There’s no use hiding it: We’re in the midst of conducting a small-sportbike shootout. That means we’ve got the new 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 in house, as well as the KTM RC390, Yamaha YZF-R3, Honda CBR300R, and Suzuki GSX250R. But we just couldn’t resist dishing the dyno details on these bikes. Check out the charts below to see how the class shakes out. It’s quite a spread!
In case the numbers are too small to read, here’s how the bikes stack up. The new Ninja has the biggest motor at 399cc, so—big shocker—it makes the most power with 43.3 hp and 24.6 pound-feet of torque. Even though it’s down 26cc, a cylinder, and 2,000 power-producing revs, the KTM RC390 is right on top of the Ninja with 42.5 hp and 24.4 pound-feet of torque. The KTM has an ugly slump in power between 4,000 and 6,000 rpm, whereas the Kawasaki engine has an impressive bump between those same engine speeds.
The green bike’s horsepower curve also remains quite flat at the top. So flat, in fact, that we’re suspicious that it may be electronically limited to retain A2-license eligibility. Will the factory or some savvy speed shop come out with a re-flash that unlocks some extra ponies? We sure hope so, and it’s something we’ll be investigating.
Hovering well below the KTM and Kawasaki is Yamaha’s 321cc YZF-R3 parallel twin. It’s got beautifully flat curves and slapped down a respectable 35.1 hp and 19.6 pound-feet of torque on our in-house Dynojet dyno. In the penultimate position, Honda’s lovable little CBR300R. It’s 286cc single is wonderfully usable, but in this company its 26.7 hp and even 18 pound-feet of torque don’t quite keep up.
And, coming in last, we have the 249cc parallel twin of Suzuki’s GSX250R, which cranked out a palty 20.6 hp and 15.0 pound-feet of torque. That’s actually less than a Ninja 250 made more than 15 years ago, but hey, it’s the most affordable bike in the class.
Power isn’t everything—especially in a group of bikes that’s meant to be as approachable as these machines—so it would be foolish to declare a winner or pick your next bike based on dyno data alone. We’re busy stacking street miles and getting to know these awesome little bikes so we can offer you a thorough evaluation of the options. So stay tuned for the video and web story.