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540 Posts
I have a 2011 N1K, and it is a blast to ride.
It is a little cramped for long 2 up runs, if that is high priority on your list.
I am 48, and can do 250-300 mile days without too much pain.
If you plan to ride long distance with a passenger, get a top box or backrest for them.
If you plan to do much longer days than 300 miles(especially 2 up), a Concours 14 is the ticket for spirited sport touring.
Our 400s were in the shop this past weekend for the ABS recall, so I took the C-14 and my wife rode the N1k for the first time.
We rode probably 150 miles.
She couldn't believe how different the two bikes handled.
She commented that she never had to think about putting the bike where she wanted it in the corner on the 400.
The N1k was a different story. The power was eye opening for her too.

540 Posts
I made a similar move 40 years ago, going from a 400cc Honda Hawk to a GS1000.
The added power wasn't hard to manage, but it did take me a while to get used to the extra weight.

Definitely try to hang on to the 400 if you can. Much as I liked the GS I did miss an easier-to-toss-around bike. A couple of years later I added an RZ350, and after that the GS didn't get ridden so much. :)
My first street bike over 150cc was a 1978 Honda Hawk 400(150cc limit until age 16 in Alabama).
I still own it, although it isn't running at the moment.
My friend upgraded his Suzuki SP125 to a GS1000 when I got my 400.
Good memories of kicking his butt in the corners, to get passed on the longer straights.
Not much different than my recent track days on the N400.
My 1978 400cc parallel twin would do an indicated 112mph, while my 2019 N400 does 122 mph indicated.
Not much difference in 40+ years IMHO.

540 Posts

So I have went with the following bike in the following order ( * ) denotes I still own :

Honda XL75 -my Learning bike
Yamaha RM100 - Dirt to learn fundamentals
Suzuki GS 650 G - my daily commuter to high school for 2 years, Probably did about 50K miles on that bike
Honda Hawk NT650GT (LOVED THIS BIKE). - Owned my last year in High school
Suzuki Bandit 1200 - Did a lot of canyon carving in Arizona. Runs cold and shifts like a dream. Very Comforatblle
Kawasaki GPz900R - Many mountain curve riding in Japan. Dated and a bit heavy but sweet sound from stock pipes.
BMW R1200GS - This bike is so versatile as tourer or adventure but. Most comfortable for long rides.
Kawasaki Concours 1400 - Ok for sport touring, but you don't want to be on bumpy roads. Too much power.
BMW R1200GS Adventure. - Too tall, emphasized the weight up high. Large gas tank added a lot of Lbs.
BMW F800GT - Too buzzy at highway speeds, wasn't fun as a tourer two up.
BMW F800GS * - Good balance not as buzzy, but comfortable. Gearing feels better than F800GT.
BMW K1300S. - NICE!!!! But with 175HP you run out of road before you run out of gears. Comfy for what it was.
Bimota Tesi 3D 1100 * Lighter than Ninja 400 but with 100hp and loads of torque
BMW K1200GT. - Same as C14, too heavy. Great on the road. Wind make bike wonder.
and now Ninja 400 * - It is fun for the track and riding through the mountains. For me needs more HP ( lets say 65hp would be golden).

Of all the bikes I sold, I wish I still had the Honda Hawk NT650GT. It was light, torquey and handled great. Looking at my list of bikes owned since 1989 to now, there are only a few that stand out as far as a good balance of comfort and power. The Bandit 1200, R1200GS, F800GS are excellent bikes for touring or two up riding. Pletty of torque for hillclimbing twisting and never struggled with a passenger. I have also been longing to get another Bandit 1200 or 1250. My worse bikes were the Kawasaki C14, BMW K1200GT and BMW F800GT. The C14 and K1200GT were just too heavy and you always dread slipping in a parking lot on gravel, dropping and not being able to pick up. The power of the C14 was also a bit excessive for sport touring.

Would I recommend going to a Ninja 1000SX? If the Ninja 400 was your first bike....."No". Going from 45Hp to 142HP doesn't contribute to good learning via progression. Having progressed through the models with different HP and engine types, I learned there are some characteristics I like when riding for different styles and it has helped me pick the correct bikes for certain styles of riding (ie, adventure, touring, commuting). I have hit 145mph on track and through the deserts, but what is the most fun I have found is a bike that you can use all the power on the street or have a little in reserve for a passenger and luggage with being burdened by much more weight for the HP gain. My K1300S had way too much power, and although I used it for track days and could handle it, riding it was tiring and not as much fun as lighter bike I could get though all the gears on the track. I would recommend a larger twin or triple like the Tracer 9 GT.

As for me, I am 188 lbs and a guy in his late 40's that rides adventure, sport touring and race track days. I love riding and always try to give my honest opinion, especially to newer riders.

BTW, if you aren't riding keeping you bike in the power band like 7K and up to redline through twists then you definable are not ready for a big bore bike. Learn to use most of your bikes power before upgrading.
I can agree to a point(especially with your last statement), but it also depends on riding style and how people progress as riders.
A Ninja 400 will help a new rider achieve a higher level of corner speed and entry speed over a big cc bike.
It will not teach throttle modulation and control like a higher HP bike requires, unless riding on the limit at the track.
It won't teach someone how to brake at max either IMHO, unless on the track.
Taming 142hp is easily controlled by the right wrist, but you have to have the power on tap to learn how to respect it.
My C-14 is a great sport touring machine. I have modded suspension, but it was decent before the mods. I have never complained a bike had "too much power".
My right wrist controls the power, my N1k or my C-14 can accelerate just like my N400 with right wrist control.
The reverse isn't true, and my 400 is pinned way more than the others.
My wife rides my Ninja 1000 now, and has a new appreciation for the throttle control required for bigger bikes
The fundamentals don't change though. Don't ride over your head, learn how to slow the bike before you learn how fast it will accelerate or go, ETC.
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