2017 Kawasaki Z125 Pro Ride Review

Team Green takes direct aim at Honda's Grom

2017 Kawasaki Z125 Pro First Ride Review
Has the Honda Grom met its match?Photography by Kevin Wing

There's no doubt the Honda Grom has been an instant hit, with sales of the little 125cc bike continuing to rise in double digits and nearly toppling the long-reigning volume leader of the small-displacement streetbike category, Kawasaki's Ninja 300, last year. Team Green wasn't about to take that threat lying down, so it brought the Southeast Asian market Z125 Pro over as an early release 2017 model to give the Grom some serious competition. We got the opportunity to ride the new Kawasaki through the streets of San Francisco as well as on a fun little mini closed course in a parking lot on the man-made Treasure Island in the bay.

The Kawasaki Z125 Pro (the Pro suffix stems from the manual four-speed gearbox, while the "standard" Z125 in Asia has an automatic transmission) is very similar to the Grom in overall size, but things begin to become a little different from there. For starters, the Z125 Pro's air-cooled SOHC engine is oversquare in configuration (the bore measurement is significantly larger than the stroke measurement) compared to the Honda as well as having a higher compression ratio, so it has more power potential.

Kawasaki 2017 Z125 Pro seat
The Z125 Pro’s saddle is actually nice and supportive and even has enough room for a passenger to join in on the fun.Photography by Kevin Wing

Whether the Kawasaki actually does have more power than the Grom is hard to gauge without riding the two bikes side by side, especially when you’re talking only 10 or so peak horsepower. Regardless of any possible advantages, the Z125 Pro’s engine has a nice, amiable powerband that can putt around at walking pace while also having enough spunk to keep up with most traffic on city streets. The clutch has an easy pull with smooth engagement, and the gearbox doesn’t exhibit any quirks or issues.

Kawasaki 2017 Z125 Pro brakes
They might not look like much, but the Kawasaki’s brakes and tires performed surprisingly well, offering more than adequate power and grip.Photography by Kevin Wing

We were pleasantly surprised at the little Kawasaki’s suspension and braking performance. The nonadjustable inverted fork and four-step preload-adjustable single rear shock look like budget pieces, but they performed admirably throughout our ride and even handled being hustled around the closed course without any complaints. Likewise for the tiny single-piston slide-pin calipers front and rear, with single 200mm petal-style disc and a similar single 184mm disc out back; braking power was more than adequate, with decent feel and without excessive effort required at the lever. Heck, even the IRC NR77U tires offered surprisingly good grip and respectably smooth ride at all lean angles.

2017 Kawasaki Z125 Pro styling
We’re liking the Z125 Pro’s styling that incorporates many of the same lines as its bigger Z brethren (Z800 and Z1000) without looking too cartoonish.Photography by Kevin Wing

The Z125 Pro has fairly spacious ergos for such a small bike, and the seat is just wide and supportive enough to keep your butt from going sore after 30 minutes in the saddle (and with the gas-sipping engine and 2.0-gallon fuel tank, the Kawasaki will go a lot longer than that before stopping). There’s also enough room for a passenger, along with folding passenger pegs, so more than one can join in on the fun. And the instrument panel’s analog tach/LCD info panel is nicely laid out (including a digital speedometer, gear indicator, and fuel gauge), though the position is so low that you have to take your eyesight off the road to read it.

At just $2,999, for the amount of fun you’re going to have the Kawasaki Z125 Pro is a major steal. Better head down to your local dealer now before they get snapped up because these bikes certainly won’t sit on the showroom floor for long.

2017 Kawasaki Z125 Pro first ride review
With a price tag of just $2,999 you are bound to get your money's worth of fun in this small-displacement bike.Photography by Kevin Wing
2017 Kawasaki Z125 Pro
MSRP $2999
Type Air-cooled SOHC single
Displacement 125cc
Bore x Stroke 56.0 x 50.6mm
Compression Ratio 9.8:1
Induction DFI, 24mm throttle body, single injector/cyl.
Front Tire 100/90-12 IRC NR77U
Rear Tire 120/70-12 IRC NR77U D
Rake/Trail 26º/2.7 in. (69mm)
Wheelbase 46.3 in. (1176mm)
Seat Height 30.7 in. (780mm)
Fuel Capacity 2.0 gal. (7.6L)
Claimed Wet Weight 225 lb. (102kg)