You notice the weight on fast direction changes, and you can’t just bury the front into the apex as hard as you would on a full-blown race bike, and if you roll off the power and head to the apex on a closed throttle it will run wide slightly. If you want to chase the stopwatch on a track, this isn’t the weapon of choice.
The more you get used to the speed, the more friendly the H2 feels. You soon realise you can lean on the excellent traction control and let the clever electronics work out the available grip, and you start to dial in all that power with far more control. You feel the chassis flex slightly, as the shock is compressed and the electronics do their thing, and it starts to become addictive. Get the bike buried into the turn, clip the apex, stand it up on the exit and hold on tight as the rear breaks traction by a few inches, in third, fourth and even fifth.
It is aggressive, but it’s also predictable and consistent, and the feedback gives you the confidence to keep pushing harder.
As the supercharged motor barks into life you already know there’s something different going on beneath the minimalist fairings. Blip the throttle and the supercharger whirs as the induction pressure sucks the landscape towards its nose, along with every curious human within its vicinity. It sounds like nothing else on the road – and feels like nothing else, too.
The aggressive power pushes you to use a higher gear, for example taking the last corner in third instead of second, even using third for the hairpin. It has so much power and torque to pull you from low down, that being at the top of the rev range just isn’t necessary. Even short-shifting between corners delivers incredible drive. It’s like nothing else you can buy, especially in third and fourth gear where you’d expect the brutality to wane a little – but it doesn’t. It’ll eat every other road bike for breakfast in these two gears. Never challenge an H2 rider to a roll-on shoot-out, unless you’re on an H2R.
The engine is very similar to the 326bhp H2R, with the same bore and stroke, think of the H2 has a watered down version of the H2R rather than the H2R being a tuned version of the H2. The supercharger was made by Kawasaki, it’s not a bolt on extra made by a third party. This means the supercharger works in perfect partnership with the 998cc motor. The impellor speed is 9.2 times the crank speed, this means at 14,000rpm the impellor shaft is spinning at almost 130,000rpm. After passing through the supercharger, air pressure in the aluminium airbox is 2.4 times atmospheric pressure.
Build-quality is superb, and while this is a very new release, there have been no reports of any initial issues.
There's no avoiding the fact that the Ninja H2 is at the very pinnacle of superbike excess, and that comes at a price. Beyond the initial £22,000 purchase price, it will need meticulous servicing, and if you're keen on feeling the full force of the stunning acceleration, you better ringfence a good tyre budget, too.
On the bright side, the level of finish and quality is exceptional, and it’s already an iconic machine. Its specialness isn’t going to fade.
Why Kawasaki Ninja H2 is a slow earner
First published 01/04/17 by Neil Murray
I’ve seen it written that used H2 Ninjas are already becoming sought-after and that used prices are starting to rise. As an owner, I wish this were so, but I don’t think it is, especially not for the H2R.
I’ve just watched a 2015 R, never ridden (though occasionally started and run up) sell for £31,200. That means that somebody dropped 10 grand on it. Ouch. I’ve seen dealers advertising the road-legal H2, again 2015 models, that have been on their showroom floors for a couple of years. These haven’t been discounted, though. As the 2017 model is priced at three-and-a-half grand more than the original (that’s the Brexit Sterling devaluation for you, though the new model does have a few extra fol-de-rols), I don’t think the old model needs to be discounted.
Now there’s the new Carbon model, billed as a limited edition, though the 2015 original wasn’t exactly given away with Happy Meals. That’s over £27,000 and smacks of a manufacturer trying to shift slow-moving metal.
I bought mine with an eye to long-term value, and I’m utterly convinced it will hold true. There will be an initial used dip, and the bike will always be a slow seller, partly because on a racetrack there are better alternatives.
But this is like the Honda CBX1000 six, nearly four decades ago. It was a tour-de-force, but Suzuki’s GS1000 was just as fast, lighter, cheaper, handled better and sold better. Today, though, which is the bike that everyone drools over? Not the Suzuki.
So, I will continue to ride my H2, which is what it’s meant for, and ignore the remarks like “that’s the dirtiest one I’ve seen” from my dealer’s workshop. I am still sure that one day it will be my pension.
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The H2 comes with a plethora of control systems to keep it under control, the highlights are:
KTRC (Kawasaki TRaction Control)
The new KTRC system’s multi-level modes give riders a greater number of settings to choose from. Mode 1 is for the track, Mode 2 for the street, and Mode 3 for wet conditions. A Rain Mode is also available separately, which limits power by more than 50%.
KLCM (Kawasaki Launch Control Mode)
There’s no need to fear the supercharger for fast getaways, as the H2’s launch control will prevent wheelspin and minimise wheelies off the line. Riders can choose from three modes, each offering a progressively greater level of intrusion. Simply hold the throttle wide open, and let the clutch out. KLCM can be used concurrently with KTRC.
KEBC (Kawasaki Engine Brake Control)
The KEBC system allows riders to select the amount of engine braking they prefer. By selecting ‘LIGHT’ in the KEBC settings, for example, the engine braking effect is reduced, providing less interference when riding on the circuit.