CBR500R vs Ninja 400 acceleration and top speed
The Kawasaki Ninja 400 and Honda 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.
It’s very close.
Ninja 400 vs CBR500 Dyno Curve
– 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 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 peak power albeit, at different rpm, the CBR500R has a distinct advantage in terms of peak torque with 32 ft/lb produced between 5500 and 7000 rpm.
This beats out the Ninja 400’s 26 ft/lb produced a lot higher up at 8500 rpm.
They are smooth engines despite some dips on the dyno graphs which is not felt so much on the road.
Both motorcycles provide a little vibration but are much better than many other parallel twins though the Honda has the edge here slightly.
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.
The Honda CBR500R also produces its available power and torque much lower in the rpm range but the dyno doesn’t really tell the whole story.
Ninja 400 vs CBR500 in-gear acceleration
– Ninja – CBR
If we look at the in-gear thrust curves we can see that things are much different than what the dyno curve comparing the two suggests.
The Kawasaki Ninja 400 provides more in-gear acceleration in almost all gears and at any speed compared to the Honda CBR500R despite giving away torque.
The CBR500R only seems to have the advantage in first gear and below 27 mph/45 km/h.
The Kawasaki Ninja400 then dominates and is providing more acceleration in any part of the speed range of each gear.
Why is this the case you may ask?
Well, as the Kawasaki Ninja 400 can rev approximately 3000 rpm higher than the Honda CBR500R provides it with an advantage.
The higher capability to rev makes it 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 six gears.
Lower gearing means more available thrust/acceleration because gear ratios act as a multiplier of the torque that is produced by the engine.
Engines that make less torque but rev higher than a competitor can make up for this lack of torque with lower overall and individual gearing.
This means that the motorcycle with lower gearing (Ninja 400) can close the gap when it comes to in-gear acceleration despite producing less peak torque and torque throughout the entire rpm range.
For example, if both motorcycles were in second gear rolling side by side at 30 mph the Honda CBR500R would be showing 4794 rpm on the tachometer.
At this point in the rpm, the Honda CBR500R would be producing 29ft/lb of torque and 32 horsepower.
The Kawasaki 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 because it has more torque available to it?
Seems legitimate but that is not the whole picture.
Remember, gears are a multiplier of torque, and the Kawasaki Ninja 400 has lower gearing than the Honda CBR500R.
The Honda CBR500R’s second gear is approximately 17% higher.
Also, the weight of each motorcycle will dictate the acceleration/thrust available to the motorcycle in each gear too.
The Kawasaki Ninja 400 is approximately 20 kg lighter than the Honda CBR500R. 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 and usefulness in each gear would be reduced.
Already the top speed in first gear for the Honda CBR500R is lower than the KawasakiNinja 400 despite the Kawasaki having a lower first gear ratio.
You can visibly see the speed difference in the thrust curve if you compare the first gear of both motorcycles.
Below in the table, you compare the speed in each gear at 5000 rpm where you will see that the Kawasaki Ninja 400s first gear and remaining gears are lower.
This is because at the same rpm (5000 rpm) the speeds in each gear are lower verus the Honda CBR500R.
If the Honda CBR500R was the same weight as the Kawasaki Ninja 400 it would likely provide (at the very least) the same thrust/acceleration in each gear at any speed.
The Honda CBR500R would also offer even more thrust in first gear than 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 Kawasaki Ninja 400 – as it has lower gearing will be showing slightly higher revs on the tachometer ranging from anywhere between 500 and 1000 rpm.
This will depend of course the gear in and speed.
The Honda CBR500R on the other hand requires less rpm to offer similar but ultimately slightly less performance in-gear.
This makes for a more relaxed ride as you need less rpm to get the job done.
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|
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 meters or so.
Top Speeds are strikingly close
If we continue the Ninja 400 will extend its lead until it hits its top speed of 116.8 mph. 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.
The Honda CBR500Rs top speed is as good as it can get as the CB500R is right on the rev limiter in top gear and doesn’t budge.
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 Kawasaki Ninja 400 will slowly gap the Honda 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 more of the time.
– Ninja – CBR
Ninja 400 vs CBR500R acceleration and top speed
|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|