Common Tread

Kawasaki Z125 Pro street-legal monkey bike comes to the U.S.

Mar 04, 2016

Kawasaki's Gromfighter, the Z125 Pro, is coming to the U.S. market after all.

The air-cooled, 125 cc street-legal pit bike was announced for Asian markets last fall, in two versions: the Pro, with a four-speed transmission, and a regular Z125 with an automatic. Kawasaki has now confirmed we're getting the Pro.

Kawasaki Z125 Pro
2017 Kawasaki Z125 Pro. Kawasaki photo.

While it's unwise to believe everything you read in news releases and marketing materials about new motorcycles being released, there is one statement in Kawasaki's announcement of the Z125 Pro that I believe is true, even though it could probably be said about almost no other motorcycles: "The Z125 Pro ... is unique in that it was designed for two seemingly opposing targets in the motorcycling market: both beginner riders and veterans alike." You also don't have to have a lot of insight into the motorcycle industry to realize this bike is a response to the success of the Honda Grom. And why has the Grom been a success? In my opinion, because it is, as Kawasaki says, the rare bike that can appeal to widely different riders.

Kawasaki Z125 Pro illustration
Young, urban riders are half the target for Kawasaki's marketing. The other half are riders who want an inexpensive, around-town second bike or a pit bike. Kawasaki photo.

An urban kid just looking for cheap transportation that isn't a bus (see Kawasaki marketing image above), and a well heeled 50-something track-day fanatic (not shown in Kawasaki marketing materials) who wants a cool pit bike that isn't a scooter.

It's the classic strap-it-onto-the-back-of-the-RV bike for vacation. It cries out for a spec class in your local minibike racing league (and the Grom has already answered that call). It's a bike you can buy as a first ride for your teen, knowing he or she isn't going to be hitting 70 mph on the way to school. The low price and fun factor make it a good platform for a non-serious little custom, and we've already seen stretched Groms, "scrambler" Groms, hopped-up Groms, etc. That's a wider variety of potential buyers for the Z125 Pro than you'll find with just about any other motorcycle. Except, of course, the Grom.

Kawasaki Z125 Pro
2017 Kawasaki Z125 Pro in "metallic graphite grey." Kawasaki photo.

Kawasaki Z125 Pro engine
An air-cooled 125 cc engine isn't going to set new standards for scorching tires, but fuel injection makes it easy to live with and efficient. Kawasaki photo.
So how does the Z125 Pro compare to its obvious competition? Though the air-cooled, 125 cc engines look virtually identical, the Kawasaki has about a 10 percent shorter stroke and corresponding bigger bore, plus an additional half point of compression. It appears the Z125's redline is about 500 rpm higher than the Grom's, but whether these small differences result in any minor performance edge for the Z125 won't really be known for sure until the two of them are side by side. 

Kawasaki Z125 Pro front brake
The 2017 Kawasaki Z125 Pro has a single disc brake at both ends. Kawasaki photo.
Most measurements, from weight to seat height to brakes to wheelbase, are almost identical (suspension travel is exactly identical). The Kawasaki rides on slightly narrower tires and carries 2.0 gallons of gas, to the Honda's 1.45. The Kawasaki's MSRP is $200 less. But I'd say these two bikes are more evenly matched than a ZX-6R and a CBR600RR. RevZilla already has a Grom parked in the office entrance, so clearly we need to get a Z125 and put Lemmy and Spurgeon on the two bikes for some side-by-side full-throttle testing. I think I'll put my money on whichever one is ridden by Spurgeon. Come to think of it, this might be the time to call in a ringer and give Gearchic her opportunity to demonstrate the advantages of being five feet, two inches tall.

Kawasaki Z125 front
The headlight, cowl and side shrouds are intended to carry a family resemblance to the Z800 and Z1000. Kawasaki photo.
Kawasaki Z125 rear
It may be cheap, but the Kawasaki Z125 Pro still has some modern touches, like its LED taillight. Kawasaki photo.

Kawasaki Z125 Pro instrument cluster
The attractive instruments look good for a $3,000 motorcycle. It includes a fuel gauge and a gear indicator. Kawasaki photo.
There are several nice touches on the Z125 Pro, from the LED taillight to the gauge cluster, which is arguably a step up from the Grom's and would not look out of place on Kawasaki's full-size bikes. Kawasaki places the Z125 in the same "family" as the Z800 and Z1000, and while there's a big gap between 125 cc and 800 cc, touches like the gauges and the side shrouds do provide some resemblance.

Groms have been hard to find at some Honda dealers, so really the only question here is whether Kawasaki gets its Z125 to market in time to cash in on the popularity before everyone who wants a 125 already has one.

2017 Kawasaki Z125 Pro


air-cooled 125 cc two-valve single

Bore x stroke

56.0 mm x 50.6 mm

Compression ratio


Fuel system

fuel injection, 24 mm throttle body



Final drive


Rake / trail

26.0 degrees / 2.7 inches

Front tire


Rear tire



46.3 inches

Front suspension / travel

Inverted fork / 3.9 inches

Rear suspension / travel

single shock / 4.1 inches

Front brake

single 200 mm petal-style disc

Rear brake

single 184 mm petal-style disc

Overall length

66.9 inches

Overall width

29.5 inches

Overall height

39.6 inches

Seat height

31.7 inches

Curb weight

224.8 pounds

Fuel capacity

2.0 gallons


Candy Lime Green 
Metallic Graphite Grey 



Limited warranty

12 months