Kawasaki’s all-new Ninja 400 is ready to upend the small-displacement sportbike category by offering the triumvirate of appealing motorcycle characteristics: class-leading power, a reasonable price, and swanky good looks.
At a base MSRP of $4,999, the new 400 retails for the same price as the previous Ninja 300, and the 400 is also endowed with a seriously attractive profile. But we already knew that when the Ninja 400 was announced.
What we can exclusively report now is the Ninja 400 produces more power than anything in its class, cranking out a considerable 44.0 horsepower at its rear wheel. Its torque is also healthy, at 25.0 lb-ft when run on the Dynojet 250i at our friend’s shop, Mickey Cohen Motorsports.
Of course, the Ninja 400 is armed with more engine displacement than all but one of its rivals, so it brings a size advantage to the table. But a bike with a bigger engine and similar weight priced at the same or similar MSRP threshold is a net gain. Full of fuel (3.7 gallons), the ABS-equipped Ninja 400 scaled in at 366 pounds, which compares favorably to the claimed wet weight of the 321cc Yamaha R3 ABS (375 lbs) and 384-lb Ninja 300 (with 4.5 gallons of fuel).
Perhaps most appealing is how Kawasaki was able to hold the line on pricing, selling for the same MSRPs as the Ninja 300, at $5,299 for ABS. The sharp-looking KRT edition colorway retails for $5,499 and includes ABS.
For context, Yamaha’s base-model R3 also retails for $4,999. Honda’s CBR300R is cheaper by $300 but is down an enormous 18 horsepower. The CBR500R, while close in power to the Ninja 400, costs much more ($6,599) and weighs a massive 59 lbs extra. KTM’s RC390 retails for $5,499 but includes ABS as standard, and it weighed 364 lbs last time we tested it.
Beginnerish Sportbike Shootout
In its brief time in our hands, the Ninja 400 was ridden only to and from the dyno by Sean Alexander, who, at 6-foot-2 and more than 250 lbs, isn’t the ideal candidate for a smaller sportbike. That said, Kawi’s 400 impressed him with its relative vigor, accelerating on an uphill freeway section to 105 mph while sitting upright. In a tuck on a downhill road, he saw 127 mph on the speedo and estimates an actual 120-mph top speed. He said it felt stable at speed but didn’t feel especially nimble. Brake feel, he says, was linear.
While we never know for sure how a comparison test is going to turn out before we ride the bikes side by side, unless Kawi messed up the adroit handling of the Ninja 300, the new Ninja 400 is a solid bet to take the top honors in our 2018 Lightweight Sportbike Shootout.
Our boy Ryan Adams will be testing the Ninja 400 on street and the racetrack this week, so be sure to stay tuned to MO for his report.
|Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-stroke Parallel-Twin, 8 valves||Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-stroke Parallel-Twin, 8 valves||Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-stroke Single, 4 valves||Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-stroke Single, 4 valves||Liquid-cooled, DOHC, parallel-Twin, four-stroke, 8 valves||Liquid-cooled, DOHC inline twin-cylinder; 8 valves|
|Bore x stroke||70.0 x 51.8 mm||62.0 x 49.0mm||89.0mm x 60.0mm||76.0mm x 63.0mm||67.0mm x 66.8mm||68.0mm x 44.1mm|
|Fuel injection: ø32 mm x 2||Fuel injection: ø32 mm x 2||Electronic Fuel Injection||Electronic Fuel Injection||Electronic Fuel Injection||Fuel Injection|
|Ignition||TCBI with digital advance||TCBI with digital advance||Digital ignition timing adjustment||Digital transistorized with electronic advance||Digital transistorized with electronic advance||TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition|
|44.0 hp at 10000 rpm||34.6 hp at 11100 rpm||34.6 hp at 11100 rpm||26.3 hp at 8400 rpm||43.0 hp at 8400 rpm||35.3 hp at 10800 rpm|
|25.0 lb-ft. at 8000 rpm||17.6 lb-ft. at 9700 rpm||17.6 lb-ft. at 9700 rpm||17.5 lb-ft. at 6700 rpm||29.1 lb-ft. at 6800 rpm||18.9 lb-ft. at 9200 rpm|
|Clutch||Wet multi-disc, assist and slipper clutch||Wet multi-disc, assist and slipper clutch||Wet multi-disc, slipper clutch||Wet multi-disc clutch||Wet multi-disc clutch||Wet multiplate clutch|
|Frame||Trellis, high-tensile steel||Semi-double cradle, high-tensile steel||Steel trellis||Steel||Steel||Diamond-type steel|
|41 mm telescopic fork with 4.7 inches travel||37mm hydraulic telescopic fork/4.7 in travel||WP 43mm inverted fork. 4.9 in travel||37mm conventional fork. 4.7 in travel||41mm convenional fork. 4.3 in travel||41mm KYB telescopic fork; 5.1-in travel|
|Bottom-Link Uni-Trak, gas-charged shock with adjustable preload with 5.5 inches travel||Uni-Trak with 5-way adjustable preload/5.2 in||WP shock. Preload adjustable. 5.9 in travel||Pro-Link single shock. Preload adjustable. 4.1 in travel||Pro-Link single shock. Preload adjustable. 4.7 in travel||KYB single shock, adjustable preload; 4.9-in travel|
|Front Brake||Single semi-floating ø310 mm petal disc with single balanced actuation dual-piston caliper, ABS available||Single 290mm petal-type disc with 2-piston hydraulic caliper, ABS available||Single 300mm disc. 4-piston, radial-mount caliper, ABS||Single 296mm disc. Two-piston caliper||Single 320mm wave disc. Two-piston caliper||298mm hydraulic disc; ABS model available|
|Single 220 mm petal disc with dual-piston caliper, ABS available||Single 220mm petal-type disc with 2-piston hydraulic caliper, ABS available||Single 230mm disc. Single-piston caliper, ABS||Single 220mm disc. Single-piston caliper||Single 240mm wave disc. Single-piston caliper||220mm hydraulic disc; ABS model available|
|110/70R17 M/C 54H||110/70×17||110/70-17||110/70-17||120/70-17||110/70-17|
|150/60R17 M/C 66H||140/70×17||150/60-17||140/70-17||160/60-17||140/70-17|
|Rake/Trail||24.7°/3.6 inches||27°/3.7 inches||23.5°/NA||25.3°/3.9 inches||25.5°/4.1 inches||25.0°/3.7 inches|
|Wheelbase||53.9 inches||55.3 inches||52.8 inches||54.3 inches||55.5 inches||54.3 inches|
|366 pounds (weighed)||383.7 pounds (claimed)||324 (dry, claimed)||357 (claimed)||425 (claimed)||368 pounds (claimed)|
|30.9 inches (claimed)||30.9 inches (claimed)||32.3 inches||30.7 in||30.9 in||30.9 in|
|3.7 gallons||4.5 gallons||2.6 gal||3.4 gal||4.1 gal||3.7 gal|
|Available Colors||Pearl Solar Yellow/Pearl Storm Gray/Ebony, Metallic Spark Black, Candy Plasma Blue, KRT Edition||Candy Plasma Blue/Pearl Blizzard White||KTM Orange/White/Black||Red, Matte Black Metallic||Pearl White||Raven, Vivid White, Team Yamaha Blue|