Many motorcyclists dream of parking literbikes, like the race bikes they see on TV, in their humble garages. The sound and performance of these superbikes is a dream, but they cost a fortune, and they certainly aren’t beginner friendly. That is why middle-weight supersport-styled bikes offer the more attainable and user-friendly option for any level of rider, including beginners. Honda‘s CBR500R and the Kawasaki Ninja 400 are great examples that offer a few things that even the bigger sportbikes can’t match. They come in a lightweight beginner-friendly package that offers better gas mileage, reduced maintenance, and a less aggressive riding position that lets you stay in the saddle all day, every day.
The CBR500R and the Ninja 400 are popular rivals in the equally popular and diverse entry-level motorcycle class. They are sporty, full-fairing clad bikes that are capable and fun to ride. Unlike the big literbikes, you can actually and effortlessly push them to their limits in almost any setting. It is difficult to say whether one is better than the other, and besides personal preferences, here’s why we love these bikes.
10 We Love The Honda CBR500R: The Parallel Twin Motor
Top of CBR500R’s strength is the 471cc parallel-twin motor that punches out 47hp and 31lb-ft of torque. It is ridiculously fuel-efficient, economical to run, and good for 63mpg. But it’s about more than numbers, as this motor is a marvel of modern engineering that stresses on high performance while being highly efficient.
Unlike most rev-happy sportbikes, the CBR500R’s engine delivers better low to mid-range grunt. Also, with a 17.1-liter tank, the bike will easily cruise for 480 km between refills.
9 We’d Rather Have The Kawasaki Ninja 400: It Is Lighter
While the CBR500R has a 73cc advantage over the Kawasaki Ninja 400, the Ninja is 57 pounds lighter, and this weight advantage contributed to its better in-gear feel and outright acceleration. The CBR500R weighs 366lbs compared to 423lbs of the Ninja 400.
The lower weight makes the Ninja the easier bike to hop onto and tame for beginners. Also, while the CBR makes the better all-around bike, the lighter Ninja 400 will perform better around the track.
8 We Love The Honda CBR500R: Reliability And Build Quality
It is difficult to predict their reliability or build quality with most new bikes. But the 2022 CBR500R has the advantage of being a Honda, and it has carried over much of its DNA from the 2019 bike. MCN’s owners’ reviews gave the 2019 to 2021 model a five-star out of five reliability and build quality rating.
The latest model feels solidly built and shows no indication that it might suffer a different fate from the outgoing model – most owners have reported zero faults after years of use.
7 We’d Rather Have The Kawasaki Ninja 400: Easier To Ride
The bike’s friendly character means that riders of all skill levels can enjoy riding it. Both the CBR500R and the Ninja 400 are quite forgiving. While the Ninja 300 had a longer stroke, the 400 came with the new bigger displacement engine but retained the root formula for an extremely beginner-friendly bike, while being 17 pounds lighter than its smaller displacement sibling.
The rider triangle is aptly preserved while remaining very comfortable. Also, the Ninja’s superior power-to-weight ratio makes it more track friendly.
6 We Love The Honda CBR500R: Sleek Aggressive Design
Anyone new to the world of motorcycles would be forgiven for confusing the CBR500R for a Fireblade. The chassis geometry and balance are near perfect, testament to Honda’s refinement of the CBR nameplate across 25 years. The full fairing featuring super sport styling remind you CBR500R that this is a legitimate CBR. Aerodynamic lines cut neatly through the air while protecting the rider from the elements.
The riding position is sporty and comfy, with a dynamic seating stance where the rider can confidently navigate the twisties and later comfortably commute across town without feeling cramped.
5 We’d Rather Have The Kawasaki Ninja 400: The Ninja 400 Is Quicker
The two bikes feature similar engine configurations, and the odds are further stacked in favor of the CBR500R with a distinct advantage in the extra 73cc over the Ninja 400. Regardless, the bikes generate the same peak power figures, with the CBR having a much better torque output. But the Ninja still has better outright acceleration than the CBR.
The Ninja is faster both from a rolling start and going flat out through the gears, but the CBR eventually catches up since both have similar top speeds. The Kawasaki takes advantage of its lighter weight and higher revs across all gears.
4 We Love The Honda CBR500R: The Lights
Experts agree that motorcycle headlights make the rider more visible to other road users, since oncoming motorists can detect a headlight long before they spot the bike. So having strong headlights can help increase your safety as a rider. Honda has used high efficiency, bright LEDs for the head and tail lights.
These LEDs consume less juice, last longer, and properly light up the night while being equally visible during the day. You could expect this feature to come with a flagship literbike but perhaps not on a $6k bargain bike.
3 We’d Rather Have The Kawasaki Ninja 400: Precise Handling
The Ninja’s precise handling can be partly attributed to its impeccable balance. Kawasaki continue to push the limits when it comes to agility and riding dynamics, and this is true with the Ninja 400 as it prides razor sharp handling capabilities. Also, with the 2018 overhaul, the Ninja 400 received a thicker fork that further contributes to its better than Ninja 300’s agile handling.
Add a respectable ground clearance, and you have the perfect machine for the twisties that you can throw around confidently without scraping the pavement with the footpeg feelers.
2 We Love The Honda CBR500R: Sporty Exhaust Sound
Since the 2016 model year, Honda upgraded the CBR500R’s exhaust to a stainless-steel system that produces a throatier growl and an intimidating presence that almost contradicts its ultra-approachable stance. It rises to a charming burbling exhaust note as soon as you cross the 60mph mark.
The exhaust isn’t so loud it’ll land you in trouble with neighbors, yet it is loud enough to make everyone aware of the presence of a real CBR. It is one of the few stock pipes most riders would be happy living with without needing an aftermarket upgrade.
1 We’d Rather Have The Kawasaki Ninja 400: It Is More Affordable
The Ninja 400 offers great value for money, whether you go for the non-ABS trim or spend the extra $400 to get the ABS version. It comes with a bargain base price of $4,999 compared to the more expensive CBR500R, starting at a distant $6,699. This might just be the best motorcycle under $5,000.
Considering what both bikes offer and how close they are in almost all areas makes the Ninja 400 a massive bargain. Perhaps Honda’s cost can be justified by the more premium standard features it packs over the Kawasaki?
Honda’s modern motor bikes may be great, but we’re looking at their entire history here for the best motorcycles the company ever made ranked.
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