Kawasaki has announced it is preparing to launch a flurry of new motorcycles in the run up to the 2022 EICMA show with speculation pointing towards the unveiling of a successor to the Kawasaki ZX-6R in Milan.
A banner on the firm’s Kawasaki USA website reveals six models across its full portfolio – including ATVs and jet skis – will break cover in little more than a week’s time on October 5.
It will then use its return to EICMA on November 25 to pull the wraps off another three models. So what can we expect?
Well, this is a well worn trope of Kawasaki’s to tease multiple model reveals but a bit of educated sleuthing can allow us to assume several of these models will 2022 MY updates that have already been released, such as the Z900 SE, Z650 and 125 ranges, which received moderate refreshes with new trim levels and colourways.
Moreover, with this countdown to next week’s big day only occurring on the US website only and one ‘model’ presumably a jet ski based on the preview (or an unexpected successor to the Sinclair C5), this will be a chance to announce the US-spec versions of these models.
One model we assume will be present and correct is the Kawasaki Z650 RS, which gets its world premiere today [27 September]. Numerous patents, teasers and clever ‘Retrovolution’ palindromes have all-but-confirmed a classic makeover for Kawasaki’s popular mid-weight naked, with a look expected to mirror that of the larger Z900 RS.
Is a replacement for the Kawasaki ZX-6R coming at EICMA?
As the biggest date in the motorcycling calendar, one can assume Kawasaki is saving its more headline-grabbing unveilings for EICMA, which returns this year following a COVID-enforced hiatus in 2020.
While we ‘could’ spend hours performing a Minority Report-style analysis on the image you see above (we don’t), the model at the forefront of the back row does tease a rear-wheel that looks very similar to that of the latest generation ZX-10R.
We’re prepared for this to be a red herring, but it does play into suggestions the Kawasaki ZX-6R is the next high-profile model to get an overhaul.
The timing would suit too since it comes a year after the flagship Ninja ZX-10R sportsbike was overhauled with a look that is likely to inspire its mid-weight sibling, while the upcoming change in regulations for the Supersport class in which it competes means an update would help it repel incoming entries from Ducati and Triumph.
What is less clear however is what form a successor would take. Those aforementioned rule changes – which expand the homologated bands to allow larger engine bikes – threaten to leave the ZX-6R in an awkward position if it retains its four-pot configuration, which in turn would leave it capped in the 600cc range.
While rumours suggest Kawasaki is committed to this, despite similar rivals falling by the wayside in recent years due to dwindling sales, with MV Agusta dropping the F3 675 in favour of the F3 800 and Yamaha’s impending launch of the R9 suggesting it too will be opting for a bigger engine, Kawasaki might feel compelled to go for something different this time around.
It’s worth noting Kawasaki quietly dropped the ZX-6R from price lists. Now, this may look ominous for the future of the model but given its heritage it would seem unlikely the firm would simply scrub it from the range without at least a send-off so we can sense this is merely ending one chapter in preparation for another. One option could be to blend the ethos behind the ZX-6R and milder but better value Ninja 650, potentially with a larger engine.
A larger engine would also clear space for a rumoured new addition to the ZX range, the ZX-4R. Patents for the new model broke cover earlier this year and appear to be a reworking of the Asia-only ZX-25R ‘screamer’ for a European audience.
As for what else lurks beneath, of the models in the Kawasaki range, the Versys is the one perhaps crying out for a replacement though there has been little indication one is on the way despite the onslaught of new rivals from the likes of Yamaha and Triumph, plus the new Honda Transalp, which will get its debut in Milan.