Rumour: Kawasaki Z400 is about to debut

According to recently unearthed CARB documents, we’re going to see a new Z400 naked bike from Kawasaki this fall.

Specifically, the CARB paperwork refers to a “ER400DK,” which shares the same engine as the Ninja 400. So maybe that means it will be called the ER400, but in either case, it means Team Green has a naked bike coming, powered by the latest version of its beginner bike parallel twin engine.

And so, what’s old is new again. Riders who’ve been around a while will remember we’ve seen this all before, back in the 1970s and 1980s when Kawasaki built the KZ400 and KZ440 models, built around budget parallel twins. They might not have set the world on fire, but they did set a lot of riders out on two wheels who couldn’t have afforded a bigger bike.

The Ninja 400 currently puts out about 45 hp and 28 lb-ft of torque from its liquid-cooled engine. The older KZ 400-range models were rated for about 27 hp, depending who you ask, so the newer version shows just how far beginner bike tech has come in the past few years, especially when you consider options like ABS will likely be available.


  1. Excellent and civilized Canadian conversation, I agree with all the comments above and I suppose I am somewhat reaching exit stage as I now have the Ninja 300 and my next bike is probably the KLX250 to explore all of the amazing roads through western Alberta and still sleep in my own bed most of the time. When I drop my “adventure” bike I need to be able to pick it up. Besides I generally max out at 80 on gravel so a 250 is perfect. Less is more. Cam

  2. Why do we insist on calling this a “beginner” bike? I am 56 and ride 30-40 K km/year on multiple different bikes. I have a Ninja 300 and it is an amazing bike. It is the easiest and best handling bike, that I have ridden in the past 5 years, in tight, technical twisties. It forces me to keep my speed up because I cannot just correct with a quick turn of the wrist. The bike has made me a better rider, it is a small sporty bike and as the Canadian racing series shows it can be fairly cheaply upgraded to be an excellent track bike, for probably 1/10 the cost of the 1000 cc sport bikes. IMO the 600 and 1000 cc sport bikes are just way too fast for Canadian street riding. I have had the Ninja going an indicated 184 km/hr, but in general it is super happy hitting corners up to about 140, which I think is plenty fast. Certainly ticket fast anywhere in Canada. In North America we have this “bigger is better” mentality, which I think is wrong on so many levels. For actual fun in corners the Ninja beats my R1200RT hands down. Each bike has a purpose, a raison d’etre. It is a small sporty bike, and I think the 400 is even that much better. I would encourage Canada MotoGuide to eliminate the “beginner” designation. It seems that Mr. Black had lots of fun racing his 400, no??? I guarantee that his 400 would blow the doors off of any and all V twin cruisers, at the track, and many other big fat overweight bikes as well. Lets try to encourage young people to get into riding, not by applying disparaging labels to small bikes.

    • I always call them beginner bikes because that’s who they’re marketed to.

      The 400 is a fine motorcycle. So was the 300 and even the 250. And the GPZ305 before that. In some parts of the world, those bikes are big-bore rockets. Around here, they are marketed towards beginning riders. Nothing wrong with that. We always had a load of fun at the D2D rally on bikes a lot smaller than these!

      • How about adding Exit Bike to this characterization too. After all, plenty of older riders are interested in this category as they downsize from larger platforms. “You don’t stop riding because you get old, you get old because you stop riding”

        • Very true.

          I have known plenty of riders aged 50+ who have an appreciation for 500 cc and smaller bikes. Most of these guys are also old enough to remember when a 350 was a big bike …

  3. I think it’ll be the dated street fighter look and not something fresh like what Honda did with the new CBR300. It’ll be a great bike nonetheless. Light and fun.

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