When it comes to performance-oriented, entry-level sportbikes, it’s really just a toss up between two bikes—the Kawasaki Ninja 400 and the KTM RC 390. While these two bikes are very much alike in certain aspects, they’re also very different from a performance, features, and ergonomics point of view. These two bikes are extremely popular all over the world because of their versatility—many would consider them do-it-all machines which are capable of sporty riding, touring, and even commuting duties. Today, let’s take a closer look at these two popular entry-level sportbikes, and see which one is the best fit for your lifestyle.
From a performance perspective, these two bikes are packing very different power plants. For starters, the KTM RC 390 is equipped with a 373cc single-cylinder engine which produces 42 horsepower. Given the fact that it’s a high-strung single-cylinder engine, the RC 390 produces power much lower in the rev range, and begins tapering off as you approach the rev limit. It does, however, make for a very exciting ride, given how punchy and responsive it feels.
Meanwhile, the Kawasaki Ninja 400 packs a 399cc parallel-twin engine which produces around 45 horsepower. With an advantage of just a few ponies over the KTM, the Ninja certainly has a higher top speed. However, maximum power is achieved at the upper reaches of the rev range, meaning you’ll need to wring out the engine to get most of the power on tap.
From an ergonomics point of view, the KTM RC 390 is a lot more committed than the Ninja 400. It sports aggressive, low-slung, clip-on bars, and high, rear-set foot pegs. This makes for a very hunched-over riding position which sees a lot of your weight on your wrists. While this is certainly very useful on the track, or in a sporty riding environment, you may find it a little bit taxing for everyday use. KTMs are also known for running very hot, and we have quite a lot of firsthand experience on this one, so be sure to keep that in mind if you intend to use the RC 390 as a daily commuter.
Meanwhile, the Ninja 400 is a lot more comfortable for daily riding thanks to its more relaxed ergonomics. Unlike the KTM, the Ninja gets mid-rise clip-on handlebars, and rear-sets which aren’t mounted as high. This makes for a much more relaxed rider triangle, which sees most of your weight distributed on your torso and arms. As such, you can ride the Ninja 400 in a more upright manner, allowing for a more comfortable ride, especially on longer trips. The Ninja’s engine also runs a lot cooler, with heat dissipation not as harsh as that of the KTM.
In terms of performance-oriented features, the KTM RC 390 certainly has the upper hand. For starters, its steel-trellis frame which incorporates the engine as a stressed member makes for an extremely lightweight machine that’s eager to attack corners. It also gets premium 43mm inverted forks and a preload-adjustable rear monoshock by WP. It even features a fancy throttle-by-wire system, and boasts the ability to switch ABS off for the rear wheel, or off completely for both front and rear wheels.
The Ninja 400, meanwhile, is a lot more barebones with no high-tech features to brag about other than ABS. It does, however, get full LED lights that give it a thoroughly premium look and feel. It gets conventional, non-adjustable telescopic forks from KYB, as well as a preload-adjustable rear mono-shock, with Nissin brakes equipped with dual-channel ABS serving as the bike’s anchors.
Value for money
As far as pricing is concerned, the KTM RC 390 undercuts the price of the Ninja by a couple grand. At just P300,000, the RC 390 presents itself with remarkable value for money, especially considering the performance features it puts on the table. The Ninja 400, on the other hand, at P331,000, is definitely an excellent choice, too. Especially for those looking for a reliable, do-anything sportbike. It really boils down to your intended use. If you want a lightweight sportbike that’s a perfect track weapon for you to hone your skills on, then the RC 390 is for you. However, if you want a sportbike that’s equally at home on a daily commute, or clocking in laps on the race track, then the Ninja 400 is certainly your best bet.