Kawasaki Ninja 500 vs rivals: specifications compared

Kawasaki Ninja price, Ninja 500, R3, RC 390, RS 457 comparison.

The Kawasaki Ninja 500 has been launched at the same price as the outgoing Ninja 400 – a hefty sum of Rs 5.24 lakh, because it comes to India via the CBU route. Here, we’ve compared the newest Ninja on the block with its immediate rivals.

Kawasaki Ninja 500 vs rivals: engine & output

Engine & output
Kawasaki Ninja 500 Aprilia RS 457 Yamaha R3 KTM RC 390
Engine Liquid-cooled, 451cc, parallel-twin Liquid-cooled, 457cc, parallel-twin Liquid-cooled, 321cc, parallel-twin Liquid-cooled, 373cc, single-cyl
Power 45hp at 9,000rpm 47.6hp at 9,400rpm 42hp at 10,750rpm 43.5hp at 9,000rpm
Power-to-weight ratio 263hp/tonne 272hp/tonne 248.5hp/tonne 253hp/tonne
Torque 42.6Nm at 6,000rpm 43.5Nm at 6,700rpm 29.5Nm at 9,000rpm 37Nm at 7,000rpm
Gearbox 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed 6-speed

While the Ninja 500’s peak power output is the same as its predecessor, its torque figure has gone up significantly and that should make it quite easy to ride at lower speeds in higher gears. The R3 is the least torquey bike here and makes its peak output figures in the upper echelons of the tachometer. The Ninja 500 and the Yamaha R3 both have a 180-degree firing order, typical of small-capacity Japanese twin-cylinder engines. 

This is where the 270-degree firing order of the made-in-India Aprilia RS 457 distinguishes itself with a raspy, deep exhaust note. The KTM RC 390 is the only thumper here and despite having one less cylinder, it still manages to post a higher power-to-weight ratio than the smaller Yamaha.

Kawasaki Ninja 500 vs rivals: weight & dimensions

Weight & dimensions
Kawasaki Ninja 500 Aprilia RS 457 Yamaha R3 KTM RC 390
Kerb weight 171kg 175kg 169kg 172kg
Seat height 785mm 800mm 780mm 835mm
Wheelbase 1375mm 1360mm 1380mm 1347mm
Fuel capacity 14 litres 13 litres 14 litres 13.7 litres
Ground clearance 145mm 150mm 160mm 160mm

Coming in just under the 170 kilo mark, the Yamaha is the lightest machine here, although none of these bikes are heavy in absolute terms. This, despite carrying the most fuel in this company. To its credit, the Ninja 500 packs in 150 more cubes and still weighs just 2 kg more than the R3.

If you’re of shorter stature and looking for an approachable machine, then the Japanese machines have the lowest perches here. None of these bikes have worryingly low ground clearance figures but the Ninja 500 has the least amount available. 

Kawasaki Ninja 500 vs rivals: suspension & brakes

Suspension & brakes
Kawasaki Ninja 500 Aprilia RS 457 Yamaha R3 KTM RC 390
Suspension (f) Telescopic fork USD fork USD fork USD fork
Suspension (r) Monoshock Monoshock Monoshock Monoshock
Brakes (f) 310mm disc 320mm disc 298mm disc 320mm disc
Brakes (r) 220mm disc 220mm disc 220mm disc 230mm disc
Tyres (f) 110/70-R17 110/70-R17 110/70-R17 110/70-R17
Tyres (r) 150/60-R17 150/60-R17 140/70-R17 150/60-R17

The Ninja 500 is the only one to use a telescopic fork, in comparison to the USD units found on the others. Except for the preload-adjustable fork on the Aprilia RS 457, all other bikes have non-adjustable units. The Japanese bikes use axially mounted Nissin calipers while the made-in-India Europeans use radially mounted ByBre calipers. 

While tyre sizes are near-identical, the compounds used are quite different. Both the Japanese bikes run Dunlop tyres, which we’ve found to be quite average in our tests, while the Metzeler rubber on the RC and the TVS Eurogrip hoops on the Aprilia are quite grippy.

Kawasaki Ninja 500 vs rivals: features

Since the Ninja 500’s standard variant is the only one to be launched in India, the bike gets a LCD dash with Bluetooth connectivity. Features like riding modes and traction control are only found on the Aprilia RS 457 and the Yamaha R3 even misses out on a slipper clutch. The KTM and the Aprilia also  allow you to turn off ABS at the rear and are the only two bikes to have a TFT dash. The RC 390 gets a bidirectional quickshifter as standard while on the Aprilia it's an optional extra. 

Kawasaki Ninja 500 vs rivals: price

Kawasaki Ninja 500 Aprilia RS 457 Yamaha R3 KTM RC 390
Price (ex-showroom, India) Rs 5.24 lakh (introductory) Rs 4.10 lakh Rs 4.65 lakh Rs 3.18 lakh
Since the Yamaha R3 and the Kawasaki Ninja 500 come to India via the CBU route, they’re priced rather high in comparison to the made in India KTM and Aprilia. With the Aprilia now offering a twin-cylinder experience at a much more digestible price, it remains to be seen how many people still opt for the simpler yet pricier Japanese offerings.


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