2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 Review [14 Fast Facts]

The world of high-performance sportbikes can be daunting and expensive. Sure, you can purchase racetrack-focused motorcycles armed with 200-horsepower engines and state-of-the-art components that only certified technicians can service. Those are specialized machines with high price, skill, and knowledge entry barriers. Kawasaki understands this and presents a viable option suitable for newbies, the budget-minded, and do-it-yourself types in the 2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500.

  1. There are six different flavors of the 2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500, and we tested the higher-priced KRT SE ABS version. There are two trim lines, standard and SE, along with ABS and non-ABS versions. Rather than rehash all the changes here, check out our First Look story. The biggest difference is the TFT dash on the SE models compared to the standard LCD, but there are many other goodies on the SE.

  1. The Ninja 500 is an evolution of the highly acclaimed Ninja 400 introduced in 2018. In most respects, the Ninja 500 doesn’t stray far from the proven design of the 400, with the most notable change coming in the form of an additional 51cc. Instead of completely redesigning the lightweight Ninja’s parallel-twin engine, Kawasaki engineers stuck with the 400’s 70.0mm bore and significantly lengthened the stroke from 51.8mm to 58.6mm, increasing displacement to 451cc.

  1. The additional displacement has pumped up the performance. Kawasaki claims 51 horsepower at 10,000 rpm and 32 ft-lbs of torque at 7,500 rpm, measured at the crank on the 2024 Ninja 500. That peak torque is achieved by 500 rpm sooner than before—that means riders get into the low-end and midrange grunt earlier, plus there’s more of it. As a side note, it’s unusual for Kawasaki to quote a peak horsepower number.

2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 Review: Price

  1. The 451cc motor delivers more usable power at lower revs. While there’s enough power from a stop to dart off the line and pull away from traffic, the real fun happens above 6000 rpm. Although entertaining, revving out to redline isn’t necessary thanks to the earlier availability of peak torque and good midrange punch. Power delivery and throttle response are linear and predictable, even at higher rpm. Those characteristics are especially confidence-inspiring through those beloved rides on the winding back roads or the less thrilling commutes in stop-and-go traffic.

  1. The frame, swingarm, and engine cases of the 2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 are unchanged from the 400. Many of the Ninja 400 parts available from the Kawasaki catalog or aftermarket retailers are interchangeable, which is excellent for 400 owners looking to upgrade without shelling out more dough for already purchased upgrades.

  1. There are internal engine engine changes related to the stroke lengthing. New parts include the crankshaft, connecting rods, and pistons. All are designed to withstand the heavier demand of the additional 51cc. A new balancer shaft is implemented, which helps to offset engine vibration. The Ninja’s is smooth across the entire rev range, even at highway speeds where smaller twin-cylinder and single-single engines can often feel buzzy.

2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 Review: MSRP

  1. To help prevent rear wheel lock in the event of accidental (or intentional) downshifts at high rpm, Kawasaki boasts an improved slipper clutch. The design is optimized for the 451cc displacement, featuring revised clutch spring rates and plate material. To test it, I downshifted at high rpm as I approached slower corners. The Ninja 500 repeatedly slowed without any rear wheel lockup—the slipper clutch did its job. Speaking of the clutch, pulling in the clutch lever requires little effort—the assist function is also effective. The transmission is remarkably smooth, and the shift lever requires minimal force when shifting—again, Kawi is thinking of new riders here.

2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 Review: For Sale

  1. While it isn’t as aggressive ergonomically as a supersport machine, the 2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 achieves the happy medium of a relaxed yet sporty riding position. The seating position isn’t neutral like a standard. Unlike a conventional sportbike where the handlebars are mounted below the top triple clamp, the bars on the 500 sit above with a slight rise to allow for a sporty ride without compromising on comfort. Still, the reach to the handlebars is well-suited for riders of all sizes. A new, narrower 30.9-inch seat helps riders who struggle to get their feet flat on the asphalt at stop lights do just that—I did with a 30-inch inseam. The seat height and the footpeg position will make for a slightly cramped ride for those with longer legs, though the footpeg position offers plenty of cornering clearance.

2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 Review: Specs

  1. The suspension on the Ninja is unchanged from the 400, continuing a tradition of balanced performance. The units offer more than adequate support and feedback for the average-sized rider who commutes and enjoys a jaunt through the twisty roads. The suspension is impressively compliant and supple, which made riding Malibu’s winding and bumpy roads, as well as poorly maintained stretches of highway, enjoyable. For track use, an upgraded shock with more adjustability will serve you well as you build your skill and pace. Depending on your pace, the fork damping and spring rate are only lacking if you intend to use the 500 on the racetrack.
  1. The brakes and suspension are unchanged from the Ninja 400. A Nissin two-piston caliper and 310mm rotor on the front of the bike provide ample stopping power for the lightweight 500. The ABS-equipped models utilize the same equipment. The ABS is non-intrusive and only intervenes when applying heavy pressure to the brake lever.

  1. Sporty Dunlop Sportmax GPR300 tires provide plenty of grip on the street for the 2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500. As more tire manufacturers embrace the increasingly popular lightweight class, high-performance options are becoming increasingly available in the 110/70 front and 150/60 rear on the 17-inch cast-aluminum wheels.
  1. The more aggressive styling matches the superport Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R and ZX-10R superbike. The 500 could be mistaken for either of the Rs when viewed from the front. Styling is also updated with a sharper LED headlight and taillight. The SE versions also get LED turn indicators and a cowling for the passenger seat.

  1. There are no significant downsides to the changes the 400 underwent when considering who the Ninja 500 is aiming at—a budding sportbike rider. However, there is room for an “R” model down the road. The lightweight Ninja has become the go-to option for MotoAmerica’s Junior Cup class and the weapon of choice within lightweight club racing classes. If that isn’t a testament to what a blast these machines can be when parts are thrown at them, then I don’t know what is.
  1. As motorcycles become more technologically advanced, they become more complex and costly, and the 2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 pushes back on that. Calling the Ninja 500 a “simple” motorcycle isn’t the back-handed compliment that it seems because simplicity has a lot of value—simple to work on, simple to learn skills, and simply fun. With such a reasonable price point—$5299 for the base model—there isn’t much to complain about. It’s an engaging machine that provides supersport styling without the intimidation factor or the insurance premium. When viewing the bike through the lens of new, returning, or riders who might be downsizing, the Ninja 500 satisfies all the ways that count.

Photography by Kevin Wing


  • Helmet: HJC RPHA 01N Senin
  • Jacket: Alpinestars Fusion
  • Gloves: Alpinestars GP Pro
  • Pants: Alpinestars Copper V2
  • Boots: Alpinestars Fastback 1 WP

2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 Specs 


  • Type: Parallel twin
  • Displacement: 451cc
  • Bore x stroke: 70.0 x 58.6mm
  • Maximum power: 51 horsepower @ 10,000 rpm
  • Maximum torque: 32 ft-lbs @ 8000 rpm
  • Compression ratio: 11.3:1
  • Valvetrain: DOHC; 4 vpc
  • Fueling: EFI w/ twin 32mm throttle bodies
  • Transmission: 6-speed w/ Positive Neutral Finder
  • Clutch: Wet multiplate w/ assist and slipper functions
  • Final drive: Sealed chain


  • Frame: Steel trellis
  • Front suspension; travel: Non-adjustable 41mm fork; 4.7 inches
  • Rear suspension: Linkage-assisted, spring-preload adjustable KYB shock; 5.1 inches
  • Tires: Dunlop Sportmax GPR-300
  • Front tire: 110/70 x 17
  • Rear tire: 150/60 x 17
  • Front brake: 310mm disc w/ Nissin 2-piston caliper
  • Rear brake: 220mm disc w/ Nissin 2-piston caliper
  • ABS: Standard on ABS models


  • Wheelbase: 54.1 inches
  • Rake: 24.5 degrees
  • Trail: 3.6 inches
  • Seat height: 30.9 inches
  • Fuel tank capacity: 3.7 gallons
  • Curb weight: 370 pounds (ABS: 375 pounds; SE ABS: 379 pounds)


  • 2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500: $5299 MSRP. Metallic Spark Black/Metallic Flat Raw Graystone.
  • 2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 ABS: $5699. Metallic Spark Black/Metallic Flat Raw Graystone; Metallic Matte Whitish Silver/Metallic Moondust Gray; Passion Red/Metallic Flat Spark Black/Metallic Matte Dark Gray (+$200).
  • 2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 KRT Edition:  $5499. Lime Green/Ebony.
  • 2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 KRT Edition SE ABS: $6399. Lime Green/Ebony (tested)
  • 2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 SE ABS: $6399. Passion Red/Metallic Flat Spark Black/Metallic Matte Dark Gray.
  • 2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 SE 40th Anniversary ABS: $6599. Lime Green/Pearl Crystal White/Blue.

2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 Review Photo Gallery