According to the Indonesian publication TMC Blog, Kawasaki is working on a performance-oriented 250cc four-cylinder…and they have the supposed photos to prove it. The news should be well-received by those who remember the high-revving small-displacement Japanese machines of just a few decades ago.
Southeast Asian markets, like Indonesia’s, are driven by graduated taxes on motorcycle displacement. For the Indonesian market, machines 250cc to 500cc in displacement receive a 60% tax rate, while machine over 500cc are taxed at 75%. Unsurprisingly then, bikes under 250cc are accounting for the lion’s share of motorcycle sales.
Working against that taxation plan is the growing middle class in these regions, with consumers able to purchase more expensive motorbikes, and looking for more performance in the process. This trend is what helped bring the Yamaha R25 to market (and production) in Indonesia, along with the slew of other ~250cc machines we’ve seen from Honda, Kawasaki, and KTM.
Competition improves the breed, as they say, and with the small-displacement market in Southeast Asia becoming a hotbed of action for the Japanese OEMs, we once again may see some screamers from the Land of the Rising Sun. This bodes well for eclectic riders in the Western world, who yearn for small, light, relatively high-powered two-wheeled weapons.
Kawasaki seems to be poised to enter this space first with their four-cylinder machine, though expect the other OEMs to be hot on their heels. How high the revs will go is a matter of conjecture of course. It will be interesting to see how this news plays out though, but it certainly has our interest piqued.