GREEN MEANS ENVY: Or is that just plain naked desire for one of the most powerful motorcycles on the planet - the Kawa Ninja H2? Image: Wheels24 / Dries van der Merwe
The supercharged Kawasaki Ninja H2 is perhaps the most anticipated bike that will be launched during 2015. To whet the biking community’s appetite, the only H2 in South Africa right now is touring Kawasaki dealerships.
Wheels24 took the opportunity to see it in the metal at Bike Crazy in Pretoria.
Mechanically, the street-legal H2 doesn’t differ greatly from its ridiculously powerful track-only sibling, although Kawasaki hints at much lower power output – in the region of 150kW. This may seem disappointing but it might well be that Team Green deliberately understates the power for political reasons (much like the gentlemen’s agreement not to admit to superbike top speeds over 300km/h).
SIGN OF SOMETHING SPECIAL
Astute observers will notice a somewhat unfamiliar badge on the front fairing. It's called the ‘River Mark’, a long-time Kawasaki symbol that dates back to the 1870's - a stylised version of the Japanese character for “river”, the first character in the name Kawasaki.
The emblem was adopted by the Kawasaki Heavy Industries Group to express the company’s technology, originality and innovation. It's used sparingly so its presence on the H2 is Kawasaki’s way of saying "this is a very special machine".
GALLERY: 2015 Kawasaki Ninja H2
Although the H2’s styling is hardly ground-breaking, it is a good-looking machine. I particularly liked the front-end treatment which gives the bike a somewhat menacing look. Beyond that, and the equally purposeful-looking tail, there is little to hint at what lies beneath the surface – although Kawasaki has been helpful enough to label the supercharger so that one won’t miss it.One of the more obvious visual difference between the H2 and the H2R is the huge (street-legal) right-hand silencer on the former instead of the sleek and underslung sport exhaust on the track version.
The H2’s trellis frame is made of high-tensile steel tubing with a single-sided aluminum swingarm that bolts directly to the rear of the engine. The hydraulic clutch has slipper functionality to limit rear-wheel lock on downshifting instability. Engine braking is rider-adjustable and the bike features a standard quick-shifter.
Braking comes with the compliments of Brembo – monobloc callipers and dual 330mm semi-floating discs in front and a single 250mm disc and two-piston caliper rear. The H2 shares the track version’s five-spoked cast-aluminium rims but comes with street tyres instead of slicks.
HIGH-TECH TRACTION CONTROL
An Ohlins steering damper helps with front wheel stability with the damping changed electronically based on input from the H2’s rear-wheel speed sensor.
Other electronics include KTRC (Kawasaki Traction Control), developed from similar systems on other Kawasaki’ sport bikes. The traction control offers three standard modes: Mode 1 (track), Mode 2 (street) and Mode 3 (wet) and each has three selectable levels of intervention.
The bike also offers a separate rain mode which defaults to Mode 3 but restricts engine power to less than 50% and delivers a less urgent throttle response. Unsurprisingly, the bike comes equipped with launch control to prevent wheelies and reduce wheel spin when launching.
South Africa will only get 70 H2 units more than half are pre-sold despite the R320 000 price.
You can expect to see the remaining ones in Kawasaki showrooms from May 2015. Only time will tell whether the H2 will prove to be the big daddy of all superbikes or an over-hyped, neutered might-have-been but rest assured, we've already asked KMSA to book one for a road test.
As soon as we can lay our hands on it we'll share our impressions with you.