CBR500R vs Ninja 400 acceleration and top speed
The Kawasaki Ninja 400 and CBR500R compete against each other within the wildly popular and extremely diverse entry level and learner motorcycle class. You may be considering each of these motorcycles and undecided so you would like to know how they compare in a straight line.
– Ninja – CBR
Both the CBR500R and Ninja 400 have the same engine configuration with both being parallel two-cylinder engines.
The Honda CBR500R does have a distinct advantage in terms of capacity with an extra 73 cc over the Kawasaki Ninja’s smaller 399 cc engine.
Despite the approximately a 20% capacity advantage both motorcycles produce the same peak power on the dyno at 44 horsepower a piece.
The Ninja 400 and CBR500R may have the same engine configuration though they deliver their power very differently.
The Honda’s 44 horsepower arrives at just a little over 8000 rpm while the Kawasaki produces its peak of 44 horsepower between 9500 and 10500 rpm.
While both of these motorcycles make the same power albeit at different rpms, the CBR500R has a distinct advantage in terms of peak torque with 32 ft/lb produced between 5500 and 7000 rpm which beats out the Ninja 400’s 26 ft/lb produced at 8500 rpm.
They are smooth engines despite some dips on the dyno graphs they are not felt so much on the road.
The Dyno curves look quite different and would suggest that the CBR500R would be a much punchier engine considering that it makes a lot more torque than the Ninja 400 and it produces it much lower in the rpm range but the dyno doesn’t really tell the whole story.
– Ninja – CBR
If we look at the in-gear thrust curves we can see that things are much different than the what the dyno curve comparing the two suggests.
The Ninja 400 provides more in-gear acceleration in almost all gears and at any speed. The CBR500R only seems to have the advantage in first gear and below 27 mph/45 km/h with the Kawasaki providing more acceleration in any part of the speed range of each gear.
Why is this the case you may ask? Well as the Ninja 400 can rev approximately 3000 rpm higher than the CBR500R so it is possible for the Ninja 400 to run with lower gearing while still matching or beating the theoretical top speeds of the CBR500R in each of its 6 gears.
Lower gearing means more available thrust/acceleration because gear ratios act as a multiplier of the torque that the engine produces.
Engines that make less torque but rev higher than a competitor can make up for this lack of torque with lower gearing meaning that they can at worse close the gap when it comes to in-gear acceleration.
For example, if both motorcycles were in second gear rolling side by side at 30 mph the CBR500R would be showing 4794 rpm where it makes 29ft/lb of torque and 32 horsepower. The Ninja 400 on the other hand at 30 mph in second gear will be revving at 5592 rpm and making roughly 23 ft/lb of torque and around 24 horsepower.
Just looking at those numbers alone we would assume that the CBR500R would accelerate harder on the initial opening of the throttle but that is not the whole picture.
Remember, gears are a multiplier of torque, and the Ninja 400 has lower gearing, with the CBR500R’s second gear being approximately 17% higher.
Also, the weight of each motorcycle will dictate the acceleration/thrust available in each gear too and with the Ninja 400 being approximately 20 kg lighter this contributes greatly to its in-gear and outright acceleration.
The CBR500R could run lower gearing to counteract but as it only revs to around 9000 rpm the top speed in each gear would be reduced.
Already the top speed in first gear for the CBR500R is lower than the Ninja 400 which you can visibly see in the thrust curve if you compare first gear of both motorcycles.
If the CBR500R was the same weight as the Ninja 400 it would likely provide (at the very least) the same thrust/acceleration in each gear at any speed and would offer more in first gear as it already does at its current weight.
As it stands now the Ninja offers slightly more in-gear acceleration if both motorcycles were side by side in the same gear and at the same speed.
The Ninja 400 – as it has lower gearing will be showing slightly higher revs ranging from anywhere between 500 and 1000 rpm depending on the gear with the CBR500R requiring less rpm to offer similar but ultimately slightly less performance.
Speed in each gear compared at 5000 rpm
|Speed at 5000 rpm||Honda CBR500R||Ninja 400|
|Speed 1st Gear||20.1 mph||18.8 mph|
|Speed 2nd Gear||31.3 mph||26.8 mph|
|Speed 3rd Gear||41.2 mph||34.1 mph|
|Speed 4th Gear||50.7 mph||41.4 mph|
|Speed 5th Gear||57.3 mph||47.8 mph|
|Speed 6th Gear||63.2 mph||53.2 mph|
– Ninja – CBR
Ninja 400 vs CBR500R acceleration and top speed
Both the Ninja 400 and the CBR500R make the same power at the rear wheel with the CBR500R making a little more torque courtesy of its 74 cc advantage.
As they make the same power performance is similar, but the Ninja 400 does have a decent enough advantage to make it noticeable on the road in terms of outright acceleration.
0-60 mph between the two is close, with the Ninja 400 managing 4.14 seconds – nudging the CBR500R’s 4.72.
It is from 60 mph where the Ninja 400 commands as it starts to walk away from the CBR500R with a 0-100 mph of 11.90 seconds vs the CBR500R’s time of 14.17.
In the quarter mile the Ninja 400 has a half second advantage managing a very impressive 12.98 seconds with a terminal speed of 102 mph. A late gear change just before the finish line hurts its terminal speed a little but without the change the Ninja 400 would hit the rev limiter.
The CBR500R manages a 13.5 at 98 mph and trails the Ninja 400 by approximately 20 metres or so.
If we continue the Ninja 400 will extend its lead until it hits its top speed of 116.8mph. Surprisingly the CBR500R matches the Ninja 400 for top speed.
But if we think about it, this makes sense as they have similar power though I think that the 116.8 mph of the Ninja 400 could be bettered while the CBR500R’s top speed is as could as it can get as the CB500R was right on the rev limiter in top.
– Ninja – CBR
|Speed||Honda CBR500R||Ninja 400|
|SS/QM||13.5/98 mph||12.98/102 mph|
|SS/KM||26.01/113 mph||25.12/114 mph|
|SS/Mile||37.72/115 mph||36.73/115 mph|
|Top Speed||116.7 mph||116.8 mph|
It is evident that the Ninja 400 is the faster motorcycle, both from a roll and if going for it flat out through the gears.
The Ninja 400 will slowly gap the CBR500R until they both hit their top speed which is around the same.
Both motorcycles were tested on different days but in very similar conditions though my feeling is that on average the Ninja 400 would have a slightly higher top speed.