Spec comparo: All-new Kawasaki Ninja 400 vs Kawasaki Z650
We really, really, really like the Z650 as a beginner's big bike. It's a small motorcycle in size, easy to ride, fast enough to thrill without intimidating you and is priced well too. In fact, despite the growing clamour that Kawasaki's cost of living with is startlingly high, their pricing has always been superb. But the last two launches have been a surprise. First with the Rs 4.6 lakh Versys X-300 with its added features - the two auxiliary lamps, a single pannier and an epic saree guard. And now, Kawasaki has topped the Versys X-300 by launching the Ninja 400 at Rs 4.69 lakh ex-showroom. The last two days, we have been bombarded with questions from you asking basically why you shouldn't just stretch your budget and get a Z650 instead. We thought we'd take a look at the specification and help you decide.
The engines and the nature of power
If you look at the specification, you will notice two things. First, the power and torque gap between the Kawasaki Ninja 400 and the Kawasaki Z650 isn't huge. There's 19 horses only in play and the Z650 is 17kg heavier. Wow.
But look at two things, first is the revs at which peak power and torque are made and the second is the peak torque figure. The Ninja 400 makes almost 28Nm less than the Z650 - that's 30 per cent less torque!
But wait. This is a discussion about the nature of the power more than outright performance - the Z650 is sure to beat the Ninja 400 is almost every real world situation.
As a sportsbike, the Ninja 400 will want revs and that's how the engine is designed. Look at how much higher the compression ratio is. The Ninja puts out almost 123PS/litre in specific output whereas the Z650 makes a relatively mild 108.
So when you ride the Ninja 400, you are choosing a higher revving, more involving motorcycle although the Z650 is calmer as well as faster.
This is where the difference will be even more pronounced. As a 650cc street bike, the Z650 is well-mannered. The intent is to feel sporty but comfortable whereas the Ninja 400 is supposed to feel like a mini-sportsbike.
What that should translate to is a more committed seating position, sharper responses and a stiffer ride overall for the smaller Kawasaki. As a small sportsbike, it won't be hardcore like, say, the current ZX-10R, but the Z650 will be sweeter and easier to ride in most situations.
If you're a sportsbike-nut then this comparison will look foolish to you and that's all right - check out the spec comparison with the KTM RC 390 and the Yamaha YZF-R3 instead. In no way can you escape the idea that the Ninja 400 is an extraordinarily expensive small sportsbike. Which is mysterious given the fact that it competes at price parity with these motorcycles in almost every market but India. And it's completely all right if it doesn't make sense to you.
But the price difference to the Z650 is even harder to comprehend. At ex-showroom prices, the Z650 costs just Rs 30,000 more. Uh oh. Okay, even if you factor in the idea that the Z650's parts will be more expensive, the Ninja 400 makes up little ground if at all.
Then we called a dealer. The on-road prices in Mumbai are Rs 6.13 lakh for the Z650 versus Rs 5.75 lakh for the Ninja 400. Rs 38,000 in all. And if you finance it - 80 per cent of on-road price, 10.5 per cent, five years - the Ninja 400 comes to Rs 9,887 per month on EMIs. And the Z650? Wait for it. Rs 645 more.
Let us know what you think?
Specifications: Kawasaki Ninja 400 vs Kawasaki Z650
First look video: All-new Kawasaki Ninja 400
Kawasaki Z650 road test review video
Starts Rs 4,69,000
Starts Rs 5,94,000
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