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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey folks,

I thought I'd post this in here in case any of you north of the border are contemplating moving up to the new 400R. Hopefully Kawasaki will offer this to our American friends in the future if the bike is a sales success here in Canada.

I've had the bike for almost 2 weeks now, and have put on 330kms mostly commuting to work and running errands around town.

I'll continue to post here as I get more time on the bike, and if I encounter any problems of issues with it.



2011 NINJA 400R REVIEW

Ok, before I start with the review, let me give a little background on my 2 wheeled experience. I've been riding for the last 26 years on everything from a Honda Elite 125 to a CBR 600F3 and F4, a CBR 125, and a BMW G650 XCountry. I'm not a motorcycle expert, just an enthusiast. The majority of my riding in the last few years has been commuting to work, which is 18km round trip on mostly 100kph highway. I also do some riding with my friends, who are cruiser and adventurer touring riders, no sportbike guys here. I'm also 6ft and 190lbs.



SPECIFICATIONS

MODEL Kawasaki Ninja 400R

PRICE $6999.00 CDN

ENGINE Liquid-cooled four-valve parallel-twin

HORSEPOWER (CLAIMED) 44 @ 9,500 rpm

TORQUE (CLAIMED) 27 lb-ft at 7,500 rpm

DISPLACEMENT 399 cc

BORE AND STROKE 68.4 x 54.3 mm

COMPRESSION RATIO 11:1

FUEL DELIVERY Fuel-injection

TRANSMISSION Six-speed

SUSPENSION Telescopic 41 mm fork; single shock adjustable for preload

WHEELBASE 1,410 mm (55.5 in.)

RAKE/TRAIL 25 degrees/106 mm

BRAKES Twin front 300 mm discs with twin-piston calipers; rear 220 mm disc with single-piston caliper

TIRES 120/70-17 front; 160/60-17 rear

WEIGHT (CLAIMED) 203 kg (448 lb)

SEAT HEIGHT 790 mm (31.1 in.)

FUEL CAPACITY 15.5 L





Why a 400? I went to high school in the late 80's when the RZ350, NS400, and the 500 Interceptor were popular, and I loved those bikes, but unfortunately my parents were dead set against anything like that coming into our house (when you are under my roof you will follow my rules). What do you do when you are 16? Hang out at bike shops, drool over bike mags, and dream a lot. So maybe I'm trying to relive a lost youth in my 40's. Also the 400R was $1200 cheaper than the 650, and my insurance is $200/year cheaper than my old G650.

I bought the bike at the Power Store in Saint John, New Brunswick, great bunch of guys, and were a real pleasure to deal with. Prompt returning phone calls and emails. The bike retails for $6999, and I got it for $6499.

The bike is fuel injected so there is no choke to mess with, and it fires up on the first push of the starter. The bike is very quiet, which is good when I'm headed off to work in the wee hours of the morning.

The bike has a fairly low seat height, and the saddle is firm, I'm thinking for long journeys I'll be using my Airhawk seat cushion. I have short legs for my height so distance to the footpegs is comfortable for me, if you have long legs, it might be a tight fit. The reach to the bars is nice, with a good upright position, very similiar to the FZ6R. The one thing I don't like are the mirrors, all I get is a nice view of my elbows, I have to tuck in my elbows to see whats behind me. It's because the mirrors are mounted low on the fairing.

Weather protection is good behind the windscreen, and the speedo and gauges are easy to see. The tach and fuel gauge are a bar graph, and there is odo, two tripmeters, plus a clock. I really like the set up. I fly airplanes for a living, and all the instrumentation in our aircraft is graphical, so I'm used to looking at that kind of presentation instead of typical dials. Some may not like it.



So what's it like to ride? In a nutshell, fun. The first 4 gears are pretty short, so accelerating up the road requires a lot of shifting. The bike moves along rather quickly, and generates good power in the 4000 to 7000 rpm range. It seems happy in that range, and is great for around town riding. The bike is fairly peppy, responses well to a twist of the throttle, but don't expect any arm snatching acceleration like a 600 supersport. On the highway it cruises comfortably at 120kph and 7000rpm, however more than once I went looking for another gear accelerating to speed. Passing slower traffic is not a problem, and I wouldn't hesitate taking this bike for an extended highway trip. Wind buffeting is noticeable, but tolerable. I may try out the Kawasaki spoiler windshield that adds an additional 2" of height when I go on a big trip.


The bike handles very well, it's light and flickable and easy to manoeuvre at slow speeds, while still remaining stable and well planted on the road. It's confidence inspiring. I rode the bike in the rain A LOT, and never did it feel like I was going to lose traction, even under heavy braking.

Overall the brakes have a pretty good feel, and they bring the bike to a stop rather quickly when needed. I am a big believer in ABS, and I wish all bikes had them. Maybe the next version of the Ninja’s will come ABS equipped.



Our roads in the Saint John area are in terrible condition, ruts, potholes, etc. The suspension is a little harsh over the rough stuff, and it gives you a good full body jolt. However once on the smooth pavement it's really nice and of course aids in the nice handling of the big 400. Engine vibration is very minimal, it’s a little noticeable at 7000rpm, but then it goes away as engine RPM continue to increase. It’s not as smooth as 4-cylinder bike, but much nicer than the single I just had.



I can't comment on the fuel economy just yet, I have 250kms on the first full tank, so I'll have to update that later.

If you are looking for an economical fun commuter, or all around affordable sporty bike with usable power this would be one. I'd definitely recommend it to a confident beginner that is on the bigger side, that would like a full sized bike.



The more I ride the bike the more I love it. The big 400 just does everything well, without the crazy power and acceleration that can get you in trouble, either with the law or put you in the ICU. I and most riders don't have the skills to ride a 600 supersport to its limits, and public roads are not the place to attempt it either, so this 400 is most bike most riders will ever need.

Once my kids are older and don’t want to be around dear ol’ dad all the time, I’ll get a bigger bike for some long distance touring, maybe a Concourse or 1200RT, however the 400 will remain in the garage as the go to commuting bike.
 

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Nice review Nova!! Look forward to hearing more of your travels!
It's interesting that your bike has not been fitted with ABS as most markets have ABS fitted to the 650R(Except of course the US!!! They always miss out!!:p)
Have you taken a 650R for a ride? I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the difference between the two.
Also, when you get a few minutes, could you possibly take a close up of the exhaust for me? It looks like you have an insert of some kind in there that's not on the 650 models.

Thanks again and congrats on the new ride!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Glad you folks like the review. I have a big ride tomorrow with the guys, and will probably put on another couple hundred km's.

Zandit, I'll get a good pic of the exhuast for you tomorrow.

Blackboar, I got the keychain from our Falcon Jet rep, amazing the stuff you get when your company buys a $30 million airplane. LOL. Did you fly in the air force?
 

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Hey Nova, I got one just like yours since beginning of april.
http://www.newninja.com/forums/f94/got-it-4285-3.html
I have over 2500km so far on the bike. I've checked the fuel consumption a few times and get between 4.2 and 4.5 L/100km wich is the same if not better than my ninja 250 and I'm not riding like a grandpa:whistling:. Like you said, the more you drive it the better you love it. Went for a 390km ride yesterday. It's not the most confortable bike but it's better than the 250. Riding pisition is more upright so no weight on the hands.
BTW the japanese version is available with abs.

ciao
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hey Jon, nice to see another 400R owner on here, and glad you like the bike too.

I got out for a ride with the boys from work yesterday, we did 230kms, a short run from the Saint John area down to the town of St. Andrew's-By-The-Sea, not far from the Maine border. It was a beautiful day, sunny skies and warm. It was a mix of highway and back country roads. The mid-sized Ninja was great, comfortable on the highway at 120kph, and was able to keep up to the big boys even under hard acceleration up to 155kph. Everyone was impressed with the bike. When it got to the twisties, I said bye bye to the cruisers and pulled ahead of them. The boys were on an 800, 1500, and 1600cc bikes, but were limited in cornering clearance.

We put in 2.5hrs of riding, and except for my butt, I was comfortable the whole time. I'm pretty sure putting on my Airhawk seat cushion will solve the problem next time. I won't hesitate taking this bike on a multi-day trip in the future.

I'm gonna pick up a spoiler windscreen which adds an additional 2" to see if it will make a difference on the highway. I am getting some head buffeting at 120kph, it's only minimal, but it will wear you out after a few hours. I'm also gonna get some soft sided saddlebags before we do our 3-day trip around the Gaspe Peninsula this summer.

 

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Hey Nova,

I just got a 650 about two weeks ago (1300km and counting!) and I can say almost all the same things about the 650.

The only thing to add is I do get a good feeling of power from it. I still move quickly through the first couple gears but I've had to hang on when I hit the gas and it really feels good pulling through a turn.

I'm around 300km for the 15.5 ltr tank.

What kind of bag do you have on the back? and do you remember how much it was?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hey Stealth,

I'd like to try out the 650 to see how it compares. The rear bag is actually a tankbag off my old BMW. I just strapped to the rear seat. It's a Wolfman Rainier tankbag, they are $160.
 

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Hey Novaboy,

I have a 400 as well and have over 1600kms on it.... I followed the break-in procedure to the letter...seems others don't??? At least everyone seemed to think i was crazy following the rules on the 4,000rpm and 6,000pms....

I've had the bike up to 130km/hr to try to pass someone quickly on the Hwy 417 and it didn't have a problem...

I do hate the wind buffetting...I'm probably shorter than you and I find it keeps me in check for going to fast.... Someone recommended changing to another windshield...are you talking about the other one that's available for the model or after market?

By the way, great review, I enjoyed reading it. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hey Icecat,

I can't say I followed the recommended breakin, but I never flogged it hard. I haven't ridden much, only just over 1000kms, but we were away on holidays for 2 weeks, and away for work.

I still love the bike, cruises great at 120kph, and I've had it up to 155 once.

I was thinking of getting the Kawasaki touring screen, but will probably wait til the fall. I'm fairly tall in the torso so I may sit up just outside of the worst buffeting, because I don't find too bad, except when its really windy out.

Glad you liked the review, feel free to add your opinion too.

Cheers
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Hi everyone,

Well I've been living with the 400R for almost a year now, rode it until December, and had it back on the road March 9th. So what do I think after a year of use?

I still like it, and plan on keeping it. Have I looked at other bikes.....oh ya. After watching 3 seasons on Sons of Anarchy I had to have a Harley, and I still go through my yearly dirt bike obsession. I think the dirt bike might be added to the stable next year.

I never did the big bike trip that I wanted to do last year, I was just too busy with work and some other things. This year will be different, and I'm in the process of setting the bike up as a mini sport tourer. I have my Garmin 296C hardwired in, tankbag on and have a set of soft sided saddlebags ordered. I am contemplating on adding a larger touring screen.

I have plans to make a couple of 2-3 day trips this summer, one possibly up around the Gaspe, and another down into Maine and New Hampshire.

No pictures this time, once the saddlebags arrive and are installed I'll post again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Garmin 276C


GEARS Touristor expandable saddlebags. For $90, they are quite nice, come with rain covers too.


The tankbag is from Wolfman non-magnetic and expandable



All ready for a big trip. Now all I need is some time off and some warm weather. Went out for a short spin today, 4C or 39F. Little chilly but not too bad.
 

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Looking good Novaboy!
How big are those saddlebags?
Good luck with the touring, just take it easy if you have never ridden fully loaded up before, it takes some getting used to!
 

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Good stuff! I have the Givi's and love them, but you definately pay for them!
Have you tried riding 2-up yet? Do the bags interfere with your passengers legs at all?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I would have loved a set of Givi's, but they are not in the budget this year, I'm saving for a dirt bike to do some hare scrambles and enduros.

I seldom ever do any 2 up riding so the bags are not an issue, that being said I don't think it would be a problem for short trips around town. The 400 is not a 2 up machine for the highway.

Maybe a Givi topcase will get on the farkle list for next year.
 

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I just bought my 400r 2011 yesterday! I will be riding it in 3 weeks, I'm waiting for my exam....I bought the last model in store... got a great discount.... Can wait to drive it! It is the good reviews like this one that made me chose it over the Honda CBR 250. I'm a beginer......at 45.....
 
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