I have debated in the past that the Ninja 300 wasn’t a good starter bike: it was  underpowered and the flock of barely used, recent 300s up for sale by new riders that had outgrown the bike after only a season was astounding. No, the 300 was more of a connoisseur bike, perfect for riders who already knew what they were doing.

The 400 changed that entirely. With only 100cc, Kawasaki managed to get so much more out of its baby Ninja and while the model sits at the very top of the price range (without ABS), until it flips above the $5k mark, it deserves a spot in this top 5. The 400 is elegant, fun, and sized like an adult bike meaning it can actually act as a main commuter rather than a second bike for Sunday rides. The considerable weight drop from the 300 makes the 400 extra easy to handle and the slightly bigger engine is versatile and at ease both in the city and on the highway.

Pros: lightweight, smooth power delivery

Cons: pricier