2018 Kawasaki Dominar 400 First Ride Review: Can Anyone Even Come Close?

Date posted on December 19, 2018
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Lo and behold, just a few months after, we heard probably one of the loudest buzzes ever when there were a series of teasers in the media that suggested that a probable game-changer is on its way. We were not disappointed.


It is quite rare that we all get a buzz this loud, a clamor so great, that almost everyone is talking about a particular model of motorcycle like this.


One of Kawasaki’s newest offering in the competitive Filipino motorcycle market is the newest talk of the town, the Dominar 400 by Kawasaki. The Dominar 400 has a single-cylinder, fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke engine mated with a 6-speed manual transmission which churns out 34.52 hp at 8,000 rpm and has a maximum torque of 35 Nm at 6,500 rpm. It also carries the Digital Triple Spark Ignition system or DTS-i technology of Bajaj. Simply put, the Dominar 400 uses a 3-spark setup. For us, the main difference is probably the mileage. In higher rpms, a single spark plug may prove insufficient to burn the whole fuel. Bajaj found a solution for it by developing this technology. Upon riding it, you will feel the power of the engine more particularly in the first and second gears.



This is particularly advantageous as this gives you ease when filtering in traffic situations while having all of that 35 horses when you need it. We won’t even delve on the top speed discussion that is always often brought up. This bike can steadily reach and cruise upwards of 100 kph with ease but take note that since it only has one cylinder, be ready for some vibration upwards of 120. The bike has a sweet spot of somewhere around 80 to 110 kph.


 ENGINE: Absolute a joy to ride due to highly optimized power and torque output suited for high speed driving with optimum cooling efficiency.

FUEL INJECTION SYSTEM: Has rider’s back in terms of mileage and fuel efficiency.


Remember that this bike is built for the open roads – it could be your touring bike, but no mistake about it as this bike is tough and could very well be your everyday bike. The clutch is soft and will not tire you when battling the everyday traffic in the metro. The transmission is surprisingly very smooth even though what we got was a totally brand new 0 mileage unit during our test. All of these, partnered with a 13-liter gas tank will give you anywhere between a whopping 300 to 400 kilometers per full tank, depending of course on the road condition and your riding style.


LARGE CONTOURED 13-LITER FUEL TANK: Complements the tight surface lines that allow the rider to tuck their knees into the tank body – man becoming one with machine.


The monoshock suspension is not just for good looks as it complements the bike’s “sporty” branding but also brings respectable performance for the type of riding this bike was designed for.  The relatively wide 110/70-17 and 150/60-17 tubeless MRF tires give you a stable ride and does the job okay but of course you may opt to install a pair with better grip, but for your daily driving, these high-mileage tires  should be fine. The brake caliper installed is from Bybre, a trusted brand which also shows us the quality of parts put in this bike. A front 320mm and a rear 230mm discs are fitted and is coupled with a twin-channel Antilock Braking System that is a very welcome feature at this price range. The ABS installed is very much helpful on emergency braking situations like sudden stops or slippery roads, preventing the locking of tires which often results to nasty accidents. With this technology in the Dominar 400, that risk is eliminated and overall safety is increased. Another safety feature that we found nifty is the side stand down engine cut-off. Let us all admit it, sometimes we tend to forget to disengage the side stand as we are too excited to ride our beloved bikes. With this feature, we’ll further reduce the risk of a crash as the bike will not start if we have the side stand down. And then we have the slipper clutch. This technological feature makes downshifting, even during cornering, much safer.


Dual-Spring Mono Suspension: Nested centrally under the seat, the Dual-Spring Mono Suspension turns every long ride into a favorite adventure.


Aesthetically, the bike does well in validating its big bike-styled design. It is very much masculine by basing it in its curves and lines, giving us that “macho look”. The crash guard installed on our test unit also make its stance generally wider-looking. The plum color of our unit makes the bike look expensive and sophisticated. Performance and looks? Check.



Other significant features include the beautifully designed full led setup of the Dominar 400 – from the headlight to the tail light and to the signal lights. We were impressed by the spread of this lights when we tested it at 4 in the morning. This is complemented by the split reverse LCD display. The Dominar 400 is fully equipped with fault safety indications, clock, service reminder, and trip meter with digital fuel gauge.


SPLIT REVERSE LCD: Fully equipped with fault safety indications, clock, service reminder and trip meter with digital fuel gauge.


Billed as a sports-tourer, for us it is definitely more than that. And as they said, it is a game-changer, and we just don’t agree, but we agree 101%. It will not only be competitive, but will also be the leader in its segment, so can anyone come close? It offers a high level of value for money and a high performance package for the price. We can’t stress it enough. We also hope to see the day that the other major manufacturers do something as bold as what Kawasaki did – bringing a bike here with that kind of price and with all those features and high quality built which will ultimately benefit the riding community. But for now, the Dominar 400 is the game-changer. We usually say congratulations for a good job, but we want to now say thank you to KMPC for bringing the Dominar 400 to the industry.


Al Camba “The Kawasaki Dominar 400 plum color makes the bike look expensive and sophisticated. The transmission surprisingly is very precise. Although it is still brand new, I was surprised to find the engine very smooth and suave. In terms of performance “wala siyang dulo” but the torque is higher from low to mid range compared to other brands with the same engine. I think it’s because of its triple spark design. It is a bike that’s offering a good performance. The mileage is good. Another thing that I like is the tires which are MRF but it looks good and the grip is for the type of riding the Dominar 400 will be used. I like the tail light  design and it has a side-stand-down engine cutoff… small things like that make it awesome. It’s not a “tinipid” model to get to the affordable price. It’s offering high value for money as well as high level of performance package. Brand new with warranty and is smooth. Overall, it’s a feel good bike. A good upgrade for the veteran underbone and scooter rider.”


Philip Bonza “The highly anticipated Dominar 400. The time I saw this model, I got excited as the lean muscle looks perfect for its size. The style is naked and semi-sporty and the design has sharp lines that are appealing to me. This model is offering lots of good smart style for young riders. The full LED lighting seems not the finest in style but it achieves the top in luminance. The LCD instrument panel gives more impressive character with its simple and easy to read information even in high speed. On the performance level, the Dominar 400 is light and nimble to ride and it feels literally light riding it at high speed. It weaves its way fluently on open highways and even in low speed metro traffic. For me the sweet spot of this model is 90-120kph. Beyond that, I felt vibration on my groin, hands and feet. Ergonomically speaking, for my height of 5’11”, I feel relaxed. The footpegs are a bit in backward position but the wide handlebars and soft and low saddle gave me comfort. With its low seat height, shorter riders than me will feel comfortable and will have no fear getting both feet on the ground easily. The ABS might be standard for this model but braking performance is not as solid compared to what I’m expecting from a big front disk rotor. The suspension feels just good for my preference. This model gives more attention into details. Fit, finish and feel levels are much better than any other Bajaj models I tested. The Dominar 400 will definitely dominate our local market if a large numbers of riders will shift to an affordable, fast, good-looking and comfortable semi-sporty model that can be used as an everyday commuter and expressway-ready bike.”



Ricci Abrina “This Kawasaki Dominar 400 looks slightly larger than his smaller Rouser brothers and is silent, quick,and powerful – the middleweight big bike that’s as tame as a lamb in wolf’s skin in the ever so popular Kawasaki Rouser line. The rear mono-shock absorber with Nitrox, petal front and rear disc brake with ABS, no huge and cumbersome exhaust muffler to speak of are all so in synch with the ergonomics and environment-friendly engineering. The 373+ cubic centimeters single overhead cam, 4-valve engine is water-cooled and churns out 35 British horsepower with Digital Triple Spark Ignition – a standard feature only Kawasaki Rouser motorcycles incorporates. Vibration is apparent above 6500rpm. I got to max out the top speed at 156+KPH on sixth gear. Of course with so much power and a bit of extra weight, you’ll need to stop with ease – therefore, brakes should be reliable as Brembo brakes. Suspension is distinctly balanced with the tires that came with the test unit. Low revving is what the engine wants. The full LED headlights and gas tank make the bike overflowing with machismo as well as the cluster of gauges and the secondary mini gauges on the gas tank. This affordable small sized big bike has high-end looking details that makes the Kawasaki Dominar 400 a motorcycle fit for the Pinoy rider.”



*This article was published in InsideRACING’s Volume 16 Number 5 issue 2018.