After unveiling the Ninja 400 at the Tokyo Motor Show and seeing it again in Milan at EICMA, Kawasaki officially announced the new 399cc sportbike for the U.S. market. Impressively, American pricing starts at $4,999 for the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400, the same MSRP as the outgoing Ninja 300 (the ABS version is also priced similarly, at $5,299). We’ll also see a KRT edition color option (with ABS) in dealerships carrying a $5,499 price tag.

First Look: 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 + Video

The Ninja 400’s U.S. availability doesn’t come as a surprise. We already know it was coming thanks to filings with the California Air Resources Board, but we didn’t need government certification documents to tell us Kawasaki would bring the Ninja 300’s replacement here, given how many American motorcyclists first learned to ride on the 400’s predecessor.

As previously announced, the Ninja 400’s parallel-Twin engine has a 70.0 mm bore and a 51.8 mm stroke (compared to 62.0 mm by 49 mm for the 296cc Ninja 300). The compression ratio is also higher at 11.5:1 versus the 300’s 10.6.1 ratio. Kawasaki added a larger air box with a new downdraft intake, claiming increased performance at high rpms and increased efficiency. The 5.8 liter airbox is more rigid at the top, reducing unwanted noise to produce a clearer intake note during acceleration. New intake funnels with different heights help to smooth engine response. Kawasaki hasn’t released any figures for the U.S.-spec model, but the European version claims a peak output of 44.8 hp at 10,000 rpm and 28.0 lb-ft. at 8000 rpm.

The downdraft intake flows air through a shorter, more direct path than the Ninja 300’s intake, improving efficiency and increasing engine power.

New 32mm throttle bodies direct a larger volume of air from the intake. The butterfly valves are oval shaped, which allows them to be at an angle when closed, allowing for quicker throttle response. The 27.5 mm intake and 23.5 mm exhaust valves were employed to optimize high-rpm performance. Because of the new intake design, Kawasaki was able to position the fuel injectors closer to the throttle valves, claiming improved combustion efficiency and a linear throttle response.

Kawasaki managed to make some weight savings by using a forged camshaft and eliminating sub-throttles. A revised cooling system also users shorter external piping, further reducing weight.

The engine is paired with a six-speed transmission with close gear ratios. The assist and slipper clutch is more compact than the one used on the Ninja 300, with less rigid operating plate for a lighter lever feel and a wider engagement range.

Following a trend that began with the Ninja H2 and continued by the Ninja 650, the 400 uses a trellis frame. Despite a longer swingarm, the chassis has a 53.9-inch wheelbase, nearly an inch shorter than the Ninja 300. The swingarm mounting plate is die-cast and bolts to the back of the engine, eliminating the need for additional cross member pieces.

Up front, the Ninja 400 uses a 41mm telescopic fork with a steeper caster angle than the Ninja 300’s 37mm fork.  The rear shock uses a new linkage and has revised suspension settings while allowing for five-way preload adjustability.

A dual-piston caliper is mated to the 310mm front brake disc while a the 220mm rear rotor is matched with a dual-piston caliper with larger 27mm pistons. A Nissin ABS system is optional.

Designed to fit a wide range of rider sizes, the Ninja 400 has a relaxed rider triangle with a raised handlebar and slightly forward footpegs. The seat height 30.9 inches, just like on the Ninja 300. The new fairing is designed to offer improved wind protection and rider comfort. Also making things a bit more comfortable, a new radiator fan cover located behind the radiator directs air outwards to the side, away from the rider.

Other features include a 3.7-gallon fuel tank (down from the Ninja 300’s 4.5 gallon tank), LED headlights and position lamp, a multi-function LCD display with gear indicator and analog tach, and a claimed curb weight of 362 pounds (19.7 pounds lighter than the Ninja 300, though it also holds less fuel).

The 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 (with or without ABS) will be offered in a choice of Metallic Spark Black or Candy Plasma Blue or Pearl Solar Yellow/Pearl Storm Grey/Ebony. In addition, Kawasaki offers a Lime Green/Ebony KRT version.

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  • Ron Hayes

    My question is ” Is it smart to increase horsepower for a person learning to drive a motorcycle?”. I know that it can be slow down the process of outgrowing the motorcycle but is it smart to start with a 400 for some?

    • Travis Stanley

      I’m not too sure if it’s smart, but it greatly increases profits for Kawi. Kawi has an all new Ninja 250 too. I’m sure that will come to North America also.
      Depending upon price, I’m not sure if this is a “learner bike.” All kinds of different riders and skill levels will buy this MC. The Ninja 650 starts at $7,399, so the 400 will need to be about $1,500 less at the most. Should be a fun bike! The R3 is $4,999 and this new 400 is lighter and faster, with impressive torque!

    • Born to Ride

      For a bike intended to run on American highways and an entry level bike for sport riding, I personally wouldn’t suggest anything with less than 40hp to a full grown man. If you’re dumb enough to hurt yourself with that, you were gonna hurt yourself regardless.

      • Agree….my starter bike, ’71 CB450 was perfect….did 30K miles in two years.

      • Jayy Cee

        Well as long as that rider learns better body position than you, they will be fine with any HP.

        • Born to Ride

          Dude put it to rest. Here, have a cookie. Care to tell me how crossed up and knee focused I am? Get a fucking life.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4349c287a7abf4e7ff5599afdd56e3a44926ed6055c975ce8bb76ce3a3d7b0a6.jpg

        • Born to Ride

          Dude put it to rest. Here, have a cookie. Care to tell me how crossed up and knee focused I am? Get a fucking life.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/43df5e62e6e42f0a8c84e186003e93c1cd9a51aa494e9dd7a81f3048117bf421.jpg

        • Born to Ride

          Dude put it to rest. Here, have a cookie. Care to tell me how crossed up and knee focused I am? Get a fucking life.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8dccbad284831ac6fe8ba7b34a88101921c9c9b612523a7b9d3aac28da9a2331.jpg

          • Jayy Cee

            Still looks like excessive lean angle. You need to kick the knee out AND lower the upper body, its angled properly, your left arm is bent properly, but your C of G is still high, causing unnecessary lean angle. Looking better pal! Good job taking my previous advice.

          • Born to Ride

            Clearly you have never ridden a bike with a handle bar instead of clip ons, or don’t understand human anatomy. I’m leaned forward over the bars there, meaning my left hand is basically in my chest, I can’t get any “lower”. Notice also that I’m on my toes on the outside peg, if I shift my weight any further inward I will lose my footing. I don’t stick my leg out in denim riding pants because they don’t have knee sliders. And that picture is old, had to go dig it up from last year when I was struggling to ride the big dirtbike ergoed Multi like it was my Monster. I’m going significantly slower in that picture than the one you were bashing me on. Matter of fact I think that day I was just cruising to the top of the mountain to meet a friend, not trying to walk on literbikes. Never needed your “advice,” I’ve had that bike for 2 years and 30k miles, I know how to ride it.

    • StripleStrom

      don’t forget where it makes power is also important. torque peak at 8k means there is plenty of low rpm to learn with that will be quite forgiving for a new rider.
      The first bike I ever rode was a 900cc, and I don’t remember any trouble, other than the gearbox was horrible.
      The first bike I owned was a 350 twin, only because it was cheap. I was ready for something more within a year. I think this bike might be enough for a while. They really found the sweet spot with the displacement and weight. I wouldn’t mind having one, and I own a bike that makes 3x the power. The yellow looks great.

    • Alaskan18724

      When the people learning to ride weigh 250 pounds, you bet. For a 125-pound 15-year-old? Different answer, mebbe.

    • Mikael Jansson

      Guys, here in Europe, we start riding on full-grown bikes immediately.

      BMW F700GS at driving (riding?) school and my own was a V-Strom 650, both having roughly the same power at about 60-70 hp, weight 210-220 kg (460-480 Weirdo Units)

      Why wouldn’t you be able to learn how to drive on a bigger bike?

      (On the other hand, we have mopeds here, 1-5 hp from age 15-16, so a lot of us learn the basics earlier.)

      • Born to Ride

        Isn’t that kind of a blanket statement to say all of Europe has the same laws and regulations regarding motorcycle licensing? I don’t doubt that you are correct about the laws in your country, but I know for a fact that they have tiered Licensing based on engine output in Germany and the UK. Here in the good ol US of A, a 16 year old kid can save up his after-school job paychecks and buy a ten year old literbike for cash and register it, no questions asked, provided he has a valid M1 license.

        • Mikael Jansson

          Kind-of. A1 at 16 (15hp / 125cc), A2 at 18 (500cc/50hp), A2+2 years = A (full), or 24 years without A2 before. Standard in Europe.

          My point was more about me not seeing why you couldn’t learn to ride on a big bike to begin with. Provided you’re old enough though, so you’re indeed right there are limitations still. However, I don’t see why I should have started my motorcycle carreer on a smaller bike.

          About 16 yo getting big motorbikes, I agree that’s insanity, because 16 yo:s are still children.

          “Darwing Award seeking behaviour” made me laugh. 🙂

          • Rocky Stonepebble

            You are an idiot, aren’t you?

      • Mark D

        That second part of your comment is what makes the difference. People in the US commonly go from a 10-speed bicycle to a Hayabusa with nothing in between. Even getting a couple months on a scooter or moped would help.

      • Rocky Stonepebble

        Where is “Here”?

        It’s not like that in the U.K. And, you are speaking English, so STFU or we’ll invade again.

        • Mikael Jansson

          Education is always useful. What’s your system?

          (Didn’t the wikings invade you once upon a time, by the way?j

  • gjw1992

    Sounds fantastic. 2-stroke triple would sound even better.

  • Travis Stanley

    So the 400 starts at $4,999? Holy Moses.
    I can’t believe that price.
    The R3 is $4,999 and this new 400 is lighter and faster, with impressive torque!

    • Al Weir

      R3 is lighter by 1kg. 167 vs 168kg. But ninja 400 should beat it with the extra HP’s!

      • Travis Stanley

        Yahama has the R3 listed as
        Wet Weight368 lb / 375 lb (ABS model)
        362lbs is the 400.

        They both have 3.7 gallons.

  • michael32853hutson@yahoo.com

    good price,looks to be a good bike! with the boost in compression it’s premium only,but a lot of folks run premium in any bike

    • Travis Stanley

      Good eye. This is no commuter bike. Lots of Super Sport DNA. I got to ride the R3, and around 7,000rpm she starts to wake up and by 10,000 the bike is really fun. This new 400 will be far better, thanks in large part to the torque.

      • michael32853hutson@yahoo.com

        it’s ironic,for me,because fairly soon i will be purchasing a bike for the first time in years,and i had allotted myself a nominal $5K for it,unfortunately i think i’m a little too old for it-but i haven’t ruled it entirely out either

        • Johnny Blue

          Go for it… forget the age. Do it while you still can!

        • Al Weir

          I’m buying a new bike next year too Michael at the age of 48 and it’s looking like this ninja will be the one. Apparently the riding position is pretty decent, not overly sporty.

          • michael32853hutson@yahoo.com

            yep i like to sit mostly up,neither crouched forward or leaning back too far-but i will admit to liking to have highway pegs for distance rides,too

    • ProDigit

      Hopefully they will create a touring bike, that takes regular.
      I hardly ever take premium fuel. Makes no sense in a budget bike!

      • michael32853hutson@yahoo.com

        that would be good too-but with 11.5 compression premium seems indicated;a stock Sportster,like the 883 is (i believe) 9.7 and can run on regular(though i have heard of burnt rear cylinders,scorched pistons,even holes) if you hear it pinging,that’s a warning

        • ProDigit

          An easy fix would be to use just slightly thicker gaskets, reducing the compression ratio.
          2stroke oil in fuel also increases ‘octane rating’, meaning it’ll combust less quickly (usually at a ratio of 1oz per 2 gal, to have 87oct fuel act more like 89-91 oct fuel); and keeping the revs low (don’t go too high).
          Would be cheaper than going hi-octane fuel.

          • michael32853hutson@yahoo.com

            thanks for the tip-good to know!

  • disqus_9GQw44dyM0

    Looks like a very fun bike…I’ll take mine naked please.
    This one does look more like a “performance” bike than targeted as a “beginner/grocery getter”.

  • Craig Hoffman

    All other bikes in its class are now obsolete. Game on…

    • Born to Ride

      Honda needs to lighten up the CBR500 and chuck the SV650 wheels for something more appropriate for its power and displacement. Then we’d have a hell of a shootout.

      • spiff

        Have you seen the cb400 super four? I think that thing is cool. https://youtu.be/N0b6e35-NZQ

        • Alaskan18724

          It is. I’ve wanted a CB1300 for years. As Mick Jagger said to the USA, “You can’t always get what you want.”

        • ProDigit

          ..but heavy…

      • ProDigit

        Totally agree!
        My FZ-07 is lighter in weight than the Honda CB500F!

    • Jacqueline

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  • Paulevalence

    what do you recon the fuel efficiency difference will be between this and the 300? Also fuel economy at 80mph, where the 300 is known do drone at a steady 9k rpm?

  • TronSheridan

    K seems to be firing on all cylinders lately. Putting out some nice bikes! H2 SX for me please.

  • kawatwo

    I know what I want for Christmas 🙂

  • Shlomi

    Add 2 cylinders, upgraded chassis / suspension and we get the 400 Japanese repli racers of the 90s!

  • Patriot159

    CC creep. About right though, 250, 400, 600, 750-900, 1000+ covers it.

    • Travis Stanley

      At first I thought the 250 would come to the USA, however after seeing the 400’s MSRP of $4,999, no way is the brand new 250 coming back State side.

      • michael32853hutson@yahoo.com

        like the Honda CBR250RR

      • Karen

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      • ProDigit

        250cc is still too small displacement to comfortably use in the USA on the streets. Excellent for the suburbs, but not enough power for the highways and interstates of over 75MPH.

  • Al Weir

    Check out new forum website at ninja400riders.com if interested, needs more peeps.

  • Travis Stanley

    I wonder if Kawi will continue to !ale too engines. One for the Versys X 300 and one for the Ninja 400?
    Seeing how the 400 takes Premium fuel, that may keep the X 300 going. Honda kept making the NC700X for years after the 750 came out.

    • spiff

      Man, you nailed it. They are going to get an extra generation from the 300 platform.

      • Travis Stanley

        Thanks for the reply Calvin… I mean spiff.
        It may take a while for Kawi to get around to making the Versys X 400. At $4,999, they will be working at full capacity just for the Ninja. I’m shocked by that amazingly low price.

        • Michael Hausknecht

          1988 FZR 400 was more motorcycle than this thing. 60 HP, 14,000 rpm, four 32 mm carbs, aluminum spar frame and swing arm, dual front discs, and 350 pounds. So much for progress.

  • Matt O

    I’m really envious of the guys who will buy these used in ten years. It makes the 250 I started on look so old.

  • Rocky Stonepebble

    I’ve got to admit: I was ready to buy a 650 Ninja this summer, then decided to put it off until 2018 (surgery). Then along came the EICMA bikes, like the 900 Cafe.

    But, after all of the upcoming road-tests this spring, I’m quite certain I shall get the 650.

    Mind you, I own an Rz350, and it is number 5(?) or six through the years, so I obviously like small, light goers.

    • StripleStrom

      I tend to like light and small displacement too. I don’t see myself buying any more bikes than what I have, but this would be something I would consider if I did. Now, if they would transplant that motor into the KLX frame, I might have to consider purchasing it.

      • Rocky Stonepebble

        Yeah … I’ve been looking at ADV bikes lately, but that is not me. Although, I’d love to have a KLR, and your’s sounds even better!

    • ProDigit

      Small makes sense.
      Interstates allow you to ride 65MPH, but you’ll never go faster than 90MPH on the streets.
      So a bike that does 110 (400-500cc) is probably all you need.
      Light weight makes it swift, and easy to handle, while giving you about the same acceleration as larger sized bikes.

      400cc is the sweet spot, but I wished they would not always start with new ideas on sports bikes, but do other bikes instead (like touring, naked, upright, standard, cruisers…).

  • Screamingsloth

    I fear they will sit unsold in the showrooms because every dealer I’ve visited immediately tries to up sell to a larger bike using the logic that it won’t be big enough in a very short period of time. I would love the heck out of it myself. Light weight and enough power to have lots of fun in the twisties.

  • ProDigit

    A naked ninjer pls!
    400ccs of goodies in an upright mini tourer, should give great gas mileage!

    • spiff

      The Z650 is pretty close.

      • ProDigit

        Yeah, but it’s still over 400LBS, and more power than you’ll need.
        400cc with the right gearing, is optimal for the 45-55MPH zone in final gear (eg: doing 3-3.5k rpm and having 90+MPG); as well as powerful enough to reach 100MPH without passing, or even hitting peak HP.

        • spiff

          I just googled it, 410lb (drt/wet?). Thats not too bad, but still 35 ish pounds more than this 400. That is more of a credit to the 400 than a knock at the 650. I wonder how close the real world power will be?

          • ProDigit

            Seeing that it’s a high rev, high compression engine, it should be close to 45HP/25LB FT Torque.