KAWASAKI Z400 (2019 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Agile around town
  • Tested fuel economy of 55mpg
  • Based on Ninja 400 sportsbike

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Annual servicing cost: £180
Power: 44 bhp
Seat height: Medium (30.9 in / 785 mm)
Weight: Low (368 lbs / 167 kg)

Prices

New £4,999
Used £4,000 - £5,000

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
3 out of 5 (3/5)

There is a lot to like about the lightweight Kawasaki Z400. The parallel twin motor is impressively strong and the chassis agile in town and perfectly suited to those who may be lacking in confidence thanks to a low seat height and narrow waist  – however it isn’t all plain sailing.

The Zed has a raw and unrefined feeling when compared to the classier Honda CB500F and its motor is a bit vibey when worked hard.

In the bends the Kawasaki’s lightness can count against it, delivering a slightly skittish feel as the speed increases as its somewhat basic suspension fails to keep it all totally in check. If you are used to a 125 it feels much the same only more powerful where its heavier rivals feel more 'grown up' in their ride quality and assured as a result.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
3 out of 5 (3/5)

A physically small and narrow bike, the Z400 is better suited to shorter riders although it is far from uncomfortable for those a bit taller. In town its light weight really helps it feel pleasingly manageable and agile but on the open road the same lightness equates to a slightly skittish ride that the budget suspension fails to properly cope with.

You only get adjustment of the shock’s preload to play with as the forks are non-adjustable so there isn’t much you can do about it. That said, replacing the OE Thai-manufactured Dunlop Sportmax GPR-300 tyres, which are hideously hard and lacking in grip, for quality European-made rubber improves the bike’s handling and gives far greater confidence in the wet. The two-piston sliding caliper delivers lots of bite and the ABS system is excellent.

Riding the Kawasaki Z400

Engine

Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

To conform to the A2-legal 46.6bhp threshold the Zed makes a claimed 44.4bhp with 28ftlb of torque from its 399cc parallel twin motor. A surprisingly peppy engine that has a lovely light clutch action (it’s an assist and slipper clutch), the Zed’s motor has a strong spread of power that when combined with its relatively light 167kg weight means it is a nippy bike considering its small size.

The Kawasaki Z400 is capable of 170 miles on a tank

During MCN’s test we recorded economy figures of 55mpg, which means a range of about 170 miles from the 14-litre tank. Annoyingly, the tiny naked does tend to vibrate quite badly through its footpegs, leading to numb toes on long motorway or dual carriageway stints where you are holding constant high revs.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Z400 is based around Kawasaki’s Ninja 400 which in turn can trace its heritage back to the 2008 Ninja 250R (and even before this). 

There are few major mechanical issues to be wary of and most of the problems occur from owners and either a lack of basic maintenance or crash damage. It may be built in Thailand and not Japan but the quality control seems high and overall the Z400’s finish seems good.

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The A2-legal naked bike sector is quite competitive with the £5599 Honda CB500F, £5198 Yamaha MT-03 and £4299 KTM 390 Duke all offering lightweight naked challengers to the £5099 Kawasaki Z400 (2020 pricing).

In this context the Duke is undoubtably the bargain but it does only have one cylinder compared to the parallel twins from Japan.

Against its Japanese rivals, the Z400 is the cheapest but it also lacks the inverted forks of the Yamaha or the overall feeling of quality you get on the Honda, mainly due to its more brash styling and lighter weight. It’s good value, just not outstanding.

Comparing the Kawasaki Z400 to the Honda CB500F

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

The Zed comes with ABS as standard and its LCD dash contains a gear indicator, fuel gauge, digital rev counter and large mph display.

You get two trips, a clock, average mpg, live mpg and range as well as an 'economical riding indicator', but the whole thing is let down by a nasty carbon fibre (which looks suspiciously fake) surround.

Petal discs are a nice Kawasaki touch but the front caliper is only a two-piston sliding unit that is conventionally-mounted and the forks (which are non-adjustable) are also conventional in their orientation.

Specs

Engine size 399cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 8v, parallel twin
Frame type High-tensile tubular steel trellis
Fuel capacity 14 litres
Seat height 785mm
Bike weight 167kg
Front suspension 41mm conventional forks, non-adjustable
Rear suspension Monoshock, preload-adjustable
Front brake Single 310mm petal disc with two-piston caliper. ABS
Rear brake Single 220mm petal disc with two-piston caliper. ABS
Front tyre size 110/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 150/60 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 55 mpg
Annual road tax £44
Annual service cost £180
New price £4,999
Used price £4,000 - £5,000
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 44 bhp
Max torque 28 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 170 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

Owners' reviews for the KAWASAKI Z400 (2019 - on)

3 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI Z400 (2019 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your KAWASAKI Z400 (2019 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Engine: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Equipment: 3.3 out of 5 (3.3/5)
Annual servicing cost: £180
4 out of 5 Great commuter
03 October 2020 by Old guys "mule"

Year: 2020

Annual servicing cost: £200

Light, Stable, Fun

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Brakes haul up really well. Contrary to the reviewer on MCN, I would say it handles really well and is stable for a bike that is soooo light. It responds to handlebar, or footrest input very, very well. If you try to steer/flick, by your waist/hips though, like I used to on many a 125cc many moons ago, well then it does feel "skittish."

Engine 4 out of 5

Stir it up and it is quick enough for any day to day (legal and sensible) use. Like many bikes, it is not the smoothest response from a closed throttle, kinda like an original Yammy MT-03. Not as good fuelling wise, as the Honda CB300R (which was perfect). Gearbox is class. The odd glitch when revved hard between 2nd and 3rd, otherwise, awesome.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

No issues so far. Standard tyres are a bit 90's...but the chain and brakes are pretty good. Mirrors are awful though. Paint is ok, not Honda deep. Plastic are good, not nasty. Like almost every new bike, probably needs a fender extender and after market hugger to keep the crud at bay.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Cheap as chips. less than several 125cc bikes on the market and all for a bike that (fettled) runs in the SuperSport 300 WSBK class, albeit, minus the fairing.

Equipment 3 out of 5

Slipper is nice. ABS kicks in a bit too soon for my liking TBH.

Buying experience: Awesome. Paid less than RRP

4 out of 5 Z400 the lightweight killer of the flabby old CB500F
21 September 2020 by JimShortz

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £100

I love it - super light and flickable minibeast. This bike makes me smile every time I ride it, even after over a year of ownership. This the fat old CB500F could never do for me... or any of my other recently owned bikes - Versys 650, Z300, CBR250R. I even prefer it over my much more powerful (but heavy) old Honda CBR600F 4 pot!

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Both brakes and suspension are excellent for a bike of this power and at this price point. For me there is no need to change either, they work perfectly well and give a good ride and handling, and reassuring stopping power.

Engine 5 out of 5

I LOVE the engine. The bike just begs to be revved and rewards you with ear to ear fun - I bought the bike for the engine and am absolutely not disappointed in any way. The comparison with the "classier CB500F" by the reviewer is a joke - that ponderous beast would bore me to death with its characterless engine and fat old body (and I have ridden both the F and R versions for full day trips, before I bought the Z400). I guess the reviewer sees the CB500F as more planted and secure - but then so is a ship's anchor!

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

12000kms later and not a single issue, or any corrosion either - ridden a lot in the wet too (unfortunately!)

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

I live in Thailand so quoting costs makes little sense, but very cheap for me, just the reular servicing at Kawasaki with full synthetic oil used. The service schedule is every 6000kms, but I do every 4,000kms since it is as hot as hell here and I do like to hear her revving, so ride her fairly hard. Costs me 30 GBP for what should be a 6000km service. I did splash out on a Leo Vince slip-on that sounds gorgeous - but that's a chosen extra!

Equipment 4 out of 5

What do you expect at this price point? It has a slipper cluth (fantastic addition), gear indicator, abs - and that's about it; and all I need on this bike. The original tyres were great for a few months but very soon hardened and took my confidence away a little. Replacing with Pirelli Diablo Rosso 3s has changed that completely - a shame they weren't the standard fitting. The old ones went straight on my CB300F commuter and are great for that (see - modern Honda's do have a use; commuting!)

Buying experience: Dealer was excellent and the after sales service every bit as good (here in hailand).

4 out of 5 Skinny old git likes it...a lot
11 September 2020 by Buddha of suburbia

Year: 2020

Annual servicing cost: £250

This MCN review seems like a slating compared to the bike I own. I have owned and test ridden a lot of bikes over the years and I would personally put this bike in the same category as the MT07 when it first came out 2014, as just being a real hoot (although, the lite version, with its A2 credentials). Admittedly, there will be many factors as to why my experience differs so much from the writers, first of which, it must be said, is that whilst we are a similar age I would guess, I am only 65kgs and 178cm tall.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

I am a light weight, which is why I wanted a little weight bike as I age (48yrs old.....how the f~~k etc am I either a) still alive, or b) am I 48? I feel like a teenager :-D) and this thing is like a mtb, with nigh on 50bhp. I like the way it handles, I do not find it skittish at all, I have had to alter the way I ride to appreciate it though (I tend to grip the heel plates quite tightly, then everything clicks into place. It took me a week or two to realise, but this lightweight bike also has a very low centre of gravity, especially for a liquid cooled bike). Brakes are sharp and the ABS kicks in too early for me. I have had to re-calibrate my brain having never needed the nanny state previously, even having grown up on gravel strewn roads on the backwaters of Wales...brake-skid-release-apply the brake again-repeat until stationary...it is not that hard!

Engine 5 out of 5

take it by the horns and this little engine will reward. It deserves its place on any track day for someone looking to learn and is wasted to a certain extent at road legal speeds. I never owned an rd350, just a bit before my time, but I was riding 125/250/500cc 2stroke mx bikes in the 80's and whilst it will never be that wild, it loves to be thrashed and is a true pocket rocket when riled, with a broad power band

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Only done around 2.5k so far, mainly through lockdown (I have a spastic leg atm, so for me this was exercise!) I am an older rider, so maintenance is part of ownership to an old spunker like me and I see no issues thus far. Sure it doesn't have the think paint of an old Honda (XBR etc), but it is no throw away object either.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

I'll be spannering myself and on this bike, it has a major advantage over the competition. The KTM (which is this bikes only serious competitor in the the A2 sector, for fun factor) duke 390, will and I mean will(!) be harder to work on and keep corrosion free. This is not a knock on build quality, it is a knock on design. You cannot keep something clean if you cannot reach it to clean...nuff said

Equipment 3 out of 5

Needs grippier tyres, they are not terrible, but they are far from great either. Slipper clutch is nice

Buying experience: I paid £4099 for a (new, but somehow pre-registered 2020 bike) and if you don't think that is value, you must be part Yorkie and part Scot... do me a favour, a modern (sorta/kinda) rd350 for 125cc money.....You're having a laug......no, that ain't right.... I'M having a laugh!!!!

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