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A white 2023 Kawasaki Ninja 400 is shown from the front at an angle after leaving a Kawasaki motorcycle dealer near me.

The Kawasaki 400s: The Perfect Bikes for New Riders

It’s time to bring your motorcycle dreams to life and chase the horizon from the saddle, but how do you choose the perfect bike? As a beginner, it’s critical to find a motorcycle that physically fits you, positioning your feet on the ground so that you have adequate control over the bike. But it also means finding a bike that’s affordable, reliable, and powerful while not being overwhelming or intimidating.

While this balance might seem entirely unattainable, a visit to a Kawasaki motorcycle dealer near you will prove it isn’t. There, you’ll find the Ninja 400 sport bike and the Z400 naked bike, two of the best motorcycles for beginners. These affordable motorcycles share many of the same features and can help you enjoy your first rides, gain confidence, and hone your skills as you set your sights on the horizon and beyond.

What makes the Ninja 400 and Z400 the perfect choices for new riders? How do these bikes compare to one another? What can you expect from your time in the saddle? It’s time to find out as we take a closer look at what makes these bikes unique and a must-have for beginning riders anxious to answer the call of adventure on two wheels.

A white 2023 Kawasaki Z400 is shown from the front at an angle.

Remarkable Affordability

One of the first considerations when shopping for your first motorcycle is affordability and practicality. While investing in a new bike may seem enticing, it’s not always the most financially responsible decision. Realistically, new riders are more likely to drop their bikes as they hone their skills. The pain of dropping a new bike is gut-wrenching, especially if the drop causes damage. While dropping a used bike isn’t thrilling, it’s a lesson that’s easier to learn without an empty wallet.

That said, the Ninja 400 and Z400 are two of the most affordable beginner bikes in the industry. Looking at their new sticker price for 2023 gives you more reason to appreciate their affordability and gauge their value as used models. For example, the 2023 Ninja 400 with anti-lock brakes starts at $5,699, and the 2023 Z400 with anti-lock brakes begins at $5,399. While the Ninja 400 has an even more affordable version without anti-lock brakes, we always suggest that new riders pay the extra $400 for this critical safety feature.

Strong Power Delivery

The Ninja 400 and Z400 share the same powertrain: a proven 399cc twin-cylinder four-stroke engine that delivers adequate power without overwhelming new riders. This balance is critical as you get accustomed to working the clutch and throttle, finding the sweet spot as you shift gears to accommodate changing conditions. Fortunately, the 399cc is powerful enough to build your confidence without getting you into too much trouble.

The 399cc is the largest displacement engine in the class, delivering 49 hp and 28 lb-ft of torque. This is enough power to give these beginner bikes acceleration rivaling some 500s. However, Kawasaki makes it easier to harness this power and hone your skills with its standard Assist & Slipper Clutch technology. The assist feature gives the bike a lighter clutch and a wide range of engagement, while the slipper feature helps reduce the jerk of downshifting and rear-wheel hop.

Friendly Handling

As entry-level bikes, the Ninja 400 and Z400 offer remarkable handling and impressive ride quality that engineers confidence. The bikes take many design cues from the Ninja H2 hypersport and feature a tube-type trellis frame that makes them incredibly lightweight. The 2023 Ninja 400 has a curb weight of 362 lbs, with the 2023 Z400 weighing slightly more at 364 lbs. These weights are entirely manageable for new riders.

Kawasaki distinguishes the bikes and how they perform in several ways. For example, both bikes measure 78.3 inches long and have a lower center of gravity with a 30.9-inch seat height. However, the Z400 is slightly wider at 31.5 inches compared to the 28-inch Ninja 400. Additionally, the Z400 features a wider one-piece handlebar that makes it more accommodating to various conditions, from city streets to winding backroads.

The Ninja 400 positions the rider slightly forward with clip-on handlebars that give it a sportier feel. Although this position can cause fatigue when driving for long distances, it’s an incredible advantage on backroads where hairpin turns are plentiful. The Ninja 400 also comes with a fairing and windscreen that shields the rider from wind and road debris. These components give the Ninja 400 its distinct sportbike handling, making it more appealing to riders who spend more time at higher speeds.

Reliable Braking

While many new riders prioritize power and handling, a bike’s stopping power is just as critical. It’s why new riders are always encouraged to invest in a motorcycle with anti-lock brakes. Fortunately, Kawasaki knows as much and outfits the Ninja 400 and Z400 with a remarkable anti-lock braking system that gives these sportbikes another advantage over rival models.

The Ninja 400 and Z400 boast two-piston front calipers that provide progressive braking for optimal stopping power. The lightweight Nissin antilock braking system plays an integral role in this stopping power by pinching the 310mm front disc and the 220mm rear disc. The result is impressive, minimizing wheel lock-up to give you more precise control over the bike.

Valuable Technology

Kawasaki does something remarkable with the Ninja 400 and Z400 by making them affordable without forcing riders to compromise on quality, performance, or technology. You’ll see this no-compromise approach on every model, but even more so on newer iterations like the 2023 lineup. For example, the 2023 Ninja 400 features twin LED headlights, a multifunctional digital dash with a gear position indicator, and an analog-style tachometer. The 2023 Z400 differentiates itself with its quad-LED headlamps, stacked instrument cluster, and multifunctional LCD screen. This abundance of technology levels the playing field, giving you the freedom to choose based on your style preferences rather than your budget.

A white 2023 Kawasaki Ninja 400 is shown from the side.

The Value Behind the Investment

The Kawasaki Ninja 400 and Z400 are exceptional beginner bikes because they deliver plenty of power without overwhelming a new rider and offer critical features like anti-lock brakes and superior handling without sending the price tag mile-high. While other manufacturers struggle to find this balance, Kawasaki excels. But why is this so important?

Your first bike sets the tone for your future as a rider. A bike that’s too powerful or too heavy can easily intimidate, quickly overwhelm, and continuously frustrate you, leading you to dread getting in the saddle. In contrast, a bike that lets you fine-tune your skills by delivering the right amount of power sets you up for success because it allows you to build confidence and get excited about riding. You look forward to every ride because you know you can handle the bike.

The Ninja 400 and Z400 are confidence builders in the motorcycle realm. They’re excellent investments for new riders because they offer iconic Kawasaki styling and performance without intimidation. In addition, they make riding accessible to more riders by proving you don’t have to compromise when it comes to your first bike. This no-compromise approach has defined the entire Kawasaki lineup since the 1960s, making models like the Ninja 400 and Z400 valuable investments to anyone looking to chase the horizon for the first time.