Life With Kawasaki's 2024 ZX-4RR, a.k.a., the Murder Hornet, Vol 1
Let's Get Small ...
We purchased this model from a Westfield Powersports in Westfield, Indiana. Retail is $10,299. We paid $9399.

I consider myself one of 'the fortunate ones' of my age group—or any age group, in fact. Motorcycles and childhood, it seems, go together like oil & water. The kid wants a motorcycle, the parents say "no way!", and that's where the conversation ends. The child is full of resentment, the parents—worried and relieved—and worried, now know they have a ticking time bomb on their hands. Not in my house. Both mom & dad rode his & hers motorcycles together until mom was in an advanced stage of pregnancy with me. After I was born, it was just dad who rode, but that was more than enough for me to get hooked. From a very early age, I was on a motorcycle. Because my dad's darkroom was in the garage, and then had become my bedroom due to my sister & I becoming less tolerant of each others' breathing, parking the motorcycle in the living room was completely normal, as were maintenance operations on whatever motorcycle my dad owned at the time. Great care was taken not to soil the carpet, since mom was at least tolerant, if not complicit in allowing the bike into the house to begin with. A few of my friends who were battling their parents to get a mini bike were deeply envious of my setup. "Your dad parks his motorcycle next to the TV?! Can we come see?!"

BMWs, Hondas & Yamahas of various models were sprinkled throughout my childhood, and I learned how to work on all of them while I 'held the flashlight' for dad. My favorite bike? It's a tie, really. The Honda CBX, because, well it's a CBX, and the most complex motorcycle I ever got to turn a wrench on. I nearly cried when he sold it after a mere 5000 miles. The other bike was the Yamaha Seca 750. I did my first top speed run on a proper motorcycle (as opposed to my Honda Hawk 400) on that bike. Dad was a pragmatic, distance style rider. Durability, reliability, ease of maintenance & fuel range were the catch words of his motorcycle world. To my father's dismay, I veered sharply toward the sport side of motorcycling, seeing how far I could get away with leaning a bike over before the tires gave up, or hard parts spoiled the fun. Unbeknownst to me, one day he saw me rail an off ramp style corner near the house on my Hawk sporting a freshly mounted set of Dunlop K81s. "Boy, if you live long enough to sell that bike, you'll be alright."

Several decades later, here I am, proving my dad's prophecy correct.

We purchased this model from a Westfield Powersports in Westfield, Indiana. Retail is $10,299. We paid $9399.
During these preceding decades, my motorcycle ownership has been almost exclusively sport and racing oriented. If I needed to carry cargo of some sort, or travel great distances, the bungee cords came out. I had splurged at some point, buying eclipse soft saddlebags & tank bags. A small financial windfall fell in my lap early in my military career in the Marines, and short order, I was at Willow Springs as a novice on a 1985 RZ350. With the exception of the RZ and an Interceptor 500, all of my bikes had engine displacements of 750 and larger, but a year stationed in Japan during 1983 revealed to me the world of 250s & 400s of the 80s. I prayed for these jewels of engineering to come to the U.S., but they never did, not legally anyway. Yamaha's FZR400 appeared in 1987, but by then, I was caught up in the 'bigger is better' way of thinking, and so I glossed over the FZR. Besides, it's "just a 400, why is it so expensive?!" The OEMs at the time were at great pains to explain that it was nearly as costly for them to make a 400, as it was to make a 600. Given the exploding popularity of the 600 class in the 'bigger is better' U.S. market, and the contingency-rich payouts racing class structure that enticed racers like Doug Polen to them, the OE's argument made perfect business sense. Now, the FZR400 enjoys a cult-like status for its exemplary chassis and engine combination and giant killer performance. Unfortunately, parts support isn't what it once was, and so it is now fairly expansive to repair and maintain. Honda's coveted NC30s and NC35s of the same era are sharing in a similar fate.

Kawasaki's ZX-4RR was rumored in 2021 as a '22 model, but didn't arrive until '23, in KRT colors. Chassis & running gear is essentially identical to the Asia market only ZX-25R, the 250 version. I almost pulled the trigger on the 4RR, but something inside said "wait", so I did. For '24, Kawasaki announced 90s-era paint schemes for their Ninja sport bike lineup. Deposits were placed at multiple Kawasaki dealerships, but those Kawasaki dealers had no idea when their allocation would arrive, if ever, as some said theirs was overdue. A late night online search secured a 40th Anniversary ZX-4RR the next day in a neighboring state. I became a very happy owner of what to me (and I assume, Kawasaki) is a pretty special bike. Given the market conditions, and the fact that sport bike sales have been overshadowed by the adventure bike market the last few years, is this move by Kawasaki born out of a love of the small bike market, or is simply a "Damn it all, we're going to do this regardless!"? Whatever the reason, I have one, and the aftermarket is coming alive with parts and tuning to reveal the performance potential that nanny government regulations have locked down.

Track days will be its proving ground. A long list of aftermarket modifications are planned. Let the parts swapping and tuning begin.
— ends —
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