SEE UPDATE: 2023 Kawasaki ZX-4R
Hold on, you exclaim to yourself. Why is everyone getting so excited by the new Ninja 400? Wasn’t there a Ninja 400R just a few years back? Yes, you keened eyed observer of motorcycle lore, Canadian Kawasaki did indeed have a Ninja 400R in the early days of this decade but it was a quite different beast and its longevity wasn’t….long. The Ninja 400R was an effort to fill a gap. At the time there was a Ninja 250 and a Ninja 650 (it is worth noting that none of these Ninja’s were of the fire-breathing ZX variety – again, totally different beasts).
It was obvious back then as it is now that a 400cc class bike would be an excellent option and at the time would be a bump from the 250 and offer a broader riding experience. The hitch was that the 400R wasn’t really a new bike but rather a Ninja 650 with a 399cc engine. The engine was a liquid cooled, 8-valve parallel twin variety providing 43hp and 27ft-lbs torque. Those numbers are going to sound vaguely familiar when we tell you that the engine of the new 2018 Ninja 400 is a 399cc liquid cooled, 8 valve parallel twin claiming 48 hp and 28 ft-bs of torque.
So that would a 5hp increase and a smidgen more torque. Enough to get excited about? Depends on how excited you get. The big news is that the old Ninja 400R (based on a bike with a much larger engine and not so sporty aspirations) was a portly 448 lb curb weight. The new Ninja 400 in comparison is a lithe with much more sporting curb weight of 366 lbs – assuming both those curbs are comparable that is a whopping 82lbs lighter. With it’s slipper clutch, the Ninja 400 is obviously intended to be ridden a little harder. That weight difference alone is worth a few extra horsepower.
For interests sake, the Ninja 650R is available in the Kawasaki line-up. It has been on a bit of a diet itself and is down to a curb weight of 422 lbs with a 68hp output. That does make things a little more interesting. Of course there is also the Ninja ZX6 but like we said it is a completely different, less comfortable and fire breathing beast – designed for the track and not the real world. It weighs 422 lbs as well but comes with 129 hp.