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Kawasaki Introduces Hybrid Motorcycles: The Ninja 7 and Z7

Kawasaki Introduces Hybrid Motorcycles: The Ninja 7 and Z7

Kawasaki continues to push the boundaries of motorcycle engineering with its diverse powertrain lineup. From supercharged four-cylinder bikes to electric models, the company offers an array of options. Adding to its impressive range, Kawasaki has now introduced its first production hybrid motorcycles: the Ninja 7 and Z7. These innovative bikes promise performance comparable to 650-cc and 1,000-cc models, despite featuring a 451-cc parallel twin engine combined with an electric motor.

The heart of these hybrid motorcycles is a two-cylinder engine displacing 451 cc. However, what sets them apart is the additional traction motor and combination starter-generator. The traction motor delivers a regular output of 7 kW (over 9 horsepower) and can briefly reach a maximum of 9 kW (12 horsepower). A 28.6-pound lithium-ion battery, located beneath the seat, powers the motor. The battery is recharged through engine power and regenerative braking. The starter-generator provides start-stop functionality and allows the bike to briefly run in full-electric mode in gears one through four when in EV mode. The Eco-Hybrid mode intelligently switches between electric and gas engine modes as required, while the Sport-Hybrid mode keeps the engine running continuously for maximum power. In Sport-Hybrid mode, an E-Boost button provides a 5-second burst of peak output from the electric mode, delivering maximum power. Both the electric motor and engine are liquid-cooled, and an oil cooler is incorporated into the regular liquid cooling system.

While Kawasaki only specifies the torque output, the hybrid models produce an impressive 44.2 pound-feet of torque, just 4 shy of the Z650 despite having 200 cc less displacement. Kawasaki claims that, with E-Boost active from a standstill, the hybrid bikes can even outperform 1,000-cc bikes, although specific figures are not provided and the advantage would likely be short-lived.

In addition to the unique powertrain, the Z7 and Ninja 7 feature an intriguing transmission: a six-speed automated manual. It can be operated in full automatic mode or manually shifted using buttons on the left handle. The electric motor enables the hybrid bikes to have a 2 mph walk mode and even a reverse gear, making parking and maneuvering easier.

As for the rest of the bike, both the Z7 and Ninja 7 sport a steel trellis frame, conventional upright forks at the front, and a single rear shock with adjustable spring preload. The Z7 weighs 498.3 pounds, while the Ninja 7 weighs 502.7 pounds. Both models have a seat height of 31.3 inches, with the Ninja featuring lower clip-on handles compared to the Z7's more upright handlebar. The Ninja also benefits from an aerodynamic fairing. Braking is provided by dual front discs and a single rear disc on both models.

Although the Ninja 7 and Z7 come with a premium price tag of $12,499, they offer a unique blend of performance and fuel economy. While a Z900 with a 900-cc four-cylinder engine is available for under $10,000 and offers more torque and a lighter weight, and a 1,000-cc Ninja starts at over $13,000, the hybrid models cater to a niche market seeking a combination of performance and technological innovation. For those looking for a distinctive and cutting-edge motorcycle, the Ninja 7 and Z7 deliver on both fronts.


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