In India, the performance motorcycle lovers are now considering the 200-300cc segment as the first stepping stone and have the 650-800cc segment of middleweight motorcycles as the next potential upgrades. It has led to the wide and vacant space of 400-500cc motorcycles, which still hasn’t been explored to the fullest. Kawasaki tried to strike a chord with the BS4-spec Ninja 400 but killed the anticipation altogether with its unreasonable high price over the Ninja 300. Likewise, Honda did the same by launching the CB500X at an optimistic price.
However, things have started to look good, even though the ray of hope is still very wafer-thin. Honda has slashed the price of the CB500X by almost a lakh of rupees, and while it still is a pricey proposition, it now looks like a better value-for-money package than before. It has also given the motorcycle enthusiasts another ray of hope – the launch of the fully-faired Honda CBR500R in India. Considering that the CBR650R has become much pricier than ever before, Honda can capitalize on the customer interest in middleweight motorcycles by launching the smaller and more affordable CBR500R in the country.
Likewise, Kawasaki has updated the Ninja 400 with a Euro-5 spec engine, which indicates that the motorcycle might make a comeback in India very soon. The last iteration of the motorcycle was pulled off the Indian market due to a full stop on the sales of BS4-compliant two-wheelers in March 2020. Now that the Ninja 400 is Euro-5 compliant, it will also be compliant with the BS6 emission norms.
Both the new Kawasaki Ninja 400 and Honda CBR500R are popular motorcycles in the more mature European markets and can be pricey motorcycles once they land here in India. But if they finally come here, which one of the two motorcycles is worth your premium money? Let’s find out:
Kawasaki had priced the BS4 iteration of the Ninja 400 at an absurdly high price point of Rs 4.69 lakh. If this new BS6-equivalent Euro-5-spec version of the Ninja 400 ever comes to India, it might come in a price range between Rs 4.75-5 lakh. On the other hand, Honda already retails the CB500X for Rs 5.80 lakh. If it intends to launch the CBR500R, with which the CB500X shares its platform, it might come for Rs 6 lakh for the additional bodywork it gets. However, both the motorcycles are still not confirmed for the Indian two-wheeler market.
Engine and Chassis
Kawasaki has just made the four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, parallel-twin, 399cc engine of the Ninja 400 Euro-5 compliant, which means that it is compatible with BS6 emission norms as well. This engine continues to make a maximum power output of 45 PS, though the peak torque output has dropped down by 1 Nm and is now rated at 37 Nm. These power and torque figures are lower than those of the Honda CBR500R, which makes 47.6 PS of power and 43 Nm of torque from its bigger four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, parallel-twin, 471cc engine.
Both the motorcycles get the same suspension combination of 41mm hydraulic telescopic forks at the front and Pro-link mono-shock with adjustable preload at the rear, though the rear suspension unit of the Ninja 400 is gas-charged. The Honda CBR500R also rides on wider and sportier radial tyres, while having a bigger and better brake setup, with dual disc brakes at the front.
|Specifications||Kawasaki Ninja 400||Honda CBR500R|
|Engine||Four-stroke, parallel-twin, DOHC, liquid-cooled, 399cc||Four-stroke, parallel-twin, DOHC, liquid-cooled, 471cc|
|Power||45 PS @ 10,000 rpm||47.6 PS @ 8,600 rpm|
|Torque||37 Nm @ 8,000 rpm||43 Nm @ 6,500 rpm|
|Front suspension||41mm hydraulic telescopic forks||41mm hydraulic telescopic forks|
|Rear suspension||Bottom-Link Uni-Trak, gas-charged shock with adjustable preload||Pro-link mono-shock with adjustable preload|
|Front tyre||110/70 R17||120/70 ZR17|
|Rear tyre||150/60 R17||160/60 ZR17|
|Front brake||Single 310mm disc||Dual 320mm discs|
|Rear brake||Single 220mm disc||Single 240mm disc|
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While both Kawasaki Ninja 400 and Honda CBR500R have the same seat height of 785mm, the latter is the bigger motorcycle in every sense. The Honda CBR500R is a longer, wider, taller and heavier motorcycle as compared to the Kawasaki Ninja 400. The CBR500R also has a bigger fuel tank and a marginally lower ground clearance than the Ninja 400.
|Dimensions||Kawasaki Ninja 400||Honda CBR500R|
|Kerb weight||168 kg||192 kg|
|Fuel tank capacity||14 litres||17.1 litres|
Design and Features
The Kawasaki Ninja 400 and Honda CBR500R are two entry-level middleweight sport-tourers, which look strikingly good despite remaining unchanged for quite a long time now. Both the motorcycles have sharp-looking bodywork with angular dual LED headlamps, aggressive-looking front and side fairing panels, large fuel tanks and raised tail section with split pillion seats above and LED tail lamps at the back. In terms of safety, both the motorcycles get up and down quick-shifter, assist and slipper clutch and dual-channel ABS.
The Honda CBR500R aces ahead by offering LED turn indicators and a fully-digital instrument console, whereas the Ninja 400 continues to offer the same old part-digital instrument console with an analogue speedometer and halogen clear lens turn indicators. It would have been better if Kawasaki had offered the modern full-TFT instrument console, which is being offered from Z650 onwards. Thanks to bigger dimensions, wider tyres, the presence of dual disc brakes at the front and flashier looking lights, the Honda CBR500R offers a better big-bike experience over the Kawasaki Ninja 400.
Except for Euro-5 compliance and new paint schemes of Lime Green with Ebony and Metallic Carbon Grey with Metallic Matte Carbon Grey, the Kawasaki Ninja 400 is an unchanged motorcycle over its previous version. The motorcycle could have been updated with LED turn indicators and a full-TFT instrument console, which wasn’t a hard job, considering its other siblings are getting them now.
If you compared the overall speculated prices of both the motorcycles, you will feel that the almost Rs 1 lakh premium commanded by the Honda CBR500R is a stretch worth going for. With the CBR500R, you do get better LED lights, a more modern instrument console, better brakes, better tyres, a stance and size of a bigger bike, and most importantly, higher power and torque outputs. All these factors do contribute to making the Honda CBR500R a better and more advanced package over the Ninja 400. This makes the Kawasaki Ninja 400 a considerable option only if you are tight on your budget.