2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 Review of Specs / R&D + NEW Changes! | Performance Comparison VS CBR & R3 Sport Bikes

– Kawasaki steps up their game with the Ninja 400 against Honda’s CBR500R / CBR300R Sport Bikes! –
2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 Sport Bike Detailed Review

It’s 2018 and when it comes to the ever growing small cc sport bike segment – Kawasaki says checkmate to Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki etc with the introduction of their new 2018 Ninja 400 that is replacing the Ninja 300 this year (not to be confused with the Ninja 400R). The smaller sport bike market was booming decades ago but then died off to which we were left with Kawasaki pretty much being the only name in the game here in the USA with the Ninja 250 that ran for more than a decade without a single change. Then in 2008, Kawasaki decided it was time to finally throw some changes at the Ninja 250 and upgrade its styling so it didn’t look like a sport bike that was still stuck in the 1990’s. Honda took notice and decided it was finally time to do something, they were probably growing tired of letting Kawasaki steal all of their lunch money so Honda answered back with the introduction of the CBR250R in 2011. Kawasaki then returned fire and in 2013 decided to throw even more changes at the small displacement Ninja and bump it from the 250 to a 300. Fast forward to 2015 and Honda decided to play again and made a few changes to the CBR250R while also bumping up its engine size and in return creating the CBR300R. Yamaha decided they were tired of missing out on sales for the USA so they decided to take their R25 that we never saw here on this side of the pond and create what we now know as the R3 to compete against Honda with their CBR300R and Kawasaki with the Ninja 300. 

  • Quick Key 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 Facts / Specs:
    • 2018 Ninja 400 Release Date: Available now
    • 2018 Ninja 400 Horsepower: 45 HP @ 10,000 RPM
    • 2018 Ninja 400 Torque: 28 ft/lb TQ @ 8,000 RPM
    • 2018 Ninja 400 MPG: TBA
    • 2018 Ninja 400 Weight: 366 lbs
    • 2018 Ninja 400 Price / MSRP: $4,999
      • 2018 Ninja 400 ABS Price / MSRP: $5,299 – $5,499
      • 2018 Ninja 400 KRT Edition Price / MSRP: $5,499
    • 2018 Ninja 400 Colors: Metallic Spark Black, Candy Plasma Blue, Pearl Solar Yellow / Pearl Storm Grey / Ebony, Lime Green / Ebony (color variations on each model broken down below)
    • 2018 Ninja 400 Seat Height: 30.9 in.
    • 2018 Ninja 400 VS 2017 Ninja 400 Changes? Yes. Technically, there wasn’t a 2017 Ninja 400 as it was a 300 and we’ll break down all of the changes below
  • Quick Ninja 400 VS Competition Comparison

How does the Ninja 400 stack up against the competition like the CBR300R, CBR500R, CB500F from Honda and the R3 from Yamaha? Here’s a quick breakdown of their performance numbers stacked up against each other…

  • 2018 Ninja 400 HP – 45 horsepower
    • 2018 Ninja 400 Weight – 366 lbs
      • 2018 Ninja 400 Power-to-Weight Ratio – 0.123
        • 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 Price / MSRP – $4,999
  • 2018 CBR500R HP – 49.6 horsepower
    • 2018 CBR500R Weight – 423 lbs
      • 2018 CBR500R Power-to-Weight Ratio – 0.117
        • 2018 Honda CBR500R Price / MSRP – $6,599
  • 2018 CBR300R HP – 30.4 horsepower
    • 2018 CBR300R Weight – 357 lbs
      • 2018 CBR300R Power-to-Weight Ratio – 0.085
        • 2018 Honda CBR300R Price / MSRP – $4,699
  • 2018 R3 HP – 36.7 horsepower
    • 2018 R3 Weight – 368 lbs
      • 2018 R3 Power-to-Weight Ratio – 0.099
        • 2018 Yamaha R3 Price / MSRP – $4,999

The numbers above are why I always preach that you can’t just go off of a motorcycles cc engine size to determine what will be the ‘right’ bike for you and the performance you’re looking for. You would think that the larger engine size on the CBR500R would make it a clear winner over the smaller bikes when it comes to sheer performance but that’s not the case. We could dive even more into the nitty-gritty details and stack their torque numbers and at what RPM their peak horsepower and torque come into play but I’ll save you guys from having to read even more of a novel than what’s already on this page.

Now we’re here at present day after that quick history lesson on how the Ninja came to be and how it went from the Ninja 250 to the now all-new Ninja 400 for 2018. Is Kawasaki creeping up too high with the engine size to where it’s bumping itself out of the category it helped create? When you compare the Ninja 400 versus the CBR500R and CB500F models from Honda, is that going to hurt Kawasaki since they have done away with the 250 / 300 class variants? Only time will tell… What do you guys think though?

Now that we’re done with the quick history lesson, let’s take a deep dive into the 2018 Ninja 400 and go over all of the nitty-gritty details and see exactly what Kawasaki changed this year as there is more than just slapping a larger engine in the bike and calling it a day so-to-say.

The stacked and always competitive small displacement sportbike class once again has a new leader by which all others will be judged: the all-new Kawasaki Ninja 400 and Ninja 400 ABS. The sporty, lightweight, nimble handling platform of the Ninja 400 offers riders plenty of excitement, while also maintaining its reputation for appealing to a broad range of customers whether your’e a new rider looking for an affordable and “tame” bike or even an experienced rider that just likes to have fun on smaller cc motorcycles. Horsepower doesn’t always = fun. It took me many and I mean many years to learn that.

As we talked about above, Kawasaki is no stranger to leading the way in performance and technology in the small displacement sportbike segment, one which Kawasaki pioneered with the Ninja 250R motorcycle.

2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 Sport Bike Detailed Review

The all-new 2018 Ninja 400 encapsulates the winning formula of its Ninja predecessors and a decade’s worth of small displacement, sportbike knowledge of how to build the optimal motorcycle. One that not only has stunning looks, but also increased engine performance, improved handling, and lighter weight, all to get to the head of the class. The Ninja 400 was developed to suit a wide range of riders, allowing them to have a bike that provides plenty of excitement while still feeling in control. Thanks to its efficient design, the new compact, lightweight engine provides a class leading power to weight ratio. The power delivery was designed to be smooth and manageable, with abundant low-end torque to give smooth throttle control for all riders. Complementing the performance and handling of the new Ninja 400 is the sharp looking Ninja sportbike styling, designed to catch the eye of even the most seasoned of riders. 

The newest addition to the Ninja family, the Ninja 400 is packed with premium class leading components and advanced technology, such as the 310 mm front disc and 41mm inverted fork. Supplying the power to let the good times roll is an all-new 399cc parallel twin four-stroke engine, which is paired with an all-new lightweight trellis frame.

  • Highlights of New 2018 Ninja 400 Changes:
    • Powerful, Rider-Friendly 399cc Parallel Twin
    • Lightweight Trellis Frame, providing nimble, confident handling
    • Significantly Lower Weight
    • Relaxed, Sporty Riding Position
    • Easy Reach to the Ground
    • Superb Ride Comfort & Excellent Wind Protection

Ninja 400 Engine & Transmission Changes

2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 VS Ninja 300 Performance Comparison / Specs: Horsepower & Torque + MPG!

The Ninja 400 features a compact, lightweight, and efficient 399cc liquid-cooled four-stroke parallel twin engine. The increased displacement comes by way of the 70.00 mm x 51.8 mm bore & stroke. Performance increases were also achieved through airbox and intake modifications, as well as engine internals.

Significant performance gains are due to the new downdraft intake, which increases performance especially at high rpms and larger air box, which offers increased intake efficiency. The downdraft intake utilizes the shortest and most direct path for air to enter the cylinder, which improves cylinderfilling efficiency and contributes to increased engine power, especially at high rpm. Airbox volume has been significantly increased to 5.8 liters. The new airbox features revised rigidity at the top of the airbox, which eliminates unwanted noise, enabling riders to more clearly hear the engine’s intake note when accelerating. Different height intake funnels contribute to the engine’s smooth response by allowing torque valleys to be tuned out.

Starting from scratch, a new engine design allowed Kawasaki engineers to build the optimal performance engine with high grade components, such as the new 32 mm throttle body that helps flow the greater volume of air from the revised intake, contributing to strong high-rpm performance. The throttle body butterfly valves are oval-shaped to allow their closed position to be set at an angle, allowing for quicker throttle response as the valves open from initial valve rotation. Intake and exhaust valve diameters were chosen for optimal high-rpm performance. The intake valves are 27.5 mm, while the exhaust valves are 23.5 mm. The new intake design allowed for the injectors to be positioned closer to the throttle valves, enabling them to spray fuel directly onto the valves, which increases combustion efficiency and results in a linear throttle response. Kawasaki’s modern fuel-injection tuning allowed for the elimination of the sub-throttles on the Ninja 400 providing for additional weight savings.

The engine design of the Ninja 400 contributes to the lightweight of the bike and was achieved through a number of components. The aluminum die-cast cylinder with an open-deck design offers excellent heat dissipation and contributes to low engine weight; it is also sleeveless and features plated bores. The cylinder has been tilted forward 20 degrees to aid in achieving a short engine. Complementing the new cylinder design is a flatter piston crown with reduced squish, which contributes to the higher 11.5:1 compression ratio. Oil jets help cool the underside of the pistons to allow for a lighter piston design. Also aiding in the creation of a lighter and shorter engine was the decision to move the cam chain to the outside of the engine and the primary reduction gear line inside; it also shifts engine volume forward so that the rear of the engine could be slim. Forged camshafts, something rarely found on small displacement machines, were also utilized to contribute to the weight reduction efforts for the Ninja 400, saving nearly a half-pound. Additionally, a completely revised layout for the cooling system minimizes external piping and saves weight.

To enable smooth and seamless shifting, a close gear ratio was chosen for the transmission, with gears progressing easily from one to the next. Complementing the transmission is a new and more compact assist & slipper clutch, with less rigid operating plates that creates a lighter feel at the lever; the new clutch has a wider engagement range, enabling improved control.

When excessive engine braking occurs as a result of quick or accidental downshifts, the slipper cam comes into play, forcing the clutch hub and operating plate apart, which relieves pressure on the clutch plates to reduce backtorque and help prevent the rear tire from hopping and skidding.

Innovative Kawasaki technology such as the new radiator fan cover, which is located behind the radiator, directs hot air out to the sides away from the rider, reducing rider discomfort. Redirecting the hot air also helps keep the tank, frame and other parts that contact the rider cooler. The new heat management system was designed using Computational Fluid Dynamics analysis, and unlike the previous version it requires no parts to direct airflow inside the engine compartment.

Ninja 400 Chassis / Frame Changes

Detailed 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 Frame / Chassis Pictures

Detailed 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 Frame / Chassis Pictures

Kawasaki’s advanced dynamic rigidity analysis research was utilized in designing the trellis frame of the Ninja 400 to ensure optimum rigidity and produce nimble supersport handling characteristics. A rigid mounted engine with short mounting brackets was used as a stressed member in the frame to increase rigidity. The new chassis has a supersport-style design with a shortwheelbase and long swingarm, which is complemented by a steep caster angle that delivers sporty natural handling. A shortened wheelbase on the new Ninja 400 significantly improves the handling compared to its predecessor and the overall wheelbase measurement for the Ninja 400 is 53.9 inches, nearly an inch shorter than the Ninja 300. The new frame & engine design contributes significantly to the bike’s low curb mass.

While it was important to decrease the weight and wheelbase of the new chassis design, it was also crucial to maintain the supersport handling characteristics, by adding length to the swingarm. Additional weight savings came as a result of the swingarm and mounting plate design. The die-cast aluminum swingarm mounting plate eliminates the need to add heavy additional cross member pieces to the frame because it bolts to the back of the engine, allowing the pivot shaft to go through the plate and mount the swingarm directly to the engine. Forming the swingarm from square tubing eliminates the need for additional gusseting, while maintaining rigidity and keeping weight to a minimum.

Additional weight concessions were made through slimmer seat design, a new wheel design, material trimmed from upper triple clamp, front fender brace eliminated, and new heat management system that uses fewer parts. All of these design improvements helped to create a bike that weighs in at only 362 pounds, a weight that is right in line with the smaller displacement models in its class, and is actually 19.7 pounds lighter than the Ninja 300, all while improving handling and performance.

Ninja 400 Suspension Changes

Complementing the ride comfort of the all-new trellis frame is a new larger 41 mm telescopic front fork, which provides riders with a much improved front end feel and increased traction, facilitating direction changes even when the bike is fairly upright. Thanks to design of the bigger fork, the front fender bracecould be eliminated, helping to shave additional weight off the bike. A steeper caster angle improves the nimble handling feeling of the Ninja 400. Also aiding in the pursuit of improved handling and comfort is a new linkage and rear suspension settings. The shock features 5-way preload adjustability, which allows riders to adjust the stiffness and ride height to suit body weight or when riding two-up. The shock is easily adjustable with the on-board tool kit. The overall the suspension of the Ninja 400 offers the plushness of a much larger displacement bike. 

Ninja 400 Brakes & Wheels Changes

2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 ABS Review / Specs | Anti-Lock Brakes

To enhance handling and performance, the Ninja 400 comes equipped with a largest in class 310 mm semi-floating petal front disc, which is gripped by a balanced actuation dual-piston caliper. A newly designed, front brake master cylinder helps eliminate ineffective stroke for increased control. Handling the rear braking duties is a 220 mm petal disc, which is slowed by a new dual-piston caliper with larger 27 mm pistons. The front and rear brake hose material and dimensions were carefully selected to offer excellent brake feedback. The Ninja 400 ABS features Nissin’s latest ABS control unit.

The wheels and tires also follow the same weight savings theme applied throughout the build of the Ninja 400. The stylish and lightweight 5-spoke star-pattern wheels offer lateral rigidity and contribute to the bike’s sporty and lightweight image. The wheel design is a product of technology gained in World Superbike competition. The lightweight Dunlop radial tires on the Ninja 400 contribute to both agile handling and riding comfort. The 150 mm rear tire provides a more aggressive looking rear end for the all-new Ninja.

Ninja 400 Ergonomics / Comfort Changes

2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 Sport Bike Detailed Review

The relaxed rider triangle of the Ninja 400 accommodates a wide array of riders and riding situations rather than featuring an aggressive riding position that compromises comfort. The Ninja 400 features an elevated handlebar and a more forward footpeg position that allow the rider to control the bike while also offering rider comfort. The clip-on handlebars offer sporty, slightly downward positioning. The slightly forward positioning of the supersport-style aluminum footpegs contributes to direct feel, good controllability, and comfortable riding position of the Ninja 400.

2018 Kawasaki 400 Fuel Tank Size, MPG + More!

The design of the bodywork on the Ninja 400 offers increased wind protection and ride comfort. Rather than completely blocking the wind, the fairing promotes clean airflow around the rider and helps to pull hot air out of the engine compartment. The all-new sleek and slim 3.7-gallon fuel tank design enables good contact with the bike for increased control, all while helping to shave additional weight from the bike.

The seat height and how it narrows at the front makes it even easier for riders to get their feet to the ground. A deeper seat pan allows for a 90 mm low-rebound urethane seat cushion, offering improved ride comfort.

Ninja 400 Styling Changes

All-New 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 Review / Ride + Specs!

New 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 300 Replacement = Ninja 400 | Detailed Review / Buyer's Guide

Head-turning good looks have always been synonymous with the Ninja line of motorcycles, and the new Ninja 400 is no exception. It carries Ninja styling from the mighty Ninja H2 and Ninja ZX-10R, such as the chin spoilers at the bottom of the front cowl, triple peak motif of the tail cowl, and the LED taillight design. Its bodywork packs the punch of a much larger machine, which is reinforced by its superb fit and finish.

The clean and sharp design of the new front cowl reflects the Ninja 400’s enhanced sport performance, while also instantly identifying it as a Kawasaki Ninja. Also adding to the sharp looks are slim LED headlamps that feature dual low and high beams, as well as an LED position lamp. Built-in front turn signals have a clean, unitized appearance. Sharp rear turn signals complement the aggressive Ninja styling; both front and rear turn signals utilize clear lenses for a high-quality look. The mirrors feature new stays and are positioned higher and further apart. The bike also features a sporty compact supersport-style fuel tank, with clean and aggressive lines, and a new race-inspired minimalist front fender design that eliminates the need for a fender brace.

High-grade Cockpit

2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 Gauges / Redline / Speedometer

Kawasaki engineers went to great lengths to ensure that the cockpit of the Ninja 400 was as clean and tidy as possible. The sophisticated instrument design features a large analog tachometer flanked by warning lamps on the right side, a gear position indicator, and a multi-function negative display LCD screen on the left.

The gear position indicator enhances confidence while also lending to the Ninja 400’s sporty image. In addition to the digital speedometer and gear position indicator, display functions include: odometer, dual trip meters, remaining range, current and average fuel consumption, external temperature, coolant temperature, clock and the Economical Riding Indicator. The Economical Riding Indicator appears on the LCD screen to indicate favorable fuel consumption, notifying riders when they are operating within the optimal conditions to maximize their fuel efficiency.

In addition to the clean and sporty look of the gauges of the Ninja 400; a machined upper triple clamp and finished fork caps with an alumite finished were selected for their sporty aesthetics.

2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 Handlebars / Gauge Cluster / Speedometer

Ninja 400 Prices / Options / Model Variations & Colors

When it comes to model options for the Kawasaki Ninja 400 in 2018, you have a few flavors to choose from. There are four models in the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 motorcycle family. These include the standard (non-ABS) model which are available in two colors: Candy Plasma Blue or Metallic Spark Black. The Kawasaki Ninja 400 ABS, which comes in Metallic Spark Black or Pearl Solar Yellow / Pearl Storm Grey / Ebony. The Ninja 400 ABS Kawasaki Racing Team (KRT) Edition is available in a striking combination of Lime Green and Ebony. The KRT Edition offers an exclusive look inspired by the World Superbike racing team and features Lime Green/Ebony bodywork.

  • 2018 Ninja 400 Price / MSRP: $4,999
    • 2018 Ninja 400 Colors:
      • Metallic Spark Black
      • Candy Plasma Blue
  • 2018 Ninja 400 ABS Price / MSRP: $5,299 – * $5,499
    • 2018 Ninja 400 ABS Colors:
      • Metallic Spark Black
      • * Pearl Solar Yellow / Pearl Storm Grey / Ebony
  • 2018 Ninja 400 KRT Edition Price / MSRP: $5,499
    • 2018 Ninja 400 ABS KRT Colors:
      • Lime Green / Ebony

Photo Gallery / Pictures | 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400

Videos | 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400

Technical Specs | 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400

2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 Specifications
Length x Width x Height 78.3 in. x 28.0 in. x 44.1 in.
Seat Height 30.9 in.
Wheelbase 53.9 in.
Curb Weight 366 lbs
Engine Type 399cc liquid-cooled, DOHC, 2-cylinder
Engine Horsepower 45 HP @ 10,000 RPM
Engine Torque 28 ft/lb TQ @ 8,000 RPM
Cylinder Arrangement In-line 2-cylinder
TCBI with digital advance
Total Displacement 399 cm3
Bore x Stroke 70.0mm x 51.8mm
Compression Ratio 11.5:1
Transmission 6-speed, return shift
Final Drive Sealed Chain
Fuel Tank Capacity 3.7 gal
Fuel Delivery DFI with 32mm throttle bodies
Tire Size (Front / Rear) 120/70R15 / 190/55R17
Suspension (front) 41mm Telescopic fork / 4.7 in. travel
Suspension (rear) Bottom-link Uni-Trak swingarm adjustable preload / 5.1 in. travel
Front Brakes 310mm semi-floating single disc (optional ABS)
Rear Brakes 220mm single disc
Ground Clearance 5.5 in.
Rake / Trail 24.7 / 3.6 in.
Frame Type Trellis, high-tensile steel
Warranty 12 Month Limited Warranty (optional 12-48 month extensions)

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