Comparison of the KTM RC 390 sports bike with the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 ABS
The lightweight sports bike class has reached a fever pitch lately. That’s good news, as these smaller motorcycles are designed to be broadly functional and financially accessible.
Better yet, manufacturers are pushing the limits of what a lightweight motorcycle is by constantly increasing engine displacement, chassis, and suspension performance.
In 2015, KTM introduced the revolutionary KTM RC 390, which quickly became the top of the heap for entry-level supersport motorcycles. Since then, the KTM has remained relatively undisputed in terms of absolute performance within this class. The RC has also enjoyed modest updates in the meantime.
This year, a new challenge has arrived: the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400. It’s not a pumped-up Ninja 300. The 2018 Ninja 400 is a brand new motorcycle.
With nearly identical numbers on the spec sheet except for the number of cylinders in the engines, these lightweight Supersport machines seem even when they go head-to-head. Although they share many statistics on paper, their riding experience is clearly unique and will suit a certain type of rider, so let’s continue with the comparison.
The big news for this category and the new Kawasaki Ninja 400 is its big bump in displacement, with its 399cc liquid-cooled parallel twin engine. Although Kawasaki North America does not claim dyno numbers, its European counterparts do, reporting spikes of 44 horsepower at 10,000 rpm and 28 ft-lbs of torque at 8000 rpm. This hits the mark in terms of street performance – plenty of gun power and travel, without being overwhelming.
The Kawi’s purring little parallel twin is smooth and incredibly accommodating. Novice motorcyclists are sure to love the manageable power and flat torque curve, making this engine easy to understand while keeping things wildly fun.
Grab a handful of the Ninja 400’s crisp throttle and you’ll hear a captivating intake howl. There are plenty of get-up-and-go activities to make highway passes, as well as fix your cannon or track on the weekends.
In contrast, the 373cc single DOHC of the KTM RC 390 embodies the Austrian brand’s Ready To Race slogan. The raucous, raw engine claims to generate an eyebrow that raises 44 horsepower at 9500 rpm and 26 ft.-lbs. Of torque at 7250 rpm; those are impressive numbers for a street legal single and on par with Kawasaki’s DOHC twin. Given KTM’s long history of producing next-generation dirt bikes, that shouldn’t come as a surprise; the company knows a thing or two about how to get the most out of thumpers and the KTM doesn’t act like one at all.
Twisting the cable-drive throttle will have you exploring manageable tap power with the KTM RC 390. It’s incredibly easy to control, and while it takes a bit more finesse with the clutch from a stop than with the Kawasaki, all after that. be progressive and predictable. Because it’s a bump, the RC 390 is more prone to vibrating at the bitter end of the rev range than Kawasaki’s parallel twin, and it sheds more ambient heat.
At higher sustained speeds, the Kawasaki twin doesn’t work as hard as the KTM’s smaller 26cc single. That translates to a smoother ride when traveling on the highway or highway, and much better fuel economy than its rival. Especially when stretching your legs, because Kawasaki’s 399cc parallel twin has a higher rev ceiling, it looks like it has a bit more at the top end.
Both machines are paired with good six-speed transmissions that are paired with slipper clutches, a nice safety feature for riders of all skill levels.
When riding at an average pace, these bikes barely drink fuel and the KTM’s 2.6-gallon fuel capacity seems completely adequate. However, when the pace picks up and you’re squeezing the single, you’ll be making a lot of trips to the gas station. The Ninja 400, with its 3.7 gallon tank, has a substantially greater range.
rc 390 vs ninja 400
When the KTM RC 390 made its debut on the American market in 2015, it attracted attention for many reasons, not only because of its daring appearance, but because it came equipped with components such as the 43mm WP inverted fork, although that is not adjustable, something that is not typical of this …