifting from roll-ons way past the legal limit was both addictive and terrifying. Loved exploring the Carolina foothills for a few years but sold her when I moved to Dallas with nowhere to park and 30 minutes of traffic to get out of town.
My 2000s & 2010s were spent riding and racing MTBs.
Almost 20 years later during the pandemic, I got the itch again watching Superbikes & MotoGP. I didn’t know Davide Tardozzi managed Team Ducati - I watched him win Superbike races in the late 80s.
I knew I wanted . . . less than an R6. The R3, N400 & RC390 looked intriguing on paper but I felt they’d be a bit underwhelming - in power, sound & fury. Being a two-time middleweight Yamaha owner, I wanted to love the R7. I found the ergonomics a bit too committed for my aging frame and while the twin’s torque is strong, the song is not the siren scream from my past. I wished Yamaha would make an R4, like an updated FZ600 or FZR400 with ergos for those approaching AARP age. Does anyone make a 60-something horsepower supersport with modern tech?
Which boils down to exactly the question I’ve seen on social media recently . . . who is this Kawasaki ZX4RR for?
The aging rider who wants all the sound & fury to feel like Rossi and look down and see legal speeds. It’s a visceral experience to feel & hear the tach climb into the teens as you work through the gears, ripping quick shifts like your fav MotoGP rider but you’re not doing 130mph. I get why a younger or more experienced rider would pick a 600, 750 or 1000. Hitting 100mph in first gear on an R1 . . . ill. Once again, I need less, not more.
I placed my deposit at my local dealer and watched the YouTube videos come in from Indonesia & the Philippines. So cool to share the excitement of this new machine across the globe with those who speak a different language.
I picked up my bike about 3 weeks ago and have enjoyed every minute, laughing through the visor of my new helmet (who knew my old Shoei would deteriorate after a couple of decades?)
What is the 0-60mph?
How fast in the 1/4 mile?
Does it make 80hp?
Does it make 60hp?
How fast around COTA?
How much more is a 636?
I don’t care.
This bike ticks more boxes than anything else out there for me at this time:
4 cylinder music.
Running through gears.
Wider than a liter bike of old.
So until there is an:
Kawasaki owns this class…and has converted this Yamaha rider from the 80s into a huge fan. Let the good times roll indeed!