Kawasaki’s supercharged retro

Published: 12 May 2016

One of the most exciting prospects on the rumour mill from Japanese sources is the return of the legendary Z900 name by Kawasaki, which may boast a supercharged 900cc engine.

Kawasaki have made no secret of their desire to reinvigorate their entire range of bikes, and right now it has nothing that can take the fight to the European firms in the modern retro category. Back in November 2015, Kawasaki showed a sketch of the concept SC-02 Soul Charger, a retro-themed bike which MCN understands may well bring back the H1 name.

Separately, we now understand from Japanese sources the Z900 name may also return on an even more retro-styled bike, while this is thought to be several years away from arriving in dealers. We know Kawasaki have trademarked the Z900RS name recently, and at the Milan motorcycle show they showed the SC-02 concept sketch, which could well represent a bike that will carry that name.

Kawasaki are keeping silent about the other 11 models being unveiled in the next two years, but the SC-02 followed a similar concept sketch unveiled by the firm at the Tokyo Show a month earlier in October 2015. The SC-01 Spirit Charger, which Kawasaki described as “just one of the fascinating directions Kawasaki’s design team are considering for the future of the forced induction motorcycle line,” appears to be powered by a supercharged inline-four, which means it won’t be sharing an engine with the SC-02.

We now believe the SC-01 will become the Z900RS with a four-cylinder engine of around 900cc and the SC-02 will become the new H1 with a three-cylinder engine of around 675cc; both sporting the Kawasaki Balanced Supercharger Engine technology.

The Balanced Supercharger Engine technology allows a much greater range of flexibility in power delivery as well as improving fuel consumption. It uses an actuator to open and close a set of petal-like blades at the mouth of the impeller of the supercharger, allowing the ECU to govern the volume of air rammed into the plenum chamber, giving the rider more progressive control over the engine’s power deliver, while having no negative impact on peak power or the sensation of supercharged acceleration.