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Supercharged Ninja imminent

By Richard Newland -

New bikes

 01 September 2014 11:21

Kawasaki has confirmed that it will build a ‘Ninja H2’ around the supercharged engine concept first shown to the world at the end of 2013.
Creating a motorcycle which Kawasaki claim will be “Built Beyond Belief”, the firm has not explicitly said that it will use the supercharged four-cylinder motor, but the language used in their teasing announcement is identical to that used a year ago when the engine concept was revealed.
The statement reads, “Drawing on skills and experience from experts within not just the company’s motorcycle division but across its aerospace, gas turbine and other high-technology contemporary manufacturing disciplines as well, Kawasaki is anticipating huge international interest in the project that has evocatively been christened Ninja H2.”
 
Spirit of the seventies
While two-stroke addicts will doubtless be wild with anticipation at the thought of a new 750cc Mach IV H2, there are too many clues to refute any likelihood that this will be anything other than a 4-stroke. Kawasaki goes on to reference the 500cc three-cylinder H1, but also the equally iconic 903cc Z1 Super Four. There’s also no chance that this will be a continuation of the firm’s long association with naked hedonism, either. The firm clearly states that this will be a Ninja, which means that it’ll be a faired sportsbike, and the first of a series of teaser videos, which is online at www.ninja-h2.com, adds further weight to this being a fully-faired sportsbike.
The bikes referenced by the firm cover a range of capacities, from 500 to 900cc, but if we had to make a bet, we’d put our money on the capacity being more like 1000cc, and using the variably geared supercharger, as detailed in the firm’s patents we revealed last year. The patent clearly reveals that the “supercharger drive device for a combustion engine includes a gear carrier shaft operable to rotate in unison with a crankshaft of the combustion engine, a high speed gear and a low speed gear… and a shifter drive unit for actuating the gear shifter in dependence on the rotational speed of the combustion engine.”
 
It’s a real bike
This is no J concept (the futuristic four-wheeled shape-changing scooter concept also shown at the Tokyo show last year), either. All the language used by Kawasaki points to this being a genuine new model in the line-up, and as Mr Shigehiko Kiyama said at the Tokyo show last year: “Kawasaki Heavy Industries has a long history of developing technologies for turbine engines. Know-how from years of designing turbine engine blades was instilled in the first supercharger developed by a motorcycle manufacturer. And of course, designing a motorcycle-use supercharged engine in-house means that maximum efficiency could be pursued.”
 
So where will it fit in?
Even if this new Ninja does arrive as a 1000cc supercharged sportsbike, there’s no chance that it will be an intended direct replacement for the current ZX-10R Ninja. Just like the ‘cheating’ 636cc ZX-6R Ninjas, which fell foul of capacity rules for supersport racing leading to two versions being produced simultaneously, Kawasaki would have to continue producing a normally aspirated ZX-10R for superbike racing. If you’re going to make two versions of a bike, you might as well make them different, and Kawasaki bosses have previously stated that there’s no point in making bikes in competition to your own existing range, so this new Ninja is certain to offer buyers a significantly different proposition.
The firm is being very definite about this being a Ninja though, which means that it’s faired, but also not in competition with their 1400GTR as a high-powered touring bike. The only model in the range that does look superfluous in the face of this new model is the ZZR1400. A supercharged litre capacity engine will kick out more power than the long-in-the-tooth ZZR, and if Kawasaki has created a sportsbike with a modicum of comfort or distance ability, it’s certain to out-sell the ageing – but popular – ZZR.
 
When will it arrive?
Kawasaki is remaining tight-lipped, but the increasing noise emanating from the firm suggests that it’s well advanced in the development cycle. The engine was unveiled last year, while the Intermot show in Germany at the end of this month promises to host the ‘world preview’ of the bike, suggesting that we’ll see an all but finished version. If the timings continue to follow the normal pattern, a production-ready bike is likely to be unveiled during the second half of 2015 to go on sale shortly after.
The price is harder to guess. A ZX-10R costs £13,199 with race ABS, while the ZZR1400 weighs in at £14,099. On the assumption that the Ninja H2 will match or outstrip both for technology, power, and kudos, we’d expect it to cost around £14,999. More details will be released on the microsite on Wednesday, and the releases will keep coming until the September 30 grand unveil.