A ’Z’ On The Outside; A Ninja On The Inside

Kawasaki needed to plug a hole in its super-naked lineup between the Z300 and the Z650, so it cooked up the new Z400 ABS to do the job. Aggressive Kawi styling dominates the look, but not necessarily the attitude, to make the Z400 an excellent commuter/first upgrade from whatever you cut your teeth on. The ergonomics are friendly to shorter inseams and conducive to relaxed riding, so this is a bike that should cover a range of body types. Is it right for you? Let’s find out.

  • 2019 Kawasaki Z400
  • Year:
    2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Parallel-Twin
  • Displacement:
    399 cc
  • Price:
    4799
  • Price:

2019 Kawasaki Z400 Design

The aggressive nose-down/tail-up 'sugomi' style shows its common DNA with the rest of the naked “Z” line.

The Z400 manages to convey its Kawi-ness through minimal body coverings that leave little to the imagination. It starts off right out of the gate with a cut-down/cut-out front fender that sets the stage for the spiky, aggressive design features to come. The headlight housing is typical of the genre with dual LED projectors below a small flyscreen that protects the instrument can, but little else. As for the instrumentation, it sports an all-digital cluster that delivers an analog-style tachometer readout with a block-numeral display for speed and a gear indicator. There’s a digital odometer and trip meter, and a handful of idiot lights split between two clusters to take care of the rest.

The cheek fairings are probably the only superfluous body details; they seem to have little value beyond their aesthetic contribution ’cause they fall short of even covering the radiator kinda like high-waters britches don’t cover your ankle. Said radiator rides on the downtubes just above their union with the engine where it can breathe freely of the air coming over the top of the front fender.

The handlebar has a little rise to it, and since the overall size is fairly compact, it’s sufficient to push your hands back enough to allow for a fairly-upright riding posture when you want it with room to tuck in when you need to. A 3.7-gallon fuel tank comes to a peak about midway, and it carries a declining line all the way back to the saddle to give your upper torso some room when you go into your racing tuck. As you’d expect, the tank has a complex shape that uses an upper flange to fair out the airflow and form the knee pockets that pull your legs in out of the slipstream while tapering down in back to the teeny-tiny waist.

A heavily-beveled saddle does its bit to give your legs room to reach the ground unimpeded when it’s time to deploy your training wheels. The rise to the pillion forms a butt-bucket for the pilot and gives the Z400 an aggressive nose-down/tail-up sugomi style that shows its common DNA with the rest of the naked “Z” line and puts the rider “in” the bike more than “on” it.

Fold-up, subframe-mount footpegs round out the passenger’s gear, though the p-pad itself is less-than-generous with enough area to pad your passenger’s tailbone and naughty bits but little else. The taillight rides tucked up under the tip of the tail with a stubby mudguard that props up the standoff turn signals and license plate to finish up the gear in the rear.

2019 Kawasaki Z400 Chassis

2019 Kawasaki Z400
- image 810167
You can expect a nimble ride, eager in the corners

High-tensile steel members make up the Trellis frame, and in an effort to keep weight down the factory used the engine as a stressed member to replace the downtube/cradle section of the frame. The steering geometry indicates a nimble ride with 24.5-degrees of rake and 3.6-inches of trail that’ll make it eager in the corners. Vanilla, rwu, 41 mm forks push the front wheel out, but not too far, just to a compact, 53.9-inch wheelbase, and the suspension travel clocks in at 4.7-inches and 5.1-inches for the front and rear respectively, plenty for the streets.

The Uni-Trak shock in back sports a five-way preload adjuster, but that’s the only ride-quality control to be found in the stems. Symmetrical, 17-inch wheels run with five thin spokes to keep unsprung weight down. A 110/70 and 150/60 hoop rounds out the rolling chassis with a 310 mm disc and twin-piston Nissin anchor up front and another in back to bite a 286 mm disc; plus the ABS comes as part of the standard equipment package for a little extra safety and the peace of mind that comes with it.

Front Suspension / Wheel Travel: Telescopic fork/4.7 in
Rear Suspension / Wheel Travel: Uni-Trak® swingarm/5.1 in
Frame: Trellis, high-tensile steel
Rake/Trail: 24.5°/3.6 in
Front Tire: 110/70-17M/C 54H
Rear Tire: 150/60-17M/C 66H
Front Brakes: Single disc
Rear Brakes: Single disc

2019 Kawasaki Z400 Drivetrain

2019 Kawasaki Z400
- image 810163
Lighter than previous incarnations, the power-to-weight ratio promises a bit of fun.

Kawi pulled the liquid-cooled, 399 cc engine over from its Ninja supersport division. It rocks a pair of 70 mm bores in a parallel-twin configuration with a 51.8 mm stroke and 11.5-to-one compression ratio that will put you at the premium hook to keep it from knocking/pinging/dieseling.

This powerplant is pretty raw in the sense that it doesn’t come with much in the way of electronic fandanglery. Sure, it uses a downdraft intake with 32 mm, electronic fuel-injection throttle bodies to manage the induction and a fancy digital timing-advance feature, but the suite has nothing in the way of rider modes, anti-wheelie or traction control on board. A slipper clutch does provide some extra security by preventing loss of traction due to excessive backtorque on hard downshifts and aggressive engine-braking techniques, but again, that ain’t quite the same thing as a proper set of safety electronics.

What does all this give us? Well, if you wind it up to eight grand you’ll unleash 28 pound-feet of torque, and at an even 10 grand you can expect 44.7-horsepower with a curb weight of only 363.8 pounds so you can expect to have a little fun when you get twisty with that right grip. Power flows through a six-speed transmission and heads to the rear wheel via chain drive.

Engine: 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, DOHC, liquid-cooled
Displacement: 399 cc
Bore x Stroke: 70.0 mm x 51.8 mm
Compression Ratio: 11.5:1
Maximum Torque: 28.0 lb-ft @ 8,000 rpm
Fuel System: DFI® with 32 mm throttle bodies
Ignition: TCBI with digital advance
Transmission: 6-speed, return shift
Final Drive: Sealed chain

2019 Kawasaki Z400 Pricing

2019 Kawasaki Z400
- image 810164
MSRP puts it under $5k, but not far enough under for what you get.

The all-new Z400 rolls for $4,799 no matter which color package you choose. There’s a Candy Lime Green over Metallic Spark Black that is very Kawi-tastic, and a Candy Cardinal Red over Metallic Spark Black, both of which are pretty sharp looking if you ask me.

Warranty: 12 Month Limited Warranty (optional Kawasaki Protection Plus™ 12, 24, 26 or 48 months)
Colors: Candy Lime Green/Metallic Spark Black, Candy Cardinal Red/Metallic Flat Spark Black
Price: $4,799

2019 Kawasaki Z400 Competitors

2013 - 2018 Honda CB500F
- image 810188
2019 Kawasaki Z400
- image 810168
The lack of electronics at this price point could hurt the Z400.

Domestic competitor Honda had just the thing to put up against Kawi’s Z400; the CB500F. Like the Kawi, the “CB” rocks the naked-standard look with little in the way of body covering — or mystery — to be had. A cut-down and vented fender leads the way with the same vanilla front end, and the rear end is limited to a preload adjuster, so the suspension is a wash.

The brakes are likewise similar with a 320 mm disc and twin-pot caliper opposite a 240 mm disc and single-pot anchor. Honda gives you a choice between a non-ABS model and one that comes with ABS for an extra three bills. It’s hard to make a naked-bike headlight can that looks good, apparently, to mine eyes at least, so I’ll leave it to you to decide between the two.

Honda picks up some inches (no giggity) with its 471 cc parallel-twin engine with a predictable effect on the power figures. The factory claims 49.6-horsepower and 31.7-pounds o’ grunt against 44.7/28, and while that’s to be expected, it’s hardly a decisive blow for the Red Riders, especially in light of its $6,099 MSRP on the base model and $6,399 for the ABS version.

He Said

“I don’t think the sticker difference is justified by the power difference, and certainly not for any kind of technology gap in the electronics. The looks are clearly Kawi, and that’s especially true with the green model, and while I’m glad the price stayed below the $5k mark, I’m a little disappointed with the lack of advanced electronics. Oh well, I guess you have to compromise somewhere, and you don’t get to have your cake and eat it too.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “Not to quibble about the choice of competitors, but I might have gone with the BMW G 310 R or the KTM 390 Duke, but it all depends on what you’re looking at and how you’re looking at it. The Z400 is built on the same frame and has the same engine as the Ninja 400, but with styling all its own. I’m not sure I’m a fan of the new styling, but as I’ve pointed out before, if you’re sitting on the bike, you’re not looking at it. Still, for the price, I would have thought there’d be a little more in the way of electronics since this low-to-mid displacement range is hot right now.”

2019 Kawasaki Z400 Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 4-stroke, 2-cylinder, DOHC, liquid-cooled
Displacement: 399 cc
Bore x Stroke: 70.0 mm x 51.8 mm
Compression Ratio: 11.5:1
Maximum Torque: 28.0 lb-ft @ 8,000 rpm
Fuel System: DFI® with 32 mm throttle bodies
Ignition: TCBI with digital advance
Transmission: 6-speed, return shift
Final Drive: Sealed chain
Chassis:
Front Suspension / Wheel Travel: Telescopic fork/4.7 in
Rear Suspension / Wheel Travel: Uni-Trak® swingarm/5.1 in
Frame: Trellis, high-tensile steel
Rake/Trail: 24.5°/3.6 in
Front Tire: 110/70-17M/C 54H
Rear Tire: 150/60-17M/C 66H
Front Brakes: Single disc
Rear Brakes: Single disc
Dimensions & Capacities:
Overall Length: 78.3 in
Overall Width: 31.5 in
Overall Height: 41.5 in
Ground Clearance: 5.7 in
Seat Height: 30.9 in
Curb Weight: 363.8 lb
Fuel Capacity: 3.7 gal
Wheelbase: 53.9 in
Details:
Warranty: 12 Month Limited Warranty (optional Kawasaki Protection Plus™ 12, 24, 26 or 48 months)
Colors: Candy Lime Green/Metallic Spark Black, Candy Cardinal Red/Metallic Flat Spark Black
Price: $4,799

Further Reading

Honda CB500F

2013 - 2018 Honda CB500F
- image 723030

See our review of the Honda CB500F.

Kawasaki Ninja 400

2018 - 2019 Kawasaki Ninja 400
- image 803449

See our review of the Kawasaki Ninja 400.

Kawasaki Z650

2017 - 2018 Kawasaki Z650 ABS
- image 735936

See our review of the Kawasaki Z650.

BMW G 310 R / G 310 GS

2017 - 2019 BMW G 310 R / G 310 GS
- image 751712

See our review of the BMW G 310 R / G 310 GS.

KTM 390 Duke

2017 - 2018 KTM 390 Duke
- image 779296

See our review of the KTM 390 Duke.

Kawasaki

no article
- image 795478

Read more Kawasaki news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: kawasaki.com, honda.com, bmwmotorcycles.com, ktm.com (photographer: R. Schedl)

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