Due to its accessibility to expressways and relatively low cost, 400cc motorcycles are all the rage right now and have become very popular in recent years. In reality, these bikes play a significant role in the influx of new, younger riders eager to adopt the two-wheeled lifestyle while riding a fashionable and enjoyable machine. That said, the Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 and the Kawasaki Z400 are two of the 400cc class's top competitors.
These two bikes sit on the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to style and performance. On the one hand, the Husky takes the form of a retro-inspired, steampunk-esque machine with a striking aesthetic and clean lines. On the other hand, the Kawasaki Z400 embodies a more traditional naked sportbike approach. In terms of performance and features, the two bikes are pretty unique, too. That being said, let’s take a closer look at these two bikes.
Starting things off in terms of performance is the Kawasaki Z400, which has a 399cc parallel-twin engine with dual overhead cams, liquid cooling, and electronic fuel injection. It can produce up to 45 horsepower and 38 Nm of torque at its maximum output. While it has a higher horsepower rating than the Husky, it's important to note that its maximum power ratings are generated at high revs. Why does this matter? At low RPMs, it translates to tractable, occasionally slow performance, but closer to redline, it has a lively, sportbike-like character.
While using a different configuration, the Husky's performance statistics are comparably close. A contemporary 373cc single-cylinder engine with 42 horsepower and 37 Nm of torque powers the neo-retro naked bike. For the best urban riding experience, the motor is then paired with a 6-speed manual gearbox with a slipper clutch. Given that the Husky has a single cylinder engine, you can anticipate the torque to arrive considerably more quickly, resulting in quick overtakes and lots of potential for wheelies. Power and torque taper down at higher revs, where there is a trade-off that makes it all too easy to unintentionally hit the rev limiter.
Numerous high-quality parts that are included in the Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 give the rider dynamic handling and confidence. For precise and powerful braking, the hydraulic ByBre disk brake calipers, which are produced to the highest standards, are teamed with 320mm front and 230mm rear ventilated steel discs. While the rear suspension has a progressive damping system that is directly connected to the swingarm, the front suspension is equipped with 43mm open cartridge forks. Just like its KTM siblings, WP provides the suspension hardware.
It’s in the feature front where the Kawasaki Z400 lags behind slightly. It misses out on the fancy inverted front forks in exchange for standard, non-adjustable telescopic units. Furthermore, an axial front caliper and a sliding rear caliper handle braking duties—both of which equipped with ABS. That said, the suspension hardware is from KYB, so you’re assured of reliable, reputable quality. It gets LED lights and a semi-digital instrument cluster.
In comparison to the Kawasaki, the Husqvarna Svartpilen 401 commands a more premium price. The Svartpilen 401 is clearly a value-for-money, beginner-friendly big bike for individuals who appreciate a techie package thanks to its unique and unconventional style, individualistic and technologically sophisticated package, and shared design with its KTM cousin, the 390 Duke. When it comes to value, it's perhaps the finest in class at P295,000.
While costing P279,000, the Kawasaki Z400 is still a great option because it has the instantly identifiable Z design and, of course, Kawasaki's enviable reputation for dependability and longevity. It does, however, lack some of the high-tech features that the Swedish bike offers. Nevertheless, for some people, the P16,000 price difference is sufficient to prompt a choice.