The 2015-on Kawasaki Ninja H2R is the fastest bike you can buy - but you can't use it in many places


  • One of the fastest production bikes ever
  • Non road-legal, 200mph, 310bhp supercharged
  • Order books open and close periodically

At a glance

Power: 310 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.7 in / 830 mm)
Weight: Medium (476 lbs / 216 kg)


New £50,000
Used N/A

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
5 out of 5 (5/5)

This Kawasaki Ninja H2R has got a claimed 310bhp (though our testers saw 249.76bhp at the rear wheel on the dyno...), a supercharger, and can hit over 200mph with normal people like me and you riding it. It's also the fastest superbike you can buy.

Some will say the Kawasaki H2R's power is too much: it’s too fast, too expensive, too vicious, and yes – it’s all those things, but who cares? I wouldn’t if I had £41k (at launch; the price rose to £50k later) to spend on an H2R.

Thank you Kawasaki for being so brave – you promised it would be nothing short of epic, and you delivered. What more is there to say? It’s the ultimate top trump card; the fastest, most powerful production bike ever, and it works. Beautifully.

However, the glaring issue here is that it isn't road legal, and the exhaust is so noisy that very few circuits will allow its type on trackdays. It occupies a strange no-man's land and as such it's hard to justify for use in the UK unless you spend all your time riding on runways, or intend to tuck it away in a heated garage as a collector's item... its 5-star rating remains nevertheless, simply because of its mind-altering performance.

If you want to buy a new Kawasaki Ninja H2R, you'll need to wait for a window to open, which happens around November for a month or so. Talk to your dealer about this, and have a heft deposit ready...

Watch: Kawasaki H2R video review

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The H2R feels like a completely different bike to its H2 road-bike sibling. It’s 22kg lighter than the H2, turns easier, holds its line better.

The suspension is the same between the H2 and R but it has to deal with less weight and the firmer settings are more suited to the track. I makes you feel like a GP rider; the noise, the speed, the power. It's insane and sublime in equal measure.

Knee down on the Kawasaki H2R

In 2017 the H2R got a new Ohlins TTS shock with remote pre-load adjustment and a different linkage with an updates leverage ration that gives a more stable feeling. Brake and clutch levels were also given more rounded edges and were made a bit shorter.


Next up: Reliability
5 out of 5 (5/5)

Surprisingly there isn’t a huge amount of difference between the two versions of the Kawasaki H2 (standard and R); both have the same bore and stroke, pistons and valves - even the same supercharger!

The intake and exhaust systems are different, as are the ECU, the complete wiring loom, camshafts, tyres, head gasket, clutch, aerodynamic wings and carbon fibre bodywork.

Kawasaki chose to use the most efficient of all blower types, a centrifugal supercharger, in which a spinning impeller rotates at phenomenal speed to shove air into a plenum chamber – or airbox to you and me ­– where all that velocity is converted into pressure.

Kawasaki H2R ridden in a straight line

There's no need for a bulky intercooler

The importance of high efficiency is that power-robbing heat gain is minimal, and the H2’s high adiabatic efficiency means that it can be run without the need for a bulky and complicated intercooler, saving weight and space.

Machined from a single forged block of aluminium using 5-axis CNC machining, the 69mm impeller has 6 blades at its tip and 12 blades at its base, all with grooves etched into the blade surfaces to help direct the airflow.

The impeller’s pumping capacity at full speed is an incredible 200+ litres per second.

The airbox has an unusual construction

The aluminium airbox has a 6.0-litre capacity, and the pressure inside will increase to as much as 2.4 times atmospheric pressure, which is why it’s not the usual plastic construction.

The aluminum is also claimed to act as a radiator for the pressurised air, keeping it as cool as possible before it enters the intake port. All that pressure has to go somewhere when you shut the throttle, which is why you can hear the H2 squeaking during gearshits, or as the throttle is closed. This the airbox pressure relief valve venting. Psssh.

The supercharger is driven by a planetary gear train, which runs off the crankshaft, resulting in a very compact unit, with minimal power loss. The gear train increases the impeller speed to 9.2 times the crank speed via a 1.15x step gear and a 8x planetary gear.

This means that at maximum engine speed on the H2R, circa 14,000rpm, the impeller shaft is spinning at almost 130,000rpm.

Watch: Kawasaki H2R top speed run

The intake ports are polished to ensure smooth flow and minimise resistance, while the exhaust ports are straight, and don’t converge in the cylinder head, promoting faster gas flow. The high-lift cams allow fast gas exchange, while a wide overlap means intake air is used to help purge the exhaust gases.

The combustion chamber employs a flat piston crown to help prevent engine knock. The intake valves are stainless steel, but the exhaust valves needed to be able to handle the supercharged engine’s high-temperature exhaust gases, so comprise an inconel head fricton-welded to a steel stem. The pistons are also cast rather than forged to offer better heat management properties.

The naysayers said it would never work

The naysayers, mainly other motorcycle manufacturers, claimed Kawasaki had dropped the ball by omitting an intercooler. It’ll never work they said. Well, it does.

As well as their supercharger being inherently heat efficient, Kawasaki have done everything they can to keep the engine temperature low. The chassis design, lack of lower fairings, water-cooled oil cooler, and large coolant passageways all dump heat fast.

The water jacket even extends between the twin exhaust ports of each cylinder, and around the spark plug holes to whip heat away.

Dog-ring transmission

To facilitate smooth, fast shifting, the H2s use a dog-ring type transmission, developed with feedback from the Kawasaki Racing Team.

Unlike a standard gearbox in which shift forks slide the gears into position, with a dog-ring transmission the gears all stay in place, and the dog rings slide into position to engage the desired gear. It makes for a lighter, smoother, and stronger gearbox.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
5 out of 5 (5/5)

Build quality is superb and Kawasaki has a record of building reliable bikes, although due to its very nature it's likely the H2R will be a little more highly strung than most...

We don't have any Kawasaki Ninja H2R owners' reviews at this point. Leave one here.

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The Ninja H2R makes even the stock H2 look sensible. This is the most extreme production bike you can buy, and at £48,000, it ain't cheap.

It will need meticulous servicing, and if you're keen on feeling the full force of the stunning acceleration, you'd better ringfence a good tyre budget, too. The Bridgestone slicks won't last many trackdays.

The H2R has a similar service check interval to a competition motocross bike; every 15 hours ridden at over 8000rpm, or around 10 trackdays. At 15 hours the bike needs a service and tolerance check, at 30 hours it will need a full service.

Kawasaki H2R static side profile

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 – it's an instant collector's dream purchase.

It doesn't really have any rivals although Suzuki's Hayabusa does offer extreme speed at just a snip of the price. The big, speed-seeking Suzuki went off sale in 2018, although some 2019 models went on sale in North America, but a year-old machine costs just £10k on MCN Bikesforsale.


5 out of 5 (5/5)

The H2R comes with a plethora of control systems to stop it firing you at the scenery, 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%. In 2017 the H2R got nine levels of traction control and cornering ABS.

Stripped-back Kawasaki H2R

KLCM (Kawasaki Launch Control Mode)

There’s no need to fear the supercharger for fast getaways, as the H2’s launch control will prevent wheel spin 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. Another 2017 update saw the H2R get a new anti-lock brake system.

ABS can be deactivated on the H2R. In fact, all rider aids can be switched off - if you are brave enough...


Engine size 998cc
Engine type Supercharged inline four
Frame type High tensile steel trellis
Fuel capacity 17 litres
Seat height 830mm
Bike weight 216kg
Front suspension KYB AOS II 43mm fork, fully adjustable
Rear suspension Fully adjustable KYB Uni-Trak mono shock
Front brake 2x 330mm discs, Brembo radial calipers
Rear brake 250mm disc, 2-piston caliper
Front tyre size 120/70/ R17
Rear tyre size 190/65 R17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption -
Annual road tax £117
Annual service cost -
New price £50,000
Used price -
Insurance group 17 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term 2 years

Top speed & performance

Max power 310 bhp
Max torque 121 ft-lb
Top speed 205 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range -

Model history & versions

Model history

  • Launched in 2015, the Kawasaki H2R has undergone only minor tweaks to its frame colour. In 2015, it was green, before changing to grey in 2016. This was then swapped back to green in 2017, where it has remained.
  • In 2018, Kawasaki launched the H2 SX. A supercharged mile-munching tourer, it offers blistering pace, alongside comfort and practicality.

Launched to the tune of £41,000, the first Kawasaki H2R stole the headlines as the fastest, most powerful production bike ever. Not only the ultimate in pub bragging rights – it also worked as a package, with the engine wrapped in a striking high tensile steel trellis chassis and suspended by the same adjustable KYB units found on the original road legal 238kg Ninja H2.

The key difference here though was the H2R was lighter. Tipping the scales at 216kg wet, there was less weight for the springs to deal with; meaning the bike turned in faster and held a better line through a corner.

A year on from its initial production run, Kawasaki then changed the frame colour from green to grey. Only a subtle tweak, the colour was then reverted back to green for 2017 again alongside alterations to the suspension and electronics.

The fully adjustable KYB Uni-Trak mono shock was replaced with an Öhlins TTX36 alternative. What’s more, a Bosch Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) was also added, unlocking new features like a lean angle read-out on the part-analogue dash and greater control over the electronic rider aids.

This included the amount of rear wheel slip available via the traction control, plus a more advanced launch control and ABS system – for greater precision when accelerating off the line, or scrubbing speed up to a corner.

The Kawasaki H2R is only available at certain times - often during November for around a month or so - costing £50,000 during the last window you could order one.

Other versions

While the Ninja H2R is a track-only model, there is a significantly cheaper, and less exotic (while no less bonkers) Ninja H2 road bike.

2017: H2 Carbon. There were just 120 of this limited-edition model made. It got carbon-fibre body panels and was individually numbered. It is based on the standard H2 and cost £28k.

More Kawasaki Ninja reviews on MCN

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