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Fri, 17 Aug 2018

The might of Kawasaki’s supercharged Ninja H2 SX SE

Is Kawasaki’s Ninja H2 SX SE the most capable, yet insanely and brilliantly bonkers sports tourer currently going? We sat down with Bridge’s Company Director, Lee Anthony after he came back from a weekend away on it to find out just what the deal is with this supercharged touring missile…

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE

Hey, Lee! So, what did you do with the SX and where did you go?

“Basically, I arranged to go to Goodwood with some friends and arranged to stay up there for a few days, but I had to come back earlier than them, so I thought I’d ride up there. Originally I thought I’d just jump on a Triumph Tiger 800 or something and just ride up there, but about 10 days before going I tried the H2SX and fell in love with it instantly.

“It was just awesome! I planned it all, got all the stuff ready, you know everything on the back and then left here on the Wednesday to go straight to Goodwood.

“As soon as I got on it, it was just stunning. What an incredible bike! It’s comfortable, so easy to ride, sounds good and looks amazing too! Everything about it for me was just outstanding, it really was. And, that’s before I really got into the technical side of the bike as well. Which it’s got reams of, as far as the clever Inertial Measurement Unit, rider modes and adjustable engine braking control goes. The quickshifter is just superb too, it’s awesome. And, when that supercharger kicks in it’s exhilarating, it really is!”

Before you rode it, what were you thinking, or hoping it was going to be like?

“Funnily enough, I was out in Milan for the launch of the bike and a lot of the PR was centred on the fact that this isn’t a H2 for the road and that it’s been designed as a Sport Tourer. The fuel economy is good and shouldn’t frighten people off thinking that it’s an untameable gas-guzzler.

“So actually, I didn’t have the thought that this was going to be an unbelievably quick bike, or that it was going to be hard to handle and all that stuff because I’d already been informed by Kawasaki that this is a rideable bike, so it’s useable.

“The power delivery is absolutely stunning, it’s very linear and so smooth, you can just twist and go and it’s beautiful. Don’t get me wrong; when you want to, it goes. But, it’s very easy, it handles superbly, it doesn’t feel big, and even the comfort of the thing is just great!”

So, you were out at the EICMA show when the bike was announced, did it live up to the expectations you had of it?

“Definitely, and then some! I thought it was going to be similar to bike such as the ZZR1400 or something like that, but it just seemed so much better than that! The whole package is just great, the electronics and even down to the quickshifter, the way it delivers the power, the comfort, everything to me was just right for the bike. And, as I say, there was a lot of activity as far as the launch when I was in Milan and there was a lot of people excited about this bike and it absolutely lived up to my expectations of what they were trying to do. I wouldn’t hesitate to tour anywhere on it, but at the same time, if you wanted to go out for a scratch, you certainly could.”

And what impressed you most?

“I just think the comfort of a bike like this is phenomenal. I remember thinking about the Goodwood trip and initially thinking about a Tiger for it because I wanted to ride something comfortable, and I remember thinking to myself coming into work one morning just how comfortable the H2 was; which is what made me take it in the end. I did 150 miles and got off the bike thinking that I’d not done anywhere near that mileage at all.”

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE

Let’s face it, that 998cc inline-four and supercharger are the stars of the show here. What’s it like when you twist the throttle? Are there workable power-bands and, is there a certain point in the rev range where it just takes off?

“It’s very smooth; I wouldn’t say there’s something I’d associate with like a power band. It comes in from low down, but what I would say is that the power seems endless; you just open the throttle and it just feels like it’s got endless power. It really does!”

How does it compare to other bikes you’ve ridden too, does the supercharger make it feel like a conventional motorcycle, or a completely different animal altogether?

“I’ve ridden the Suzuki’s Hayabusa, and the Kawasaki ZZR1400 and this stand head and shoulders above them. The technology involved, the styling and the engine are just better, it’s awesome!”

Forced induction has the potential to keep impressive performance figures for motorcycles that are fighting a losing battle against ever-stringent emission regulations; did you notice the fuel economy of the bike at all while you were riding it?

“I can’t say that I did. When I stopped on my journey,  it was more for something to eat rather than to fill up, but I ended up putting petrol in the bike out of habit. It wasn’t something where I thought to myself that the H2 SX was going through fuel like it’s going out of fashion though.

“You’d expect it to drink fuel; but at 6000rpm while sat at 85mph, it was beautiful. The screen works well too, I didn’t get any buffeting at all.

“Kawasaki claim 50mpg for the HS SX though, and considering it’s pushing out over 197bhp, it’s a figure that’s absolutely incredible!”

Was there anything that surprised you about the bike?

“The comfort and the whole bike itself, the power delivery, the feel, it was just incredible!

“When I was in Japan, I went to the Kawasaki factory and it’s true what they say. You see the production lines with all the bikes going through and then, over in the corner of the factory, you’ve got a small production line with two Japanese guys building H2s. So when they say that they can only build a certain amount, it’s true because they’ve got a separate production line for these H2s. And that’s in the main factory in Japan.”

What was the route that you took to get to Goodwood then?

“I went; A30, A35, A31, M27, A27, straight into Chichester and then onto Goodwood.”

And what was your favourite part of the trip?

“Between Exeter and the M27, and then the A27 into Goodwood [giggles]. Though it was absolutely fine on the motorway, it’s just a bit boring, isn’t it?”

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE

Forced induction is a thing of the future; do you see Kawasaki’s supercharged technology trickling down into other bikes now?

“I can see it, certainly with Kawasaki. When I parked the bike up at Goodwood, it had an amazing response; people walk around it and see the ‘supercharged’ label on the side. It makes for great pub talk, I mean, it’s a 197bhp, supercharged engine, you look at it and think “shit”!

“And, the way it looks too! The standard SX and the SE model, outside in the sunlight, that beautiful green paintwork is stunning. It just glistens with that metallic speckle on it and just catches people’s eyes. The number of people that walked past that bike and stopped to just look around it too surprised me. And, it’s a proper H2 too because it’s got the iconic Kawasaki River Mark on it.

“When the original H2 came out, I spoke to the guy who designed the ZX-10R, and the ZZR1400. He told me about how they drew bits and pieces from the Kawasaki Heavy Industries to incorporate some incredible technological feats in the bike. Things like the turbine and the sort were all brought together to make the bike. Then he simply said; “we’ve designed this bike because we can”.

“If you look over the years, there were bikes such as the GPZ750 Turbo, the KHs, you look back over the years at what they’ve had; the Z1000RX when it came out, the first ZX-10 and GPZ600, it was all stuff that made you just think ‘wow’, you know!?”

You can find out more about Kawasaki's blistering Ninja H2 SX SE, and see it in the flesh for yourself at out Exeter showroom, or alternatively, call one of our friendly sales team on 01392 260 200.