Price: £5999 / £6499 (SE) | Power: 45bhp | Weight: 171kg | Overall BikeSocial Rating: 4/5


Any Kawasaki that bears the iconic ‘Ninja’ badge needs to be a machine that reflects the sporty ambitions and attitude of the rider. So, when it came to updating its A2-friendly Ninja 400, this is perhaps a harder task for Kawasaki than extracting tenths of a seconds on something like a new Kawasaki ZX-10RR.

To accommodate riders of all age, experience and desires, Kawasaki’s sports and supersport range is now full of Ninjas of varying capacities and even includes electric and hybrid options. From 125 to 1000, there really is a ladder to climb or even descend. Sitting in the middle of its capacity range, the new Ninja 500 plays a central role, and not just for Kawasaki.

Enticing more people into becoming riders, the motorcycle industry needs to offer bikes that are affordable, usable, reliable, and that look great; after all, posing is part of riding even if we don’t all admit it…

Step forward the Ninja 500. Replacing the Ninja 400, we spent a long day in the saddle of the SE (Special Edition) versions in sunny Spain to find out if this much updated machine was more than a sheep in wolf’s clothing.


Pros & Cons

  • Real Ninja looks
  • Competitive price
  • Vastly improved engine
  • Soft suspension
  • Cramped foot position for taller riders
  • Extremely quiet running
2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 and Z500 Review
Replacing the Ninja 400 comes the 2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500, and we packed Luke off to Spain to see how it rides and compares to the Z500, it’s naked stablemate.


Review – In Detail

Price & PCP
For and against
Engine & Performance
Handling & Suspension (inc. weight & brakes)
Comfort & Economy


2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 Price

There are two versions of the Ninja 500 available and the majority of bikes coming to UK shores will be the Special Edition ‘SE’ version. The base model comes in at £5,999 in only a single colour (well, black) but the extra £500 of the SE gets you a choice of two different colour schemes (including the eye-catching Kawasaki Racing Team version), a full colour TFT display, LED indicators, and Kawasaki’s keyless ignition feature: KIPASS (Kawasaki’s Intelligent Proximity Activation Start System). You’ll also need to add on-the-road costs of £135.

  • Ninja 500 - £5999 Metallic Spark Black / Metallic Flat Raw Graystone
  • Ninja 500 SE - £6499 Lime Green / Ebony (KRT) or Metallic Matte Dark Gray / Metallic Flat Spark Black / Metallic Moondust Gray

In terms of finance offers, Kawasaki UK offers a 37-month personal contract plan (PCP) for the Ninja 500 SE with a £1,213,12 deposit, monthly repayments of £95, and an optional final repayment of £3,246 (or trade towards a new bike…). Some dealers will have other finance plans available.



2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 Engine & Performance

Although Kawasaki didn’t claim for the Ninja 500’s engine to be ‘all new’, it might as well have said so with the amount of changes that have been made. The focus on this new model was to extract more low and mid-range performance from the compact parallel twin.

Increasing the stroke and not the bore provides the new 451cc capacity, up from 399cc. This has not blown the roof off the previous outright figures, but the riding difference is immense and the feeling on the seat seems to tally with the performance comparison graph we were shown.

Why is this important? The old 400’s motor that had to be revved harder to make progress while the Ninja 500 fires away from the lights with less effort and punches out of tight turns easier, even when in the wrong gear. And with new riders finding their feet (or boots), a more forgiving engine that will chug through a situation is definitely welcoming.

There’s a newly designed crankshaft, connecting rods, and pistons inside the sleeveless cylinder with plated bores, just like on the Ninja ZX-10R and 6R supersport machines. A redesigned balancer shaft is optimised for the larger displacement, and is fully machined to help offset engine vibration; I only found the engine ‘buzzy’ at 6,000rpm in the lower gears. In order to help create a smoother torque curve and smoother response, the left and right intake funnels have different heights.

For new and returning riders, the 45bhp is enough to excite and help grow your appreciation of the performance available from 500cc parallel twins (designed specifically to be A2 licence compliant, of course); you only need to see how amazing Honda CB500 racing is. After a day riding the Ninja 500 on sun-kissed twisty Spanish roads, you should have seen the smiles on a bunch of ‘seasoned’ riders faces. This is a fun ‘little’ bike; short shift through the amazing gearbox (not a false neutral all day - clutch and clutchless shifting) or have it singing high in the rev range.



2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 Handling & Suspension (inc. Weight & Brakes)

Although it wears a Ninja badge, top drawer suspension and braking components are not featured here. In fact, very much bottom drawer. But that’s not a massive criticism. Getting this bike in the dealers with a competitive price tag wouldn’t have happened with competition-level equipment.

It shares the same five-way preload adjustable monoshock and non-adjustable right way up, telescopic front forks as on its stablemate, the new Kawasaki Z500, but with a firmer front end set-up to deal with the sportier appeal and 4kg weight increase (from the fairing) over its capacity stablemate. It’s definitely a better front end than the Z500 that pitches radically with hard braking and acceleration. But Kawasaki are aiming this bike more for riders getting up to speed rather than going out for a hot lap in qualifying, so the reasonably soft set-up will be appreciated during those colder, wetter rides on pothole-strewn Britain.

A single disc with a two-piston Nissin caliper on the front is about as basic a set-up as you can get, but the ABS isn’t obtrusive even when pushing the Dunlop GPR-300 tyres extremely hard. The rear brake did seem to trigger the ABS a lot, but I was tramping on a bit on stretches of road with lots of first-gear hairpins. It’s not under-braked, but two-up riding will need you to really be on your game. The absence of a span adjuster on the front lever is a poor show. Yes, it costs more for a nice lever, but not all riders have large hands (including this reviewer – Ed!). A problem that can be remedied at your dealer, though. Not the hand sized thing, lol.



2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 Comfort & Economy

Although positioned as a sports bike, Kawasaki is fully aware that many Ninja 500 customers will extract maximum value and seat time from this bike, using it as a commuter as well as weekend weapon. So the riding position isn’t extreme at all.

With clip-ons above the top yoke, the riding position is sporty but without the ‘head-down, bum-up’ contortion needed for fitting on a supersport bike. The triangle of footpegs, seat and bars deliver a comfy office for 5’8” of me and I’d bet that even with a tank bag placed between rider and bars, it wouldn’t feel intrusive to the riding experience.

The bodywork not only looks awesome, but it will help shroud the rider from the elements. We didn’t spend much time going fast in a straight line or in anything but glorious sunshine on our test ride, but taller riders who put in longer rides will maybe want to opt for the official ‘large windshield (in clear or smoke).

On the theme of tall, as with the Z500, I also think leggier riders may find the distance between footpeg and seat a little cramped. An official +30mm seat is available, but worth mentioning is that the standard perch, which has a revised profile over the outgoing 400, was all-day comfortable for my 73kg (plus riding kit) frame. I didn’t need to stand on the pegs or stretch my legs all day.  The seat contours worked well for moving around to hang off or just sitting still like a good person.

In terms of fuel economy, Kawasaki claims 74.3mpg but we weren’t able to confirm this on our ride. When we tested the Ninja 400, we saw an average of 48mpg and as high as 58mpg with 75mph motorway cruising. The new bike is up 6kg, but perhaps the better spread of torque might counteract that. We shall have to see!



2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 Equipment

Kawasaki UK are bringing more of the Special Edition “SE” models, which for the additional £500 (and plus 1kg) provides the different colour options we mentioned above, along with the full colour, TFT screen, LED indicators, and the keyless ignition (amazing for those who struggle with keys).

With no rider modes (not needed on a 45bhp bike), there’s not a lot to scroll through on the SE’s slick dash, but the gear indicator is really useful and the option to pair with Kawasaki’s RIDEOLOGY THE APP via Bluetooth allows you to keep an eye on the maintenance schedule, check the battery level, see who is trying to call you and - best of all - log your rides with GPS that includes your speed, rpm and gear position. We had a chance to play with this and it's easy to set-up and a novel feature.

The Ninja 500 boasts possibly the lightest cable clutch I’ve ever experienced - great for new riders and urban use. The Assist & Slipper Clutch was developed based on feedback from racing activities and uses two types of cams (an assist cam and a slipper cam), offering two functions not available on a standard clutch.

When the engine is operating at normal rpm the assist cam functions as a self-servo mechanism, pulling the clutch hub and operating plate together to compress the clutch plates for spring load to be reduced. When excessive engine braking occurs, such as from quick downshifts (I did this) or an accidental downshift – the slipper cam comes into play, relieves pressure on the clutch plates to reduce back-torque and help prevent the rear tyre from hopping and skidding. It’s a really slick and light system and together with the ABS helps keep it safe when tramping on.

We didn’t get a chance to test the effectiveness of the LED headlights at night, but they look meaty enough to turn dark to bluey-white. Would be nice for self-cancelling indicators with the SE’s LED ones, but at least there’s a hazard light button on all models. A nice and practical feature is the luggage loops (or bungee hooks) under the tail unit. But - again - Kawasaki could have put a span adjuster on the brake lever for the extra pennies.

An additional £700 on either the base model or SE will get you the ‘Performance Pack’, consisting of an Akrapovič exhaust (EU5+), Pillion Seat Cover, Smoked Windshield and Tank Pad.



2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 Rivals

Going toe-to-toe with the Ninja 500 is the Honda CBR500R. The Honda is a little more expensive and quite a bit heavier, but, like the Kawasaki, has the reassurance of high build quality, a wide dealer network and strong resale values (so long as you look after it).

For those who demand more of a sportier - and dare we say less practical - ride, the lighter, punchy single-cylinder KTM RC390 is an option along with the twin-cylinder Yamaha R3. An absolute wildcard choice would be the CF Moto 450SR S that has all the bells and whistles of a much bigger bike. KTM is in charge of the UK distribution of the Chinese bikes, but resale values probably wouldn’t be as strong as other considerations.


Honda CBR500R | Price: £6,699

Power/Torque: 47bhp/31.7lb-ft | Weight: 191kg


KTM RC390 | Price: £5,899

Power/Torque: 44bhp/27.3lb-ft | Weight: 155kg


CF Moto 450SR S| Price: £6,499

Power/Torque: 46.3bhp/29lb-ft | Weight: 179kg



2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 Verdict

The Ninja 500 looks and feels like a premium bike - something Kawasaki were keen to stress in the press conference and remind the media they are a quality brand with a trusted reputation and dealer network.

If you’re a sportsbike fan with a reasonably fresh licence and are looking for a bike with enough performance to grow your riding abilities while very much looking the part, the Ninja 500 would make an excellent choice. Experienced riders can still have a good time on this machine, but would probably need to upgrade the suspension. And then the brakes. And then the noise… So probably not the direction to go when a Ninja 650 would be more satisfying.

I know looks are subjective, but this is an amazing looking machine that shouts louder than its cubic capacity. If it didn’t have the ‘500’ sticker and the single disc front, it could easily be dismissed as a much bigger model - like how at first glance a CBR650R appears to be a Fireblade.

Speaking of noise, I do wish it was a bit louder though, as Kawasaki’s 650 twin is distinctively more audible. There is an official Akrapovič sports exhaust available as part of the £700 Performance Pack, if you could justify the extra stretch.



2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 Technical Specification

New price

£5,999 (standard), £6,499 (SE)



Bore x Stroke

70.0 x 58.6mm

Engine layout

Parallel twin-cylinder

Engine details

8-valve, water-cooled DOHC, fuel-injected


45bhp (33.4KW) @ 9000rpm


31.4lb-ft (42.6Nm) @ 6000rpm


6-speed, chain

Average fuel consumption

74.3mpg claimed,

Tank size

14 litres

Max range to empty


Rider aids



steel trellis

Front suspension

41mm RWU telescopic fork

Front suspension adjustment


Rear suspension

monoshock, bottom-link Uni-Trak

Rear suspension adjustment

5-position preload

Front brake

310mm disc, two-piston Nissin caliper

Rear brake

220mm disc, two-piston Nissin caliper

Front wheel / tyre

110/70 17 Dunlop Sportmax GPR-300

Rear wheel / tyre

150/60 17 Dunlop Sportmax GPR-300

Dimensions (LxWxH)

1,995mm x 800mm 1,050mm



Seat height



171kg / 172kg (SE) kerb


4 years / unlimited miles


First service at 600 miles, then every 7,500 miles

MCIA Secured Rating

Not yet rated



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2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 Review Details Price Spec_26


What is MCIA Secured?

MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible.

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen. In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars (three stars for bikes of 125cc or less), based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard
  • An ignition immobiliser system
  • A vehicle marking system
  • An alarm system
  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription

The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.