Although physically large and 262kg (almost as much as BMW’s R1250RT), the H2 SX is surprisingly tossable. Steering is accurate and it flicks into corners more easily than anticipated. Regular suspension on a base H2 SX is supple and nicely-damped, and the new semi-active on the SE+ feels similar. Constant tweaks based on wheel travel and road speed are subtle, and the ride is far more predictable than, say, Ducati’s Multistrada 1260 S. Change mode from Road to Sport and the SE+ tightens up for even more cornering exactness. The rear shock is shared with the ZX-10R SE, but now has touch-button pre-load too.
The 998cc inline four used in this model is nicer than the original blown H2. Kwak’s first boosted engine was built to make over 300bhp in the H2R then detuned for the road, but the SX engine is a specifically-designed unit. While 197bhp is still an awful lot, it’s the mid-range that’s most impressive. Teasing the throttle open in the mid-range is like being fired from a giant catapult in a sumptuous armchair. The quickshifter works cleanly, but never feels entirely natural on downshifts.
This bike’s ‘plus’ status is fitting. The Kawasaki shows class in everything from switchgear and ignition key to self-healing paint and ride quality, and overwhelms with features and niceties. You could argue it wouldn’t matter if it came with Bakelite controls and Raleigh Grifter brakes; it’s got a supercharger, and all the flashing lights and switchable widgets in the world can’t touch the sensation and pleasure from this mechanical treat. It’s the still the star attraction. But swaddling the fabulous blown motor in quality elevates the H2 SX SE+ even higher.
Electronic suspension, heated grips, launch control and all the other not-essential-but-desirable bits and bobs mean you’ll need deep pockets for this bike. With the base-model H2 SX already over £16k and the swankier SX SE going for almost £19k, this range-topping SE+ is an eye-rubbing £21,745 on the road.
That’s a few grand more than a similar-spec Multistrada 1260 S Touring. But nothing else offers such a cocktail of usability, quality, comfort and bewildering speed.
Insurance group: 17 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.
Right then, deep breath. The H2 SX SE+ has three riding modes, lean-sensitive traction control, cornering ABS, electronic suspension, two-way quickshifter, cruise, launch control, lights that look round corners and upgraded brakes.
It’s not all about performance, as the SE+ also has a larger screen, heated grips, paint that swallows scratches and phone connectivity. Leather and suede seat, too. The only thing missing is self-cancelling indicators. The colour TFT dash is as clear and friendly as ever, and now has phone connectivity. Install the Rideology app in your phone and Bluetooth lets you view trip info, adjust dash settings or pre-select a riding mode.