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2015 Kawasaki Ninja H2 Preview


by Pascal Bastien ,

Kawasaki is already launching a street-legal version of its supercharged missile. Aesthetically just as wild as the track-only Ninja H2R that was unveiled last October at the International Motorcycle, Scooter and E-Bike Fair in Cologne, Germany, the all-new 2015 Kawasaki Ninja H2 gets multiple tweaks to make it road-worthy and meet all market regulations.

The fairing now integrates a pair of mirrors with built-in turn signals. Both the headlight and taillight use LEDs, while the slick tires were replaced by road tires. The exhaust system is completely new and larger for emission control purposes. Unfortunately for your friend or better half, no passenger seat was added in the process.

Kawasaki H2 2015
Photo: Kawasaki

Setting a target and hitting the bull's eye
A curb weight of 238kg, a long wheelbase of 1,455mm, and advanced aerodynamics make Kawasaki's intentions crystal clear -- to build the most formidable and fearsome sprinter on the road.

Of course, it all starts with the new 998cc inline 4-cylinder engine whose supercharger cranks output up to 300 hp in the case of the track model. That's about 50 hp more than a MotoGP bike! Meanwhile, the more civilized Ninja H2 produces 210 hp at 11,000 rpm and a remarkable 100 lb-ft of torque at 10,000 rpm.

The mechanically driven, centrifugal-type supercharger contributes to optimum performance across a wide rev range, according to Kawasaki engineers. Gear train increases the impeller speed to 9.2x the crank speed, which means that at maximum engine speed (approximately 14,000 rpm) the impeller shaft is spinning at almost 130,000 rpm. The supercharger is positioned behind the cylinders in order to feed the engine more directly, and requires no intercooler. This unique engine design helps achieve maximum cooling efficiency by evacuating heat more quickly. A high-capacity liquid cooling system and ram air intake system also work to ensure an ideal operating temperature.

In order to deliver ultra-quick shifts, Kawasaki opted for a 6-speed, dog-ring transmission and a model-exclusive, high-quality hydraulic clutch with a back-torque limiter.

Solid, stylish chassis
The 2015 Kawasaki Ninja H2 is built on a new steel trellis frame to provide both the strength to harness the incredible power of the supercharged engine, and the balanced flex to achieve the stability and pliability for high-speed riding. For the first time on a production road bike, there's a new KYB AOS-II front suspension based on the Air-Oil Separate cartridge fork developed for motocross racing: smooth initial action is followed by strong damping at the end of the stroke. In the rear, Kawasaki made the odd choice of using a single-sided swingarm (like Italian competitors do), which adds sex appeal to the Ninja H2 but not much else.

In the braking department, however, Brembo was the obvious selection. You'll find dual 330mm discs with radial callipers up front, and a single 250mm disc in the back. An electronically controlled Öhlins steering damper completes the standard equipment list.

Naturally, a wicked sport bike such as the 2015 Kawasaki Ninja H2 needs some advanced electronics to keep the rider safe and on the right track. The new KTRC system used here combines the best elements of Kawasaki’s earlier traction control systems, which were known for their transparency, effective wheelie control, and “smart” ABS technology. It adds engine brake control, launch control, and the aforementioned back-torque limiter, which contributes to good stability by helping prevent rear-wheel hop when downshifting.

Bottom line
Kawasaki is not one to make compromises or build bikes half-heartedly. After sending shock waves around the world with the impressive, race-oriented Ninja H2R, the Japanese manufacturer strikes back with the street-legal Ninja H2. The latter is sure to please fans of hardcore acceleration and outlandish styling.