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Kawasaki releases specs for first electric motorcycle, but they kind of suck

Kawasaki’s first electric motorcycle has been under development for around a decade. And today we finally got more information and some early specs for the Kawasaki electric motorcycle prototype.

But the specs released by Kawasaki are shocking. And not in a good way.

A weak electric Kawasaki Ninja?

Kawasaki’s electric motorcycle prototype was unveiled last week at EICMA 2019, the Milan Motorcycle Show.

At the time all we knew was that it was based on a Kawasaki Ninja 650 frame and featured a 4-speed gearbox.

But check out these specs that Kawasaki released for their electric motorcycle prototype today.

According to a statement released by Kawasaki:

“Revealing that Kawasaki had been conducting EV research for many years, Kawasaki President Mr. Horiuchi noted that KHI research had so far been based on a mid-capacity style machine with more ‘rider features’ than current EV machines in the market. Possessing the equivalent of 20 kW for acceleration on demand and a cruising output akin to 10 kW, the EV project has been tested extensively at the Kawasaki owned Autopolis track in southern Japan as well as in real life urban environments.”

Yep, that’s right. Kawasaki’s electric motorcycle is rocking a measly 10 kW (13 hp) continuous and 20 kW (27 hp) peak electric motor.

But it gets worse.

Kawasaki also revealed that the electric motorcycle’s range is a mere 100 km (62 mi) and its weight is 219 kg (483 lb).

To sum it all up, the Kawasaki electric motorcycle prototype is heavy, underpowered, and offers pitiful range.

So what the heck is going on over there?

To be fair, Kawasaki’s electric motorcycle is still a prototype. And the specs can and almost certainly will change before the bike reaches production. But why is Kawasaki touting these figures like they are something to be proud of? You could take the smallest and weakest electric motorcycle in Zero’s lineup, the Zero FXS, and it would blow the Kawasaki electric prototype out of the water.

Compared to Kawasaki’s electric bike, the Zero FXS ZF7.2 is 86 kg (190 lb) lighter, offers nearly double the power and either double (city) or similar (mixed) range. I know because I spent months riding an FXS and it was glorious – see below:

And the specs on Zero’s end only increase from there. The Zero SR/F electric streetfighter is the same weight as Kawasaki’s bike yet offers four times the power and around triple the range.

You might say that it’s not a fair comparison since Zero’s been at it longer. But Zero hasn’t. Kawasaki has said it has been working on its electric bike for over a decade – the same amount of time that Zero has been in business.

So what gives, Kawasaki?

Electrek’s Take

I love electric motorcycles. I’m about as pro e-bike as it gets. And I was stoked when I saw Kawasaki’s unveiling of an electric motorcycle project last week. But as bullish as I am on e-bikes, even I can’t excuse the company for touting a bike with such weak specs as this. Sixty miles of range in 2019? Come on…

I literally wrote the guide book on all of the electric motorcycles in the industry in 2019. And only one has specs below the electric Kawasaki: the Sur Ron Light Bee. And to be fair, that’s basically an oversized electric mountain bike.

Any electric Kawasaki Ninja needs to be a crotch rocket, not a grocery getter. And yes I’m aware that the bike has a gearbox and thus can eke out a bit better performance than a single-speed drivetrain. But those gears are lipstick on a pig… a 10 kW pig in this case.

I believe Kawasaki can build something awesome. They have the engineers. They have the resources. Hell, the best batteries in the world come from Japan. Now they just need to get their heads in the game and show us something awesome. Because this isn’t it.

Am I being too harsh on Kawasaki? Or do they need to step it up? Let us know in the comments below!

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Avatar for Micah Toll Micah Toll

Micah Toll is a personal electric vehicle enthusiast, battery nerd and author of the Amazon #1 bestselling books DIY Lithium Batteries, DIY Solar Power and the Ultimate DIY Ebike Guide.

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