Yamaha or Kawasaki? Which Do You Prefer
Having a superbike is a dream for many young people. But, with various top brands featuring in the market, choosing one can be a challenge. This review, examines two well-known bike brands –Yamaha vs. Kawasaki
When it comes to the superbike category both Yamaha and Kawasaki have loyal fans. Generally, Yamaha bikes are known for their reliability while Kawasaki bikes for power. It would be an injustice to just compare the two brands without delving deeper into their leading bike models.
In the mid-range superbike section we have two powerful bike models – Yamaha R3 vs. Kawasaki Ninja 400. In many countries, you will often many bike competitions featuring these two bikes. In this review, we take a closer look at these two bike brands and tell you which is better.
What are the differences between Kawasaki and Yamaha?
|Performance||Superbikes built for speed||Great for city traffic|
|Maintenance||High maintenance||Low maintenance|
|Ultimate production bike||Ninja H2R||YZF-R1|
|Company products||Mostly bikes||Bikes, keyboards, boats|
Kawasaki vs. Yamaha – How they compare
When it comes to performance then the Kawasaki has a slight edge over the Yamaha. Kawasaki made history when it produced the Ninja H2R. This bike is capable of more than 200 HP and hit speeds of 400 km/h. It also is capable of generating 310 HP at rpm of 14,000. This bike by Kawasaki has hit the charts as the fastest production bike but it is still track only. Kawasaki also has some other cool bikes in almost all the biking categories like the 600cc and ZX-10R in the 1000cc. Yamaha has some superbikes but it has also ventured into mass production bikes that are affordable and suitable for daily commutes. When it comes to high performance bikes, the flagship bike for the Yamaha is the R1. This 998cc bike is capable of hitting 160 mph and generates 200 horsepower. The bike is supercool and very aggressive. The R6 is Yamaha middleweight category bike suited for those planning on upgrading from entry level superbikes like the R3.
When it comes to the latest superbike electronics then the Yamaha has a slight edge. It comes with stuff like wheel lift control, ABS/Unified braking system, slide control, quick shifter, and launch control. This suit of electronics are available in the R1 and R6. More affordable Yamaha bikes may not have such a large suit of electronics hence the lower price. Most Kawasaki bikes will come with ABS as standard. You will also get traction control, quick shifters and cornering ABS. Most of the superbikes now come with LCD screens as standard.
The Yamaha superbikes are fitted with aluminum deltabox frame that makes it superlight while giving the rider better control of the bike. The suspension for the R1 and R6 consists of KYB fully adjustable 43mm inverted shocks for the front and mono-shock rear four-way adjustable. Kawasaki have also upgraded their shocks in some of their top bikes like the ZX-10R. It now comes with Showa inverted 43mm shocks for the front and rear mono-shock adjustable gas charged back links. Yamaha expansive bike category has led to them developing bikes that are easy to maintain and low in mileage. Kawasaki produces high performance bikes that are a bit costly and high mileage ones.
Kawasaki vs. Yamaha – A Comparison Overview
Yamaha – Overview
Yamaha as a company was established in 1955 and has been a leading motorcycle manufacturer for decades. Its headquarters are in Japan but it has subsidiaries in various countries across the world. When it comes to motor racing, Yamaha has an impressive record having won over 39 world championships and 6 MotoGP. It’s line of products extend to automobile engines and snowmobiles.
Their lineup of bikes consists of:
- Hyper naked
- Sport Heritage
- Transcontinental touring
- Adventure touring
- Sport touring
Yamaha Super bikes R1, R3 or R6? Which is the right one for you?
If you are in the market for your first bike then it is confusing to choose from three incredible bikes from Yamaha. Sport bikes are any teenagers dream. Imagine cruising at over 100 mph, with the wind brushing through your hair – the feeling is exhilarating. The thrill of having those horsepower under your seat and pushing the bike to maximum rpm is what makes super bikes so adored. However, the decision between the R1, R3 and R6 isn’t always a straightforward one. When you are a beginner it can be hard using your bike to reach high speeds. For one you have not fully grasped the riding position or are familiar with how it handles. Yamaha has the R3 as their entry level bike, the R6 as their middleweight bike and the R1 as their flagship superbike. The decision to choose one over the other will be determined by your budget and experience level.
In this section, we check out characteristics of which and help you make the right decision.
This is Yamaha bike for the 1,000cc section. It is superfast and capable of generating 200 horsepower @ rpm of 13,500. This also enables it to hit a top speed of over 284 km/h. Everything about the design of this bike is built for speed. Underneath you have a liquid cooled 998cc engine that uses an inline-four titanium intake valves. Power is transmitted through a six speed gearbox.
The R1 comes with a durable deltabox aluminum frame. When compared to the R6 the R1 seat is taller at 33.7 inches. The R1 runs of KYB fully adjustable inverted 43mm for the front and a mono-shock four-way adjustable for the rear. The R1 stands out due to its array of electronics that includes wheel lift control, launch control, slide control, traction control, quick shifter and ABS/unified braking system.
The first real upgrade for the R1 come in 2000/2001 when it chassis was made stiffer and the weight distribution was moved more to the front. A new titanium silencer was introduced that saw the R1 weight reduced by up to 2 kg. The switch to fuel injection was made in 2003.
The R3 is a middle level entry level bike that is meant to be fast but not as expensive as the monstrous R1. A liquid cooled twin cylinder 321cc engine that is capable of producing 42 HP @ 10,750 rpm powers the bike. The engine also produces 21.8 foot pounds of torque @ rpm of 9,000. The R3 will reach top speeds of 111 mph and has a wet weight of 368 pounds. If you are a first time rider and just thinking of getting your first super bike then the R3 is an excellent choice. Fuel economy is a decent 56 miles per gallon and this makes the R3 ideal for daily commuters. The suspension is decent as it comes with KYB front 41mm telescopic at the front and rear KYB mono-shock. The R3 is a serious contender for the best entry super bikes with the Kawasaki Ninja 400.
The R6 competes well in the 600cc super bike section. In 2017 the bike received a redesign in appearance so that it almost looks like the R1. The aerodynamics where changed so that you have a 8% reduction in drag. You also get better looking LED lights and revised seat that improves your vision. The aluminum fuel tank was also redesigned so that it is 2.4 pounds lighter. The electronics was also updated so that it is now almost at par with those of the R1. The R6 is as serious contender in the 600cc super bike section.
A DOHC liquid cooled 599cc horizontal in-line four engine that is capable of hitting speeds of 160 mph supplies power. The engine produces 116.7 HP @ 14,500 rpm at a torque of 45.5 foot pounds. The R6 is a very fast bike and suitable for someone who has experience with super bikes. The frame is sturdy enough courtesy of an aluminum deltabox twin-spar chassis. At the front you have KYB inverted 43mm suspension and rear mono-shock KYB. The bike seat is lower than the R1 at 33.5 inches.
Kawasaki – Overview
Kawasaki have a motorcycle division that produces superbikes for across the world. They have plants in various countries like Japan, India, Philippines, Michigan, Thailand and Bangladesh. The company has been responsible for the production of some of the most iconic superbikes in the world. The bikes are high quality, reliable and superfast.
When the company started bike manufacture it was under Kawasaki Aircraft division. Kawasaki had just bought Meguro company and used the name for their motorcycle manufacture. This later changed in the 1960s to Kawasaki Motor Sales. Eventually, the name later changed to Kawasaki motorcycles CO. Ltd.
Most famous Kawasaki Bikes
Kawasaki Ninja H2R
Firstly, by the looks this is a menacing bike. The Kawasaki H2R is the track-only variant of the H2. The bike is superfast and well capable of generating 310 HP. The street legal variant the H2 is capable of raising 200HP. The H2R in 2015 was tested in race course and it hit a top speed of 206 mph/332 km/h.
The Ninja H2R is uses a 998cc supercharged four-cylinder engine that is capable of generating up to 20.5 Psi of boost pressure. The street legal H2 is capable of producing 200 HP, which is less than H2R due the reduced supercharger boost. While the H2R has carbon fiber, the H2 capitalizes on plastic body panels. Instead of the wings in the H2R the H2 has rear view mirrors. The H2 has been recorded to achieve a top speed of 183 mph/295 km/h and accelerate from 0 to 60 in 2.6 seconds.
Kawasaki Ninja 650
Firstly, the word Ninja evokes images of stealth Japanese fighters renown for been assassins. In the motoring world, Kawasaki line of Ninja bikes ignites interest among sporting enthusiasts. The Kawasaki Ninja 650 has received many upgrades from the first time it was introduced to the market and is now a serious contender with the Yamaha R6.
The Ninja 650 model for 2020 got some upgrades to improve the basic aesthetics of the bike. You have bolder lines and finishes. The dual headlights have been modified to make them more aggressive while the windshield is lower and wider. To enable one better monitor the bike, you get an upgraded 4.3 TFT display. This allows you to personalize many of the bikes instruments and even connect it to Bluetooth.
To help keep the center of gravity low the Ninja 650 muffler has been attached to the bike’s underside and this helps also to centralize the weight. You still get the much loved 649cc DOHC engine that gives you a healthy dose of adrenaline. The base price is still modest and this makes the Ninja 650 a favorite for biking fans.
The braking is super-efficient courtesy of front 300 mm Nissin semi-floating petal discs that can with two piston calipers. For the rear you get a single piston caliper 220mm single disc. There is enough braking power in the Ninja 650 to bring it to a halt even under high speeds.
The Kawasaki 400 is a great entry level for bike for those getting started in motor racing. It features a 399cc liquid cooled DOHC engine aided by a six speed transmission that is capable of producing up to 49 HP and a peak torque of 38 Nm. For suspension, at the front you have 41mm telescopic fork and for the rear gas charged monoshock. To aid the suspension you get dual piston caliper 310mm petal disc and mono caliper 220mm petal disc for the rear. The bike weighs 173kg and you have 140 mm of ground clearance. Depending on where you purchase the Kawasaki 400, you can have it with ABS or not. The headlights are all LED.
The Kawasaki saw entry into the market in 2018 and sported a more aggressive look, more grills, more horsepower but at the cost of a higher price tag. To reduce the bike’s weight it comes with a spatial steel frame that is capable of enhancing the rigidity of the bike. You also get most of the electronics found in other high end bikes like monochrome screen and dial tachometer.
Kawasaki Ninja ZX – 10R
This is one of the most popular super bikes for Kawasaki Ninja range. The bike popularity has led it receiving numerous awards including “best superbike”. Part of its success is its adaptability and reliability. The Kawasaki Ninja ZX – 10R features a 998cc four inline engine that is capable of producing 200 HP @ rpm of 13,500 and 210 with RAM air intake. Kawasaki made the price more affordable to motorists hence its popularity.
The 2020 model has received some uplifts to its exterior with some cosmetic gold graphics that differentiate it from the previous model. You can have the Ninja ZX-10R Ebony, lime green, or metallic graphite gray. To enhance the bike’s power, the six speed transmission is aided by a dual quick shifter.
You also get an array of electronics in the ZX-10R like cornering management system, sport traction control, three riding modes, electronic throttle valves and ABS.
The Ninja ZX-10R is the successor to the ZX-9R and it was released in 2004. Over the years it has undergone various adjustments to be the icon it is today. The bike comes with both liquid cooling and oil cooler that is positioned close to the oil filter. This helps in reducing oil temperatures under high speeds. Power to the six speed transmission is through a multi-plate wet slipper clutch. The ZX-10R comes equipped with specially designed race wheels.
Most of the updates to the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R come in 2016 when for example the electronics were updated to a Bosch five axis IMU. You also got engine brake control, quick shifter, and launch control mode. The newly updated S-KTRC was marketed as one of the most advanced courtesy of the improved software. This has the added advantage for increased power and efficiency. The bike also got a less restrictive air filter and the rotors where increased from 310mm to 330mm.
Now let us compare two Kawasaki and Yamaha bikes
|Model||Yamaha R3||Kawasaki Ninja 400|
|Max Power||42 HP @ 10,750 rpm||49 HP @ 10,000 rpm|
|Max Torque||29.6 Nm @ 9000||38 Nm @ 8000 rpm|
|Top Speed||188 Km/h||190 km/h|
|Ground Clearance||160 mm||140 mm|
|Front Brakes||298 mm single disc||310 mm single disc|
|Rear Brakes||220 mm single disc||220 mm single disc|
If you enjoy the thrill from superbikes then you know the confusion that comes when you are at a racing track only for something to whizz past you at astronomical speeds. Welcome to the world of superbikes. Yamaha and Kawasaki have both dominated the industry for decades with their list of superbikes. It is a hard choice between the two brands. Both companies have a long history producing reliable, efficient and superfast bikes.