Kawasaki Promise Twelve New Models for 2016/17

As far as EICMA went for Kawasaki this year, it was very quiet. Not only did the not show a single new bike, they didn’t even bring any concepts either. The best they could muster was some renders of what they’re calling the ‘SC-02 Soul Charger’ – an image of a supercharged motorcycle that was probably mocked up in a few hours. But good things come to those who wait and hopefully there’s some big things coming from team green…

Despite the lackluster showing at Milan, Kawasaki Motorcycle President Kenji Tomida gave us a glimpse of the near future, and it will feature 12 brand new bikes over the next two years. Of those, there’s no doubt that some of those will be supercharged motorcycles – successors to the Ninja H2.

The Soul Charger concept is an example of Kawasaki’s supercharger technology but in a downsized form. That means we’ll hopefully see supercharged bike(s) from Kawasaki that shed some of the excess weight of the Ninja H2 and potentially in machines with capacities between 600 and 800cc.

Trawling through patent filings, Kawasaki continues to register more designs for their superchargers, so we wouldn’t be surprised if more than one of those 12 new bikes features forced induction.

But at the same time, a lot of Kawasaki’s lineup is in need of upgrade. The Ninja ER-6 platform is now heavily out-muscled by competitors. Other than the Vulcan S, Kawasaki hasn’t released anything new cruiser wise for a long time. And while the W800 is an underrated bike, it’s a complete sales failure and Kawasaki desperately needs something to capitalise on the retro/scrambler craze happening at the moment.

The new 2016 ZX-10R Ninja is a start, so let’s hope they can keep up the momentum.

Kawasaki Sould Charger

 

All New 2016 Kawasaki ZX-10 Confirmed

It’s been confirmed that Kawasaki will be releasing a brand new ZX-10 Superbike before the end of the year. The current generation Kawasaki ZX-10 hasn’t had any real updates since 2011 when it was last overhauled and is coming under increasing competition – both on the track and in showrooms – from other updated machines including the Yamaha R1 and Aprilia RSV4 which were both updated this year.

The news comes from Guim Roda who heads up Kawasaki’s World Superbike team. Despite the current generation ZX-10 looking quite old next to some of the competition, Team Kawasaki Racing is leading the champion with Jonathan Rea in first and Tom Sykes in second. Kawasaki obviously doesn’t want to chance its domination and hence its decision to try and keep ahead of the curve.

“We will have a new Kawasaki ZX-10R in 2016. The concept will be the same but, with some details and changes, it will be even more competitive” said Roda. “Given that the current rules are very restricted, the motorbikes have to be developed with an eye on the sport. We are heading on a path that Aprilia, Ducati and BMW have already taken for this year by bringing out new bikes.”

Despite domination on the track, it’s at the dealership where it really counts and here Kawasaki is losing a bit of ground. While updated bikes like the BMW S1000R and Panigale 1299 don’t exactly attract the same type of buyer due to their price, it’s expected that Suzuki will also be soon updating their now ancient GSX-R1000.

So what shape will the 2016 Kawasaki ZX-10 take? It probably won’t be a revolutionary overhaul given the DNA is pretty spot on at the moment. Kawasaki will probably take the opportunity to boost power moderately, but the big changes will be in the form of advanced electronics that all updated bikes have been receiving.

That will likely include semi-active suspension (which will accompany the existing Öhlins electronic steering damper) as used on the new R1 and Panigale, as well an internal gyroscopic unit for cornering GPS – both of which ironically aren’t allowed in WSBK anyway.

The other big change will likely be in looks – expect the new ZX-10 to take strong styling cues from the Ninja H2. Given how desirable the H2 is, it makes sense for Kawasaki to build on that and no doubt will provide a big boost to sales. Expect an official release later this year.

All New 2016 Kawasaki ZX-10 Confirmed

Is the Kawasaki Ninja H2 A Good First Bike?

Dear TheRideAdvice.com. I’ve been wanting to buy my first motorbike for a while now but nothing has quite caught my eye. That was until Kawasaki announced the Ninja H2. I love cars with superchargers (like the ones on The Fast and the Furious) so I knew I had to get an H2. I know I could get a Busa or a Fireblade for cheaper, but my father is giving me the money to get the H2.

My dad’s really good like that. He wasn’t around much as a kid and I only see him when I need some cash these days, but he’s always generous and gives me everything I want. He’s all you’d want in a father I suppose. Anyway, he did raise one good point that perhaps I should start out on a normal literbike for my first motorcycle, just to be safe. What do you think?

Yours sincerely, Chaz McGuire.

Hi Chaz, thanks for your email. It’s good to see that your father is looking out for you. He raises an interesting question about whether you should get a normally aspirated literbike or start out with or an H2 straight away. Chaz, you sound like a likable fellow and I’m sure you’re a real winner at life, so here’s a number of reasons why we think the Kawasaki Ninja H2 would be a great first bike for you.

1. You won’t need to change gears

The top speed of the Ninja H2 is limited to 300 kph, or around 186 mph. It’s geared so that you don’t have to shift into second gear until you’re well past 60 mph (100 kph). That means you don’t have to worry about changing gears – think of it like an automatic motorcycle. That’s good news for you Chaz, as shifting gears can be hard for people like you and takes away the focus on looking cool.

2. You can speed out of trouble

Chaz, the Kawasaki Ninja H2 produces a massive 210 horsepower – almost more than any other street-legal production bike. That means should the police try and pull you over for not wearing a helmet, you can speed away from them no problem. Sure, you’ll need to change gears but you’ll be able to work it out – necessity is the mother of invention (or learning to change gears on a motorcycle).

3. It’s supercharged

How many people do you know Chaz that can say that their first motorcycle was supercharged? Maybe a few, but you and I both know they’d be lying. Your friends probably ride wimpy first bikes like R6’s or GSX-R750’s. Lame! The best way to learn to ride supercharged motorcycles is to own one. You’re almost at the first step!

4. It’s practical

Some may think the Ninja H2 is just a track weapon, but for you Chaz it makes sense as a daily rider. You probably won’t ever take it to the track, or even the drag strip but don’t let that stop you from getting the H2. When you think about it, the H2 is just like every other motorcycle. Sure, you can’t carry a pillion and there’s no storage space, but you can always stuff the milk and bread from the corner store down the front of your jacket.

In our view, the H2 makes a perfect bike for lane splitting too. Lane splitting is always easier when you’ve got a supercharger. You’ll be able to get through peak hour traffic like it’s standing still – which it probably is!

5. Like the Apple Watch, it’s super technomological

The H2 has all sorts of great stuff. It has traction control (you won’t need it), launch control (but then you can’t wheelie from the traffic lights), ABS brakes (but then you can’t do cool skids), and a quick shifter (it’s like V-TEC). You won’t need any of these things Chaz, but it’s nice to know they’re there.

6. It will make you a better rider

Do you think the best riders in the world started out on tiny dirt bikes or small capacity road bikes? Of course not, Chaz. They went straight to the big toys and learned from there because they’re awesome. You’re awesome too, Chaz and there’s no way to be a better rider than to get one of the fastest motorcycles available today.

So there you have it, Chaz. I’m sure no matter what we said you would have ended up buying a Ninja H2 with your dad’s money, but it’s also no doubt good for you to have some positive reinforcement of what will perhaps be your last major decision in your life.

Enjoy!

2015 Kawasaki Ninja H2

More Supercharged Kawasaki’s On The Way?

The Ninja H2 and H2R will start arriving at dealer showrooms in just a few weeks and already Kawasaki is planning for more supercharged machines in the future. Trademark applications in Europe, Japan and America show that Kawasaki has registered the name Ninja R2.

But in Japan, Kawasaki has gone even further with trademark applications for the following names:

  • Ninja R2-R
  • Ninja E2
  • Ninja E2-R
  • Ninja S2
  • Ninja S2-R

At this point, it’s pure conjecture as to what models those names will apply to but they obviously follow the naming convention of the street legal H2 and track only H2R. With the amount of money spent by Kawasaki, not to mention the years of development on the technology, it shouldn’t come as a suprise that Kawasaki intends to use supercharging on a whole new range of models

For our vote, we’d love to see a supercharger applied to a smaller capacity bike like a 600cc supersports or even smaller. No doubt given the amount of trademark applications, Kawasaki probably has the same ideas in mind, too. But only time will tell what they bring.

 

Suzuki to Build the Turbocharged Recursion Concept?

News has broken today from Japan that Suzuki may be on it’s way to putting into production the Suzuki Recursion, a concept bike first shown at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show and featured a 588cc, parallel-twin, turbocharged engine. But is it too good to be true seeing as this is Suzuki we’re talking about?  A company that hasn’t updated most of it’s lineup in 10 years and who we’ve been critical of as recently as last month?

If Suzuki were ever to get itself back in the game, this would be the motorcycle to do it. While the Ninja H2R and H2 are impressive on paper, very few riders will swing a leg over them and they’re hardly motorcycles for the ‘Real World‘. The Suzuki Recursion is small in stature (the aluminum frame goes over the engine instead of beside it, keeping it narrow), weighs only 174kg dry (not bad with a turbo bolted on) and will supposedly have improved emissions and fuel economy over a similarly sized 600cc bike by as much as 50 per cent.

young machine Suzuki Recursion Concept to be Produced?

Obviously it’s the power and torque figures that are the most attractive proposition. Leaked internal documents of the concept bike indicated 100 hp @ 8,000 RPM, compared to the GSX-R 600 which makes 124 hp at a much higher 13,500 rpm. But it’s the supposed torque figure that is really exciting – 73 ft-lb @ at only 4,500 rpm. The GSX-R 600 only has 51.3 ft-lb @ 11500 rpm. And while we’re comparing the performance figures to the GSX-R 600, don’t think that Suzuku Recursion aims to replace or even compete in the same category at the supersport machine – we’re only comparing like displacement for like displacement. The Suzuki Recursion is more of an SV-650 than a supersport – at least the concept was.

The magazine that broke the news is titled Young Machine. Their track record isn’t totally accurate though they generally get the at least parts of the story right. For example, they were one of the first to indicate Honda were working on a bike to sit between the CBR250R and CBR600RR – claiming it was a CBR400R. They were out by about 100cc, but nevertheless they general idea was right. The image of the Recursion they’ve also printed is probably way off as it looks more concept than the original concept did.

If Suzuki were to release the Recursion, 2015 would be the time to do it. With a return to MotoGP, Suzuki is obviously deciding now is the time to get their name back out there as a manufacturer of high performance machines. If the Suzuki Recursion does make it to market, this is a motorcycle that will the practical alternative to the Ninja H2 and one that we think could end up being wildly popular.

 

 

Kawasaki Ninja H2 – The Future of Motorcycles or a Huge Disappointment?

Over the past few months, the motorcycle world has been eagerly pawing over every article related to Kawasaki’s new supercharged monster, the H2. First the teasers came in a trickle and then a flood until the initial release at Cologne a few weeks ago of the Ninja H2R and we weren’t disappointed. The H2R was a 300hp track only weapon. It looked ridiculous yet gorgeous at the same time. It had more power than perhaps a handful of humans alive today could actually properly use, but who cares? The Ninja H2R is a bike very few will ever ride, but everyone could admire what Kawasaki had delivered.

But we had to wait until yesterday for the street legal version, the Kawasaki Ninja H2. Everyone was expecting the bike to have less horsepower – there was no way Kawasaki could sell a bike to the masses with that much power without massive blow back from governments who feel the requirement to control what people can and can’t do. Maybe 250 horsepower? 230?

The actual figure? 200hp – or 210hp with ram air at speed. When compared to the Ninja H2R and all the associated hype, you can’t help but be a little disappointed by that number. Don’t get me wrong – 200 horsepower is a massive amount and it’s far more power than is realistically usable on the street. But it gets worse.

 

The Ninja H2R, with it’s extensive use of carbon fiber weighs 216kg (476 lb) – not exactly catwalk model thin, but it still comes out with a power to weight ratio of 1.39 hp/kg – a massive number. The BMW HP4 has a power to weight ratio of 0.97 hp/kg. But the Kawasaki H2 tips the scales at 238kg (525 lb) – that’s heavy. It means the power to weight ratio falls to 0.88 hp/kg – a figure surpassed by sportsbikes a long time ago.

By way of comparison, let’s look at another headline bike that was also released yesterday – the 2015 Yamaha R1. The R1 has the same capacity engine and same amount of cylinders but no supercharger. It pumps out 200hp and given that it also has ram air, probably hits about 210hp like the Kawasaki too. But it only weighs 199kg and therefore has a power to weight ratio of 1 hp/kg. Add in the fact that the Yamaha will cost $16,490 compared to $25,000 for the Kawasaki and I’m left scratching my head as to what is this machine for and who would want to buy it?

Don’t get me wrong – the characteristics of this bike will be unique, and I’m sure once you get the Ninja H2 on a dyno, you’ll see a near instantaneous delivery of power and torque from the supercharged engine compared to the linear increase on a normally aspirated motor. But when we’re talking about similar bikes that can accelerate to 60mph in around 2.5 seconds, are you really going to notice (or need) that torque so readily?

So why did this happen? Why has Kawasaki made one incredible machine, the H2R and one overhyped bike, the H2?

As we said at the outset, a major consideration for Kawasaki is politics. There’s long been a gentleman’s agreement between all manufacturers not to make bikes capable of more 300 km/h for street use. Many bikes are now electronically limited to that speed and no doubt whatever horsepower figure the H2 was going to have, it would be limited. But imagine the shrill cries from busybodies and spinsters if word got out into the tabloids that Kawasaki was selling 250hp motorcycles to 18 year olds to kill themselves on. Unfortunately, in this day and age, the nanny and wowser brigade has a large impact on public sentiment and no doubt there would be no shortage of politicians trying to capture the limelight to denounce such a hooligan machine.

 

Similarly, environmental restrictions have played a part. Emission limits would curtail the maximum horsepower achievable, as would noise limits. The exhaust sound level of the H2R at the time of factory shipment is 120 dB/A using Auto Cycle Union (ACU) guidelines. The maximum permitted noise level in many US states is around 82 dB. Consider that decibel measurements are logarithmic and not linear, 120 dB is extremely loud. The exhuast system on the H2 would severely curtail power to bring sound level down.

A third and probably decisive factor in the handicapping of the H2 compared to the H2R would be reliability. Yes, supercharged bikes have existed before and supercharged cars have been available for decades. But the H2R is a cutting edge machine – at 300hp it’s a massive leap in motorcycle technology and abilities. And that no doubt comes at a cost to longevity and reliability. Here’s some of the details you’d want to be aware of for the Ninja H2R:

  • No warranty. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
  • The bike requires a service inspection after every 15 hours of of engine operation above 8,000 rpm. That’s in addition to regular periodic maintenance which isn’t yet disclosed.

No consumer would accept these restrictions on a street bike. And thus, Kawasaki had to turn the dial down from 11 to 6 in order for the Ninja H2 to actually survive everyday use and be practical for the mass market.

So is there no future for supercharged bikes? Are the Ninja H2 and H2R one off machines, like so many supercharged bikes before them? I hope not. There’s no doubt the Ninja H2R is an amazing machine, and if the hype surrounding both it and the H2 wasn’t so huge, I probably wouldn’t be so critical of the H2. But hopefully, Kawasaki sticks with it and we see the technology improved. It would be great to see it get used in smaller capacity bikes, say around 600cc. Kawasaki should be applauded for doing something different – let’s just hope they can make something more realistic for the mass market in the near future.

Ninja H2 Street Version Image Leaked

A screen capture from a Youtube video has surfaced showing the street legal version of the Kawasaki Ninja H2 in fairly good detail. As can be seen, there’s a license plate holder at the rear and different exhaust can. Other major differences are a different front windshield and some of the front wings replaced by indicators. The single sided swingarm remains.

There’s still no word of official power figures for the Kawasaki Ninja H2, but rumours persist of between 200bhp and 225bhp. We’ll know for certain at EICMA on 4 November.

The Kawasaki Ninja H2R is Stupid Good

Kawasaki has held nothing back with their new Ninja H2R. It looks unlike any other bike before it. Its ugly and beautiful at the same time. These pictures are not of a concept, this is the real deal.  It looks insane and has an equally insane amount of power. This is the type of bike that motivates western governments to introduce legislation curbing the outputs of motorcycles and restricting their use to professionals only in an effort to protect people from themselves. The Kawakaski Ninja H2R is the opposite of a sensible, polite, practical motorcycle – and how good it is!

Kawasaki hasn’t fully divulged horsepower figures, but the track only Ninja H2R will produce almost 300 bhp. That’s not a typo. By comparison, a current model Hayabusa produces 197 bhp and KTM 1290 Super Duke makes 177 bhp. It’s likely that the rumored 225 bhp output will be for the street legal H2 – but that will be confirmed in November.

You can read the full press release below the photos.

 

When Kawasaki first conceived the Ninja H2R, the driving development concept was to offer the kind of acceleration no rider had experienced before.  

That a motorcycle be “Fun to Ride” is one of Kawasaki’s guiding principles.  But while there are many ways for a motorcycle to be enjoyed, it was felt that having incredible acceleration was a major factor in delivering ultimate riding exhilaration.  

Powering the Ninja H2R is a supercharged engine with a design target of 300 PS allied to a compact design on par with power units found in supersport litre-class models.  The key to achieving this incredible performance lies in the engine’s supercharger—a motorcycle-specific unit designed completely in-house with technology from other companies within the Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) Group: the Gas Turbine & Machinery Company, Aerospace Company and Corporate Technology Division.

KHI Group technology was not limited to the supercharger.  Advanced technological know-how shared from other group companies is found throughout the all-new engine and chassis design.  For example, the carbon-fibre upper and lower wings that ensure stability when riding in the ultra-high speed range were designed with assistance from Kawasaki’s Aerospace Company.  This is but one example, and this inter-group collaboration combined with the level of technology poured into this model is the reason the Kawasaki River Mark* is displayed prominently on the front of the Ninja H2R.  

When it came time to name this model, using “Ninja”—a name synonymous with Kawasaki performance and shared by many legendary models over three historic decades —was an obvious choice.  But this model is also named for another epoch-making model, whose 2-stroke 748.2 cm3 Triple gave it an intense acceleration that made it a sensation around the world: the Mach IV 750, also known as the “H2.”  For a model designed to offer “the kind of acceleration no rider has experienced before” we can think of no better name.  

Built Beyond Belief. In 2014, Kawasaki is once again ready to unleash a new sensation upon the world.  

*The Kawasaki River Mark is a long-time symbol of the KHI Group dating back to the 1870s.  As a policy, its use on products is rare and limited to models with historical significance.  But for the Ninja H2R permission to use this symbol was granted.  

KEY FEATURES

Never-before-experienced Acceleration

In order to be able to offer intense acceleration and a top speed in a range that most riders never have a chance to experience, it was essential that the engine be able to produce big power.  While a large-displacement engine could easily provide a high engine output, to ensure a lightweight, compact overall package a compact engine was also desired.  Using a supercharged engine—essentially enabling a high-performance engine to be downsized—allowed both of these engine design requirements to be met: maximum power output has been targeted at 300 PS, and the engine size of the 998 cm3 In-Line Four is on par with other supersport litre-class power units. 

In-house-designed Supercharger

The supercharger used in the Ninja H2R was designed by Kawasaki motorcycle engine designers with assistance from other companies within the KHI Group, namely the Gas Turbine & Machinery Company, Aerospace Company, and the Corporate Technology Division.  Designing the supercharger in-house allowed it to be developed to perfectly match the engine characteristics of the Ninja H2R.  The highly efficient, motorcycle-specific supercharger was the key to achieving the maximum power and the intense acceleration that engineers wanted to offer. 

Chassis Design

The objectives for the Ninja H2R’s chassis were to ensure supreme stability at ultra-high speeds, offer cornering performance to be able to enjoy riding on a closed course, and finally to have a highly accommodating character.  Ordinarily, high-speed stability can easily be achieved with a long wheelbase, but a shorter wheelbase was selected to achieve the compact overall package and sharp handling that were also desired.  The frame needed not only to be stiff, but also to be able to absorb external disturbances—which, when encountered while riding in the ultra-high speed range, could easily unsettle a lesser chassis.  A new trellis frame developed using the latest analysis technology provided both the strength to harness the incredible power of the supercharged engine, and the balanced flex to ensure the stability and feedback for high-speed riding.   

Aerodynamics

As speed increases, wind resistance increases exponentially.  To be able to operate in the ultra-high speed range, a combination of high power and slippery aerodynamics is needed.  With power requirements taken care of by the supercharged engine, the next step was to design bodywork that both minimised drag and ensured control when riding at ultra-high speed.  Assistance from Kawasaki’s Aerospace Company was enlisted in creating the aerodynamically sculpted bodywork to ensure maximum aerodynamic efficiency.   

Intense-Force Design & Craftsmanship

Wanting to ensure a bold design worthy of a model that carried both the “Ninja” and “H2” names, the prime styling concept chosen for the Ninja H2R was “Intense Force Design.”  As a flagship for the Kawasaki brand, it required presence, and a styling that reflected its incredible performance.  But the design is much more than cosmetic.  While it certainly looks the part, the Ninja H2R also possesses a functional beauty: each piece of its bodywork was aerodynamically sculpted to ensure stability at ultra-high speeds; the cowling design also maximises cooling performance and heat dissipation, aiding in achieving the engine’s roughly 300 PS output; and the Ram Air duct is ideally positioned to bring fresh air to the supercharger.  More than any motorcycle Kawasaki has built to date, the Ninja H2R is a showcase of craftsmanship, build quality and superb fit and finish—right down to the high-tech mirrored-finish black chrome paint specially developed for this model.