Out of all the bikes unveiled in 2019, few are quite as fascinating as the Kawasaki ZX-25R. From the moment rumors about the model surfaced early in the year, people have been curious about the baby Ninja with the big engine. As the model is getting ready to hit the showrooms—sadly not in the U.S. for the time being—we get to watch it sprint into action on the track with a duo of Superbike racers in the saddle. It might be tiny but it sure is mighty.
From faint rumors to reality, after months of teasing, Kawasaki finally unveiled the ZX-25R in Tokyo, in October 2019. What’s so special about it, you might wonder. It’s the only 250cc motorcycle armed with an inline four-cylinder engine. The concept isn’t new—the Ninja’s earliest generation rocked a tiny four-cylinder block.
In the U.S., the Ninja 250 has been replaced by the 300 and, eventually, the 400. While the base 250 is grossly underpowered, we can’t help but be utterly fascinated by the baby Ninja with what feels like a comically oversized engine. Think about it this way: each cylinder receives a tiny 62.5cc to sip on.
Earlier in 2020, we found out that the little Kawasaki’s engine was set up to rev as high as 17,000 rpm, an insanely high redline even by sportbike standards. Obviously, that left us wondering how the little bike would perform. We get a peek at what the little inline-four is capable of in a video released by Kawasaki that shows two of the Kawasaki Racing Team (KRT) riders taking the bike out for a spin on the Jerez circuit.
The first-person camera records racer Jonathan Rea’s top speed as he busts the 160 mark in fifth gear (likely kph rather than mph—so roughly 100 mph) which means that the bike can be pushed even harder considering we see the needle kickback to 15,500rpm as he engages the sixth gear.
If that doesn’t make you want to take one out for a spin, we don’t know what will.