What can be best described the new Ninja H2 SX: Supercharged Xperience!.
Kawasaki handed me the keys for a planned ride up to Penang and back to KL.
Basic stats on the Ninja H2 SX SE
Lets start with the basic stats here as everyone want to know! This H2 SX SE kerb weigh in right around 260kg, have 120/70ZR17 and 190/55ZR17 tyres anchoring either end at 1480mm wheelbases, and is powered by a 998 cc inline-four engine with a supercharger bolted on top. The forced induction breathes onto pistons with a compression ratio of 11.2:1, which is certainly not the highest CR around right now, but is still mind-boggling to me; metallurgy advancements and combustion chamber design has really allowed those numbers to climb sky-high, considering this tourer is Supercharged!.
With the suspension that is fully adjustable at both ends of the bike (rear preload is adjusted via hydraulic adjuster), six-speed transmission, 19 liter fuel tank, and a relatively high 835mm seat height. Front dual brakes, grabbed by four-piston radial-mount monoblock calipers, with ABS and braided lines. Rears are two-piston calipers on single disks, also with a braided line.
NINJA H2 SX SE
This SX is another Supercharge level bike, and at a cool vicinity of RM150,000 premium price mark and the premium you are paying gets you a bigger windscreen, heated grips, softer seats, machining and pinstriping on the wheels, launch control, a quickshifter, TFT dash, and LED cornering lights.
Now, let us get to the good part: Riding the Supercharged Tourer!
Riding the Ninja H2 SX SE
We ridden the Supercharged 200hp Ninja H2 (Track/Road Test) and the 300hp H2R in the Sepang Circuit, and so we were imagining how excited we can be to review the super tourer with supercharger.
But as a tourer how would the H2 SX deal with fuel consumption as the H2 is well a thirsty bike but considering the H2 is super-fast but I’m definitely sure the H2 needs to refuel at least 3 times to reach Juru, Penang, 380km away.
We designed a route to ride up to Penang and to the island for some twisty and narrow routes of Balik Pulau just for this review. It really was an ideal route for the bike, which I’d call a sport-tourer that definitely emphasizes the first half of that category. I climbed onto the machine and immediately took liking to stock ergos of the riding position. The H2 SX SE, though a bit on the tall side, feels manageable due to the bike’s wasp waist.
The bike’s positioning is more aggressive than the Ninja 1000’s, but it’s certainly not uncomfortable. It is probably the most aggressive non-sport position bike now.
The TFT Dash
The best dash Kawasaki ever installed on their bikes. This is how all future bike dashes should be. I wouldn’t have minded if it was a touch bigger.
As we fuel up and made our way to the highway, I turned my eye to the dash. It’s a TFT meter, with several display options, offering differing information layouts and different looks. Speed is given on the screen, but engine speed is still presented with the sweep of a needle. If you like high-tech layouts, this is heavy on the tech, but light on the frippery, which makes it both beautiful and simple. The size, however, does make obtaining information at high speed damn near impossible.
Mercifully, in my solo ride up, I twisted the bike’s throttle and the sweet sound to my ear, and I was off like a shot. I romped through the gears, and after my two-three shift, that gorgeous speedometer politely told me my speed was 196km/h and increasing. Yes, I was on a public highway, and no, I didn’t get any speed cameras flashing. We always ride with our common sense working.
The Supercharger is breathtaking. It delivers smooth, clean power that just propels the bike forward at mind-bending speeds. I never had any trouble charging in to corners, even at insane speeds, the bike is simply real easy to ride and does not need the rider to work hard — but you’re still flying around fast, real fast.
I should probably be mentioning that while I imagine this bike could get good fuel mileage, mine did only 2 full tank to Penang like most bikes. I normally ride like the bike was stolen, and I waste fuel in fine style. So for fuel consumption reviewing I wont be the best guy to review this part, but I would roughly estimate a tank of fuel lasting 200km mileage or so until the fuel light kicked on if the bike is ridden in anger. Kawi claims 15km per litre, which would yield a 200km range if every drop in the tank is usable. A decent but consider a little short for touring, but I would think most people opting for forced induction on their motorcycle would understand. Fast riders don’t really care about FC.
Improvement on heat was a plus point and no objectionable at all, but the weather was very, very hot for our ride to Penang. But I didn’t notice any heat at all. Kawi claims one of the benefits of the trellis frame is the ability to allow air to pass through it to help dissipate engine heat. Is that the case here? I think there’s a bit more to things than that, but it certainly ain’t hurting, and the lack of huge aluminum spars right by the rider acting as a heat sink ain’t bad. Speaking of airflow, I was happy with the windscreen. The SE gets a bigger screen than the standard model, and it is perfect for me. I experienced no helmet buffeting, but had a very nice breeze rolling up my arms and down my chest.
Back to the riding. After getting comfortable and familiar with the bike, I wanted to see what I could do — and what it would not let me do, because I knew this bike was equipped with Bosch’s excellent IMU that Kawi puts to good use with a number of very sophisticated electronic assistants. KTRC, Kaw’s traction control, allowed a modest wheelie, and then intervened in the least intrusive mode. Levels two and three allowed less fun. In the most aggressive mode, the H2 SX SE will pick up the front in a power wheelie in first gear at 88km/h with ease. If I had to pick something to whine about, this is probably it. KTRC is very conservative and no Supercharge blow off sound. On a bike with this kind of power, I want something between “Gentle GP loft” and “I turned it off and looped this crazy rocketship.” Incidentally, TC settings are sticky, staying where you leave them, with the exception of disabling it. If disabled and the bike is turned off, it will revert back to the least aggressive TC setting.
A little rain never bothered me, and it afforded good conditions to test out some of the Ninja’s electronic prowess..
At one point, I realized I had to do a part of my job which is both fun and scary: test the TC when sliding. It was actually raining a bit, spitting in some parts of our twisty hill ride. Halfway through the day I found a very wet corner. I murmured a little prayer, shook my head, took the turn, and smacked the throttle wide open. Oddly, that great big Ninja felt just like my flat track bike: The rear slid out about 20cm and power was cut very incrementally. I felt the slide come under control, and I braced instinctively to fight the high-side I knew would not come. The slide tapered off, and power flowed smoothly back to the rear wheel as fast as it left, leaving me very stable as I came out of it. You can’t just read about it to understand how seamless everything is. This technology is nothing short of amazing. If you want to embolden a rider, give him this kind of assistance.
These skins, ones I really like, underwent the assault valiantly. I tested this using the factory tire pressures. I strongly suspect they’re a bit underinflated, especially considering the tires, Bridgestone Battlax S21s. They’re a sport-touring tire that I don’t normally use but let’s be honest here, the power this bike makes is going to overwhelm any lesser tires. It’s not an inappropriate tire, but for a man who’s specifically going out to exploit potential flaws in things like traction control, they don’t offer all the grip of a pure sport tire. And that’s OK. Most people buying this bike are not going to ride it like an H2 or H2R; those are different bikes with different missions.
The Kawa’s power is also electronically adjustable, with three levels. This isn’t your standard “rain mode gives you a completely numb throttle” setup. Instead, there are very fine gradients between the power settings and sensitivity levels, which was appreciated. Similarly, engine braking can be controlled, with either a normal or “light” setup. I found the most aggressive throttle to be just a leetle bit twitchy when adding maintenance throttle. I found that switching to light engine braking allowed me to stay on the gas for longer, which smoothed things out. Interestingly, at least one of my colleagues dialed the power setting back, left the standard engine braking, and was then happy with the throttle’s reduced snatchiness. Different ways to skin a cat, but the fact there were multiple ways to fine-tune power delivery was welcome.
The quickshifter was generally awesome. It allows clutchless ups and downs. It’s really great to see this feature coming to ST bikes, because it’s just as useful in a touring scenario as it is in a go-fast situation. To me, that makes it twice as valuable on a bike like this one that will spend time in both those realms. I did have two blown shifts with the engine revving before it angrily crashed a gear. They may have been short shifts, but I don’t think so. All in all, it works great
Handling was more nimble than, say, a Concours 14 or a Yamaha FJR1300, but the H2 SX can’t totally hide its weight or its length. However, it’s more than capable of carving a corner, and the added shot of power means that this bike’s rider will probably be able to reclaim corners on the exit, driving out of them with torque and fury matched by few other motorcycles.
Braided lines, monobloc calipers, radial mounting – Brakes were a mixed bag. Fronts are 320 mm of awesome braking, with great feel and power. The rear 250 mm is somewhat anemic, though. It was numb and weak and had a ton of pedal throw. However, if you’re using all the brakes at the same time, it’s got plenty of stopping power, though it takes a bit to slow this machine down, because I am usually going entirely fast.
On the left is the impeller from the H2R, and on the right the unit found in an H2 SX. Note the difference in vane pitch and shape, as well as even the grooves in the vanes on the SX unit: all of that is planned and the engineers needed a few cracks to tune each impeller for the respective applications. The impeller spins at a maximum of 110,390 RPM, so it’s also machined from a single piece of forged aluminum on a five-axis CNC. The supercharger has sort of an interesting story. Kawasaki shopped outside vendors for a blower, and couldn’t find a vendor willing or able to make one, so they did what anyone who has a notion to blow a bike does: They made something, and then made it work. They developed their own, and the superchargers are even tuned differently between the 300ish-horsepower H2R and the 200-ish H2 SX.
Rear suspension are new Uni-Trak, gas-charged shock with piggyback reservoir, compression and rebound damping adjustability, remote spring preload adjuster, and top-out spring / 139 mm and at the front are ø43 mm inverted fork with rebound and compression damping and spring preload adjustability, and topout springs / 120 mm
This mess was visible from the saddle. Normally I can look past this type of thing easily, but then I remembered that Kawasaki is asking for one hundred grand for this machine. At least make ugliness less visible from the cockpit, eh?
The hard bags just work. Popping them off takes but a second. Mounting is easy and makes the H2 SX buffy! Shape of the panniers are clean, tidy and sporty, is every bit as good.
At the end of 1500km I had for the review, the motorcycle began to feel less ridiculous than it appears on paper. At first, it seems even more over the top than some of the historical absurdly powerful bikes, like the Suzuki Hayabusa, the Honda CBR1100XX Blackbird, or (I imagine) a ZX-14. But really, this is a big, fairly heavy bike but lighter compare to the above, H2 SX is very well suited to its job as it just happens to be ridiculously supercharge fast.
So a 2 hour journey KL-Penang is possible. My partner could ride his own H2 back from Penang to KL in 1 hour 30 min riding time. That really fast!
So a buyer is looking at RM150k plus plus! including road tax and insurance to acquire one of these.
Now you all want to know if I’m going to run out and tell everyone to buy one. I’ll get to that in a few different ways. First, this bike is expensive and exclusive enough that it may well hold its value, appreciating quickly in a short time, so a buyer may actually not lose money on this bike. Unlike, a Z900! You’re gonna lose your ass trying to sell that bike in 10 years time if you bought it new. One hundred and fifty some thousand ringgit ain’t small change, but if you get to ride the bike and get your money back in two election terms, that’s ain’t a bad deal.
There’s also the value a buyer may or may not assign to the bragging rights of having the only blown bike at a given bike night. How much would you take out of your wallet to hear that friendly chirping sound that it announced its arrival to you and all bystanders that your incoming air charge was being slammed into your cylinders under duress?
That’s a highly personal question that I couldn’t answer, but probably will get more thought then most purchasers will admit.
I really loved the bike compare to its Continental counterparts. It’s phenomenal, with only minor flaws, and it damn well better be at the price they are asking. This bike fits right in my garage for touring. But the reality is I just don’t have the money to pop for this bike, and I have many other pretty good things compared to in my garage. I’d probably opt for a more conservative choice like the Versys 1000, or the Ninja 1000, which I think is 90 percent of the bike the Ninja H2 SX SE is and would save me a shy hundred grand.
I’ll encourage those who are interested to go ride one, though, because this is one of the most satisfying bikes I can remember riding. Second, if Kawa wants to recoups the cost of development, I am betting we’ll see less aggressive sport and touring bikes based on this supercharge design on middleweight and flyweight bikes some time in the future, but if you’ve got a wad of cash and a need to feel Supercharged now, you’ll help the rest of us get a taste of the magic this H2 SX has to offer.
It pains me that this will likely be the first and maybe my only time I’ll ever ride this bike. The H2 SX SE is real fun to take on a journey, but it sure ain’t realistic fun to ride in the city, for me, anyway.