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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Super long post, but as a new rider about to drop a lot of money your feedback is greatly appreciated.
I know there is already a thread about the 400 vs 650 debate, but I would like to discuss the 2020 models specifically since the other post is from 2018, as well as my specific use case. I also just need feedback as this is my first bike.

Background and Needs:
  • Finishing MSF tomorrow. I feel fairly comfortable on a bike. I will continue with lots more practice on whatever bike I buy to take it slow.
  • Main use of bike: Mainly driving city/ suburbs doing pizza and food delivery (40-50 mph), also Interstate for 65-70 mph travel a number of times per week doing deliveries, plus some flat country roads. I can be delivering for 4-10 hours a day. I live in Indiana so I don't really have canyon twisties, but I have some hilly forest roads down south, so I'd be taking 2-3hr rides to get to the beautiful hills (maybe 2-3 times a year). Would take a few out of state trips each year perhaps, and would maybe do one long-distance trip each year.
  • I'm not about super-high speeds. I imagine acceleration would be much more fun for me.
  • Would maybe try out a track day, but not super high priority.
My concerns:
- Ninja 400 seems more friendly for beginner riders I have heard, but my MSF instructor also said I would be fine taking whichever one is more comfortable. And the 650 seems slightly more comfortable to me (based on sitting on them in the shop without moving). The 650 tank and seat just fits, handlebars slightly wider and higher up, my arms don't hit the tank as much when turning. 650 also has rear case brackets available which would help me lug pizzas around instead of putting them in a delivery backpack.
12926

Couldn't find racks for 2020 model of 400.
650 also has a gorgeous display.

What prevents me from getting the 650 right now is it's heavier and would have less agility (perhaps better for the highway but difficult for new riders?) has more power (perhaps getting away from a newer rider?). The agility of the 400 seems really attractive, or is that unnecessary since I'm not rocking twisties and will mainly be in city/ suburb? Would one bike be better than the other for city/suburbs? And finally, I know many say it's better to ride a slow-bike fast than a fast-bike slow and I wondered if the Ninja 400 would be more fun to ride.


Unfortunately, I don't believe I can do test rides at the dealerships in my area, so I'll have to buy one of these without riding it first so that's why I came here for help!
Recommendations based on my usage?
 

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First, welcome to the forum. Second, I'm pretty sure you can't go wrong with either bike at the end of the day. The extra power from the 650 is not really enough to get away from a new rider especially when looking at the added weight. You would also learn pretty quick to handle the 650, it is not a monster. That being said, the N400 is an amazing bike to ride, power to weight wise. To me, if I was going long distance highway all the time, that would be a no brainer 650. Anything else, the N400 edges out the 650, especially in the ear-to-ear grin column. But you can't lose either way, win win all the way.
 

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These are both great choices. I had a 2007 Ninja 650R and now have a 2019 Ninja 400. Either bike would be good for a noobie. If you feel more comfortable on the 650 and the 650's luggage capabilities are better for your needs, than the 650 may be the best for you. I don't believe that the 650 will get away from a new rider who exercises common sense.

The 650 isn't all that heavier than the 400, it's a matter of degree. I've also ridden my 650 in mountain twisties, including Tail of the Dragon, and did not feel that she was lacking in maneuverability. The 400 will be better in tight twisties, but as with the weight, it's a matter of degree. Comparing these bikes on weight and maneuverability is like comparing a compact car to a midsize car, not comparing a compact to a full sized SUV.

The 400 has plenty of acceleration for fast urban riding. I've never felt that she didn't have enough power, even on the open interstate. So don't let that be a barrier.

In either case, I recommend ABS for your situation. You still need to know how to use both brakes properly, but you are riding in prime distracted driver country. If it only keeps you from falling once, it will more than have paid for itself.
 

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It really is unfortunate, we can't test ride motorcycles. But I understand why. I will advise getting a bike that fits you, and feels good so you can concentrate on the important things like figuring out where the controls, buttons, and switches are... Instead of worrying what clip-on risers or seat you need to order when you get home.. IMHO, anytime I have to get on-line and order parts and pieces to make my new bike comfortable.. I've chosen the wrong bike to start with. Don't get me wrong, I like new goodies as much as anyone else. But there's plenty of time to order those things after I know my bike, and needs, better.
 

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Late edit: Ignore all this, I mis-read the thread title. doh!

I picked up a 2020 SV650 a couple of days ago and I also have a Ninja 400 in the garage so i guess I'm your man right? Actually probably not because, as a motorcyclist with many years of experience, my list of criteria as to what makes a bike good or not is probably completely different to your own. I've bought the SV purely to turn into a race bike. They have a sweet engine that converts well to racing.

Dont worry too much about what year SV your looking at as they are all mechanically identical from 2016 onwards, apart from the upgrade to four pot front brake calipers last year.
What's more defining is whether you are talking about the X model which has the clip on handle bars like the Ninja 400 and a bikini fairing or the regular naked version SV with the one piece handle bar.
I have the regular model and it is a completely different riding position to the Ninja. It would be more like the Kawasaki Z 400 riding position. So you need to sort that out first of all. Do you want the sporty riding position or do you want the upright position? Then you can start choosing between the two brands.

The guys have covered all the obvious differences ie The 400 is cheaper to buy, better on gas, tyres are smaller so cheaper to buy. The 650 by default of its engine capacity has more grunt especially lower in the rev range. Both have budget suspension and the rear shock on both of them is painfully average but the Kawasaki has a better set of forks up front. The SV has the better gearbox of the two.

The main reason I would steer you towards the 400 though is because you are still learning the craft and the SV is a considerable lump heavier. Comparing ABS models the difference is 30kg (66lbs) and you do notice it. You'll find the quicker steering and light weight of the 400 more user friendly as a newer rider.
Also the 400 will have ample power to keep you content. Is 120 MPH fast enough for you lol? :LOL:

So that's my 2 cents, you wouldn't be making a bad decision by buying either one of them.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
In either case, I recommend ABS for your situation. You still need to know how to use both brakes properly, but you are riding in prime distracted driver country. If it only keeps you from falling once, it will more than have paid for itself.
For sure will be getting ABS and quality riding gear! And thanks for the compact car vs midsize car comparison. That is helpful.
Do you find the Ninja 400 is too lightweight for the wind or the interstate?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I picked up a 2020 SV650 a couple of days ago and I also have a Ninja 400 in the garage so i guess I'm your man right? Actually probably not because, as a motorcyclist with many years of experience, my list of criteria as to what makes a bike good or not is probably completely different to your own. I've bought the SV purely to turn into a race bike. They have a sweet engine that converts well to racing.

Dont worry too much about what year SV your looking at as they are all mechanically identical from 2016 onwards, apart from the upgrade to four pot front brake calipers last year.
What's more defining is whether you are talking about the X model which has the clip on handle bars like the Ninja 400 and a bikini fairing or the regular naked version SV with the one piece handle bar.
I have the regular model and it is a completely different riding position to the Ninja. It would be more like the Kawasaki Z 400 riding position. So you need to sort that out first of all. Do you want the sporty riding position or do you want the upright position? Then you can start choosing between the two brands.

The guys have covered all the obvious differences ie The 400 is cheaper to buy, better on gas, tyres are smaller so cheaper to buy. The 650 by default of its engine capacity has more grunt especially lower in the rev range. Both have budget suspension and the rear shock on both of them is painfully average but the Kawasaki has a better set of forks up front. The SV has the better gearbox of the two.

The main reason I would steer you towards the 400 though is because you are still learning the craft and the SV is a considerable lump heavier. Comparing ABS models the difference is 30kg (66lbs) and you do notice it. You'll find the quicker steering and light weight of the 400 more user friendly as a newer rider.
Also the 400 will have ample power to keep you content. Is 120 MPH fast enough for you lol? :LOL:

So that's my 2 cents, you wouldn't be making a bad decision by buying either one of them.
Thanks for your reply, however it looks like you are comparing the Suzuki SV650 with the Kawasaki Ninja 400, correct? As my original post was comparing the Ninja 400 and Ninja 650. However I appreciate your feedback on the SV650 as well!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
It really is unfortunate, we can't test ride motorcycles. But I understand why. I will advise getting a bike that fits you, and feels good so you can concentrate on the important things like figuring out where the controls, buttons, and switches are... Instead of worrying what clip-on risers or seat you need to order when you get home.. IMHO, anytime I have to get on-line and order parts and pieces to make my new bike comfortable.. I've chosen the wrong bike to start with. Don't get me wrong, I like new goodies as much as anyone else. But there's plenty of time to order those things after I know my bike, and needs, better.
It actually looks like one of my local dealers may let be do a test ride, so ill update you all on that. And thanks for the comments on mods, as when I sit on the 650 I do feel like I would want a slightly higher handlebar in order to get an even more upright position. So im still debating how big of a deal that is and if i should look into more standard bikes, just live with the Ninja, or get riser bars eventually.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
First, welcome to the forum. Second, I'm pretty sure you can't go wrong with either bike at the end of the day. The extra power from the 650 is not really enough to get away from a new rider especially when looking at the added weight. You would also learn pretty quick to handle the 650, it is not a monster. That being said, the N400 is an amazing bike to ride, power to weight wise. To me, if I was going long distance highway all the time, that would be a no brainer 650. Anything else, the N400 edges out the 650, especially in the ear-to-ear grin column. But you can't lose either way, win win all the way.
So what would you say is the difference between the bikes? What makes the 650 better for highway and 400 better for ear-to-ear grins?
 

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Thanks for your reply, however it looks like you are comparing the Suzuki SV650 with the Kawasaki Ninja 400, correct? As my original post was comparing the Ninja 400 and Ninja 650. However I appreciate your feedback on the SV650 as well!
Ha ha, your so right! I posted that about midnight last night and must have sped read your thread title.
Apologies to all. 😌
 

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So what would you say is the difference between the bikes? What makes the 650 better for highway and 400 better for ear-to-ear grins?
Heavier and steadier and more oomph at highway speeds. Exactly the reason the 400 is so much fun, lighter and more flickable and easy to get around.
 

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For sure will be getting ABS and quality riding gear! And thanks for the compact car vs midsize car comparison. That is helpful.
Do you find the Ninja 400 is too lightweight for the wind or the interstate?
At first I thought that I'd maybe find the 400 to be tossed in the wind more than my older 650 (which weighs more than the present model 650). But I was able to get out on a rare windy day for Wisconsin--20 to 25 mph winds. I didn't find the 400 to be any worse for the wind than my 650 had been. It likely helped that I have the Zero Gravity touring windshield to tuck behind when I was near semis--they put out a lot of turbulence at full interstate speeds.

Riding in the wind is something that you'll want to practice. A lot of riding is just a matter of building your skills with practice and experience. ;)

And quality gear not only helps keep you safe in a crash, it also can make the ride much more comfortable.
 

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tl:dr

Either bike is fast 'nuff to kill yourself, the 400 will excel around town 'n on twisties back roads. The 650 will excel on highways 'n freeways; what kinda ride'in you gonna do?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Some say my learning progress could be stunted on a larger bike than a 400 as I'm not learning to ride, but rather trying not to hurt myself.
Do you think i could learn just fine on the 650?
 

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I don't know "you" but a person could easily start/learn on a 650. For you, a 650 might be better for haul'in pizzas 'n stuff?
I started started riding mini 'n dirt bikes since I was knee high to a grasshopper, then a CL175 was my first street bike, then CL360, then XS500 then XS750 Then FJ1200 then FZ1 Then R1200ST then FJR1300. I still have an FJR1300, and just sold my FZ6 'n got the Z400.
I'm glad I started on small bikes cuz I'm a crazy bastid. If I started on a 650 I would have killed myself, but that's me. Most young people I know are much more "sensible" than I was. Unfortunately nobody can pick a bike for you, you must be honest with yourself 'n figure which is gonna be best for what you're gonna do?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I don't know "you" but a person could easily start/learn on a 650. For you, a 650 might be better for haul'in pizzas 'n stuff?
I started started riding mini 'n dirt bikes since I was knee high to a grasshopper, then a CL175 was my first street bike, then CL360, then XS500 then XS750 Then FJ1200 then FZ1 Then R1200ST then FJR1300. I still have an FJR1300, and just sold my FZ6 'n got the Z400.
I'm glad I started on small bikes cuz I'm a crazy bastid. If I started on a 650 I would have killed myself, but that's me. Most young people I know are much more "sensible" than I was. Unfortunately nobody can pick a bike for you, you must be honest with yourself 'n figure which is gonna be best for what you're gonna do?
Thanks for the help! and i'd say i am fairly sensible and will be trying to take it easy. Lots of parking lot practice to hone my skills and get more comfortable with the bike, and wearing as much protective gear as i can: full gear + hiz viz airbag vest. But everyone probably says they are more sensible than they really are :)

Anything that would make you suggest 650 for pizza delivery and such?
P.S. Sick photo.😀
 

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Larger bikes are better for carrying; in general. I didn't sit on the 650, but it's prolly roomier than the 400? Same with passengers; in general the bigger the bike the better. When my wife/sister rode on back my XS500 I could definitely feel it, but with the FJR I wouldn't even know she's there if it weren't for the fact that she climbs around like a little monkey. 🐒
Practicing and obtaining mad skills is good, but you also have to have good judgement. I've know some old, highly skilled, experienced riders that crashed 'n died, not for a lack of skill but for a lack of good judgement.
 

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Dead right! Half drunk in charge of a keyboard is a dangerous thing. If I'd had another couple of beers then i would have crashed out and it wouldn't have happened. :unsure:
Kiwi, don't forget... you no longer have you snazzy cape and Super Powers on this board. If you type it, it's out there. No turning back with a simple delete. Just like in real life. ;)
 
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