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The Kawasaki Ninja lineup has long been celebrated for its inherent sportiness and iconic design. Among its incarnations, the Ninja 300 and Ninja 400 are two popular choices for riders seeking a thrilling yet accessible riding experience. In this article, we will delve into their key differences, highlights, and drawbacks and determine which option might be better.
The main differences between the Kawasaki Ninja 300 and 400 are their engine displacement, styling, performance figures, and target market. The Ninja 400 is faster and more proficient for freeway driving. Meanwhile, the Ninja 300 is better suited for cruising and as a daily driver.
Before diving into the detailed comparison, note that the Ninja 300 and Ninja 400 have their individual strengths and target different segments of riders. Understanding these differences will help you decide based on your riding style, experience, and preferences.
Battle of the Lightweight Ninjas
The Kawasaki Ninja 300 or EX300 comes from the renowned ‘Kawasaki Ninja’ series inspired by the 1984 GPZ900R. It was initially introduced in 2012 as a 2013 model and made available in several markets, including Europe, Asia, and North America.
The 300cc machine succeeded the 30-year reign of the 250R and was sold in India until 2019 before being discontinued. Six years later, the 400cc Ninja followed in its footsteps.
2018 saw the release of the Kawasaki Ninja 400 in the market, which many believed to have taken its design from its predecessor. While this is true to an extent, the EX300 did not entirely lay the groundwork for its bigger-displacement incarnation.
Kawasaki created the Ninja 400 to address the shortcomings of the EX300 — reason the former received significant upgrades to its power mill, suspension, and frame.
Both have stellar track records, with the Ninja 300 frequently gracing racing events such as the MOPAR CSBK National Tour, the Ninja Cup, and the Ninja 400 boasting a 2018 FIM World Championship win by Ana Carrasco. This inherent sportiness led to the creation of the KRT (Kawasaki Racing Team) trim — one of the Kawasaki EX400’s best offerings since 2017.
Kawasaki Ninja 300 vs. 400 Specs & Features (EX300A/B/SE vs. EX400G/H)
Kawasaki Ninja 300 and 400 motorcycles have a 4-stroke, liquid-cooled parallel twin-cylinder DOHC engine. To add, both employ DFI® (Digital Fuel Injection) with dual 32-mm throttle bodies and an electric starter.
Despite these similarities, everything else about their power mill layout differs—from the air filter used down to performance figures. Given its higher piston displacement, the 400cc Ninja will naturally have the upper hand in the latter. Interestingly, however, the bigger bike cannot seem to pull away from its sibling in top speed despite boasting superior torque and power output.
|Displacement||296 cm³ (18.1 in³)||399 cm³ (24.3 in³)|
|Bore-Stroke Ratio||62 × 49 mm (2.44 × 1.93 inches)||70 × 51.8 mm (2.76 × 2.04 inches)|
|Air Filtration||Polyurethane foam filter||Wet paper filter|
|Top Speed||106—119 mph (171—192 km/h)||100—121 mph (160—194.7 km/h)*|
|Horsepower||39 PS (29 kW) @ 11,000 RPM||43.4 hp (31.9 kW) @ 9,900 RPM**|
|Torque||27 Nm (2.8 kgf-m, 20 lb-ft) @ 10,000 RPM||33.3 Nm (3.4 kgf-m, 24.6 lb-ft) @ 8,250 RPM**|
** 2018 issue by Cycle World
Fuel & Lubrication
Although both motorcycles have a Forced lubrication (wet sump) system and feed on unleaded gasoline with a minimum rating of PON 87 or 90 (R+M)/2, the EX300 stands out with its higher fuel and lubrication requirements. That 3-L difference in tank capacity renders the Ninja 300 more fuel-efficient than the EX400.
|Tank Capacity||17 L (4.5 USgal)||14 L (3.7 USgal)|
|Fuel Mileage||54—74 mpg (3.2—4.4 L/100 km)||51—65 mpg (3.6—4.6 L/100 km)|
|Oil Type & Capacity)*||2 L (2.1 US qt, filter change) 2.2 L (2.3 US qt, without filter) 2.4 L (2.5 US qt, after disassembly)||1.6 L (1.7 US qt, at draining) 2.0 L (2.1 US qt, filter change)|
Both Ninjas roar to life via a 6-speed constant-mesh, close-ratio transmission. A multi-disc wet clutch assembly assists in delivering power to the rear wheel, with ABS and SE models having an FCC assist & slipper clutch assembly (although for different model years, i.e. 2014 for the EX300 and 2018 onward for the EX400).
Furthermore, gear settings differ between the two Ninjas, with the EX400’s gear ratios optimized to provide improved acceleration and top speed.
|Primary Reduction Ratio||3.087 (71/23)||2.219 (71/32)|
|Gear Ratio — 1st||2.714 (38/14)||2.929 (41/14)|
|Gear Ratio — 2nd||1.789 (34/19)||2.056 (37/18)|
|Gear Ratio — 3rd||1.409 (31/22)||1.619 (34/21)|
|Gear Ratio — 4th||1.160 (29/25)||1.333 (32/24)|
|Gear Ratio — 5th||1.000 (27/27)||1.154 (30/26)|
|Gear Ratio — 6th||0.857 (24/28)||1.037 (28/27)|
|Final Reduction Ratio||3.000 (42/14T)||2.929 (41T/14T)|
|Overall Drive Ratio||7.938 @ Top gear||6.738 @ Top gear|
Ignition & Electricals
These lightweights have battery & coil ignition (transistorized, TCBI w/ digital advance) systems and three-phase A.C. alternators serving as their charging system. They also utilize a 12V 8 Ah/(10 HR) FTX9-BS battery (view on Amazon). The more recent EX400 ditched the old assembly for LED lights, except for the license plate and turn signal lights.
|Ignition Timing||From 10° BTDC @ 1,300 RPM to 31° BTDC @ 7,000 RPM||From 10° BTDC @ 1,300 RPM to 40° BTDC @ 10,000 RPM|
|Spark Plug, Electrode Gap||NGK CR8E, 0.7–0.8 mm (0.028–0.031 inch)||NGK LMAR9G, 0.7–0.8 mm (0.028–0.031 inch)|
|Charging System, Output||Triple-phase A.C. alternator, 35V or more @ 4,000 RPM||Triple-phase A.C. alternator, Unspecified in manual|
|Headlight||12 V 55 W/55 W (high/low beam)||LED|
|Tail/Brake Light||12 V 21/5 W||LED|
|Turn Signal Light (F/R)||Unspecified in manual||12V 10 W (RY10W, front); 12V 10 W (WY10W, rear)|
|License Plate Light||Unspecified in manual||12V 5 W (W5W)|
Tires & Brakes
The Kawasaki Ninja 300 and 400 comes equipped with factory-installed tubeless radials. The front tires have a size of 110/70R17 (view on Amazon) M/C 54S/54H, while the rear tires measure 150/60R17 M/C 66S/66H.
These knobbies are mounted on 17-inch aluminum rims, with the Ninja 400 boasting a stronger tire-and-wheel assembly — thanks to its Sportmax tires that perform much better than the problematic Road Winners.
Recommended cold-tire pressure for the pair is 200 kPa (2.00 kgf/cm², 28 psi — front) and 225 kPa (2.25 kgf/cm², 32 psi — rear). Tweaking these values is permissible but contingent on the terrain type and payload.
|Tire Brand (F/R)||IRC ROAD WINNER, RX-01; Bridgestone BATTLAX HYPERSPORT S20||Dunlop SPORTMAX, GPR 300|
|Rim Size (F/R)||J17M/C × MT2.75 / J17M/C × MT4.00||17M/C × MT3.00 / 17M/C × MT4.00 (R)|
|Front Brakes||290-mm (11.4-inch) discs w/ petal-type rotors & dual-piston calipers||310-mm semi-floating disc w/ two-piston balanced actuation caliper|
|Rear Brakes||220-mm (8.7-inch) discs w/ petal-type rotors & dual-piston calipers||220-mm petal disc w/ dual-piston calipers|
|Engine Braking||Optional: ABS (Anti-lock Braking System)||ABS (Anti-lock Braking System)|
It is worth noting that, in certain trim variations, the front wheel of the EX300 is 0.25 inches thinner than that of the EX400. Additionally, some of its limited-edition iterations swap out the standard aluminum rims for chrome.
Enclosed in a tubular diamond steel frame are front and rear suspension units with a minimum ground clearance of 140 mm (5.51 inches) and suspension travel. The turning radius for both bikes is not that far from each other (disparity in measurement is only shy of 2 inches).
The EX300, in particular, boasts a slightly steeper rake angle that lends to increased maneuverability and quicker steering response. Conversely, the EX400’s shallower caster angle increases stability, especially during high-speed riding.
|Wheelbase||1,405 mm (55.31 inches)||1,370 mm (53.94 inches)|
|Turning Radius||2.4 m (7.9 feet)||2.5 m (8.2 feet)|
|Caster Angle / Trail||27°; 93 mm (3.7 inches)||24.7°; 92 mm (3.6 inches)|
|Front Suspension, Travel||37-mm telescopic fork, 120 mm (4.72 inches)||41-mm telescopic fork, 120 mm (4.72 inches)|
|Rear Suspension, Travel||Uni-Trak® swingarm w/ 5-way preload-adjustable gas shocks, 130 mm (5.1 inches)||Uni-Trak® swingarm, 130 mm (5.1 inches)|
Dimensions & Capacities
In terms of overall dimensions, the 300cc Ninja is a tad stockier than its bigger-displacement namesake — despite having a shared saddle height of 785 mm (30.9 inches). It is also heavier by approximately 6 Kg (curb weight, unladen), partly due to its 17-L fuel tank and engine oil capacities.
Surprisingly, the Ninja EX300 has a better payload rating than the EX400 and, subsequently, a higher GVWR. All other variances in measurement, however, are within 5% — including the EX300B SE trim standing at 1,170 mm (46.06 inches).
|Dimensions (L x W x H)||2,015 x 715 x 1,110 mm (79.3 x 28.1 x 43.7 inches)||1,990 x 710 x 1,120 mm (78.3 x 28 x 44.1 inches)|
|Curb Weight (Combined)||172—175 Kg (379—386 lbs.)||166 Kg (366 lbs., EX400G); 164 Kg (362 lbs., EX400H)|
|Payload Capacity||180 Kg (397 lbs.)||176.9 Kg (390 lbs.)|
|Estimated GVWR||352—355 Kg (776—782 lbs.)||340.9—342.9 Kg (751—755 lbs.)|
While both motorcycles share sport-oriented styling cues, the Ninja 400 features a more angular and aggressive bodywork design over its smaller namesake. The fairings, headlights, and overall body lines of the EX400 are typically sharper, augmented by a modern and more advanced LCD instrument panel.
Moreover, the 400cc Ninja features a more contoured and sport-oriented seat, providing better support during aggressive riding. Meanwhile, the 300cc Ninja’s saddle is slightly wider and more comfortable — suitable for longer rides or daily commutes.
The Ninja 300 and 400 received respective styling enhancements during their production run. While some of these upgrades are subtle, others are distinct and actually helped riders (especially beginners) tell these two-wheeled machines apart. Here are some of these enhancements:
- Kawasaki introduced updated fairing designs for the Ninja 400 starting from its debut.
- The Ninja 400 received LED headlights and taillights (view on Amazon), offering improved visibility and a modern look.
- Kawasaki periodically introduced new color options and graphics to refresh the bike’s aesthetics.
- The Ninja 300’s updated bodywork incorporated sharper lines and a more streamlined look.
- Like the EX400, the EX300 had various color options, providing consumers with fresh styling options.
- Various model years, particularly special and limited-edition trims, featured unique graphics and decals that added to the bike’s visual appeal.
Cost of a Kawasaki Ninja 300 vs. 400
The tables below show a rundown of MSRPs for the Kawasaki Ninja 300 and 400 base models. Note that these figures only show list prices at the time of the bikes’ initial release and their most recent production year in North America and do not include units sold in other regions:
Kawasaki Ninja 300
|Year – Model – Trim||List Price||Retail/Trade-In Values|
|2013 Kawasaki EX300ADF||$4,799||$2,260 — $2,975|
|2017 Kawasaki EX300AHF||$4,999||$2,920 — $3,845|
Kawasaki Ninja 400
|Year – Model – Trim||List Price||Retail/Trade-In Values|
|2018 Kawasaki EX400HJF||$4,999||$3,220 — $4,240|
|2023 Kawasaki EX400HPFNN||$5,499||$4,175 — $5,495|
The most expensive trim of the Ninja 300 was the 2017 Kawasaki EX300BHFBL Ninja Winter Test Edition, which sold for $5,599. Meanwhile, the 2023 Kawasaki EX400GPFAN KRT Edition (ABS) sells for $5,899 for the Ninja 400.
You can get a decent Ninja 300 or 400 motorcycle in good working condition and with little to moderate cosmetic damage in the used-bike market. These pre-owned units typically have a low-to-average retail value of $910—$5,490 (bikesales.com.au) for the Ninja 300 and $3,000—$5,890 (motorsportsuniverse.com) for the 400cc incarnation.
Pros and Cons — Kawasaki Ninja 300 vs. 400
- The EX300 is a versatile motorcycle suitable for urban, mountain, and highway riding, meeting strict Euro 3 emission standards.
- Its impressive transmission and FCC assist & slipper clutch design provide effortless shifting and reduce the back-torque effect.
- The Uni-Trak® rear suspension and sturdy swingarm bracket ensure predictable handling on rough terrain, complementing the strong frame.
- Additionally, the bike offers fuel efficiency, optional gel seats for comfort, and a convenient hinged fuel cap.
- Its parallel twin engine feels limited at high speeds, causing noticeable vibrations and compromising rider comfort. Also, stock IRC Road Winner bias tires hinder performance and stability, especially when cornering.
- The Ninja also faces challenges with limited ground clearance, subpar suspension control, stability issues, inadequate seat comfort, flimsy components, and vulnerable fairings and decals.
- Some production models favor smooth surfaces, limiting the bike’s suitability for rough road conditions.
- Depending on the year and trim, getting ABS means an extra $300 — $500 on the base price of the motorcycle.
- The sportbike underwent improvements in both its bodywork and color options, offering a wider selection compared to the Ninja 650.
- With front brakes borrowed from the Ninja ZX-14R, the Ninja 400 provides reassurance for novice riders and is more forgiving than its larger counterpart.
- Although not extremely fast, its top speed is ample for daily commutes, highway driving, and weekend canyon rides, making for ease of maneuvering around obstacles and through stop-and-go traffic.
- Despite targeting beginners, the 400cc Ninja lacks traction control features and rider modes.
- Rear shocks offer only a 5-way preload adjustment, leaving them unimpressive.
- The difference in power delivery becomes noticeable at higher speeds, with the two-wheeler more likely to stumble compared to higher-displacement counterparts.
- Some Ninja owners would also prefer a side-mounted tag/license plate holder, and the rear passenger seat may be too skinny and uncomfortable.
Conclusion — Kawasaki Ninja 300 vs. 400
In summary, the Kawasaki Ninja 400 and 300 share numerous attributes — reliability, agility, and a sporty nature. Both motorcycles boast sleek styling characterized by clean lines and an aggressive, edgy appeal. As versatile all-rounders, they are favored by riders for daily commuting and weekend adventures.
Similarities aside, it is the bikes’ subtle differences that truly count. In terms of ergos, speed, and rider comfort, one or the other is the clear winner. That said, either the Kawasaki Ninja 300 or 400 will make a great beginner bike. Whichever you choose, remember to temper your decision with your needs and whims and take into account where you will ride.