KAWASAKI NINJA H2 SX (2018-on) Review | MCN
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KAWASAKI NINJA H2 SX (2018-on) Review

Published: 28 February 2018

Add a supercharger – touring has never been so much fun

KAWASAKI NINJA H2 SX  (2018-on)

Add a supercharger – touring has never been so much fun

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

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 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 & Brakes 4 out of 5

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.

Engine 5 out of 5

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.

Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5

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.  

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

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.

Insurance group: 17 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 4 out of 5

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.

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2018
Year discontinued -
New price £18,099
Used price £15,100 to £19,800
Warranty term Two years
Running costs
Insurance group 17 of 17
Annual road tax £88
Annual service cost £250
Performance
Max power 197 bhp
Max torque 101 ft-lb
Top speed 186 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption -
Tank range -
Specification
Engine size 998cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 16v, Inline four supercharged
Frame type Tubular steel trellis
Fuel capacity 19 litres
Seat height 835mm
Bike weight 260kg
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

History & Versions

Model history

None

Other 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.

Owners' Reviews

3 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.

Review your KAWASAKI NINJA H2 SX (2018-on)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 3.3 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.3 out of 5
Engine 3.7 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.7 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 2.7 out of 5
Equipment 4.3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Buy a 2012 onwards ZZR1400 instead

27 June 2018 by Davvo

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.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
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.
Engine
4 out of 5
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.
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
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 & Running Costs
2 out of 5
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.
Equipment
5 out of 5
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.

4 out of 5

Steet sleeper SX SE

07 April 2018 by LoneRider

Fantastic motorcycle. Huge upgrade from my 2016 Z1000SX

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
Ride is superb. You don't feel the extra weight.
Engine
5 out of 5
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?
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
This is the next level from the usual high quality from Kawasaki.
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
Insurance premium be a problem for some.
Equipment
4 out of 5
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.
3 out of 5

Falls short of the hype & expectation

04 April 2018 by Joe Average

Overall the bike just doesn't live up to the hype.

Ride Quality & Brakes
4 out of 5
A really nice stable ride, great handling & balance for the style of bike. Worth spending time dialling the suspension to your own taste.
Engine
2 out of 5
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.
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
2 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
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.

Photo Gallery

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  • KAWASAKI NINJA H2 SX  (2018-on)
  • KAWASAKI NINJA H2 SX  (2018-on)
  • KAWASAKI NINJA H2 SX  (2018-on)
  • KAWASAKI NINJA H2 SX  (2018-on)
  • KAWASAKI NINJA H2 SX  (2018-on)
  • KAWASAKI NINJA H2 SX  (2018-on)
  • KAWASAKI NINJA H2 SX  (2018-on)
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