KAWASAKI NINJA H2 SX (2018 - on) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£220|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The combination of supercharged usable power and comfort is genius. There is arguably no faster way to travel around Europe in comfort. Behind Kawasaki’s impractical Ninja H2, it’s the king of the Autobahn.
Heated grips, cruise control, cornering ABS and full colour clocks, it’s practical; yet at the same has the mid-range tyre-ripping grunt to take your breath away – love it.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
On the road, the H2 SX falls a little short. Yes, the fully-adjustable suspension is impressive, its ride quality is excellent, you’re never jolted out of the seat and the front doesn’t dive for cover when you apply the brakes. For the majority of the time the H2 SX performs as you’re expect a 260kg sports tourer to behave. .
However, I never felt fully confident with the feel from the front end feel. I don’t know if it was the cold road conditions, the Bridgestone BTS21 rubber, or something about the bike’s geometry but the front end always felt slightly vague and as a result I never had the confidence to throw the H2 SX on its ear. No, it’s not meant to be a sports bike but I’d I still prefer more feedback. On road, the H2 SX is certainly more touring than sports. It will be interesting to see how it performs in the UK on known road surfaces
The handling questions that arose on the road weren’t an issue on track. With heat in the Bridgestone rubber, and the suspension tweaked for the track, the lack of front end feel wasn’t significant. On long, sweeping corners the H2 SX was unfazed and predictable. Ground clearance was impressive, as was the rear end grip. While the electronics do a remarkable job of dealing with so much power and make the power accessible. Yes, the H2 SX is certainly more tourer than sports, it doesn’t have the agility of the Z1000SX, but for a big comfortable bike it wasn’t fazed when asked to perform outside its design window on track.
EngineNext up: Reliability
The H2 SX has the same 998cc capacity as the H2 and the crankcases are the same, otherwise it’s an entirely new engine. Kawasaki refer to the H2 SX as the second generation of its supercharged engines, after the H2/H2R and have striven to create what it calls a ‘balanced supercharger’. In other words, while with the H2 the primary goal was total performance, with this H2 SX Kawasaki is trying to balance performance and economy. As a result, the new engine has been designed to offer more low to mid-range power than the H2 while Kawasaki is also claiming similar mpg figures for the H2 SX to that of its already frugal Versys 1000.
The supercharger’s impeller and intake system is new. Although the impeller is the same size, the shape and angle of the blades have changed. The intake chamber has been revised, as have the intake funnel lengths. Throttle valves are smaller, from 50mm to 40mm and cam profiles now have a shorter intake and exhaust duration. Kawasaki has also revised intake and exhaust ports.
The compression ratio has been significantly increased with new pistons. The higher compression significantly increases fuel efficiency.
The exhaust is all new, too, with smaller diameter header pipes and a shorter, more compact silencer and as a result is 2kg lighter than the H2 item. The end result is: 207bhp with ram-air, improved low to mid-range power and 25% more fuel efficiency. And it still chirps.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
The H2 SX is loosely based on the proven supercharged H2 and H2R. The supercharged engine has been de-tuned, therefore isn’t highly stressed and we’ve not heard any stories about the H2 or H2R. Kawasaki’s level of finish is very high.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
The base model shares the same engine, chassis and rider aids and is 4kg lighter. However, you don’t receive the new TFT clocks or the extras. If you want TFT clocks, cornering headlights, launch control, quick-shifter with auto blipper, centre stand, heated grips and a larger screen then you’ll have to dig deeper into your pockets for the SE model.
There are three switchable power modes, Full, Medium and Low, with the latter two reducing power to 75% and 50% respectively. The traction control system has three settings and is fully integrated into cornering ABS system. There’s a quickshifter/auto-blipper which negates the need for the clutch during gearshifts and there’s even launch control.
That said, the suspension isn’t semi-active or electronically adjustable, as some were hoping, although both ends are fully-adjustable and there’s an easy-access remote pre-load knob at the rear.
The H2 SX’s cornering headlights are also a first for Kawasaki. Via a Bosch management system, three lights per side illuminate in relation to lean angle.
Clocks and switchgear are also bespoke and based around another Kawasaki first – a central, full colour, TFT dash. You can change the background colour and layout, while cruise control comes standard, as do heated grips on the SE model.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, 16v, Inline four supercharged|
|Frame type||Tubular steel trellis|
|Fuel capacity||19 litres|
|Front suspension||43mm inverted forks fully-adjustable|
|Rear suspension||Single rear shock, fully-adjustable|
|Front brake||2 x 320mm discs with four-piston radial caliper|
|Rear brake||250mm single disc with two-piston caliper.|
|Front tyre size||120/70 x 17|
|Rear tyre size||190/55 x 17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||-|
|Annual road tax||£93|
|Annual service cost||£220|
|Used price||£11,300 - £18,000|
17 of 17
How much to insure?
Top speed & performance
|Max power||197 bhp|
|Max torque||101 ft-lb|
|Top speed||186 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
Model history & versions
H2 SX - £15,099 (black only)
The base model shares the same engine, chassis and rider aids and is 4kg lighter. However, you don’t receive the new TFT clocks or the extras listed below.
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MCN Long term test reports
MCN Fleet: Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE's final sunset
It might seem like a fair amount of riding for nine months of movement, but 9612 miles disappear with no effort whatsoever aboard the Ninja H2 SX SE. If I hadn’t been distracted by other two-wheeled temptations, it would have been a shade under 13,000 miles but one of the most interesting findings t…
Owners' reviews for the KAWASAKI NINJA H2 SX (2018 - on)
10 owners have reviewed their KAWASAKI NINJA H2 SX (2018 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£220|
Annual servicing cost: £170
It's a little weighty and a handful at low speeds but very stable once the speed increases.
The rear brake is pretty weak on these.
The engine is as good as you'd expect. A little jerky at low speeds on fueling.
Slight corrosion on some of the fasteners.
Running costs aren't too bad. Original back tyre was squared off by 3500 miles.
The dash is clear and informative. The heated grips are effective but the operation is very confusing with one button for three settings.
Buying experience: It was an ex demonstrator from a main dealer.
Annual servicing cost: £175
Does everything really well. Only less than perfect point is the seat.
Super smooth with loads of power.
Not done the big 15,000 mile service yet but 7,500 was reasonable.
Loads of extras and a good TFT dash.
Buying experience: Good dealer service.
Version: SE +
Annual servicing cost: £300
This is the bike it always should have been. Although expensive, the SE+ is the H2 SX to have.
Electronic suspension is a dream, once you've had it its hard to go back to a bike without. Brembos give more bite & stopping power than standard, a lot more confidence inspiring.
Super smooth, super quiet, super quick with the whirr & chatter of the supercharger. Dialling in your own settings on power, engine braking, throttle response etc makes the ride bespoke to you. Quick shifter still isn't the best, but is a blast once you've learned when & when not to use.
Generally quality is amongst the highest of all Japanese makes. Still a tad off BMW & Ducati, but not far. Exhaust downpipe will discolour quickly if used in inclement weather.
Its a lot of money for a bike, but its in a field of its own so hard to rate for value. Like all hyper bikes it'll eat rear tyres... 1500 to 2500 miles.
Pretty much all the toys in the shop. Being picky... No tyre pressure sensors.
Buying experience: Kawasaki dealer very good.
Version: Performance Tourer
Perfect all rounder, tad expensive but you get what you pay. No bad features hence bought 2019 model following my purchase of the 2018 launch model. Great the bike now as electronic suspension.
Fantastic engine and handling (for a bike this size). Brakes cant tell much difference from last years model despite Brembo upgrade but nice to have some bling effect.
Supercharged what's not to like
Little behind latest from BMW hopefully Kawasaki will continue to develop the Rideology App
Buying experience: Colchester Kawasaki great service and price not my closest dealer over 200 miles away but worth the journey. Bought my last two H2 SX's from them 2018 and 2019 models
Annual servicing cost: £120
Drag touring at it's best. Ok it's not as fast as a full blown H2 or even a ZZR1400 but that's not what this bikes about its middle ground. As an all rounder it's pretty damn good. H2 SX is more of a Bomber than a fighter that's the best way to describe it. But what a bomber all the tech onboard is making the ZZR1400 feel a bit old in terms of all the goodies. Supercharger noise is so cool and addictive to listen to. Forget the loud exhaust you want that whistle.
Ride quality is 2nd to none comfort 1st class at warp speed and for such a heavy bike you dont notice. Brakes are bang on I mean they stop this 260kg bike better than my 2018 R1.
Robust design and the occasional glimer of exotic over enginered parts. Kawasaki heavy industries haven't let us down in its brilliant build quality. A lot of bike for not alot of money.
Ride economicaly and the Bridgestones will last but ride like a dick the they wont.
Super charger is wow factor sounds awesome and delivers performance.
Buying experience: Preston superbike gave me an offer I couldn't refuse. Gave me a great trade in on my bike and gave me a great deal on the new one.
Annual servicing cost: £300
Like a previous comment, buy a gen 2 (2012 onwards) ZZR1400 instead. The ZZR1400 is better at everything, more power, faster and much better for touring and especially for a pillion. The H2 SX pillion seat is laughable, unless your other half has the bottom of a 12 year old. The price of the H2 SX is ridiculous and nowhere near worth it. Are all the gizmos added to make it seem worthy of a nice new car price? Maybe. I have now gone back to a ZZR1400. The only thing missing is cruise control, why doesn't the ZZR1400 have cruise control? Kawasaki missed a trick with that, but it is still better than the H2 SX. If they stop making the ZZR1400, I will keep mine for as long as there is nothing better out there. Don't be lured by the word 'supercharger' the hype isn't what you actually get.
I can ride my ZZR1400 at least 600 miles in a day, with the H2 SX, nearer 350-400miles a day. Ride quality is ok, but that vague front end is scary at times. Tips in quicker than a ZZR1400, but as they both weigh the same, they corner similarly. Brakes are ok, too.
Hmm, being supercharged it pulls from tickover, but, it isn't as fast as a ZZR1400 no matter what anyone says. They maybe a tuners dream, but you could turbo a brand new ZZR1400 and still have change from the price of a standard H2 SX SE, and way more power. The engine isn't anywhere near as smooth as a ZZR1400, either. Quite a let down considering the hype.
As with any Kawasaki I have owned, the quality and reliability are second to none.
About the same as any other large capacity bike.
Plenty of equipment IF you buy the H2 SX SE.
Buying experience: Dealer was ok, but then when you are chucking them the best part of 20 grand, they would be nice.
It’s a phat sportsbike, the love child of a ZX10R and a ZZR. In a straight line you could close your eyes (metaphorically speaking) and feel a ZZR below you. Throttle and sound is similar. But it tips in more eagerly and that feels very strange and unnerving. This is due to lack of any true tyre feedback. It feels numb and you rely on the bike to look after you instead of relying on feedback from the bike to do it. I really hope a new set of tyre will sort it. Everybody has covered the good stuff about the bike so no more to say here. On tyres again it hideously tracks road lines and tarmac shapes and crowns. Just can’t forgive Kawasaki for these tyres. If you find a totally unrealistic bit of flat smooth tarmac it feels like a magic carpet! I do love the bike as I said the good points people have already covered are awesome. Very awesome. Compared to my MTS 1200 2014 it's a cut above.
I don’t think electronic adjustable suspension would improve it. On my MTS I used to switch it from Sport to Tour to soften it. But the throttle on the Kwak is smoother than the MTS sport setting so no need. Who bothered with urban anyway !!
Silk pure and simple on the throttle. Slams shut when shut. Thanks to Eurocrats. But much much less than the MTS I rode. The EBS helps:
Very well put together fit and finish, I’ll be fitting ZZR panels. Reliability — we will see!
3750 is too few miles but petrol usage is lower than a MTS.
What else can go on!
Buying experience: Very very good with Bristol Kawasaki. Really great guys. But the factory did leave a bolt off the clutch reservoir.
Annual servicing cost: £250
If you want a bike to travel across Europe fast, then buy a ZZR1400. The ZZR1400 is far better at everything, and it is significantly cheaper than the H2 SX SE. The 2012 onwards ZZR1400 has more power and is the same weight give or take a KG or two. No, you don't get cruise control which is a huge miss from Kawasaki, and no you don't get pretty coloured clocks and launch control or even a quickshifter, but bar the cruise control, why are the others needed on a sports/tourer? Wish I had kept my ZZR1400. I shall be going back to a ZZR1400 before the Summer is over. Come on Kawasaki, add cruise control to the ZZR1400.
Not bad comfort wise, but I find the suspension very hard. Dialling it all down doesn't make an awful lot of difference. I find I do around the same mileage before a break as my previous bike, a tankful is fine before my knees hurt, but after that I can't go much further and I am used to riding all over Europe. Brakes are ok, they stop you well enough.
Well, rubbish compared to a ZZR1400 which is so smooth compared to this, which is more agricultural and low down grunt is crap. Maybe Kawasaki restricted these like they did the original ZZR1400.
As always, quality is high with a Kawasaki, but ride through the winter and you need to keep on top of cleaning and servicing like all bikes. Reliability is good with Kawasaki, I had two ZZR1400's over an eight year period with no reliability issues at all. More than 50,000 miles on them and not a single worry. I have no reason to believe that my H2 SX SE will be any different.
Value is terrible. £19,000 for this? I was mad, must have forgotten to take my meds that day. Anyone that buys one of these has more money than brains.
Only things I have have added are a sat nav and a Fenda Extenda. It has all the bells and whistles, but most of it is to sell them rather than any real world use.
Buying experience: Bought from a dealer, he took a kidney and a lung to pay for it. Feels like I was robbed frankly.
Fantastic motorcycle. Huge upgrade from my 2016 Z1000SX
Ride is superb. You don't feel the extra weight.
YES, it has been notably restricted by Kawasaki at the expense of making it a touring bike. And more practical. But what does that tell you about the engine?
This is the next level from the usual high quality from Kawasaki.
Insurance premium be a problem for some.
Love the colour TFT! 3-stage Heated grips! Quick shifter was effortless and seamless accelerating above 5000rpm. Downshifting very smooth from 6th down to 5th/4th/3rd. Cruise control very easy to use and works well. Wind protection was also very good.
Overall the bike just doesn't live up to the hype.
A really nice stable ride, great handling & balance for the style of bike. Worth spending time dialling the suspension to your own taste.
Unfortunately it just seems so breathless low down in the range, then when the engine spins up the front wheel wants to lift. Hopefully this is something that will be addressed in future models. Quickshifter isn't the best, needs improvement.
TFT display is a bit overrated, not really sure the SE version is worth the extra, all things considered.
Buying experience: All good, very helpful dealer.