It looks like Kawasaki’s small-displacement family is about to grow, as Team Green is set to add another model to its Ninja lineup. Spotted in the California Air Resources Board (CARB) filings by the eagle eyes at Motorcycle.com, the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 is surely coming to US soil.
The model was first spotted during shooting for a advertisement, by a local TV station in Milwaukee. With Kawasaki already having a 300cc version of the Ninja for the American market, it’s not clear how a 400cc model will fit into the Japanese company’s scheme.
Either the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 will replace the popular Ninja 300 for the US market, or both bikes will be offered to American riders. Both options are hard to fathom however.
As a replacement to the Kawasaki Ninja 300, the Ninja 400 ups the ante in the small-displacement space, helping Kawasaki compete with larger displacement machines like the Yamaha YZF-R3 (321cc) and KTM RC390 (373cc).
This feature creep in engine displacement though gets a bit absurd, as brands continue to push what is supposed to be an entry-point machine further up the product segment ladder, all the while adding more cost to new riders.
It also makes one wonder if Kawasaki will continue to compete in the World Supersport 300 Championship.
Having two bikes in the small-displacement category makes even less sense for Kawasaki, however. The Japanese brand did this initially with the Ninja 250R and Ninja 300, before the latter took over as the company’s definitive small-displacement machine.
With little to differentiate between a 300cc and 400cc version of the Ninja, we can’t see the cost and effort of bringing this new model to market really helping Kawasaki’s bottom line, especially when it will do little to affect added sales.
Our gut thus tells us that the Kawasaki Ninja 400 will replace its 300cc counterpart for the new year, but we expect to have more details on the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 (also known as the Kawasaki EX400) after it debuts at the EICMA show next month.
Expect it to replace the Ninja 300 in the US market, and likely other markets abroad, though for reasons we’re still not quite sure we understand…