Kawasaki Ninja 500 vs Aprilia RS 457 vs Yamaha R3 vs KTM RC 390: Specification Comparison

  • Feb 23, 2024
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How does the newly launched Kawasaki Ninja 500 fare against its rivals, on paper at least?

The current times are definitely some of the exciting ones for two-wheeler enthusiasts with the sub-500cc segment witnessing legendary nameplates battling it out for supremacy in the Indian market. The KTM RC 390 has been a much-loved motorcycle in our country for quite a while now. The Yamaha R3 recently made a comeback to India. Aprilia launched its exciting all-new Aprilia RS 457. And at the latest, Kawasaki just launched the 2024 Ninja 500 in India.

So, which of these bikes can make their mark (at least on paper) on the challenging Indian market? Let’s take a look:

Engine

Specifications

Kawasaki Ninja 500

Aprilia RS 457

Yamaha R3

KTM RC 390

Engine

451cc, parallel-twin, liquid-cooled engine

457cc, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin engine

321cc, parallel-twin, liquid-cooled engine

373.27cc, single-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine

Power

45PS @ 9000rpm

47.6PS @ 9400rpm

42PS @ 10750rpm

43.5PS @ 9000rpm

Torque

42.6Nm @ 6000rpm

43.5Nm @ 6700rpm

29.5Nm @ 9000rpm 

37Nm @ 7000rpm

Gearbox

6-speed

6-speed

6-speed

6-speed

The Aprilia Rs 457 and the Kawasaki Ninja 500 are clearly the most powerful bikes among all of them (the Rs 457 being the most powerful) and both of them produce similar peak torque figures (also highest among all of them) at about 6000 - 6700rpm range. This means, both of them will ideally have good bottom-end grunt for everyday usage. This will also ensure that the bikes can be great for everyday use with ample power on bank for when one wants to open the taps for some spirited riding. 

The Yamaha R3 and the KTM RC 390 are quite rev happy. The R3 is tractable indeed and has a smooth and linear power delivery but it comes alive in the top-end of the rev range. The RC 390, in its latest generation, has a more spread-out torque curve. But to truly enjoy these two motorcycles, one will need to keep the revs in the higher range. 

Underpinnings

Specifications

Kawasaki Ninja 500

Aprilia RS 457

Yamaha R3

KTM RC 390

Front suspension

Telescopic fork with 120mm wheel travel

Preload-adjustable inverted fork  with 120mm wheel travel



Inverted fork with 130mm wheel travel



Inverted fork



Rear suspension

Preload adjustable monoshock with 130mm wheel travel

Preload-adjustable monoshock with 130mm wheel travel



Monoshock with 125mm wheel travel



Preload-adjustable monoshock



Front brake

310mm disc

320mm disc

298mm disc

320mm disc

Rear brake

220mm disc

220mm disc

220mm disc

230mm disc

Front tyre

110/70 - 17

110/70 - 17

110/70 - R17

110/70 - 17

Rear tyre

150/60 - 17

150/60 - 17

140/70 - R17

150/60 - 17

All four bikes are pretty similar in terms of their underpinnings. The Aprilia RS 457 has a slight advantage in this department though with its preload adjustable inverted fork. This will allow riders of varying height and heft to adjust the suspension and in return get the best possible riding experience out of the bike. 

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The Kawasaki Ninja 500 gets a telescopic fork instead of the more sophisticated and modern inverted fork in the other bikes. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the suspension in that bike will be doing an inferior job compared to the others, because from what we experienced on the Ninja 400, the telescopic fork did a fantastic job, despite being ‘inferior’ on paper.  

Dimensions

Specifications

Kawasaki Ninja 500

Aprilia RS 457

Yamaha R3

KTM RC 390

Wheelbase

1375mm

NA

1380mm

NA

Ground clearance

145mm

NA

160mm

153mm

Fuel tank capacity

14-litres

13-litres

14-litres

13.7-litres

Seat height

785mm

800mm

780mm

835mm

Kerb weight

171kg

175kg

169kg

172kg

The Yamaha R3 and the KTM RC 390’s ample ground clearance mean that you won’t have to stress while encountering batch patches of roads, potholes and speed bumps. The Kawasaki Ninja 500’s 145mm clearance might look a bit troublesome but it needs to be tested out to reach a definite conclusion on that one. 

The Yamaha R3 has the lowest kerb weight, which means it should ideally be the easiest to handle and maneuver in tight spaces and everyday scenarios. Except for the RC 390, the rest of the three bikes have quite an approachable seat height which will help riders of all heights to manage the bike comfortably. 

Features

 

Kawasaki Ninja 500

Aprilia RS 457

Yamaha R3

KTM RC 390

Instrument Console

LCD

TFT

LCD 

TFT

Bluetooth Connectivity

Yes

Yes ( as an accessory)

No

Yes

Slipper Clutch

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

In this department, the Yamaha R3 loses out on nearly all the bells and whistles that the other three bikes get (and also nearly the rest of the segment as well). No slipper clutch, no Bluetooth connectivity, no traction control and the list goes on and on. Having these features would have surely bumped up the appeal of the bike hugely. But if you are one of those enthusiastic riders who doesn’t like their bikes to be teach-heavy, then the R3 might be for you. Look out for the price tag, though.  

The Kawasaki Ninja does get Bluetooth connectivity and slipper clutch but the presence of turn-by-turn navigation and traction control would’ve been better. The Aprilia RS 457 and the KTM RC 390 are the most complete packages in terms of the extensive list of features. 

Price & Verdict

Kawasaki Ninja 500

Aprilia RS 457

Yamaha R3

KTM RC 390

Rs 5,24,000

Rs 4,10,000

Rs 4,64,900

Rs 3,18,173

(all prices ex-showroom)

Considering the price tags and all the other factors mentioned above, the Aprilia RS 457 and the KTM RC 390 are the ones that standout and offer great value for money. The Aprilia RS 457 is the most powerful bike with the appeal of a parallel-twin engine, gets adjustable suspension, is not that hefty at 175kg and has all the fancy features you’d expect from a premium supersport bike. If you have a budget of Rs 4,10,000, then the RS 457 is the obvious choice. 

The KTM RC 390 is less powerful and is a single-cylinder bike but in no way less exciting. It is hands-down the best single-cylinder supersport in its segment and offers superb value for money with its Rs 3,18,173 price tag. So, if your purse strings are a bit tight, then you can never go wrong with the RC 390. 

The Kawasaki Ninja 500 and the Yamaha R3 do have the allure of Japanese parallel-twins but at those exorbitant price tags and the lack of features that are found as standard in this segment, the bikes simply do not offer good value for money. Taking the approach of bringing them to India as CBUs (Completely Built Units) definitely hurt their potential of penetrating the exciting and growing sub-500cc segment in India. Yamaha and Kawasaki definitely dropped the ball with these two.

Kawasaki Ninja 500
Kawasaki Ninja 500
Rs. 5.24 Lakh
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