Kawasaki Ninja 400 Ride Review – Vicki Gray
It is hard to believe the Kawasaki Ninja 400 KRT (Kawasaki Racing Team) edition is not a larger displacement sport bike. It looks like one and it rides like one. Frankly, I don’t know how Kawasaki do it. As you may know they discontinued the popular Ninja 300 to replace it with the 400. And this Ninja 400 is incredibly fun to ride and provides more performance clout than any 400 I’ve had the chance to experience. It’s been entirely reworked from back to front, from the ground up. Kawasaki improved literally everything, and they did it without raising the price!
New Assist & Slipper Clutch
You’re getting an incredibly light compact clutch with less rigid operating plates offers a 20% lighter lever pull. Complementing the extremely light feel at the lever, the new clutch has a wider engagement range giving more control in the shifts. All in all, this is a feature great for any commuter as it is easy on the clutch hand if stuck in rush hour traffic. Plus it makes finding neutral a breeze.
Compact, Lightweight, Stable and Manoeuvrable
It’s lighter, stiffer, and handles better. Designing the engine from scratch allowed the engine layout to be optimised for size, weight and efficiency. Numerous weight reduction efforts keep weight to a minimum. The wheelbase is shorter by 35.6mm to help quicken steering while the swingarm is longer (by 10mm) to aid rear-wheel traction and suspension action.
The Ninja 400 weighs 164 kg and with its slim design facilitates both control and ease of riding. All this together make it an easy choice for both new and experienced riders.
New Radiator Fan Cover
A cover for the radiator fan directs engine heat away from the rider, again great on hot days when you might be in city traffic. Hot air is now mostly routed out to the sides through holes in the fairing.
Rigid Front Fork
The rigid ø41 mm telescopic fork delivers better suspension action. The front wheel feels really planted, directional changes are made easily – even when the bike is fairly upright.
With regard to fit the Ninja 400, its higher handlebar and a more forward foot peg position allowed me to control the bike while also offering comfort. The clip-on handlebars offer sporty, slightly down positioning. And clip-ons are great on a bike as they can be adjusted to your reach.
I found my sit position gave me an easy reach to the ground. The seat is slim and just 785 mm. Actually 30 mm narrower than the 300 Ninja. Additionally, it narrows at the base of 14 litre fuel tank – making it even easier to grip the tank for comfort and control. Its A 90 mm low-rebound urethane seat cushion made for a solid comfy ride. Though I did find myself sliding forward during stops, I may need a little adjustment to the foot peg set up.
The foot pegs are slightly forward, contributing to a comfortable riding position, and are out-of-the-way when you put your feet down.
It was a windy and gusty day when I took the Ninja 400 for a ride. I was expecting things to get buzzy in sixth gear and to be affected by its light-weighted-ness in the wind gusts. The bike’s larger-volume bodywork does offer great wind protection, further contributing to ride comfort. The roll-on power was there when I asked which made merging with expressway traffic – easy, quick and safe. It cruises at traffic speed in six gear and though you might think you’ve reached the end of the power, don’t be fooled by the high rev sound as there’s plenty more to be had.
Superb Stopping Power
The Ninja 400 actually has the largest brake disc size in this class. Its semi-floating front disc offers sure stopping power. A rigid new front brake master cylinder helps eliminate ineffective (idle) stroke, contributing to controllability, while carefully selected brake hose dimensions and material contribute to brake touch.
This is one fabulous ride! The Kawasaki Ninja 400 is an impressive bike and really fun to handle. Aside from its 400 decal the Kawasaki Ninja 400 KRT appears as a 600 cc and has enough sporting ability to keep you entertained for years. Many think that a smaller cc bike is a starter and that you’ll outgrow it. Not the case. Ignore the advice from “armchair experts” and on Internet forums that say you need a 600 cc to be a “real rider” or that a small bike is going to get boring. Smaller cc motorcycles have huge advantages – lower insurance, less fuel consumption, and often higher cornering abilities. And this Kawasaki Ninja 400 is a performer with a price you’ll be able to afford.
It’s a pleasure to ride in traffic, on the expressway and on winding roads where in all cases – I felt excellent stability. The Ninja’s mounted Dunlop Sportmax tires grip fabulously and the suspension has adequate support for the assertive riding demands made of them. The power and sound of the high-revving engine is exciting! (Did I say that already?)
In the beginning I struggled with the clutch lever and gear shift timings, as it’s so light that occasionally it was hard to tell where free play ended and tension began. But I did eventually get the hang of it.
And hey, Ana Carrasco won the World Championship on the very same model making her the first woman in motorsport history to win a world championship.
So the Kawasaki Ninja 400 is – all that!
Other Favourite Features
- Twin LED headlamps produce strong white light lighting meaning you can see the road and you can be well seen by other vehicles.
- Under-seat storage space has two levels for a more efficient use of space. The space is sufficiently large to accommodate a U-lock.
- Front seat can be easily removed by pulling a cable located under the rear seat, offering easy access to the battery.
- Kawasaki genuine accessories include: large windshield (clear/smoke),DC outlet, ERGO-FIT high seat (+30 mm), tank bag, tank pad, radiator screen, frame sliders, wheel rim tape, pillion seat cover, helmet lock, U-lock.
- Convenient hooks built into the heel guards of passenger foot pegs, and on the underside of the tail cowl facilitate tying down luggage with bungee cords or nets.
Find a Kawasaki dealer near you and take a test ride!
By Vicki Gray
Editor, Founder MOTORESS; basic, advanced and race motorcycle instructor; certified for over 30 years. Motorcycle on-road and race licensing examiner. Trained, coached, examined riders for European, Caribbean and North American training institutes.