Kawasaki has been very open about its range of ‘green’ new models, trialling a bunch of hydrogen and electric powered prototypes for the past few years, but the first production models are set to go on sale in the UK next month. Most of the specs are now known, although one of the most important ones, price, remains a mystery.
There’s no real surprises with the first two models. Called the Z e-1 and Ninja e-1, the pair are learner legal machines in the style of the company’s petrol-powered Z and Ninja models – the Z e-1 being a sporty looking naked and the Ninja the running fairings and a style inspired by the ZX-10R superbike.
Although the new models can be ridden on L-plates (after completing the CBT) Kawasaki claim the new electrics feature ‘mid-capacity type chassis and running gear’ with ‘400cc class ABS brakes’ and a trellis frame to make it stand out against competition including the Super Soco TC Max and the newly announced Maeving RM-1S, although performance is still modest. Top speed is claimed at just over 60mph, and while the motor is rated at just 5kW (6.7bhp), you can expect it to get to its top speed pretty quickly – as electric motors are more about the torque than horsepower, and 40.5Nm of instantly accessible torque is much more grunt than a typical 125 (for comparison a Kawasaki Z125 makes a peak of 6Nm at 6000rpm).
Battery capacity will be a fairly small 60Ah, split between two removable bricks, and the e-1 models will travel a claimed 45 miles on a single charge. The two-battery setup allows for off-board charging, as well as while still in place on the bike, with each battery taking just over three-and-a-half hours to recharge.
Like most electrics, the e-1s use a fully automatic twist and go transmission. It has two riding modes, Road and Eco, with an ‘e-boost’ option to up the maximum power to 9kw (12bhp) over short stretches. There’s also a reverse setting, to allow the bikes to be manoeuvred into parking spaces at low speeds. A range of accessories includes taller comfort seats and different charging options, while colour options are metallic silver or metallic green.