Super athletes? These are these racing arrows, which are the queens of the motorway, although uncomfortable, but thanks to the sophisticated chassis and sometimes absurdly high horsepower. Agrees. But no rule without exception: Kawasaki has the bonsai edition of a super athlete in the program with the Ninja 400 and its 45 hp. Does that work? Test.
Kawa does not put a two-metre motorcycle in the garage for the 400 owners, and at 168 kilos she is a lightweight. The formula of the mini-supersportsman has been refined by the Japanese in various series. The Ninja 400 replaced its predecessor Z300 in 2018 and produces 45 hp. On the one hand, this makes it suitable for A2 licence holders, but on the other hand, the question of meaning arises: A super sportsman with a shook 45 hp and not even a top speed of 200 km/h? Really?
We'll get that out of the way. Before looking at the machine. In contrast to its predecessor, the bench has become three centimetres narrower. Together with the moderate seat height of 785 millimeters, short-legged people sit, stand and drive safely. For normal-sized drivers, this doesn't mean they can't do anything with the Kawa. Thanks to the pleasant knee angle, it usually fits like this, on request there is a higher bench.
In general, the Ninja 400 is pleasant to handle: the sitting position is quite sporty, but you don't feel like you're pulled over the tank. The handlebars are sporty, but the ankles do not come into contact with the asphalt even when cornering. The seat position of the passenger is astonishingly good. Don't misunderstand: This is by no means really comfortable, but you can reach the dredging lake without being able to stretch your legs for the rest of the day.
The cockpit is clear and surprises with an analog rev counter (red range from 12,000 tours). Brakes and clutch are smooth and well at hand, although the levers are not adjustable. The chassis is not adjustable except for the spring base at the rear. Equipment includes LED lighting (except for the indicators) and the ABS. With this, however, the list of electronic helpers ends, there is no more usually for money and good words. The list of accessories, on the other hand, is long: Whether akra sports exhaust, passenger cover or bug spoiler: the owner can easily push up the not exactly low base price of 6,429 euros.
Enough of the theory, we take the little one on the street.
The start is easy, also the descent. Despite the shy torque of only 38 Newton meters in 8,000 tours, the Kawa below reacts decently. There is no need to conjure up gas and clutch to get off to a clean start. May the super athletes of the 150-plus-hp class have significantly more lard – it placates them compared to the Kawa Ninja 400. 168 kilos save some horsepower, which more powerful machines need to accelerate their own weight alone.
Good keyword: acceleration. Not much happens under 3,000, the Ninja 400 doesn't mind even jerky turning up the gas tap. It continues steadily upwards in the speed band until the feel-good range is reached at 6,000 revolutions. From here on, the 399 cubic metre two-cylinder cheers up and forward. The maximum power is 10,000, and it should stay that way. Further up to the permitted 12,000 brings hardly any extra power besides vibrations.
Up to 100 km/h this means a waiting time of 5 seconds. In short, a KTM 390delivers about the same performance, while the BMW 310 GS is already significantly weaker with 34 hp. There are experienced motorcyclists, under 100 hp the world of motorcycling makes no sense. The Kawa proves the opposite, because it is moving fast. If you want to be fast, however, you have to make an effort: The six-speed transmission has to be operated diligently in order to stay in the feel-good area when driving at a fast pace. Sovereign motorization is not that compared to the big ones, but slowly it is not.
The hour of the Ninja 400 beats the curves more serpentine or even downhill when it gets tight. The little one manages to really annoy the supersports drivers. How easy and willing she can be to in curves, that has something. Whether single curve or snout, the more, the more, the Ninja 400. Does true sportiness look like the little one is able to push her big-sized sister H2 into a corner with a compressor and 200 hp?
This would be even better if the brakes of the Ninja 400 were more committed to the cause. There is nothing unsure here, but there is no more than an OKAY in it. The operation is fine, but the stoppers don't really blow in, and at the front there is only one single disc. Taking a break is always possible. And helps the very best, with which the tight chassis shows no pity. Yes, it's a super athlete, just in small, and not a super tourer.
So does that work, 45 hp and super sportsmen? Yes, it works. As far as you can not only define the pure driving performance in sport, but can enjoy the manoeuvrability. If everything else is somehow too high, too big and heavy, then the Kawasaki Ninja 400 fits.
And only then does it make sense, because one thing is clear: at around 6,400 euros, it is not a bargain. It is not cheap and does not want to be it. But a motorcycle that can surprise. And that works.
The test bike was provided to us by Heller and Soltau in St. Michaelisdonn.