2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 First Ride reviews

Kawasaki places itself atop the new lightweight sportxe đạp category


2018 Kawasaki Nin-Ja 400Editor Score: 85.25%
Engine 18.25/20
Suspension/Handling 13.0/15
Transmission/Clutch 9.0/10
Brakes 7.0/10
Ergonomics/Comfort 8.5/10
Appearance/Quality 8.5/10
Desirability 8.5/10
Value 9.0/10
Overall Score85.25/100

Kawasaki may have sầu just found the sweet spot with its new Ninja 400. At a glance, the new snnphutho.vn has undergone a substantial weight reduction treatment, a displacement boost of 103cc, & a sexy styling rethiết kế – all while remaining at the exact same price point. Non-ABS models start at $4,999 while ABS is an additional $300. Kawasaki was out for blood when it went bachồng lớn the drawing board for its new entry-level snnphutho.vn.

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2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400: Exclusive Dyno Run And Measured Weight!

When Kawasaki started to lớn feel the stark competition from bikes lượt thích Yamaha’s R3 & KTM’s RC390, they got khổng lồ work in order to lớn “take baông chồng what was theirs,” according lớn Kawi. That would be the lightweight entry-cấp độ sportxe đạp category. With one look at the side by side spec chart, it’s pretty obvious they have sầu done so. After spending a day riding the new Ninja 400 on the winding back roads of Sonoma County and a day of spinning laps at Sonoma Raceway, I am here khổng lồ report that the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 will be a force khổng lồ be reckoned with in the lightweight sportbike class.

So, where khổng lồ start…

Engine: More CC’s, please


Ah, the age-old-adage: There’s no replacement for displacement. While this isn’t always the case, maybe it is more often than not. Kawasaki has boosted the cubic centimeters of its smallest Ninja by 103cc, putting it atop the spec chart when side by side with its classmates. Still a parallel-twin, bore và stroke are increased to 70.0 x 51.8 while compression ratio is bumped to lớn 11.5:1 from 10.6:1 found in the 300.

Engine performance revisions can be seen throughout, including larger diameter head pipes at 31.8mm, a lighter flywheel, more precise tuning allowing for the elimination of sub throttles, lighter forged camshafts, optimized intake và exhaust valves, a new piston with reduced squish and a flatter crown which is also made to lớn be lighter thanks lớn the oil jets cooling it from below. The cylinder is also sleeveless and uses plated bores.

The radiator has also been redesigned lớn better direct heat away from components the rider will come into liên hệ with, all while using no new parts says Kawasaki.

Impressively, Kawasaki has managed to increase displacement và optimize performance, all while keeping the engine relatively the same kích cỡ as the 2017 Nin-Ja 300.

The new downdraft intake provides the most direct path of air into the cylinder for a more efficient intake system.

Also attributing to lớn the not-so-wee Ninja’s new-found performance is the larger 5.8-liter airbox with a new downdraft intake which provides the most direct path of air into lớn the cylinder. This creates a more efficient intake system. The intake funnels themselves are different heights allowing Kawasaki lớn tune out most dips in the torque curve. Kawasaki says this has been especially important to improved engine performance at high rpm. The airbox was also engineered with more rigidity at the top khổng lồ eliminate unwanted noise, while still delivering a clear intake note which was present in the best way at high rpm at Sonoma Raceway.

As we can see on our exclusive dyno run of the Nin-Ja 400, the torque curve is impressively flat, peaking at 25 lb-ft of torque at 8,000 rpm. Perhaps more notably, is the fact that 20 lb-ft are available just under 4,500 rpm. Horsepower is also substantially increased from the previous Ninja, as well as the competition, with 44 hp available at 10,000 rpm.

Beginner-Ish Sportbike Shootout + Video

The transmission has also undergone some revision. Cthua gear ratios and the assist clutch make flipping through gears a breeze, while the slipper function will prevent the rear tire from hopping or skidding during aggressive sầu or accidental downshifts. Kawasaki says the pull at the clutch lever has been reduced by 20% which may be welcomed on the street; however there were times during our traông xã day when it was difficult lớn feel the engagement point.

Handling: Fully Flickable


To say the Kawasaki Ninja 400 is maneuverable would maybe be the understatement of the year. As I picked the bike up off of its kickstand it became clear just how lightweight the Nin-Ja 400 was. A few corners later it was apparent how much fun I was about lớn have sầu for the next two days. The usable mid-range power, light clutch pull, và ease of handling make for a fun and unintimidating entry-xe đạp for those looking khổng lồ begin their foray into lớn motorcycling.

Let’s take a look at how Kawasaki made an already agile snnphutho.vn into lớn a razor-sharp, apex-mauling, corner-killing, Ninja.

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When considering the power-to-weight ratio of snnphutho.vns, dropping 15 lbs provides a substantial boost in performance. When we had the Nin-Ja 400 on the dyno we also had a chance lớn weigh it. Full of 3.7 gallons of fuel, the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 with ABS weighs 366 lbs. The last Nin-Ja 300 we tested, with a 4.5-gallon tank, weighed 381 lbs, so we’re looking at about a 10-lb drop in real weight.

Although I touched on the engine’s weight savings earlier in this article, weight reducing efforts can be found throughout. The new Ninja 400 is built around a trellis-style frame derived from Kawi’s work on the Nin-Ja H2, which adds rigidity while reducing weight. The rigid-mounted engine is also now used as a stressed thành viên, with an aluminum swingarm mounting plate bolted to the bachồng of the engine. This all leads khổng lồ added stability và less weight.


A quiông chồng look at the Ninja 400’s new chassis dimensions also allude to lớn the nimbler character of the 2018 Model. The overall wheelbase has been shortened by 1.4 inches, while the steering angle has been decreased by 2.4 degrees putting rake & trail at 24.7°/3.6 in. Seat height has been kept the same at 30.9 inches. The rather upright “clip-ons” mix the handlebars baông xã toward the rider by 15mm from the previous mã sản phẩm, while the footpegs have sầu been moved 9milimet backward.

All things Kawasaki on snnphutho.vn

The suspension has also been upgraded with a non-adjustable 41milimet Showa fork from the Nin-Ja 300’s 37mm tubes. A KYB rear shochồng with a new Uni-Trak linkage is now used out bachồng with five-way preload adjustment. While the suspension is somewhat soft, I never had any bottoming issues, and it soaked up imperfections on the street quite nicely. On the traông xã, stiffer suspension would be preferred, yet it worked well enough for us to lớn thoroughly enjoy the bikes at Sonoma Raceway.


Kawasaki has also upgraded the Ninja’s stopping power up front to a single 310milimet rotor clenched by a dual-piston Nissin caliper, while the rear rotor remains 220mm with a single-piston caliper. Although braking power was adequate, it became one of the few things most journalists said they would change first if track-duty was the assignment. Steel braided brake lines và a mix of racing brake pads would likely fix the sponginess and soft initial bite. On the street, it’s not so much a problem. I did overhear other much faster journalists complain about brake fade (cough* Ari Henning *cough* lap record holder at Sonoma Raceway in the 300 class *cough). I didn’t have that issue.

While revising the entire snnphutho.vn, Kawasaki didn’t forget the tires. The Ninja 400 now uses Dunlop Sportmax GPR300 rubber, which provided good grip on the street in dry and damp conditions and wasn’t bad at Sonoma Raceway either.

Style for miles


Since 2008, Kawasaki has done a great job at making its entry-cấp độ snnphutho.vns look much more like their larger displaced siblings. For 2018 Kawasaki has continued with styling that is undeniably Nin-Ja.


From the KRT graphics (a $500 nâng cấp that includes ABS), khổng lồ the trellis-type frame & tail’s triple-peak motif, the Ninja 400 shares styling and spirit with its bigger bros. LED lighting is found throughout on the Nin-Ja, giving it that premium snnphutho.vn feel. As mentioned previously, the triple-peak motif tail section và small chin spoilers on the bottom of the front cowl were derived from the Ninja H2.


The new five-spoke wheels look slichồng và are said to be lighter than the previous version.


The cockpit also has refined feel without loose cables or wires hanging around obtrusively, rather everything is well bound & routed neatly out of the way. The dash also looks great while providing a decent amount of information with the gear-selection indicator front và center. In harsh sunlight, the screen can be rather difficult khổng lồ read.

The Verdict


There seems khổng lồ be some confusion about the 2018 Kawasaki Nin-Ja 400’s place in the market & Kawi’s line-up. First, Kawasaki will no longer produce the Ninja 300. A lot of folks seemed to lớn think it would continue the 300, but this is not the case. The 400 is now Kawasaki’s smallest sportbike. 


Secondly, this isn’t a bike you’ll get tired of in a week! There are so many comments on Kawasaki’s social truyền thông media channels coming from guys saying things like: Smallest bike I would suggest for a beginner is a 600, or condescending remarks like, Who’s buying these dễ thương lil things. What happened khổng lồ men? … Those are real comments from Kawasaki’s Facebook page on the promotional Clip with Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea. While I would lượt thích khổng lồ go on a rant about this, I’m going to lớn leave sầu it at that & let you folks duke out your feelings about it in the comments section.


Final thoughts on the Nin-Ja 400: It’s a more versatile, unintimidating lightweight sportxe đạp that motorcyclists can grow with. The Nin-Ja 400 would be an easy first snnphutho.vn that you could get into track days with as well. To me, and many others who have sầu ridden the 400, the boost in displacement feels just right. You have sầu easy-to-use mid-range power that comes on svào without being intimidating, incredibly light and precise handling, và styling for days. And guess what?! They are in dealerships now, so seek out your local dealer or test day and have a look for yourself. 


What bởi vì you think about the increasing displacement of the lightweight sportxe đạp class? Let us know in the comments section. Also, if there is anything I haven’t addressed in this article that you are curious about, leave sầu a phản hồi và I will get you an answer as soon as possible.

2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400
+ Highs Incredibly lightweight handling Class-leading horsepower Updated or upgraded at every turn while coming in at the same MSRP of the previous Mã Sản Phẩm – Sighs Braking performance could benefit from the aftermarket Taller riders will want more seat room Gauges are difficult khổng lồ see in bright sunlight

In Gear

Street Helmet: AGV Corsa (No longer in production) Jacket: Dainese Super Speed Textile Jacket Pants: Dainese Over Flux Overpant Gloves: Racer Gloves Sprint Boots: Alpinestars SMX Plus Boot
Track Helmet: AGV Corsa (No longer in production) Suit: Alpinestars GPhường. Plus V2 Leather Suit Gloves: Alpinestars Supertech Glove sầu Boots: Alpinestars SMX Plus Boot Bachồng Protector: Dainese Manis D1

2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 Specifications
MSRP Non-ABS: $4,999 ABS: $5,299-$5,499
Engine Type Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke Parallel Twin
Displacement 399 cc
Bore và Stroke 70.0 x 51.8 mm
Compression ratio 11.5:1
Valve sầu system DOHC, 8 valves
Horsepower 44 hp at 10000 rpm (Measured)
Torque 25.0 lb-ft. at 8000 rpm (Measured)
Fuel system Fuel injection: ø32 milimet x 2
Ignition Digital
Starting Electric
Lubrication Forced lubrication, wet sump
Transmission 6-tốc độ, return
Final drive Chain
Clutch Wet multi-disc, manual
Frame Trellis, high-tensile steel
Front Suspension ø41 milimet telescopic fork with 4.7 inches travel
Rear Suspension Bottom-Link Uni-Trak, gas-charged shoông xã with adjustable preload with 5.5 inches travel
Front Tire 110/70R17 M/C 54H
Rear Tire 150/60R17 M/C 66H
Front Brake Single semi-floating ø310 mm petal disc with single balanced actuation dual-piston caliper
Rear Brake Single ø2đôi mươi milimet petal disc with dual-piston caliper
Caster (rake) 24.7°
Trail 3.6 inches
Steering angle (left/right) 35°/ 35°
Overall length 78.3 inches
Overall width 28.0 inches
Overall height 44.1 inches
Wheelbase 53.9 inches
Ground clearance 5.5 inches
Seat height 30.9 inches
Curb Weight 366 pounds (Measured)
Fuel capacity 3.7 gallons