It’s arguably one of the most important motorcycles to come out in years; Kawasaki’s Ninja H2 SX is finally hitting the Bridge showroom later this week, bringing with it the addictive chirping of its incredible supercharger.
There’s been a lot of hype around this bike; it’s the first mass-produced touring machine to be fitted with a supercharger and marks a new age in motorcycling. It’s incredibly capable, while at the same time also being more economical and better for the environment. Forced induction opens up a new realm of possibilities for bikes and makes the Ninja H2 SX a very special machine indeed.
“The power delivery is just so linear and it gathers speed in such an effortless way; before you know it, you’re doing very naughty speeds. It’s far less frantic than a sports bike and the bike feels way more stable. It pulls hard in every gear too, no matter the speed, and the flutter you get when you back off the throttle at high revs is so addictive...”
“Why wouldn’t you want a 200 horsepower supercharged hyper GT? Last year the Z1000SX was our best selling bike at Bridge and is probably just about the best all-round motorcycle on the market – the H2 SX is like that, but with everything dialled up to 11!”
“The noise the supercharger makes when you lift off – so addictive. That, plus the lean angle sensor which displays your lean angle as you ride!”
“It’s predictable and planted. It’s no back lane scratcher, but on open roads and fast sweepers it’s very impressive. Kawasaki speed tested the bike with the panniers on at 186mph to make sure the bike remains composed at high speeds and that shows. The test bike I rode had panniers on it and I was completely unaware of their presence.”
“It feels like a truly modern interpretation of bikes like the Hayabusa and ZZR1400. The level of tech on board is staggering, with pretty much every mod con you could possibly wish for. Performance is easily on a par, but the bike is lighter and more fuel efficient. The pannier integration is also far better than anything available for the ‘Busa or ZZR too. The Z1000SX is a great bike at a fantastic price, however, if the price difference isn’t an issue why wouldn’t you have the H2 SX instead?”
“It’s not a luxury GT like a GTR1400 or Triumph Trophy and the riding position is reasonably sporty. However it is by no means uncomfortable and I had no aches or pains after a full day’s riding.”
“There isn’t really anything quite like it. Closest competition probably comes from within the Kawasaki brand from the ZZR1400 or the now discontinued Suzuki Hayabusa. Other than that I suppose you are looking at less sporty bikes such as the Yamaha FJR 1300 or maybe some of the BMW sport tourers (yawn).”
“Prices start at just over £15k, which is amazing for the performance on offer! The SE is £18,099 and includes all kinds of lovely tech goodies such as Bi-directional quickshifter, launch control and cornering headlights.”
“It has a SUPERCHARGER and panniers!”
“While both share the H2 name, they are actually wildly different to ride. Kawasaki’s aim with the H2/H2R was to make the ultimate performance motorcycle with little thought given to comfort, fuel efficiency or ease of use. The ethos behind the H2 SX is very different – it’s not an intimidating bike to ride at all and is incredibly usable. The performance is also really accessible, and the bike is both comfortable and efficient.”
“Only at high revs when you back off the throttle. It’s certainly not there all the time and I think this was deliberate on Kawasaki’s part. This is a bike that is supposed to be easy to live with, and a supercharger whining and chirping all the time could get old pretty quickly on a longer ride!”
“I was invited to ride it in the hills around Malaga, in Spain. The roads were really mixed including; motorway, town, fast open sweepers and switchback hairpins. Spanish tarmac is slippery when wet!”
“I guess it would have to include some Autobahn, just to legally stretch its legs. I think it’s a bike that would also work really well on some of the more open roads up in the Scottish Highlands or across the moors.”
If evil ever had a definitive sound, the raging snarl of Kawasaki’s Ninja H2R or its road-going brethren, the Ninja H2, would be it. With the specifically-developed supercharger’s chirping providing an almost mocking laugh accompanying the audible anger, it’s truly an engineering marvel.
The supercharger was what stole the headlines though, and is undoubtedly the star of the show. It was the first to be used on a mass-produced production motorcycle, giving a restricted output of 202bhp on the H2 and an almighty 310bhp on the track-only H2R.
Kawasaki produced an animal, and a ferocious one at that. Hanging on for dear life as the bike takes off, the rider becomes the passenger trying to tame the beast. It isn’t a machine for the faint of heart; the acceleration of the H2R could see it hitting 180+mph in just a staggering 10 seconds!
It was a bold move. Kawasaki flexed their muscles, proudly displaying the potency of such a machine as a statement of intent. But, it was only the beginning. The true purpose of the supercharger was to ultimately trickle down into the norm, their ultimate goal is to fit it to everyday machines – and that’s exactly what the Ninja H2 SX is, it’s the first machine to be fitted with the supercharger outside of the bonkers H2 and H2R duo, and is the first produced with more than just straight line acceleration and speed in mind.
It’s not just a tool for making monstrous machines though, it’s genuinely the future, and the H2 SX is the living proof that the supercharger was meant for more than just going ridiculously fast in a straight line.
The introduction of Euro 4 emission regulations back at the beginning of 2017 marked the beginning of a new wave of tightening belts at the EU in a bid to reduce pollution, save the planet and turn everybody into free-loving hippies. Peace and love an all that…
In all seriousness though, things aren’t getting easier for internal combustion engines. The government recently announced plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 and, closer to home, the next wave of Euro 5 regulations taking effect in 2020 means that manufacturers now have to find new ways to make motorcycles more efficient and less polluting, and that’s where forced induction comes in…
Fitting a supercharger or turbo to an engine can make for incredible gains when tuned, but they also make an engine far more efficient when it comes to burning fuel. With more efficiency comes better economy and this inherently makes the machine friendlier to the environment.
What it ultimately means is that we can expect to see more supercharged motorcycles in the future, and the H2SX is the first “everyday” machine to utilise one. It makes it a truly unique machine and promises a ride that’s thrilling and exciting, while also having the capacity to carry everything you need for a week away and ride each day in comfort too.