Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Southwest Washington state
Test rode a Ninja 400 today
I've been curious about the Ninja 400 since it came out last year, and my local dealer let me test ride a 2019 version today.
The biggest plus for the Ninja, and the one that got me excited about it, is the light weight. It's 366 lbs wet weight compares with 425 lbs for the 2014 cbr500r that I currently own. That's almost 60 pounds and a big difference. Power as tested by various sources is nearly identical (because they are both designed to be Euro compliant). I know Motorcyclist tested both on a race track and the Ninja beat the cbr, probably due to the lighter weight.
My test ride was only about 15 minutes and did not include any curvy two lane roads, so the handling evaluation was limited. However, I came away with some impressions in comparing the two:
I expected the Ninja to have less low-end grunt than the Honda because of the higher redline on the Ninja, but this did not seem to be the case. I could easily ride around town between 4 and 5K rpm, just like with the Honda.
I was surprised to find the seat to foot peg distance felt a little cramped. I had only straddled the Ninja on the showroom floor until today and it's pretty hard to get both feet on the pegs without somebody holding the bike up for you. Reach to and height of bars felt the same, but overall the bike felt smaller. Maybe it is, or maybe its a factor of the lighter weight. I liked the Honda more. The Ninja felt more "racy", but the Honda feels more "livable".
Mirrors-----worse on the Ninja
Instrumentation----better on the Ninja, but the newer cbr might be comparable.
Clutch, transmission, brakes----pretty much the same for both bikes and pretty darn good, too. Clutch pull is very light on the Ninja, but is not a problem on the Honda.
The deciding factors----My cbr has three things that make it better than the Ninja 400 for me. First is that I could and did mount a center stand. Second is the higher output alternator (500 watts versus 300), that allows me to run heated grips and heated vest and gps with no problems. Third is the Givi hard side cases that I could transfer from my previous bike just by buying the mounting brackets for the cbr.
HOWEVER: If I were buying both new today, the price difference ($5000 for the Ninja versus $7000 for the Honda), would make it a hard choice.