Kawasaki Rolls Out the All-new 2024 Ninja 500

Kawasaki Rolls Out the All-new 2024 Ninja 500

Kawasaki’s Ninja lineup is famous for bringing together respectable performance, easy approachability, and a reasonable price. Now, a new member joins this family of road warriors—the 2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500.

Although it’s developed on a platform established by the earlier Ninjas, the 500 isn’t just an update. It’s a whole new beast, boasting a different engine, looks, and instrumentation from its predecessors.

In addition to the basic Ninja 500 (and its KRT color variant), Kawasaki is also launching the Ninja 500 SE with additional features and goodies.

New Engine, More Power

The powerplant of the Ninja 500 is based on the 400’s engine, but it has received a significant performance upgrade. To begin with, the displacement of the liquid-cooled four-stroke DOHC parallel-twin has increased by 52cc to 451cc.

The power output peaks at 51 ponies, reached when the tach shows 10,000 rpm. In the torque department, we get 31.7 lb-ft at the 7,500 rpm mark.

All this increased power stems partially from the 6.8mm longer stroke when compared to the 400, reaching a distance of 58.6mm. Kawasaki has also replaced the crankshaft, connecting rods, and pistons with new components to accommodate the larger displacement.

Despite the increased power, the engine remains compact and slim. Not only does this maintain the bike’s narrow Ninja profile, but it also assists in handling the motorcycle.

The new bike retains the six-speed transmission of the 400 but gains an assist and slipper clutch for a light lever pull.

A Lightweight Frame

Keeping the bike light was one of Kawasaki’s leading design principles during the 500’s creation. The motorcycle is built around a high-tensile steel trellis frame that uses the engine as a stressed member to reduce weight and provide optimal rigidity.

Despite Kawi’s efforts to minimize weight, the 500’s curb weight of 377 pounds clocks some 10 pounds above that of the 400. Perhaps we can forgive that, though, considering the more powerful engine.

Kawasaki has maintained the Ninja family’s supersport-type construction with a short wheelbase (54.1 inches) and a long swingarm. The swingarm is constructed out of square tubes and attaches directly to the back of the engine for higher stability.

For cushioning, there’s a 41mm telescopic fork out front with 4.7 inches of travel allowance. In the rear, we have a bottom-linked Uni-Trak suspension with five degrees of preload adjustability (conveniently handled by the onboard tool kit) and 5.1 inches of travel.

When it’s time to stop, a dual-piston caliper latches onto a 310mm semi-floating disc up front, while a single-piston caliper does the same to a 220mm disc in the rear. Depending on the bike variant, you may also have ABS to help you stop the 17-inch five-spoke wheels from turning.

A Redesigned Display

In the cockpit, you’ll find a whole-new high-contrast LCD instrument panel for displaying information and controlling the Ninja 500’s electronics. The screen displays plenty of data, including a tachometer and speedo, gear position, dual trip meters, fuel consumption, coolant temperature, service indicator, and more.

According to Kawi, the highlight feature of the display is the economical riding indicator. This handy little light pops up on the screen to let you know you’re riding optimally to minimize fuel consumption. It’s a small thing that I personally wish every vehicle had.

The Ninja 500 can connect to your smartphone through the Kawasaki Rideology app. In addition to the usual phone operation and navigation, the app also displays vehicle information such as battery voltage and keeps tabs on bike maintenance.

Dressed to Impress

What can I say about the bike’s looks? The 500 sure looks like a Ninja. Although it has received some style changes, there’s no mistaking this machine for anything else.

The large-volume fairing has received a slight redesign, enveloping the new LED headlights. It maintains the established style of the lineup but looks a bit sharper and more aggressive than the 400, befitting the higher performance.

Yet, the bodywork isn’t just about the looks. It also contributes to improved wind protection, guiding gusts away from the rider while ensuring ample airflow through the engine.

The 3.7-gallon fuel tank is fairly slim to keep the handling characteristics optimal. It’s not a huge tank but should give the bike decent enough range, at least on paper.

Kawasaki has redesigned the seat for improved ergonomics. The seat height is at 30.9 inches—same as the 400—but the footpegs have moved forward slightly for a more relaxed riding position without sacrificing control.

The Ninja 500 comes in Metallic Spark Black/Metallic Flat Raw Graystone, Metallic Matte Whitish Silver/Metallic Moondust Gray, and Passion Red/Metallic Flat Spark Black/Metallic Matte Dark Gray colorways (the latter two are only available on the ABS variant). There’s also the KRT edition with the iconic Lime Green/Ebony colors.

2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 SE

Alongside the basic model, Kawasaki is also launching the Ninja 500 SE for riders who want a bit more from their Ninja. The bikes are identical in performance, but the SE version comes with some additional creature comforts.

Instead of the LCD of the basic model, the SE sports a full-color TFT display. You can swap the background color from white to black (and vice versa) to maximize viewing comfort, and the screen adjusts its brightness automatically based on ambient light. There’s also a USB-C outlet to the left of the instrument panel, which is missing from the basic variant.

The SE also features Kawasaki’s Intelligent Proximity Activation Start System, or KIPASS. This system lets you unlock the steering and main switch remotely for convenience and theft prevention.

For your extra bucks, you also get a larger windshield, a radiator screen for the engine, frame sliders, a pillion seat cover, a tank pad, knee grip pads, and LED turn signals in the rear.

Like any respectable special edition, the Ninja 500 SE also offers unique paint jobs. The “basic” version of the SE comes in Passion Red/Metallic Flat Spark Black/Metallic Matte Dark Gray, but there are also options for the lime-green KRT colors and an exclusive Lime Green/Pearl Crystal White/Blue colorway to celebrate the Ninja family’s 40th anniversary.

The 2024 Kawasaki Ninja 500 and 500 SE are available now. MSRPs for the basic bike start at $5,299 (non-ABS), while the SE retails from $6,399.