Two 2023 Kawasaki Beginner Bike options! An in-depth review of the┬áNinja 400 and Versys-X 300

Hi everybody, it’s Peter and in this video I’m gonna talk beginner bikes. And I do so cautiously because this bike in particular and that bike also, I always shy away from calling them beginners bikes because especially this one is really good for keeping a very, very, very long time. It’s very quick. This one is not quite as quick and there may be a reason to move to a faster bike from that. However, I’m a, I’m an experienced rider and I could keep that bike in my garage for a long, long time. I love that bike. But these are two bikes that are really good for beginner riders. And since I’m here filming at  Jim Gilbert’s Power Sports and they’re about to host a entire motorcycles show essentially here on Saturday, which is an open house to come check out motorcycles.


I thought I would talk about what makes a great beginner bike. So whether you’re interested in these two bikes or not, I’m going to use these two bikes as examples of what makes a great first bike. And also because I like these ones, like I said, you could probably end up keeping these bikes and not just have them as your beginner bike. You may want to keep them in maybe all the bike you ever need. So what we’re gonna do is do an in-depth review review of the Ninja 400 and the versus X 300. These are both 2023 models. We’re gonna go through what you can get in a fully modern bike and we’ll go through, talk about some details that the other videos aren’t talking about and hopefully I can give you some context into what I think makes a really good first bike so that you are better equipped if that’s where you want to head into your first motorcycle.

From here you can watch Peters Video by clicking YouTube or read his transcript… enjoy…

So let’s take a look at both of these bikes. First of all, this one is kind of classed as an adventure bike. It’s a very upright, comfortable bike. A lot of adventure bikes are gonna be a little bit better off-road than this, but this is certainly a bike that you can take down, a dirt road down some of those trails, but it’s also very highway capable and I think that’s important for our first bike. You don’t want to go so small that it’s not highway capable. And generally we look at size in the engine size department, but there are some differences. For instance, this is a 300 cc and there are other 300 ccs in the Kawasaki lineup, but this is a twin cylinder that’s gonna give you a little bit more horsepower and that’s gonna give you a little bit little better highway capability.


Now what’s interesting is this Ninja 400 used to be available as a Ninja 300 and it actually shared the same engine as this, but they upgraded this one a few years ago to the 400 and the 400 makes more power, significantly more power. It’s one of the more powerful 400 twin cylinder engines, but they also made it a lighter bike and that turned it from a pretty good little entry level sport bike to a good all around sport bike that is very easy to drive and very good. And that’s why I say with this one it’s going to be a little bit faster bike, it’s gonna have a little bit more top end, it’s gonna have better acceleration and it’s the kind of bike that a lot of, it’s kind of like a cult classic, a lot of experienced riders like this for the reason that it is so lightweight you can’t replicate the feel of this bike in a faster and therefore heavier bike with a bigger engine. So a lot of people

Love this bike simply because it’s fun. Now this one is one that I really quite like as well and I’ll be clear, this is usually what I recommend for beginners. This one’s a little taller, but what I like about this bike is you can explore every type of motorcycling so it doesn’t look like a cruiser, but every kind of ride that a cruiser can go on, you can go on this, you can also get luggage on this, get accessories on this. You can do overnight camping trips, you can do travel for days, you’ve got good wind protection and like I said, it’s highway capable but it’s also great around town because it’s very lightweight. So we’re gonna talk through both of these bikes. We’re gonna start with the versus X 300, move our way to the uh, new color here for the Ninja 400 and then we’ll wrap it up from there.

So starting with the Versys X 300, I’m gonna get the one negative out of the way, but if this is a deal breaker for you, stay with me in this video because a lot of the features of this bike may be things that you wanna look for in your bike. So first of all, the one negative is this is a little bit of a taller bike. Now I’m about six feet tall. I’m gonna get the kickstand on my way here. Even a six feet tall, I am fully flat feeding footing this, you don’t have to be as tall as I am to ride this. There’s probably lowering kits to get this a little bit lower down. Part of the height of this bike is the styling. It is an adventure style bike and part of it is to give you that little bit extra capability.

Now tall bikes can be intimidating for people, but this is not an intimidating toll bike. And to be fair, it’s really not that tall of a bike because it’s got a fairly narrow seat here. Narrow tank here, you’re very much in control and it’s very, very, very lightweight. So a heavy bike that’s tall is a tougher bike, but a bike like this for most riders, even if you’re shorter than me, it’s not gonna be super intimidating. Now if you’re five foot three, this is going to be a tall bike for you and that’s where something like the Ninja 400 would still work where this doesn’t. What I like about this bike though is there are several things that are difficult to learn on a motorcycle or more difficult. And the first one is slow speed maneuvering. And one thing is this bike being so light, but two, having really broad handlebar and a fairly upright seating position, your eyes are always in the right position.

You’re not lean down looking at the bike, you’re sitting up looking around. So sometimes they’ll sell you these, you know, little sport bikes as a first time bike and they’re not that comfortable and they’re actually a little bit harder to steer slow speeds, they don’t turn as sharp. This one turns very sharp, so does so. Sodas. Sodas, the Ninja 400 and both of them are still sitting fairly upright, but this one being very square is very nice. Having a handlebar here I set of clip-ons, we’ll talk about that in a second. You can add accessories in here, we’ll get to the dash in a minute. But you’ve got that slow speed cornering type thing. And then the upright seated position is very in command. You’re sitting sort of like an suv, you’re looking up a traffic above traffic, it gives you great visibility. The mirrors here are fairly close to you, so that makes it give a more of a wide angle view behind you. And the overall position is very comfortable and very good. So seating position matters, but you’ve also got, like I said, the ability to sort of have

Some control because of the positioning here. Wide bars make it really easy. So something to consider, uh, moving on. But let’s take a look at some of the features that I think you should look for. And we’re gonna start by taking a look at the front brakes and moving our way through the spike before we jump over to the Ninja 400. So let’s take a look at the front wheel here of the versus X 300. This one’s a little bit larger than the average sport bike. That’s what they do on some of these off-road type bikes. A little bit larger wheel can help you. This is a 21 inch wheel so it’s quite large compared to a 17 inch diameter wheel that you see on most sport bikes and pretty common on most uh, road going bikes. So what you wanna look for in your first bike, if you’re considering this is a BS brakes.

Now how do you tell if it has a BS brakes if it doesn’t have an a BS sticker like this? You’re looking for this type of panel here in the disc. Brake disc brakes are pretty common on just about everything. Now this one has a single disc, it’s a pedal style disc that’s uh, partly for style it could help dissipate heat, but these holes are really about dissipating heat there. But this little ring here is the A BS sensor when you’re first driving a motorcycle, if you jam on the brakes, it’s kind of a tough, another tough thing to learn is uh, braking isn’t too bad normally, but if you jam on the brakes in an emergency, you can lock your tires, you can have all sorts of things and if you lock your front tire you’re probably going down. So AVS is gonna keep you from locking that front tire and that means as as you practice you can kind of feel that a b s pulsing instead of feel your wheel locking.

And it just gives you a little extra layer of security as you’re learning your bike. And of course as you’re learning to emergency brake your bike, so a BS front and rear available on both these bikes, that’s definitely something I would look for in your first bike. So now we’re gonna take a look at the seat of the versus X 300 and there’s a lot going on here that you wouldn’t think about for a first bike. First of all, if you compare this to the average sport bike, you can see that first of all it’s a very big comfortable seat and you have a large rear seat here. Now you’re not gonna be taking a ton of passengers in your first little bit of riding on a brand new bike. But the nice thing with this is you can take passengers if you want to and they’ll be fairly comfortable here.

And again, they’re sitting fairly upright, not leaning forward, leaning on you, but the versus X 300, what I like about this whole area is it gives you a lot of versatility so you can discover the kind of motorcycling you like. If you want to add on accessory hard cases that are lockable, which means you can go into the store and lock your stuff up on your bike and with your bike you can do that here. You can also, if you don’t wanna buy the accessories right off the bat, use this whole area, you could strap like a tent down here and hang other stuff off and go camping on this bike. So it really allows you to discover that kinds of riding you’re going to like to do. It allows you to take things with you. If you’re used to always driving in a car, you’re used to carrying a lot of stuff with you, having a bike that can take extra stuff with you means that you’re gonna take this more and it makes it more usable and it makes it something that can, you know, maybe replace your car instead of just being there for fun.

So Versys X 300 has some really nice things on here. It has accessories that can bolt into this rear rack, but it’s also got little hooks back here that you can just bungee anything to. You can strap anything to so you don’t have to spend money on the accessories but they’re there for you if you want to get stuff like that. And it makes it a really versatile package and there aren’t a lot of beginner bikes that give you this kind of versatility. A lot of times they’ll narrow you into, you know, a slow low powered cruiser or you know, something with sport bike styling but not always sport bike feeling. Uh, and that limits the versatility of where you can ride it, how often you can ride it and what you can take with you. So the versus X 300 does have some nice things here.

We’re gonna look at the dash on this bike first and then we’re gonna move over to the Ninja 400 and show you some of the features that I really like on that bike. So I’m gonna start looking at the versus X 300 sort of zoomed back so you can see a few things I like. Now again, the handlebar that I was talking about, you’re gonna see a little difference here in the way the handlebar is done on the 400 on the Ninja 400, which we call clip-ons. Handlebars are nice because you can mount a whole bunch of different accessories to hold your phone or do something like that. And if I turn this just a little bit here, you’re gonna see, oh there we go, we’re fine. Hit the tripod there. Uh, you’re gonna see this here that is a punch out where in the future if you want you could put a USB or a 12 volt port, so gonna leave this sitting kind of like that.

Um, and then of course you have your controls over here. What I like about the controls, you have a hazard light, which is nice to have. Not every uh, bike has that, which is just something if you’re ever stopping you can’t see. There’s a little trigger here to flash your high beam or you can lock your high beams, all like that. That trigger can really help you get people’s attention because it’s right there. You can flash it on and off and I kind of like that feature as well. Horn signal lights, that’s all pretty standard stuff. So let’s turn the key on. We may zoom in here a little bit. Yeah, let’s just try zoom in here a little bit. So we’ll zoom in there. Alright, so this bike revs exceptionally high. Now again, these are very small pistons that travel a very short distance.

High revving bikes aren’t a problem. Um, when I did a whole other video talking about that, so don’t let that skew you. If you come from a car and you see in a 12,000 RPM red line, uh, this one makes power higher up in the res, but again, small pistons moving a very short distance, it’s just not an issue. And that’s how you get some of the power out of this bike. What I think you should look for on a beginner bike is right here a gear indicator. So this one tells me I’m in neutral right now. Now neutral has a green light, you can sort of see right there. There’s a green light as well, but every other gear is not labeled. This is a six speed transmission and it’ll tell you one through six exactly what gear you’re in. It’s just very helpful to know what gear you’re in when you pull in the clutch and uh, you ke you know, you’re trying to figure out what gear you need to be in to go into a corner, come out of a corner.

Other than that, you’ve got pretty basic stuff in here. We can cycle through odometer is trip A, trip B and the regular odometer. And down here you’ve got the range, uh, kilometers per liter, which is fuel efficiency. You can set that to liters per a hundred kilometers, miles per gallon, other things like that. And then you have the average fuel efficiency. So that’s instant and average fuel efficiency. And then back to that range, which is distance to empty and it’s gonna calculate that based on how you have been driving and give you a basic calculation of roughly how much you have left. There’s also a clock in there, so pretty simple gauge cluster, but again gear indicator is definitely something I would look for. Now let’s just talk about the clutch because the clutch on these is different and I think it’s a good important thing to look for in a beginner bike.

So what I’m looking at right now is the clutch lever. So of course on the motorcycle it’s a manual transmission. Instead of using a third foot pedal, you’re using a clutch here. And the clutch lever on the versus X is one of the lightest clutch pulls I’ve ever felt, uh, on a motorcycle. Now that’s pretty good because if you’re moving in and outta traffic or if you have a lower powered bike, you’re going to be shifting more and having a lightweight clutch makes it easier to drive. Now there’s a reason that this is lightweight. It’s not just that it’s got extra, you know, sort of different setup to make it light, the lightweight clutch here is part of a slipper and assist clutch. And if you were to mess up a downshift and dump out uh, you know the clutch when you’re doing a aggressive downshift, in theory you could have enough engine braking to skid the wheel.

And what this slipper and assist clutch does is it allows you to dump that clutch. Maybe it’s a mistake or maybe you’re driving really aggressively and it’ll allow the clutch to slip instead of the wheel. So it can help prevent a wheel slide and the side benefit of that system which was developed in racing. And its great for beginners and great for all riders really. Um, the side benefit of that system that keeps that wheel from sliding also gives you a lighter clutch pull. Both these bikes have that, it’s a slightly different uh, feel on the uh, ninja 400, but they’re very light to pull and that makes it fun to zip through the gears and also less tiring to drive through traffic, which is something you’re gonna be doing a lot a bike like this. So now let’s take a look at the Ninja 400.

For a lot of people this is a little bit more exciting bike to look at and to be honest, it’s also a little bit more exciting to drive. You will lose some practicality and some versatility by going with a bike like this. But this is the bike that I recommend more often as a good beginner bike and in part because of something like this, this really low seat height. So I say really low but again my feet are flat on the uh, seat here. There is a slight bit more forward lean, but again, some of the wind that’s hitting you is gonna take some of that and it also gives you that sport bike kind of feel. You’re not so leaned over that you’re gonna be uncomfortable in any way, but you do have a sense of control at speed on this bike. Whereas the other one you’re gonna have a little bit more of a control in the parking lot.

Now again, two weeks into riding each, either of these bikes are gonna be just as easy to ride as the other, but you have a little bit more of a tucked in. You have that sport bike feel and again, the lower seat height helps for a lot of people. Now in that seating position, of course the smaller rear seat, your rear seat passengers are gonna be a little bit less comfortable and in my opinion, sometimes the geometry of certain sport bikes not so much with this but some of them uh, can make that that rear passenger sit up high and it can kind of throw the weight balance off a little differently than on something like an adventure bike where it’s kind of built in there. Uh, it just kind of sit when you’re sitting square it seems to fit a little better. So it depends on what you wanna do.

But as a solo bike, this one is a really great bike and like I said, it started off as a Ninja 300 and the Ninja 300 engine. Even though you know one third smaller than or one quarter smaller than this, uh, you know, the 300 was a heavier engine that made less power. This is a lighter engine that makes more power, which a lot of people if you do is research on the versus X 300 are saying that bike needs this engine. Would it make it better? Yeah, it would, but that’s not a bad bike at all. It just would have a little bit more speed and maybe handling would be a little different. What this bike is really good at though is the powertrain in it is very easy to manage. So if you’re a newer rider, although it’s quite quick, it’s very easy to manage.

And when I say quite quick, I’m, I’ve never done a top speed on this, but there are people on YouTube that drive this up to around 200 or so kilometers an hour. So highway capable and then some, I would never drive this bike that fast. But the bigger point with this bike is it is really fun in the handling department. Think of it like sort of lightweight sports cars. Um, you know, there’s a lot of cars like a mini Cooper, a Mazda Miata, um, Scion or or Subaru B rz, those kind of things. They’re not crazy powerful but people love ’em because they’re a lot of fun to drive. That’s kind of what this is. And like I said, when you move to a bigger engine you don’t get the same feel of handling that this bike has and that’s what makes it good. So there are some practical things.

We’re gonna look at the dash, we’re gonna look at the back end here because while you lose some racks for storage, there is some ability for storage here, we’ll talk about that. But I do wanna show you the dash to start and then we’ll move back to the storage area. Alright, so taking a look at the dash here, very bottom right here, you have all the exact same controls but you don’t have the four-way flashers or those or those hazard warning lights. It kind of is what it is. Take a look at the dash though, you do have a little bit more of a modern design here. We’re gonna zoom into that as well. So let’s just do that again. Alright, so there we go. Overall full screen, again a very high revving engine just under 12,000 RPM red line, uh, you know, but very uh, you know, good power throughout and it’s sort of a smooth even build to the power, which is different than some of the uh, say four cylinder super sport bikes that really don’t make a lot of power down low at all.

They make it all up top. You’ve got decent mid-range power and good upper power as well. And again, same basic design here. You’ve got your gear indicator in there. Again, neutral light is already lit but one through six gearing in there and the same information up through here. Trip a, trip B odometer, go back to trip A and then we’ll go down here to your incident. Average fuel efficiency and your range. So same thing there, but it does look a little more modern I guess with this sort of bluey type color. Um, and again, easy to read all you need nothing more. Alright, so if you’re like me, you’re sitting there and you’re looking at this bike and you’re going, okay, I really like the styling of this, I like the way it’s gonna ride, but I wish it had some versatility like the cargo capacity of the Versys X 300.

Well you do have this little hook back here which is designed exactly for that for carrying luggage and there’s a second hook behind here behind the rear um, foot peg that allows you to put bungee nets and put stuff up here. But the other thing is there are a whole lot of aftermarket parts that you can take off this rear seat and mount bags and things and all kinds of things that sort of clip in underneath here. So you have the ability to take some luggage but you won’t have the ability to take as much luggage because there’s no factory option for side bags here or for a rack on the back you’d have to go to the aftermarket for that and that can change the look of the bike. But you can absolutely use uh, things where you pop off this seat and uh, connect up some luggage with the seat on underneath as the base for that.

Uh, so lots of options to carry stuff. You just have to go to the aftermarket and decide. And then most of these luggage here is not gonna be lockable like you would be able to do on the versus X 300. So you still have some practicality but you’re gonna lose some of that. The Ninja 400 also offers one thing that the versus X 300 doesn’t and this might matter to new riders as well. You have a lot of color choices and I’m a huge fan of this one right here. Now I’m gonna show you up close to the stripes here. Uh, overall I think the white looks great and I can be honest while I’m filming here, a number of people have walked by said they really like the look of this bike, but I wanna show you something that’s pretty cool. This stripe down here, as I’m looking at it from this angle, I see silver, you can see it’s green right there on the camera a little bit there.

And as we go through here and kind of go through, hopefully this works, you can kind of see it changing to a purple color like that and the wheels do the same thing. It can look silver, it can look purple, it can look green, uh, it can actually look black as well, the sort of the very top there. It looks kind of black on your screen there and it looks silver at times too. So that’s just one thing with the striping of this bike. But the overall color choices on the Ninja 400 are very, very good. All right, so we’ve talked a lot about these two bikes, but let’s reel it in now as beginner bikes. One thing I should have mentioned here, you do have a power port here or a potential power port, uh, where you can sort of pop out a plastic thing just like you did in the versus.

So you could put a phone on both of these. Now if you’re a new rider, I don’t want you putting phones on your handlebars when you’re new. However, if you’re planning to keep these bikes for a while and you want to add something like a GPS or something like that, usually your phone is the cheapest way to do that. So you can power both of these up. So let’s talk beginner bikes. Couple things I think you should look for. ABS brakes we talked about. I think that’s important, not just for beginner riders, I think that’s important for all riders, especially as you kind of get used to riding, you feel pretty good about yourself and then all of a sudden emergency happens. It’s common to lock up a wheel front or rear, which can cause traction issues. Having ABS really helps you with that and it teaches you as well because if you do hammer on the brakes too far too hard, instead of locking that front wheel or rear wheel and possibly going down, you feel that pulsation.

And once it pulses you kind of know, hey, I’ve hit that limit and it teaches you to ride. I think ABS is important. I don’t think paying for something like traction control on either of these bikes or this class of bike would matter. You can usually manage the power on these bikes. A lot of bikes have a ton of power and traction can become an issue, especially in rainy conditions and that’s where traction control really helps. You can’t always drive normally. Not that you can drive normally, but you know, I don’t think that’s the technology worth paying for on these bikes. I do think l e D lights make a lot of sense. This one does not have an L E D headlight, but you can add L e D accessory lights. This one has an L E D headlight here. Uh,

The of an L E D light helps your eyes identify things better. They’re nice and bright, that’s really good to have as well. Biggest thing you should look for in a beginner bike. And I think the biggest thing that gives people some confidence is a comfortable seating position. That’s a lightweight bike. Now this is a sport bike. Some sport bikes are not nearly as comfortable as this. You’re gonna wanna ride for a long time and if you’re gonna enjoy motorcycling for a long time, you want something comfortable for a sport bike. This is very comfortable for any bike of any class. This is very comfortable. So who would I recommend what for? Well, if you’ve been dreaming of sport riding, if to you the idea of a motorcycle is a sporty ride, this is worth going for because a lot of people will just tweak up the suspension and make this their full on racetrack bike.

The abilities of this are well beyond a beginner’s abilities. And like I said, a lot of experienced riders really like this because they can really bring the bike to its limits and it’s not beyond their own limits. So you’ve got this kind of nice melding of a lightweight, lightweight, good handling sport bike that’s a lot of fun. You do lose some practicality over this. Why I would go for this bike is if you’re not sure the type of riding that you want to do, this allows you to go anywhere. If you want to explore, and by the way, there’s a little dirt road that connects between the two roads you’re looking for, this one can head down that dirt road. If you want to go camping, you’ve got ability to take things just like it is. But if you want to add accessories on like lockable hard cases, you’ve got factory approved lockable hard cases that you can put on here.

And having some wind protection can matter if you’re doing a lot of highway trips. Higher speed stuff, a little extra wind protection can be very nice sometimes. And the body work here does keep your legs a little bit more tucked in. And on the cooler weather days that can make a difference. It can keep you a little bit warmer. So this is a bike I recommend for people who just want get into motorcycling overall, it’s a great first bike. You may find that this doesn’t have the power you want in time again because there are so many faster bikes out there. This one, again, you may not run outta power as quickly, but you may lose some of that practicality. So it’s up to you on which one you wanna choose. So if you’re looking into getting in motorcycling and you wanna know things, let me know the types of questions you have as a new rider so that I can help you out.

I’m filming here at Jim Gilbert’s Power Sports. This is the largest volume Kawasaki dealer in the country and they have a massive showroom full of all kinds of bikes that you can compare them, hop on them, see them side by side. And that’s really the best way to get a sense of which one you like. And of course, if you have questions, let me know because I have complete access to the entire lineup of bikes and power sports and vehicles here at https://powersports.wheelsanddeals.ca/, and I will answer your questions in the comments and make future videos based on those questions. So thanks everybody for watching. We’ll talk to you in the next one.

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