The Kawasaki Ninja is a series of sportbikes first released back in 1984.
Over the years, it has existed as a 4-cylinder, 2-cylinder, single-cylinder, and racing-only models.
The Kawasaki Ninja 300, 400 (2 cylinder) and 600 (4 cylinder) models have been especially popular with a wide range of riders over the years.
This article answers the question: “Is Kawasaki Ninja Any Good?”…
Is Kawasaki Ninja Any Good?
The Kawasaki Ninja’s long-term success, great sales, pleasing looks, reliable performance, and decades of continued production all strongly point to the bike being one that people think is great.
If they were breaking down all the time, unattractive, and no fun to ride, then we wouldn’t be seeing new models still emerging.
Pros and Cons
Among motorcycle enthusiasts, there is general consensus that Kawasaki has done many things right with the Ninja, but of course, no motorbike is perfect.
Below are the pros and cons:
Pros of the Kawasaki Ninja:
1. The bikes offer a comfortable riding posture which makes them suitable for all levels of riders and varying distance uses.
Whether you’re out on the bike all day on a Sunday with fellow riders, or just taking short rides, the ride is comfortable.
2. The clutches of many Kawasaki Ninja models were often praised.
Many Ninjas had the option of Kawasaki’s “Slipper Clutch.”
When there’s a sudden downshift of gears, the slipper clutch would help the rider maintain control of the bike, avoiding potential accidents. That was a huge plus.
3. Ninja bikes of all stripes had head-turning looks, beautifully combining angular edges and elegant curves in all the right places.
The Ninja name evoked speed and dynamism, and the appearance gave it the look of a bike that would simply cut through air.
4. Regardless of what level of Ninja you choose, they always have impressive, reliable, and powerful engines that surprise you with their RPMs and horsepower.
It makes every Ninja a fun riding experience.
Cons of the Kawasaki Ninja:
1. Most riders felt that the Ninja is somewhat overpriced compared to the competition.
The top-end bikes have MSRPs as high as some sedan cars, especially models like H2 (street-legal version of the H2R) which retails at around $29,000.
The racing-only H2R is about $55,000 before other taxes and fees.
2. If you are a pillion rider, then the Ninja can’t be said to be the most comfortable bike.
The rider gets a good position, but Kawasaki was not as generous to the passenger.
3. ABS wasn’t offered on all of the bike models, which not only restricted the markets in which some could be sold as a street-legal bike but also made it less safe.
It’s especially important to have on a higher-performance sportbike.
What Do The Reviews Say?
Reviews for Kawasaki Ninja bikes are overwhelmingly positive in general, but there are still some sore points.
On the positive side, reviewers are saying first that they love the way the bike looks.
It gets big points for its design features, color, and overall aesthetic.
In addition, there is a lot of praise for the Ninja engines.
Bikes like the 300 receive huge praise too for their suitability for newer riders.
Other positive features that reviewers would remark upon are its impressive 35-50mpg gas mileage, cheaper low-end models, smooth gear shifting, and easy clutch action.
More negative elements of the reviews include that the bikes come with full fairings.
The result of this is more plastic that can quite easily get scuffed, cracked, or otherwise damaged if you were to drop the bike on the floor.
One other comment is that the seating – especially the pillion seating – was not as comfortable as it could have been.
Some models were criticized by riders whose legs felt a little cramped, and others for their rather inflated price tags.
While lower-end models like the 300 were often seen as reasonably priced, the range up to the higher end saw prices increase a great deal.
How Long Does Kawasaki Ninja Last?
On average, the crucial parts of your Kawasaki Ninja can last from 50,000 to 60,000 miles.
But, as with just about any motorcycle, the key to making it last longer is in maintenance.
A properly maintained Kawasaki Ninja of any model can make it up to 100,000 miles with proper care and the avoidance of risky riding.
Those that aren’t taken care of may only last up to 20,000 miles or so.
What Is High Mileage For A Kawasaki Ninja?
If the bike is well looked after it can last up to 100,000 miles or more quite easily.
If you’re buying a pre-owned Ninja, then you’ll want to be wary of any model that currently displays 40,000-50,000 miles.
If it appears poorly maintained, then that could be close to the end of its life.
If it’s well maintained, then you have many thousands of miles of happy riding still to go.
Is Kawasaki Ninja Worth Every Cent?
There is certainly a premium price tag that is typically attached to the Kawasaki Ninja, but most fans hold that the bike is worth what you pay for it.
The great looks, reliability, riding dynamics, pleasing technology features, and more are worth any additional expense, according to most existing riders.
The truth is, however, that if you don’t want to spend $12,000 or so on a higher-end Kawasaki Ninja, then the market is full of more budget-friendly models that you might try.
Ninja fans, however, will contend that you always get what you pay for.
Pay less, get less.
How To Make It Last Longer?
To make your Kawasaki Ninja last longer, the first thing is to keep up with maintenance.
Service the bike each year, and if minor problems are detected on the bike, get them seen by a professional as soon as possible.
What starts as small malfunctions or anomalies easily turns into mechanical catastrophes if you don’t see to them.
You can also enjoy a longer riding life on your Kawasaki Ninja if you avoid risk-taking behaviors on the bike, and minimize its use in a racing environment.
If you are putting the bike regularly through its paces and to the extremes, then you inevitably inflict greater wear and tear upon it.
What Qualities Have Kawasaki Ninja 300, 400 & 600
The Kawasaki Ninja 300, as the name suggests, is a 2-cylinder 300cc bike that manages 39PS in power and 26.1Nm in torque.
It has the signature sporty Ninja looks but is otherwise fairly straightforward with digital instrument displays, LED lights, dual-channel ABS, and rear disc brakes in the newest versions.
Older versions may be missing some of these great features, however.
The Kawasaki Ninja 400 got up to 49PS in power and 38Nm in torque.
It features double disc brakes, dual-channel ABS, a 400cc engine, and the same athletic looks but rather more angular than some other models.
Its chassis is upgraded from the 300 to a high-tensile steel, but it also features LED lights, digital meters, and more.
The Kawasaki Ninja 600cc model, known now as the ZX-6R is a more powerful model with a four-stroke, liquid-cooled 4-cylinder engine.
Over the years it has received many upgrades, and now has a KQS quickshifter, updated bodywork, LED lights, and a new 636cc model that was sold in most markets outside of Japan.
Is It Good For Long Drives?
In terms of performance, enjoyment of the ride, reliability, and on-road dynamics, the Kawasaki Ninja is absolutely perfect for longer rides.
Having said that, slightly older models have an advantage for longer riding because they typically feature wider, more comfortable seating for both rider and passenger.
The newer models were made a bit slimmer, which is good for added racing-style performance, but when you’re on the road for a long time, it can be a little uncomfortable.
Good For City Traffic?
The Kawasaki Ninja generally had good gas mileage, which made it a great choice for city traffic.
Newer models are made a bit slimmer and that also enhances their effectiveness for dodging heavy traffic in the city, but in truth, all models are suited to the task in general.
The Ninja 300 in particular, with its smaller frame and 35-50mpg rating, makes it a great ally for beating city traffic in an economical way.
What Makes Kawasaki Ninja A Strong Bike?
Many would argue that the strongest two elements about the Ninja are its engines and looks.
The Kawasaki Ninja range is also home to one of the world’s fastest racing bikes, the Ninja H2R which has a top speed of 240mph.
Kawasaki is also very strong in adapting their Ninja bikes of all levels to include new technologies, digital meters, new comfort, and engine features, as well as stylish looks.
For these reasons, the Kawasaki Ninja is a strong bike.
Where To Rank Kawasaki Ninja Vs. Kawasaki ER6F
The Kawasaki ER6F is actually a part of the Ninja family, also known as the Kawasaki 650R or the EX-6.
It was discontinued in 2017 and features a 649cc liquid-cooled DOHC engine with digital fuel injection.
These were introduced in 2006 and compete very strongly with the majority of other Ninja bikes.
If you want the extra power, bigger engine, and many of the same advantages that make smaller bikes great like the slipper clutch, then the ER6F is a better choice.
It is a discontinued model, however.
Other newer Ninja bikes benefit from continued innovation, but older models of Ninja offered a better price point and more options in terms of specification, performance, and looks.
The ER6F is only better if you’re looking specifically for that engine size and style.
Where To Rank Kawasaki Ninja Vs. Other Known Brands Like Honda and Suzuki
All three brands are known and lauded for their reliability, but both Honda and Suzuki managed to edge out Kawasaki in overall ratings, but only marginally.
The Kawasaki got a 15% failure rate, compared to just 12% for the other two.
That’s according to Consumer Reports. It’s hardly earth-shattering, but it means that Kawasaki is marginally less reliable than the other two.
On the other hand, there is a great deal of consensus that places the Kawasaki Ninja as having great superiority in engineering, however.
The overall power and performance of the Kawasaki Ninja outstrip just about any equivalent model in the Honda or Suzuki ranges.
It’s not to say these brands are poor, but the Ninja enjoys a great engineering reputation against both.
Kawasaki Vs. Honda
Both Kawasaki and Honda have found great success in the middle-weight sector of the sportbike world.
For example, the Honda CBR650R and the Kawasaki Ninja 650, as well as the Honda CBR400R and the Kawasaki Ninja 400 each share a common space in the hearts and minds of many enthusiasts.
For the 650cc bikes, Kawasaki manages to edge out Honda in price.
The Honda MSRP is $9,699, and for Kawasaki just $7,399.
The Honda edges out the Kawasaki in horsepower, managing 69hp versus the Kawasaki’s 67hp.
The two models are about equal in torque.
Both of the bikes have engines and handling that suits riders of all levels, but the Honda Kawasaki Ninja has a lower redline of about 8,000rpm which helps newer riders better retain control.
The story between the 400cc bikes is similar.
One big drawback for Honda fans is that the 400cc bike is only currently available as a Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) model.
The Honda CBR400R has a nice beginner-friendly seat height of just 30.8 inches but is still rather heavy at 465lbs.
In height, the Kawasaki is nearly identical, but the Ninja 400 weighs just 370lbs, making it feel less cumbersome – but still strong and stable – for newer riders.
In 2022, Honda is planning the release of the CBR400RR which is specifically designed to take on the Kawasaki Ninja range.
Kawasaki Vs. Honda Vs. Suzuki
As we mentioned above, these three Japanese brands actually share many positive things in common such as their overall reliability ratings.
All three brands outperform other global giants such as Triumph, Ducati, and BMW, all of which are among the apparently least reliable motorcycle brands.
It should also be noted clearly that while Kawasaki and Suzuki have had some working relationship in the past for the development of motocross bikes, they are not interconnected in the same way as companies like Hyundai and Kia where one has a controlling stake in the other.
In general, Kawasaki is known as the more inexpensive of the three brands, and for its bikes being easier to ride.
This makes their target market larger, as many beginner riders and expert riders alike seek out Kawasaki bikes to enjoy. Kawasaki engines are also widely lauded as among the most reliable.
Honda is known especially for its engineering prowess that can certainly rival Kawasaki.
They also have a more rounded, curved look to the bikes that is a counterpoint to the more angular design of Kawasaki bikes.
Honda bikes may be a little bit much to handle for beginner riders.
Even their mid-range 650cc bikes redline as high as 12,000rpm.
Suzuki is known especially for its lack of breakdowns.
They don’t always look as fancy as the other two brands, but they are sturdy and built to last.
For those in countries where motorcycle maintenance can be expensive and/or hard to come by, a Suzuki brand will ensure you don’t need a professional’s help that often.
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