Yamaha R3 vs Kawasaki Ninja 400: Two Japanese Sports Bikes Compared
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Yamaha R3 vs Kawasaki Ninja 400: Two Japanese Sports Bikes Compared

Reviews by Team Drivio | Mar 20, 2024

On paper, the Ninja 400 sounds a bit better than the R3 with its bigger engine

  • The Yamaha R3 is a very versatile bike, striking a good mix between sportiness and practicality 
  • Kawasaki has tuned the Ninja 400 to be the same too
  • Both are some of the most affordable twin-cylinder bikes in India, after the likes of the Aprilia RS 457 and the Royal Enfield 650s

Kawasaki India has introduced discounts on several of its motorcycles, with the Ninja 400 also benefiting from the offer. It now receives a Rs 40,000 discount valid until the 31st of March, bringing it into direct competition with the Yamaha R3. Both motorcycles are imported as completely built units (CBUs), featuring parallel-twin engines and comparable sets of features. Below is a comparison of the two models.

Yamaha R3 vs Kawasaki Ninja 400: Designs

The Yamaha R3 exudes the classic aura of a supersport bike, boasting a more rounded design when compared to its counterpart. Its fairing styling, twin-LED headlights positioning, and the elegantly upswept tail-section collectively contribute to a well-proportioned appearance.

On the other hand, the Kawasaki Ninja 400 projects a sharper, more aggressive demeanour, particularly when adorned in the striking Kawasaki Racing Team (KRT) livery. This is highlighted by the headlight shape, fairing lines, and the sleek tail section, which draws inspiration from the Ninja ZX-10R. Ultimately, the visual appeal of both motorcycles is subjective, and selecting between the two based on aesthetics boils down to individual preference.

Both motorcycles boast similar feature sets, comprising all-LED lighting, an LCD instrument cluster, and dual-channel ABS. However, they both fall short in offering modern conveniences such as a TFT display and Bluetooth connectivity. For a slight additional cost, Kawasaki offers the option of the Kawasaki Ninja 500, which comes equipped with Bluetooth connectivity, addressing this shortfall.

On the other hand, Yamaha's R3 is noticeably lacking in terms of feature updates, especially when compared to models like the Yamaha R15M, which offers a wider array of features, including a colour TFT display. This highlights the need for an upgrade to the Yamaha R3's feature list.

Yamaha R3 vs Kawasaki Ninja 400: Engines

The Ninja 400 holds a clear advantage in terms of displacement. With its 399cc parallel-twin engine, it generates 44.5bhp at 10,000rpm and 37Nm at 8,000rpm. In contrast, the Yamaha's 321cc parallel-twin engine produces 42bhp at a higher 10,750rpm and a lower peak torque of 29.5Nm at 9,000rpm.

The Ninja 400 maintains its potency with the 399cc parallel-twin engine, albeit transitioning to BS6 compliance, resulting in a slightly reduced output of 45hp and 37Nm. Nevertheless, it remains the most potent motorcycle in its segment. Surpassing the KTM RC 390 in performance tests, the BS6 Ninja 400 achieves 0-100kph in 5.25 seconds. The engine delivers tractable and refined performance, coupled with a melodious top-end. While the slip-and-assist clutch enhances smooth operation, the absence of a quickshifter is notable.

SpecificationsYamaha R3Kawasaki Ninja 400
Engine321cc parallel-twin liquid-cooled engine399cc parallel-twin liquid-cooled engine
Maximum Power42PS45PS
Maximum Torque29.7Nm37Nm
Transmission6-speed6-speed

What truly distinguishes the Ninja 400 is its remarkable versatility. The engine effortlessly navigates city commutes at lower speeds in higher gears. Conversely, when tackling twisty roads, the bike readily revs up to its redline with seamless smoothness. Its power delivery, concentrated at the top end of the rev band, ensures that pushing it towards its near 12,000rpm limit feels stress-free and devoid of vibrations.

This discrepancy explains the need to rev the R3's engine higher to unleash its full potential. However, both engines deliver satisfactory tractability in urban settings and provide an exhilarating experience when pushed to their respective redlines.

Yamaha R3 vs Kawasaki Ninja 400: Suspension, Tyres & Brakes

The Yamaha R3 employs a proven diamond frame, complemented by a USD fork and a monoshock suspension setup. It utilizes 17-inch wheels at both ends, with braking handled by a 298mm single disc up front and a 220mm rear disc. 

In contrast, the Kawasaki Ninja 400 features a robust steel trellis frame. Unlike the Yamaha, it opts for a simpler telescopic fork and monoshock arrangement. However, it boasts larger braking discs, with a 310mm unit at the front and a 220mm disc at the rear. The Kawasaki Ninja 400 boasts top-notch quality in terms of paint, switchgear, and panels, with no complaints regarding fit and finish. It stands on par with its stablemates, surpassing expectations given its price point. 

SpecificationsYamaha R3Kawasaki Ninja 400
Front suspensionInverted ForkTelescopic Fork
Rear suspensionMonoshockMonoshock
Front tyre17-inch wheels17-inch wheels
Rear tyre17-inch wheels17-inch wheels
Front brakeDisc brakeDisc brake
Rear brakeDisc brakeDisc brake
ABSDual-channel Dual-channel

Despite its appearance as a focused track bike, the ergonomics are surprisingly relaxed and comfortable. While the footpegs are rearset, the high clip-ons deviate from the uncompromising, foetal position often associated with such bikes. Additionally, the low, 785mm seat height ensures accessibility for a wide range of riders. Whether on the track or for touring, the Ninja 400 offers ergonomics that cater to both preferences. The only drawback is the absence of adjustable levers, considering the price, which will be discussed later.

Yamaha R3 vs Kawasaki Ninja 400: Dimensions

The agility of the Kawasaki Ninja 400 is exceptional, reminiscent of 350-400cc single-cylinder sport bikes. Whether on the race track or the road, the Kawasaki Ninja 400 demonstrates remarkable agility, facilitating seamless navigation through corners. 

Its weight advantage further enhances overall nimbleness, elevating the riding experience. Beyond cornering prowess, the Ninja 400 exhibits adeptness on both road and track, thanks to its well-balanced weight distribution. This attribute contributes to nimble handling and an overall enjoyable riding experience.

Despite its comfortable ride, the Ninja 400 excels in cornering performance. Enhanced steering geometry, with a sharper 24.7-degree rake, and a short 1,370mm wheelbase make it remarkably flickable. Yet, this agility doesn't compromise mid-corner stability, thanks to the longer swingarm. These characteristics, coupled with the feedback-rich chassis and Dunlop Sportmax tyres, endow the Ninja 400 with poised and precise cornering capabilities. 

The bike encourages pushing harder through corners, reflecting its exceptional communicative nature. Riding the baby Ninja is an exhilarating experience, instilling confidence and eliciting constant smiles from the rider.

Yamaha R3 vs Kawasaki Ninja 400: Price

Kawasaki has priced the Ninja 400 at a rather exorbitant Rs 5.24 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi. But following the Rs 40,000 discount, the Ninja 400 can effectively be had for a price of Rs 4.84 lakh. The Yamaha R3, on the other hand, is priced at an equally exorbitant Rs 4.65 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi. 

PriceYamaha R3Kawasaki Ninja 400
Ex-showroom DelhiRs 4.65 lakh Rs 5.24 lakh

When you factor in the Ninja 400’s discount, you can’t help but feel that the Ninja 400’s 15,000 premium is easy to justify. 

Verdict

In sum, we cannot help but feel that the Kawasaki Ninja 400 is the better value for your money. For just Rs 15,000 more, you can actually get a bike that is more powerful and just a lot more versatile to ride than the Yamaha R3. Plus when you factor in the fact that the Yamaha R3 barely has any features, its appeal goes down a lot. Sure, the Ninja 400 does not have a lot of features itself too, but it at least has the basics sorted out. So if one of the bikes is for you to get, it should be the Ninja 400. 

That said, if budget is not a concern for you, you should consider making the Rs 40,000 jump and considering the Ninja 400. If you are going to get a Ninja anyway, the 500 would undoubtedly be the better one to get. And that is thanks to its bigger engine, more features and better styling. As we mentioned above, the Ninja 500 finally gets a TFT console, something it has needed for a long time. That said, there is no bigger sibling of the Yamaha R3 for you to upgrade to. So our choice of the two would definitely be the Ninja.