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Naked Version of Ninja 400 Coming to U.S.?

This is the Kawasaki Ninja 400 … is a naked sibling coming?

Understandably, manufacturers like to keep some things secret. Like new models. Unfortunately, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) sometimes gets in the way of this goal.

CARB has just issued a certification of the 399cc parallel-twin found in the Ninja 400 for the 2019 model year. Interestingly, the certification was issued for this engine to be used in two separate models, including the Ninja 400 and the “ER400DK”. Kawasaki has in the past used the “ER” prefix in the naming of naked bikes, so the obvious assumption is that a 2019 Kawasaki Z400 is on its way. In the U.S., Kawasaki designates its naked models with the “Z” prefix. We should know more in a month, or so. Stay tuned.

Kawasaki Z650 – Kawasaki naked bikes are part of the “Z” family in the U.S.


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35 Comments

  1. Alan Loo says:

    Versys 400 would be awesome too.

  2. Chris says:

    I have the 2018 Ninja 400. It is a nice bike and I have 1500 miles on it. I had a couple of Honda VFR 500’s that I rode for 20 years. The bike handles very similar to that bike and is almost 100 lbs lighter with a little less HP but you don’t notice it because of the lighter weight. It is a fun bike to ride and brought me back to riding 20 years later.

  3. dave says:

    ^^ this ^^

    I have a fetish over the BMW 310 GS. Except I’d like it to be a 400 with twin cylinders made somewhere like Germany or Japan.

    I’m holding off downsizing my Ninja 1000 for the 400 versys. I hope that’ll be next if this is the naked.

  4. Kawatwo says:

    Still waiting for a ZL/EN Eliminator/Vulcan 400 🙂 A Naked Z would be great too and a 400. You know Kawasaki has to be planning several models with this amazing engine.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’m ready for KTM to take their new 250 2 Stroke and put that in the 390 frame for the road. It’s now fuel injection / oil injection… crap… it’s near perfect and what I need for the road and dirt.

    • Kevin C says:

      Ive been thinking about ever since the KTM 300 two stroke came out! IF they produce this bike I hope its an small displacement bike for experienced riders, not another watered down Euro A2 license appliance. A 300 should be good for 55RWHP. keep the wet weight @ 300lbs or less and it would be THE small bike to have!

  6. Bandit says:

    How about putting a supercharger on the 400?
    That would be worth another $1000.00 to the MSRP.

  7. Kevin says:

    I love the Idea of a naked 400! BUT if Honda gives the “neo sports cafe” treatment to the CB500f, Along with a weight reduction to around 375 pounds. I would but it. That extra torque makes a big difference!

  8. Grover says:

    I’m looking forward to this new 400 with the street ergos. Light bikes with small displacement are loads of fun!

    • Dave says:

      The ride test reviews I’ve read all say that the Ninja 400 has very streetable ergos as delivered. I kind of wish it was a 1/2 fairing, though. While I would always choose the bike with wind protection, it’s an unnecessary burden to strip off the lower body panels, just to change the oil.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Had the opportunity to test ride the Ninja 400 on a 7 mile loop three times (21 miles). I came away wowed by the experience. It’s very comfortable, it pulls hard in every gear including 6th, and it feels just slightly heavier than a bicycle. The two best parts? Take the tach past 10K RPM, and it screams like Scott Russell’s ZX7RR on the high banks of Daytona, satisfying my repli-racer fantasies. And for an MSRP of $5K, you can afford to buy two! Or a Ninja 400 and a Z400!

  10. Ryan H Craig says:

    Someday in the near future I will sell my current bike – a Yamaha Fazer 8 (FZ8 with a half fairing), which is neither particularly light nor fun to run around town (flat spot between 5 and 6k rpm, heat), nor is it a great sport-tourer, at least not what I consider a sport-tourer. Riding position, mostly the seat and pegs, is just not good for long distances, at least for me at 6’3″ , 200(ish) lbs, and 50 years.

    I’ll replace it with a sport touring bike of some sort, quite likely a BMW R1200RT or FJR1300, and pick up something like this to have as much around town and short rides bike.

  11. Tom R says:

    A number of years ago-“The Ninja 250 is pretty sweet, but it would be great if it was a 300”.

    A few less years ago-“It’s great that Kawasaki upgraded the Ninja 250 to 300cc, but a 400 version would be better”.

    Several months ago-“The Ninja 400 is perfect!”

    A year from now, tops-“The Ninja 400 is OK, but when will it be upgraded to 450cc or 500cc?”

    A few years from now-“I guess the new Ninja 500 will a great bike for some, but they really should make nice, light 250cc version”.

    • Selecter says:

      The counterpoint here is that the Ninja 400 is *lighter* and handles better than either the 300 or the “updated” EX250H that came before it.

      As for the “it’d be great to have a 500” part… not quite sure that will happen. I’ve got some years and miles behind me, and as some others that post here, I think the 350-400cc bracket is nearly ideal for a small bike. The 500s (Honda’s 500, older EX500, GS500, etc.) are 50+ lbs. heavier, with only a marginal power advantage. The smaller, lighter bikes (CB300, EX300) seem to suffer a larger “usable power” deficit, and don’t don’t seem light enough to offset this than the EX400 or RC390…

      I’d be perfectly happy with a 400. I’m considering picking one up if my V7 finally sells. Maybe the naked one will appeal to me… The V7 is gorgeous, but god, the thing’s suspension and chassis are just pitiful. Fun engine, awful platform. The EX400 (and a presumably similar naked version) will be superior in every way, except styling, which I can totally live with.

    • Ryan H Craig says:

      Personally, I think 400cc is the sweet spot for entry-level bikes in north America. The 300s were either a little marginal on the highway (CBR) or a little gutless at low engine speeds (Ninja 300, R3). Going to 400cc allows them to have more power AND more torque at low rps. Without really making the bike any heavier. There isn’t really any significant insurance or tax penalty here for going to the larger displacement. This bike is already (IMO) in a different class than the CBR300. In fact, the only other bike in its class in this market IMO is the RC390 (or Duke 390 for comparison to the proposed Z400). Any much bigger and you’re looking at moving into a new class in terms of weight, power, tire sizes, etc. Kawi already has a Ninja 650.

      • Don says:

        My wife really loves her 2017 CB500F. MSRP is in a different league from those other bikes but the left-over sale price was pretty good.

    • WSHart says:

      Truer words are rarely written here, sir. Well said.

      People will always want what they want instead of being thankful for what they have. Nah. Most motorcyclists are egotistical bench racers or biker wannabees. It’s a dick measuring contest but the truth of these people is that they are all a bunch of big dicks and its just an ego measuring contest.

      Good on ya for telling the truth.

    • fred says:

      I have a couple of (old) VRT250’s. They aren’t fast, but they are fun, usable bikes. The problem is that they really have no acceleration in hand at 65-75 mph. Even though they will pull 95-100 mph given enough time, passing on 2-lane roads is a bit iffy. The same thing is true of the Ninja 250. I haven’t ridden a Z3 or Ninja 300, but I would not expect a huge difference.

      Having said that, I saw a Ninja 400 on the streets the other day, and was quite impressed. Still small and light enough to be a fun/easy bike, but with enough power to make passes on 2-lane roads. If the garage were empty or I were down to just one bike, the Ninja 400, or the possible Z400 would be on my short list.

      I’m probably a bit of a hypocrite, the VTR’s are parked, and my normal ride is my SV1000. LOL

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Actually, for all the years back I remember, people for the most part were saying that the ideal lightweight would fall between 350 – 400 cc. I think this displacement category will have some staying power.

    • Kevin C says:

      I love the Idea of a naked 400! BUT if Honda gives the “neo sports cafe” treatment to the CB500f, Along with a weight reduction to around 375 pounds. I would but it. That extra torque makes a big difference!

  12. Robert Gagne says:

    Could be another great commuter bike as well as a good city bike. This is becoming a bit of a crowded field, choice and competition are good things.

  13. Bob K says:

    Yeah, the Versys 400 would be exciting news.

  14. Bob K says:

    Todd, nothing’s worse looking than the gen 4 Z1000 headlight assembly. Looks like saggy boobs. Seriously.

  15. Mark says:

    A naked z400 would make for a really lightweight fun bike. I would hope they could add a practical way to get a small rack for strapping down a small bag. I have a new z900 and rack options are rare and hideous.

  16. Anonymous says:

    At 62 I don’t need anything bigger.

    • Nick, Woods says:

      C’mon! At 70, give me an 800 at least. Better yet a 1000…

      • Dave says:

        You’re doing well to be able to manage a bike that heavy at your age. Good livin’.

        • fred says:

          Unfortunately, we lose muscle mass with age. With good health, a rational diet, and reasonable exercise, it’s possible to keep riding fairly big bikes for a long time.

          We have to be a bit more aware of seat height, center of gravity, and brittle bones, so downsizing it sometimes the best option.

          • Nick Woods says:

            Never having had any muscle mass worth speaking of, I’d say that the answer is avoiding having to push a bike up hill, so the cunning of maturity plays a big part in not getting into tricky situations. That and a very cautious approach and a good sense of balance. Once underway, the weight is not an issue: I’m talking Euro-bikes here, not monster cruisers!

      • jon says:

        Damn right Nick, the original comment made me puke in my mouth a little. Very few reasons to ‘need’ anything bigger at any age – WTF has age go to do with it?

        • Anonymous says:

          “made me puke in my mouth a little”- sounds like something a 13 yr. old girl would say.

  17. Gary says:

    I had a strong feeling that we’d see such a machine. This could be my first showroom-new bike since my ’81 GN400.

    I like the swingarm that your artist put on the bike, but I don’t think we’ll see that. Everything else looks like it could appear on a Z400.

    • Gary says:

      I’m responding to my own post…

      I see that the Z bike in the photo above is a Z650 and not an artist rendering of a potential Z400. I’d love to see the naked Z400 to be similar to the Z900RS – a Z400RS, but the unique tank, instrument cluster and other bodywork would probably put the price point too high. The Z650 is a very good looking bike and a Z400 with a strong family resemblance would do well in the market.

      With the Ninja 400 selling for US$5,000, the expectation is that this bike should sell for $4,700 and weigh close to 340-350 pounds.

  18. todd says:

    Bigger news would be the Versys 400.
    I do wish they offered a more normal looking, less droopy head light. They could pull it from the Z900 or the Vulcan. I guess I could do the same…