Sometimes you need to ride other bikes to learn more about your own. It’s at the opposite end of motorcycling’s vivid spectrum from my Suzuki SV650, but a couple of days with Kawasaki’s insane H2 have helped me appreciate just how glad I am to be riding the forgiving SV650 this year.
All motorcycles must start out as the figment of someone’s imagination, but the supercharged 207bhp H2 feels as though it still is one. It’s a fantasy, something from a movie that doesn’t fit into the real world.
Having grabbed a rare opportunity to spend some time with such a hardcore bike, I spent the first half hour grappling with how much taming this thing would need. I’ve always taken pride in my throttle control and finessing the grip to get the smoothest response. This was like being kicked out of throttle control university, shoved back into the smallest school chair and told to brush up on my five-times tables.
The H2 just wants to go, all the time. And it can’t, because these are British roads and we would soon be in that film – all car chases, cardboard box smash-outs and (fake?) blood. Keeping this thing on the leash is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done on a motorcycle and by the time I’d ridden 100 miles to Skegness for a bike meet my hand was hurting from the effort of smoothing out the H2’s response.
On the occasions where traffic and corners abate long enough to let it run a little, it’s a magical machine. The power picks up with an addictive instant surge and flicking the quickshifter means it continues in a constant stream till the numbers get too high. Which takes no time at all.
And that’s where things are so different from the SV. I have enough talent and the roads have enough room for me to feel like I’m riding that properly. It doesn’t matter how fast a bike will go if there’s no opportunity to take it there. I don’t need a two-mile runway to stretch the SV’s legs.
After two days the H2 takes pity on my attempts to enjoy it. It shakes off its numberplate screws and flicks the plate into the roadside weeds, unbeknown to me. When I realise, I trickle back to MCN HQ and swap the mirror-finished warrior for my trusty SV.
I’m glad the H2 exists and am full of awe for the people who developed it, as well as for those who can truly ride one. I’m glad I got to ride one too. But I’m relieved it’s over, and I’m delighted to be back on the SV again.
Read more about Tony's Suzuki SV650 here
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