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Thread: Kawasaki Ninja 400

  1. #1
    Flirting With The Redline Joseph Hanna's Avatar
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    Kawasaki Ninja 400

    Got a chance to ride a Ninja 400 last weekend. I guess the best bet by way of review would be for me to compare it to my beloved Ninja 300. First and even before I rode it itís a great looking machine. Except for the smaller rear tire absolutely nothing about this bike looks ďentry levelĒ. Itís (at least in my opinion) a really good looking bike and the color schemes are great as well. The blue looks great! The orange looks great and I think we all know what the green looks like. By a pretty big margin looks go to the 400 over the 300.

    Weight: Itís substantially lighter in actual weight. 20 pounds or so. That said the bike feels even lighter than the 20 pound shed. Weight feel victory goes undeniably to the 400. Itís easily and noticeably a lighter bike. The seat is about the same height if not identical. Itís a more contemporary looking seat but probably as comfortable as my 300. The 400 wins the seat battle only on looks.

    Tires: The stock tires on the 400 are Dunlopís and are miles and miles and miles better than the stock pieces of crud that came on my 300. Tire battle in a complete landslide goes to the 400. Almost comical.

    Dash display: Another landslide in the 400ís favor. First it has a gear select display. Itís very easy to ďgatherĒ information as itís just very easy and plain to see. Just a great simple easy to see info center. Hereís the sleeper however. The 300 buried itís turn signal indicators in a weird place and even when looking DIRECTLY at them they seemed to be so faded that noticing the signals were still on often was difficult if not impossible. The 400ís turn signals are bright, articulate and easily seen. BIG big plus.

    Suspension: Kawasaki claims a complete re-work of the suspension. I donít see it. I donít mind the stock 300 suspension (as long as youíre aware of what youíre working with) but I didnít notice a ton of difference here. Tie.

    Handling: The 400 handled better than my 300 especially in hotter corners. Some of that seemed to be the lighter feel of the bike, I think the rake might be shorter, but some of it was the front brake. (more on that next). The 400 handles better but not an earth shattering difference.

    Brakes: The 400 has better front brakes. Period. Theyíre not unworldly good as one simply wouldnít (or shouldnít) expect from an entry level bike but still...noticeably better than the 300 and Iím comfortable calling them really good. Back brake identical to the 300.

    Slipper Clutch: same great slipper clutch that allows one to wind things out a bit (and by a bit a mean wring itís neck) and not worry so much that the wrong gear is gonna be big trouble. I donít have ABS on the 300 but I did notice the ABS kicking in some when getting a bit aggressive with downshifting in aggressive corners. I donít think the bike has traction control but the ABS tended to sit me up straight a bit.. Still the slipper clutch apoears to be a tie.

    Engine: The 400 is more to be sure. Especially lower down. No one is gonna mistake it for Ducati torque but it pulls low better than the 300. Itís seems however similar to the 300 once you get way up in the rev range. I dunno here. One of the things I love about the 300 is the enticement to thrash the heck out of it. The 400 is a better plant but not a feature Iíd worry about between the two.

    As most know I love these little bikes. Sometimes I honestly think (for my style of riding) I could live happily ever after with one of these machines. I could easily envision getting a Ninja 400, improving the brakes and maybe the shock. Putting on Rossoís or better and just letting the thing rip to heck and back. Theyíre just that good

  2. #2
    RiderCoach 4000 Posts! AZridered's Avatar
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    I'm just sorry that Kawasaki had to push up to 400cc. We had a growing variety of neat 250 sports. Then they bumped to 300, then Yamaha nudged to 320, now were at 400 and supposedly in the same neighborhood as Honda's 500. Pretty soon we could be back to 650cc being the 'lighweights' again.

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    Flirting With The Redline 2000 Posts! Sorg67's Avatar
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    The Kawasaki website has both the 300 and the 400 listed. Are they going to keep both? Or will the 300 be phased out?

    I have wondered if something like the Versys 300 would be a good bike for me. I like my Versys 650, but it is more bike than I need.

    I like the tall seating position of the Versys. I also like the tall seating position of my dual sport bikes.

    I wonder if they will come out with a Versys 400.

  4. #4
    Everything I've read about the 400 is good. They've allowed them to race in the Junior Cup of MotoAmerica and we've got some great young racers coming up there. The KTM 390's were dominating there then a couple of Ninja 400s and then lots of R3s but rule changes are helping balance that out.

    The key factor to me is they kept the Ninja light .. nearly 40 lbs lighter than the Honda 500. Other factors like a shorter wheelbase and improved suspension over the 300 all end up to the positive for a most excellent sport bike. Fun .. !
    The best thing you can buy for your motorcycle is gas.

  5. #5
    Flirting With The Redline Mad Matt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sorg67 View Post
    The Kawasaki website has both the 300 and the 400 listed. Are they going to keep both? Or will the 300 be phased out?

    I have wondered if something like the Versys 300 would be a good bike for me. I like my Versys 650, but it is more bike than I need.

    I like the tall seating position of the Versys. I also like the tall seating position of my dual sport bikes.

    I wonder if they will come out with a Versys 400.
    They list 2018 Ninja 400s but only 2017 Ninja 300s. That doesnít prove anything but suggests the 300 is being discontinued.

    Iím surprised they havenít immediately put the 400 engine in the Versys 300, especially if it has more low end torque.

  6. #6
    Flirting With The Redline Joseph Hanna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZridered View Post
    I'm just sorry that Kawasaki had to push up to 400cc. We had a growing variety of neat 250 sports. Then they bumped to 300, then Yamaha nudged to 320, now were at 400 and supposedly in the same neighborhood as Honda's 500. Pretty soon we could be back to 650cc being the 'lighweights' again.
    I know for sure what I’d like to see is a top shelf, top component, 250cc, 4 cylinder, properly exhausted, rev to 22k, barnstorming demon bike like the modified CBR 250rr’s from the early nineties. But the market place isn’t in that space and I doubt there be more than a handful that would wanna invest as much money in a 250rr as a Triumph Street Triple. You do however bring up a good point in that does the 400 represent the great entry bike position that the 250 and 300 did. I think the 400 starts to skirt the “easy entry” bike equation a bit. I don’t think Kawasaki could make it much more performance oriented without suddenly creeping into the “too much” for a first time rider bike. If a beginner was the personality type to push things a little too hard in the early stages of riding (and I have met those guys and gals) the 400 “as is” could get one in trouble and in a hurry.

  7. #7
    Flirting With The Redline 8000 Posts! Trials's Avatar
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    Remember when you bought a 250 to race in 250 class
    now displacement means almost nothing,
    soon enough it will be an obsolete term that related to internal combustion engines.


    ... 22k you say
    hmmm RC166 needed 6 cylinders to do that

  8. #8
    Flirting With The Redline Joseph Hanna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trials View Post
    Remember when you bought a 250 to race in 250 class
    now displacement means almost nothing,
    soon enough it will be an obsolete term that related to internal combustion engines.


    ... 22k you say
    hmmm RC166 needed 6 cylinders to do that
    Well..I know the 1990 and 1991 CRB 250rr redlined at 19.5. That'd be close enough for me

  9. #9
    If you want to see the Ninja 400 "at the limit" you can take a look here .. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oKkq6auYT0 .. MotoAmerica Junior Cup Racing. The field is mostly R3's (thanks mostly to Graves Yamaha) but there are a few 400s and a couple of KTM 340s and at least one Ninja 300. I really like this class to support the future of American Motorcycle Racing (please consider subscribing ... mebbe if they get enough interest we can get MotoAmerica on tv) .

    I test rode an R3 and while I liked it it just wasn't quite enough. My middle son owned a Ninja 250 and I liked the bike .. but again .. not enough to spend my coin on. The Ninja 400 definitely has my eye. I can see it as a track bike as I roll into my 70 .. mebbe get one for me granddaughter too so we can do trackdays together ..
    Last edited by OBX-RIDER; 05-10-2018 at 02:58 PM.
    The best thing you can buy for your motorcycle is gas.

  10. #10
    Flirting With The Redline Joseph Hanna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OBX-RIDER View Post
    If you want to see the Ninja 400 "at the limit" you can take a look here .. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oKkq6auYT0 .. MotoAmerica Junior Cup Racing. The field is mostly R3's (thanks mostly to Graves Yamaha) but there are a few 400s and a couple of KTM 340s and at least one Ninja 300. I really like this class to support the future of American Motorcycle (please consider subscribing ... mebbe if they get enough interest we can get MotoAmerica on tv) .

    I test rode an R3 and while I liked it it just wasn't quite enough. My middle son owned a Ninja 250 and I liked the bike .. but again .. not enough to spend my coin on. The Ninja 400 definitely has my eye. I can see it as a track bike as I roll into my 70 .. mebbe get one for me granddaughter too so we can do trackdays together ..
    That's some seriously fun racing going' on there. Cool looking series. Most of those kids look like they're more than ready for the next level!

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