Why I changed from a Kawasaki Ninja 650 to Bajaj Dominar 400. Review of the 2017 model.


Buying a motorcycle is a very important decision for every person. The purpose of the bike may be different for everyone, but bringing home the machine is a very emotional moment no matter the size, shape and make of the bike. The selection process needs to strike the right balance between Maintenance, performance, Looks, and the most important question of all time, Kitna deti Hai (mileage).  My decision to buy the Dominar 400 was no different. I have listed down a couple of points I have been asked about frequently.


Back in 2013, The Kawasaki Ninja 650 had taken the market by storm. It was one of the hottest selling big touring bikes in the nation. And Kawasaki had produced one of the best-looking, reliable and efficient bikes. The gap between the Ninja and anything else was more than a massive 4 lakhs back then.  I was a proud owner of the Ninja 650 (named Mystique), and also one of the youngest at the age of 25 back then.

The ninja served me well for 3 years, took me across the nation and also to Bhutan and back also had countless trips with my better half. But what I didn’t realize was as I was racking up the kilometers, so were the maintenance bills. And finally, a day came the cost of ownership became a bit too much to handle and thus with a heavy heart, I had to let her go in 2017.

As my parking spot became empty, me and wife were wondering what should be next. This time instead of upgrading we took a decision to downgrade to something that would happily munch miles and not cost a leg and an arm to maintain. Options considered were Duke 390 (2017) and the Dominar 400 (2017).

One day we gave a trial to the Duke 390 (2017), and it was an instant rejection. The snatchy throttle input, hard pillion seat, and lack of space for luggage were a major turn-off.

The booking day

The next test ride was the Dominar 400. One of my closest friends Riyank had recently purchased the bike and was using it around town and on tours. He dropped his Dominar with me for a couple of days for us to get the feel. One breakfast ride on the highway and the deal was sealed. It checked the right boxes for us. The money was paid to Raj Bajaj – Vashi, bike allotted and within a week, the Dominar 400, christened Stella was home.

Stella comes home

Why the Dominar 400 after the Ninja 650?

We wanted a workhorse, yet something that would take us places while being easier on my pocket, but also enough fun to ride and keep me engaged. Want to tour, she’ll happily take you places. Want to ride like a maniac, she’ll rev till the redline without hesitation. All of the above while keeping the maintenance bills manageable. She ticked the right boxes for us. On paper, the specs may not impress, but out on the highway, it’s a completely different story.

The place where the Dominar 400 impressed is the way the power is delivered. It was plain, simple and there are no unnecessary surprises. The bike is well capable of accelerating from 0 to speed above legal limits pretty fast, and it manages to stay comfortable in the zone enough to make you forget that you are in triple digits. One tankful of fuel takes me around 300 kms before stopping for another fuel up, thus making the range decent enough while touring. The bike also has enough space for the rider and pillion along with a saddlebag. She may not exactly be a corner carver, but once you enter the turn at the right momentum, mind you she will hold the line steadily.

Dominar 400 on the way to Rann of Kutch

Enough with the Pros, what about the cons?

At over 180 kgs, she’s not exactly light, and it shows in the handling at low speeds, especially when you have a pillion. The bike which I came from was far heavier than the Dominar 400, hence I found this way more manageable than the Ninja 650. Vibrations are present all over, and it’s evident that it’s a Bajaj. If this is a dealbreaker for you, please test ride the bike first. I was okay with this; you may not be. The trip meters get reset after 999 kms. probably Bajaj doesn’t people to tour over 999 kilometers 😉.

Vibrations are present all over, and it’s evident that it’s a Bajaj. If this is a dealbreaker for you, please test ride the bike first. I was okay with this; you may not be.

Dominar 400 Doing the daily duties

What were the additions?

As we wall know, no bike is the same, even though they may be from the same lot. Similar is the case with Stella. Coming from the ninja 650, in the first ride itself, it was evident that windblast is a major factor. Thus came the First addition to the bike, the Sahyadri moto Coriaz windscreen. This reduced the issue quite a bit. As we slowly started touring, the next addition was the Sahyadri moto saddle stays, and then came the Sahyadri Moto Rack. Later on, as I started using the bike or city commutes, I added the ASG 35 liters top case. The next addition will be the Sahyadri crash guards.

Kitna deti Hai?

Worst: 22 kmpl (when you are stuck in traffic for hours.)

City: 25-28 kmpl

Highway and touring: 28 – 31

There have been instances where people have got over 35 kmpl, but the authenticity of the same remains to be verified.

Somewhere in Canacona

Don’t you think this is a compromise?

Yes, it is. But for me, it was worth it. The Dominar 400 was purchased for a purpose of being a multiple-use bike. Out on the Highway riding the Ninja 650 was a blast, but in city B 2 B traffic was a painful affair. Also, the maintenance bills piled up quite a bit and put a good enough dent in my savings account. Sometimes I do wish I had more power out on the open roads, but when one calculates the time differential in the journey previously and now, it’s not much. For me, the balance in this equation matched up perfectly. No bike is perfect, and so is Stella. Owning the Dominar 400 has been more of an emotional affair for me. It’s like a well-balanced marriage, where you know each other’s flaws and yet decide to work around them and be happy while doing that. It’s been lovely 5 years and over 38,000 kms on smooth highways, in rain, in mud and slush with pillion and luggage, and not once has she given up on me. That says a lot about the reliability of the bike. The journey on the bike has been rewarding so far, and we’re looking forward to piling up more miles in the coming years.


What next?

Frankly, I don’t know. The cost of petrol is scary enough to give me nightmares even in the current mode of transport, upgrading has taken a back seat as of now.

Other Info:

Mileage 38,000 km and counting

Age: 5 years

Cost per Service: approx 2000/- every 5-7k Kilometers

Cost of tires – 15,000 every 20k kilometers

Cost of break pads: 250/- per 15K kilometers

Cost of chain sprocket: 3,000/- every 15K kilometers

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