Petition for a 400 cc Sportbike
August 30, 2010 at 11:26 am #4214bring back 400cc sporbikesParticipant
I am new to this forum and am thinking about starting a petition to send to the major motorcycle manufacturers to bring back a 400 cc sportbike to the US. Reading from this forum, I believe that many users on this site would benefit from a mid-level sport bike.
I am no expert, but from what I found on-line, it appears that most 400cc sportbikes (4 cylinders) were built in the mid to late 90’s and only sold overseas. These included the Honda VRF/RFV 400, Suzuki GSX-R 400, Kawasaki Ninja 400 and the Yamaha FZR400 . The Yamaha FZR 400 was the exception, and was sold in the US for a few years (I believe in late 80’s / early 90s).
Obviously, there was not a lot of demand in the US for the FZR 400, so it is no longer offered (or built at all as far as I can tell). I realize this petition is a long shot, but times have changed, and you never know until you try.
I own a 2007 Kawasaki 250 Ninja and a 1988 Honda CBR 600 (Hurricane). I am far from an expert rider, but can ride the 250 to the limit, but the 600 is a tad too much. Keep in mind, the 1988 CBR has about 2/3 of the hp compared to the current offering (mine has 85hp, I think the new ones are up in the 120 range). I believe that a 400cc bike would offer the perfect mix as I believe there are many riders who quickly outgrow the 250 Ninja. However, I think that there are not many folks who can truly ride a 600cc bike to the limit. Here are the specifications of a 400cc sportbike (using late 90’s stats)
1) low seat height (29-31″)
2) adequate horsepower (60’ish)
3) Good top speed (~ 130mph)
4) Light weight (~ 350lbs)
Here is a cut at the specs for a modern 600cc sportbike
1) Seat Height = 31-33″
2) Horsepower = 120bhp
3) Top Speed = 160mph+
4) Weight = > 400lbs
Anyway, I have found a few gray market 400’s on-line for sale, and will probably end up getting one of those. However, I thought I’d at least give this petition a shot, and was hoping that there were other like-minded folks who may agree with me.
If anyone is interested, could you please let me know by responding to this post ? If I can find some interest, I will look into starting a website or something. I’d like to know if you are just curious and would consider this bike, or if you are really serious and would be willing to purchase a 400cc sportbike, site unseen.
PS – I just saw that Kawasaki is offering a new Ninja 400 in Canada, it is about $7k, but only 2 cylinders and 40hp.August 30, 2010 at 2:42 pm #28364WeaponZeroParticipant
I agree 100%. A 400 would be the perfect size IMO, provided that it’s actually lighter and not just a sleeved 650 like the Ninja you mentioned.
Now that Kawasaki has abandoned the 500cc market it seems that the 500 market is dying as well. Suzuki’s GS is all that’s left of the 500cc motorcycle market and I’m willing to bet it won’t be around forever either. Soon beginners won’t have anything to choose from between 250s which may not be enough for some people (although more due to suspension capacity or physical size than engine) and 650s. We need SOMETHING in between there.August 30, 2010 at 2:50 pm #28365MunchParticipant
You can blame it on the “go big or go home” mentality that is not expressed by us few on this site. Much like the same reason cars are starting to come standard with 17″ rims and unless its 20+ years old you will never see a car below 15 inch rims. Can some of these young bucks even remember what a 13″ rim looked like….and no its not the spare tire.
Another reason I would guess is that we are still and I hate this word…. Suburban….. We have to travel longer distances to get to the city (most not all, no picking here…I know some of us live in the city most don’t….I don’t) which puts us on highways and long haul “country” roads. Which for most will find a 250 impractical….especially cruiser variety.September 17, 2010 at 8:40 pm #28514plasticParticipant
I test rode the shiver, which has it, and it made the clutch very manageable, despite it’s 90hp total. There are 3 settings.
Pretty light bike.January 19, 2011 at 8:37 pm #29097pastorlukepriceParticipant
There is probably a good reason why the 500cc world is dying at least with Kawasaki. The didn’t really touch the looks for 20 years. It’s pretty sad when you go the the dealer looking at a bike in that in between 650R and 250R Range and the only option looks like it’s from the 80’s and 90’s. Of course they aren’t going to sell them. It’s almost like they knew they wanted to get rid of them so they never updated them so they could slowly make them grow “out of style.” I would totally go for the 400cc if it was available but I’m not holding my breath.January 19, 2011 at 11:53 pm #29101madjak30Participant
We got it last year as a 2010 model…I think it is similar in Hp and TQ to the Ninja 500 that has been discontinued due to emissions…the Suzuki GS500F is on it’s way out for the same reasons…I don’t think there is a 2011 version…haven’t checked though…
I think the Ninja 400 is similar in weight to the Ninja 650…it’s pretty sharp looking, and would be a great starter for someone that just can’t justify a 250, but doesn’t want to jump all the way to a 650…
I just wonder what Suzuki will replace the GS500 with?? There were rumours of a Gladius 400…but I haven’t seen anything about that one in a year…
You could check out a mid 90s Bandit 400…they were supposed to be a pretty good handling bike…
Later.January 20, 2011 at 1:49 am #29104TrialsRiderParticipant
The Ninja 400R is a 650R with smaller barrel, shorter crank throws and a lighter clutch. Weight savings is 2 lbs. That being the case it would be just like riding a Ninja 650R with a governor on it. …not to say that would be a bad thing, but it does still weigh in at 448 lbs. which makes it very heavy for a lightweight, total beginner.
I think they borrowed this strategy straight from Trials bikes, but I’m not sure it will fly with street bikes.
…I’m guessing they hope to leverage a Canadian insurance bracket wrinkle ?
There are 2 scenarios where the ‘big 4’ bike manufacturers could bring a decent 350 – 450 class machine to market. #1 – convert the existing 450cc motocross class bikes to road rockets. #2 – design a new multi-cylinder platform from scratch.
#1 they could nearly do with the stroke of a pen, #2 would be driven by overwhelming competition or divine intervention.
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