Kawasaki A2 range comparison


Versys 300 and 650, Vulcan, Ninja 400 and 650, Z650 and Z900, from 300 to 900, from 5,000 to 9,000 €, 7 machines for the new A2 licenses

Trail, sport, roadster, what is your preference ?

In a great surge of kindness, anxious to contribute to individual development and collective well-being, our good government, always inclined to level everything to the bottom without an ounce of reflection, decided that since 2016, it would be allowed A2 for everyone and 47.5 horsepower for everyone for two years (derived from a machine that cannot exceed 95 horsepower in the original configuration). Whether you’re 22 or 62, have zero or a million miles of experience, whether you’re naturally wise or fiery, Matignon said he only wanted to see one head and no sticking ears..

The French being reputed to be calves, the measure passed like a letter to the Post Office; in this sense, they are joined by the Spaniards, who are with us, the only two in Europe to have applied this measure. And there in the ministries, sinister souls in gray suits must have regretted not targeting 30 horses directly. Or even two. This is the lack of ambition.

Good: everyone had to do with it, the customers, the apprentice bikers and especially the manufacturers. It is difficult to have precise figures on the measurement, but we learn, however, through conversations that 50 to 70% of the machines, on the flagship models, could be affected by a clamping in A2. In fact, among manufacturers, therefore, it is action to have the widest possible range and as such, Kawasaki stands out by offering in 2018 no less than 7 eligible A2 models, so 5 than the we already knew two new products, the Ninja 400 (which has its full test) and the Z 900 70 kW.

Kawasaki A2 range test

We were able to take a full tour of this range during a busy day on the back roads of Corsica.


We hope for him that Kawasaki has given a bunch of stock options to Shunji Tanaka, great designer (and father of the fantastic Mazda MX-5, for those who know). Because after a period, say, of being lost with the bloated ZX-9Rs and a few other things without much glamor, Kawasaki knew how to find its roots of motorcycles of character with the Z 1000 of 2003 (remember, the orange, with the four pots), designed by Tanaka-san. Since then, a very "manga" design has taken over a large part of the brand’s models. Oh, this has detractors, but the sales figures (the Z series was a hit, the ER-6 too) and the following attitude of the competitors (dark side of Japan atmosphere at Yamaha and the Z clones, the Suzuki GSX-S which arrived two thousand years later), all of this proves that Kawasaki got it right. Even if Honda does not resume its codes with the new CB Neo-Sport, the 1000R, the 300 and the 125R.

The very typical Z look

Still, there is a family resemblance to these motorcycles, despite their diverse vocation. Between the colors and the angles of the body, the modern Kawasaki spirit is immediately identifiable. Suddenly, from the Versys X-300 to the Z 900 via the new Ninja 400, it is impossible not to see the filiation.

The lineage is undeniable in the range

If we knew almost all the models, we must however recognize, according to the formula, that the Ninja 400 "has everything of a great one": full LED front lights, rear shell with small taper Ninja H2 style, template that almost makes you think of a 500 or a 600, it does it well, even more in this KRT Replica color which asks for 200 € more than black (6199 € instead of 5999 €).

Kawasaki Ninja 400 and Ninja 650

For the rest, we are in fact on familiar ground and whether it is the Versys-X 300 or the 650 quartet (Z, Versys, Ninja, Vulcan, all independently giving rise to previous tests on Le Repaire), it is of the proven.

Kawasaki Vulcan 650 S

As for the young driver and enthusiast of big roadsters, he may have felt himself fallen from the boat for a long time and left alone in a sea of ​​indifference. Until Kawasaki made an adequate version of its Z: which can be recognized by its gray painted cylinder head covers and its narrower exhaust pipes (this is obvious when you have the two models side by side). ).

Kawasaki Z650 and Z900

In the saddle

For the Versys, you need a few legs: saddle at 845 mm for the 300 and 840 mm for the 650. For the Z 900, you need a (small) bit of muscle: 210 kilos with the full ones, all the same , which is not insurmountable in absolute terms, but let’s not forget that we are talking here to young licensees and novice bikers. And if possible they should be tall, because height plus weight usually does not give you confidence.

Kawasaki Versys-X 300 and Versys 650

As a result, we are tempted to bet, in the context of an arrival on the bike, on the intermediate categories. Between the 168 full kilograms made of a Ninja 400 and the 705 mm saddle height of a Vulcan 650 (which compensates for a weight of 231 kilos), your heart can swing !

The Vulcan remains the most accessible motorcycle for small riders

Engine and transmission

Small, medium, big, new and slanted: there is it all at Kawa !

Z650 engine

Let’s start with the smallest: the Versys X-300: its small in-line twin engine already develops 40 horsepower at 11,500 rpm, which is not nothing in the category (considering that possible competitors like the Suzuki 250 V-Strom, develops 25 hp at 8000 rpm); well, obviously, you have to whip it, but it’s still a pretty brilliant engine.

The vertical twin of the 650 is better known: depending on the version, it develops from 61 horsepower (Vulcan S) to 68 horsepower (Z and Ninja) and it is renowned for its rough-haired character, but also for its torque present over a wide range. speed range and its vigor in revs. The clamping, here, is only a matter of electronic reprogramming and you will be charged 90 € in the Kawasaki network. We can immediately say that the clamping of the 650 is extremely well done, in the sense that the motor character is fully preserved: there is a little less, but everywhere and the 650 A2 still takes as many turns as the full, with a nice reach and a nice feeling of torque at low revs.

Ninja 650 engine

The engine in the Ninja 400 is new, so it’s not a bored 300. It develops 45 horsepower at 10,000 rpm and 38 Nm at 8,000 rpm. As the bike is not very heavy (168 kg with full tank, as we said), we quickly realize that in addition to being very flexible (it rolls at 50 km / h in sixth without problems) , this little twin just begs to be whipped and has a real gniak in the towers, between 8 and 12,000 rpm. On small roads, by applying yourself, we discover the sensations of a real sportswoman, between the featherweight, the lightness and the angry engine.

Ninja 400 engine

There remains the case of the big ones. Already here it is not just a question of mapping. We had praised the engine character of the Z900 when it first came out: the 70 kW version, in addition to electronic reprogramming, has thinner diameter exhaust manifolds, but also different camshafts. In fact, a 70 kW version can never be reconfigured to full power 125 hp. Note that in this segment of "medium / large" roadsters, Kawasaki is the only one to offer an A2 version..

On the other hand, if on Corsican roads, the 95 horsepower version differs little from the 125 horsepower (we even have the impression that with a lower maximum torque – 92.1 Nm at 6500 rpm instead of 98, 6 Nm at 7700 rpm, it is more efficient on small roads), the flanged version does not offer the same approval. At the same time, it is difficult to be really critical of such a version: to go from a block which is designed to deliver 125 hp and which makes 47, is a bit like considering a Porsche 911 Turbo would only output 130 horsepower, like the first Diesel MPV that stinks.

Z900 engine

In any case, the flanged Z has a very different engine character: when the throttle is opened at very low speed, there is already less under the handle, as if we had a "rain" map (but monsoon-like). tropical in rice terraces in East Manchuria); then, at half-speed (3/6000 rev / min), the response is slower and the power is there, but without great overflows, necessarily. And, while a Z with its full potential thrives in towers, the bridged version has nothing more to say above 6,000 rpm and offers no draw when you insist. Frustrating. At the same time, the legislator’s idea was to offer something to learn to ride a motorcycle without being afraid: mission accomplished.

In the city

Between a flexible Z900, but cumbersome, Versys which require a little legs (the 650 less than the 300, paradoxically), Ninja more sporty by their driving position (the 650 less than the 400), we say to ourselves that the Z650 is the easiest in the exercise, although the twin still pounded a little bit at very low revs. Which is excellent news: because starting out on a motorcycle should also make you understand all the control of the controls and the management of the clutch..

The Ninja 400 on the road

That said, all these bikes are still easy and will all be good everyday companions..

On motorways and main roads

Despite the limited power, there is enough to take at least a good 160/170, get more flashed than Naomi Campbell at a Karl Lagerfeld parade and have the honors of your regional daily that will make you an even more hateful person than the illegitimate child of Michel Fourniret and Francis Heaulme (yes, that’s scary, but the ambient security tartufferie leads us to these extremes).

The Kawasaki Z900 A2

These A2 motorcycles will not stop young riders from riding long haul trips. They have enough resources to attack the major axes, to double the ambient traffic while protecting you however from the great excesses. Here too, the mission is fulfilled.

Here, we will have a soft spot for the Ninja 650, the driving position finally quite relaxed, but especially for the Versys 650, for its screen and its saddle. If for you, starting out on a motorbike is above all long journeys, this is the one for you.

Kawasaki Ninja 650 A2 review

On departmental

With 650 well bridged, one can consider the ride and the more rhythmic taxiing without problem. They have a good response to the accelerator, a healthy and compact chassis, in short, the pleasure in the restricted version is not totally different from that expressed on the handlebars of the full versions.

Kawasaki Vulcan A2 review

Regarding the 900, it is a little different: the power deficit is very real and we can only appreciate it from the perspective of a ride, because when we hit it in the mound, frustration is never far away.

The Kawasaki Z900 A2

The case of the Ninja 400 is different: if your thing is the last quarter before the red zone, in this case, it is really made for you, because in addition, it offers you the pleasure of being able to exploit its full potential. . A little fluff on the climb to Sartène, facing a colleague from a competing publication (bought by a century-old press group) and moreover endowed with a fine stroke of the handlebars, him on the Ninja 650 and me on the Ninja 400 , showed that what I lost on exiting a corner, I easily caught up on entering the next turn. The Ninja 400 has a front axle that provides almost the agility of a 250 2-stroke. We said "almost", but still this bike is really funny. And there, the Vulcan 650 surprises (in good) by the quality of its damping.

Kawasaki Ninja 400 review


Only classic and proven here. No electronics, traction control (Kawasaki is lagging behind in this segment), no engine maps either.

No electronics debauchery, just the essentials

Comfort and duo

Here, if that’s your first concern, it’s the absolute victory for the Versys 650. The 300 has a really too firm saddle, the Ninja 400 is a bit rough in the long run and the Z900s can’t compete …..

Kawasaki Versys 650 A2 review

Consumption / autonomy

Passing behind the handlebars of 7 motorcycles in a day, you can imagine that we weren’t able to refuel and drink all of them. However, if you are a novice rider and totally penniless once the purchase of your mount is done, know that the Versys X-300 is known to be a real camel, with close to 400 kilometers of autonomy. This will allow you to cut the road while keeping some budget to buy flowers for your grandmother, which is an important gesture, yes, if.


There is something for everyone in this A2 Kawasaki range. What emerges from our collective test, carried out with beating heart, is both the good clamping of the 650 and the really nice side of the Ninja 400. The Versys-X 300 does not deserve (and in Corsica, with Bruno Langlois at its handlebars, it’s downright impressive!) while the Z900 still has this rewarding “big bike” side, but the engine performance is a little frustrating, even if we understand that the novice rider who wants a “big” motorbike will be able to learn and this is the whole purpose of A2 measures, without being afraid ….

The Kawasaki A2 range

Strong points

  • Ease of the 300 Versys-X
  • Fun and efficiency of the Ninja 400
  • Good clamping of the 650

Weak points

  • Z900 a little frustrating at 47 hp
  • Original Z900 tires (Dunlop D214 without any feeling)

The Versys-X 300 technical sheet

The Versys 650 technical sheet

The Vulcan S technical sheet

The technical sheet of the Ninja 400

The technical sheet of the Ninja 650

The technical sheet of the Z650

The technical sheet of the Z900 A2

Test conditions

  • Itinerary: a day of driving in Corsica with the whole range, led by the excellent Bruno Langlois, double winner of Pikes Peak
  • Motorcycle mileage: variable
  • Problem encountered: none, thanks to the high-level talent of the fine technicians from Kawa (Julien & Olivier, big up!), Who put together a red Z900 cardboard the day before by a colleague officiating for a fortnightly centenary…

The Kawasaki A2 range comparison video

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