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

Kevin Duke
by Kevin Duke

The small-displacement sportbike class gets one-upped

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.

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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.

Exclusive Ninja 400 dyno run shows a lot of ponies and an impressively flat torque curve from its 399cc parallel-Twin motor. That’s nearly a 30% increase in horsepower over the Ninja 300!

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).

The dominance of the Ninja 400’s engine (dark green trace) is evident in this horsepower chart, dwarfing its 300cc competition and revving to a top-end pull that even surpasses the output of Honda’s 471cc CBR500R. Note also how the Ninja keeps pace or exceeds the 373cc Single of KTM’s RC390.

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

Small-displacement sportbike engines are generally known for weak torque production, but the Ninja 400 is going to change that assumption.

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.

The Ninja 400 is also available in this Pearl Solar Yellow/Pearl Storm Grey/Ebony colorway.

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.

Kawasaki Ninja 400

Kawasaki Ninja 300


Honda CBR300R

Honda CBR500R

Yamaha YZF-R3

MSRPNon-ABS: $4,999
ABS: $5,299-$5,499
Non-ABS: $4,999
ABS: $5,299-$5,599
$5,499$4,699$6,599Non-ABS: $4,999
ABS: $5,299
Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-stroke Parallel-Twin, 8 valvesLiquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-stroke Parallel-Twin, 8 valvesLiquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-stroke Single, 4 valvesLiquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-stroke Single, 4 valvesLiquid-cooled, DOHC, parallel-Twin, four-stroke, 8 valvesLiquid-cooled, DOHC inline twin-cylinder; 8 valves
Bore x stroke70.0 x 51.8 mm62.0 x 49.0mm89.0mm x 60.0mm76.0mm x 63.0mm67.0mm x 66.8mm68.0mm x 44.1mm
Fuel injection: ø32 mm x 2Fuel injection: ø32 mm x 2Electronic Fuel InjectionElectronic Fuel InjectionElectronic Fuel InjectionFuel Injection
IgnitionTCBI with digital advanceTCBI with digital advanceDigital ignition timing adjustmentDigital transistorized with electronic advanceDigital transistorized with electronic advanceTCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
44.0 hp at 10000 rpm34.6 hp at 11100 rpm34.6 hp at 11100 rpm26.3 hp at 8400 rpm43.0 hp at 8400 rpm35.3 hp at 10800 rpm
25.0 lb-ft. at 8000 rpm17.6 lb-ft. at 9700 rpm17.6 lb-ft. at 9700 rpm17.5 lb-ft. at 6700 rpm29.1 lb-ft. at 6800 rpm18.9 lb-ft. at 9200 rpm
ClutchWet multi-disc, assist and slipper clutchWet multi-disc, assist and slipper clutchWet multi-disc, slipper clutchWet multi-disc clutchWet multi-disc clutchWet multiplate clutch
FrameTrellis, high-tensile steelSemi-double cradle, high-tensile steelSteel trellisSteelSteelDiamond-type steel
41 mm telescopic fork with 4.7 inches travel37mm hydraulic telescopic fork/4.7 in travelWP 43mm inverted fork. 4.9 in travel37mm conventional fork. 4.7 in travel41mm convenional fork. 4.3 in travel41mm KYB telescopic fork; 5.1-in travel
Bottom-Link Uni-Trak, gas-charged shock with adjustable preload with 5.5 inches travelUni-Trak with 5-way adjustable preload/5.2 inWP shock. Preload adjustable. 5.9 in travelPro-Link single shock. Preload adjustable. 4.1 in travelPro-Link single shock. Preload adjustable. 4.7 in travelKYB single shock, adjustable preload; 4.9-in travel
Front BrakeSingle semi-floating ø310 mm petal disc with single balanced actuation dual-piston caliper, ABS availableSingle 290mm petal-type disc with 2-piston hydraulic caliper, ABS availableSingle 300mm disc. 4-piston, radial-mount caliper, ABSSingle 296mm disc. Two-piston caliperSingle 320mm wave disc. Two-piston caliper298mm hydraulic disc; ABS model available
Single 220 mm petal disc with dual-piston caliper, ABS availableSingle 220mm petal-type disc with 2-piston hydraulic caliper, ABS availableSingle 230mm disc. Single-piston caliper, ABSSingle 220mm disc. Single-piston caliperSingle 240mm wave disc. Single-piston caliper220mm hydraulic disc; ABS model available
110/70R17 M/C 54H110/70×17110/70-17110/70-17120/70-17110/70-17
150/60R17 M/C 66H140/70×17150/60-17140/70-17160/60-17140/70-17
Rake/Trail24.7°/3.6 inches27°/3.7 inches23.5°/NA25.3°/3.9 inches25.5°/4.1 inches25.0°/3.7 inches
Wheelbase53.9 inches55.3 inches52.8 inches54.3 inches55.5 inches54.3 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 inches30.7 in30.9 in30.9 in
3.7 gallons4.5 gallons2.6 gal3.4 gal4.1 gal3.7 gal
Available ColorsPearl Solar Yellow/Pearl Storm Gray/Ebony, Metallic Spark Black, Candy Plasma Blue, KRT EditionCandy Plasma Blue/Pearl Blizzard WhiteKTM Orange/White/BlackRed, Matte Black MetallicPearl WhiteRaven, Vivid White, Team Yamaha Blue
Kevin Duke
Kevin Duke

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7 of 76 comments
  • Arvin. Arvin. on Feb 12, 2018

    I'm still caught between the cbr 500r and the ninja 400. any help or info would be great!! thanks !

    • See 4 previous
    • Brian Clasby Brian Clasby on Feb 14, 2018

      Also, it seems like the Honda is having a hard time selling them. There is a brand new one sitting in my local dealer for $4500.

  • Kahless Kahless on Feb 14, 2018

    30% more from about 30% more displacement. who knew?