How tough has 2015 been for the average Malaysian? GST is now a reality, subsidies for a number of items have been removed or reduced while toll rates and public transport charges have gone up. Before I forget, the RM also decided to nose dive against other foreign currencies leading to even less purchasing power. So yeah, do excuse us if buying sentiment has been somewhat dampened.
The effect can be seen everywhere and the motorcycle market is no different. After years of growth, 2015 has been rough and numbers have actually dropped. But, as Freddie Mercury says, the show must go on. So, while it’s only December, Kawasaki Motors Malaysia (KMMSB) has started the ball rolling for 2016 bikes. In fact, they’ve unveiled three machines in one go as they seek to flesh out their range of offerings.
Updated Kawasaki ZX-10R
The highest profile new model is the Kawasaki ZX-10R, which receives a massive update for 2016. It looks very similar to the bike used by Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes to dominate the 2015 WSBK season, but the biggest changes occur underneath the fairings. The main one is to the electronics, which is now literally race spec as it was derived from the WSBK competition bikes. The engine has also been updated to produce 207bhp and now has improved response from low revs too.
Up front, there’s an all-new Showa Balance Free Front Fork (BFFF), which makes its production debut on the Kawasaki. They’re easy to spot as they have a separate pressurised gas canister with separate screws to adjust rebound and compression damping. The old petal brake discs and Tokico callipers have also been replaced by grooved 330mm rotors grabbed by Brembo M50 monobloc callipers, which is the same top-shelf brakes used by Ducati and Aprilia.
Something else used by the Italians and Yamaha on the YZF-R1 is a five-axis Bosch Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), which measures various dynamic parameters and adjusts the responses of the bike to suit. Kawasaki has also added a 5-level traction control system, launch control, cornering ABS, a quick shifter and a refined engine mode system.
You’d expect all of these ‘Gucci-spec’ tech to bump the price of the ZX-10R up into the stratosphere, but KMMSB has promised to price it below RM99,000 before GST when it becomes available in Q1 next year.
First in Asia: Kawasaki J300
While the ZX-10R satisfies sport bike lovers the second new bike unveiled, the J300, gives Kawasaki a presence in the maxi-scooter market. It’s also a bit of a coup for KMMSB because two years after its European debut, Malaysia becomes the first Asian market to receive the bike. It seems we’re very important to Kawasaki Japan, who liken our bike buying patterns to developed markets in Europe.
Based on the Kymco K-XCT 300i, the Taiwanese built J300 uses a 299cc liquid-cooled single mated to a CVT gearbox. Power and torque are rated at 28hp and 28.7Nm with a 14-inch front and 13-inch rear wheel providing ‘big bike’ riding dynamics. ABS will be part of the standard spec, which makes the RM29,800 before GST estimated price more palatable. KMMSB aren’t hoping for huge sales numbers from their new scooter, they said they’d be please to sell 100 a month, but the bike does gain them entry to a new market and completes their range.
Kawasaki Z125 Pro to replace KSR 110
The third bike model of the trio, the Kawasaki Z125 Pro, is the newest of the lot and hopes are high for it to replicate the success of its predecessor. Making its debut at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show in October, it’s a replacement for the much loved KSR 110, though this time the bike has been styled to ape the successful Z-line of naked street bikes. Featuring a 9.4hp air-cooled single, USD forks and 12-inch wheels, the Z125 Pro tips the scales at a mere 101kg.
Standard equipment includes a speedometer, clock, trip meter and an all-important fuel gauge for the generous 7.4-litre tank. The bike has also been designed for two-up riding though the rider and pillion should be of slim proportions. KMMSB estimates a sale price of below RM9,900 before GST (Pro denotes the bike uses a conventional clutch and gearbox instead of a CVT) and though it’s appeal isn’t as wide as more conventional rivals like the Yamaha FZ150i and KTM Duke 200, the Kawasaki brand name should help in closing a number of sales.
How successful will these new bikes be in Malaysia? Only time will tell, but we can bet KMMSB will have no problem finding buyers and in the process, maintain its position at the head of Malaysia’s big-bike market.