I guess this was bound to happen once we saw the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-25R become a real thing, as we are starting to hear murmurings that Yamaha may follow suit with a four-cylinder variant of its 250cc sport bike offering.
The rumor comes to us from Indonesia, with local site Iwanbanaran the first to report the story. Since then, the rumor has done the rounds in Europe, and now is making its way to North America.
According to the Indonesians, the new model would be called the Yamaha YZF-R25M, with that extra letter said to distinguish the bike from its twin-cylinder sibling.
Does any of this hold water? Eh…not really. The idea that Yamaha is pursuing a four-cylinder quarter-liter machine is certainly appealing, and it could certainly be true, but the drivers that brought Kawasaki to this place in its product lineup do not exist for the tuning fork brand.
As we expounded upon for our A&R Pro readers, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-25R exits primarily because of the market constraints in Southeast Asia, where the Kawasaki Ninja 400 is prohibitively difficult to own because of tiered licenses, taxes, and costs of ownership.
Having a 250cc machine that makes similar power to the 400cc model allows Kawasaki to offer a potent motorcycle to those with smaller wallets.
If there was significant sales loss from the ZX-25R on Yamaha YZF-R25 sales, then maybe we would see Team Blue going head-to-head with Team Green, but the reality is that a ZX-25R buyer is not the same as a YZF-R25 buyer in Southeast Asia.
The rumor that Honda could be following suit as well, with a CBR250RR-R model (yes, more R’s!!!) follows the same logic, and the crux of whether or not you want to believe these rumors hinges on whether you believe the Japanese brands want to fight each other over a niche area in the market.
Until we see something more concrete, consider us skeptical. We would expect to see an up-spec R25/R3 come to market with the “M” designation before we’d believe this four-cylinder rumor.
Of course, we would happy to be wrong about this one – those four-cylinder screamers are so cool.