In the late 1970s I was at college, yes, I am getting on a bit, enduring an engineering career which was as boring as Trump’s latest speech and the current Brexit ‘can-o-bollocks’.
But fear not my friendly readers as I’m not going to regurgitate past memories of window-watching and how to get the girls’ pants around their ankles, taught at the same venue, as you do at that age. Thankfully, to you, my brief tale is about a ‘hairy-arsed’ biker who owned the original Kawasaki z400 in classic brown. Yes brown! Does anyone make a brown motorbike anymore? I, for one, can’t think of one, can you? Still, a shite colour on a shite bike has now passed like my conquistador memories of aforementioned ladies orbiting the college coffee shop.
The owner of the brown bike was Martin, I think, and he adored his air-cooled parallel twin with admiration bordering on insanity. I rode it and went ‘mental’ trying to get off the thing and much preferred my better, and quicker, Yamaha DT250.
So, the z400 name was buried way deep into my vintage brain and left there to, err, dissolve. Until now! Yes the z400 badge is back and it is a still a parallel twin but this new Kawasaki z400 would certainly relieve those college girls of their tight Levi jeans quicker, maybe?
It is without doubt a sexy little unit though, and closely resembles the heritage and looks of their z1000 and recent, and superb, z900. So I would like to wave the flag of the 2019 z400 because it is a very entertaining, well-built and cheeky little number on all counts.
This cheekiness comes from the new 399cc, DOHC, parallel-twin with 32mm throttle bodies fed by a new air-box and intake tubes over the previous z300. 8 Horsepower and obviously more torque is the result over the old z300 with a claimed 45hp and 38Nm. A dyno trip confirmed these figures with 40hp and 33Nm at the rear wheel. Add that to 167kg and a seat height of 785mm and you have one highly amusing motorcycle for new and veteran riders alike.
That’s the beauty of the z400; it’s so accessible and thrashable that every ride is a rewarding experience. In fact this new motor revs so high and for so long I thought it was a rotary engine. The clocks, from last year’s z650, show 13,200rpm when you eventually hit the limiter, dyno says 12,200rpm. Either way it’s a screamer, but can also be ridden sedately, which is a bit boring with such a stiff chassis.
It’s a steel trellis design, a bit like the one on their supercharged H2 animal. Mix this in with very well engineered suspension and the z400 is a wild little thing to throw around. I did find myself chasing bigger bikes everywhere, and passing them through the tight suburban corners, in a cheeky fashion of course. And to stop things at over 160km/h the front 310mm disc, same as one from their z1000, was more than man enough for the job.
There’s no denying that the z400 is an easy bike to live with. It has a new feather-light clutch that also has a slipper assist function, to stop the wheel locking up during feisty downshifts, and ABS. So, if you have feeble wrist actions, due to whatever addictions, the z400 will become your best friend. In fact I rode the same priced 400 Ninja with full fairing last year and would definitely opt for this better looking naked version, it’s just more fun all of the time, any time. The price in question is R79,995 and, to put that into perspective, it’s about half the price of Kawasaki’s z1000 but most certainly not half the bike.
If only old Martin had this z400 instead of his old air-cooled tank the college ladies’ clothes would have disappeared more often, maybe? However that’s forty plus years ago, so I’m talking bollocks I suppose, as usual. But 2019 is where we are now and I would like to see lots of z400s tearing around our streets, because it does come highly recommended for riders of any age, especially if you’re still at college, if you know what I mean?
Go to www.kawasaki.co.za to view their 2019 range.
To purchase a 2019 z400 go to www.fireitup.co.za for more information.