Michael Neeves has covered 17,520 miles on a Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE | Here are his final thoughts

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After a massive 17,520 miles spent aboard the MCN fleet Kawasaki H2 SX SE, Chief Road Tester, Michael Neeves reflects on his time with the supercharged sports-tourer.

18 miles

With just PDI mileage showing on its bold TFT dash I start my 11-month journey with Kawasaki’s big sports-tourer. I’ve never lived with anything like this before. It’s unashamedly huge, but I fancy the idea of a something I can do big miles on in comfort, with a bit of sporty riding thrown in. 

My Ninja H2 SX is the all-singing SE Performance Tourer model with panniers and lots of electronic goodies, and it’s not cheap at £27,645. I’ve only toured on superbikes and super-nakeds until recently, but after enjoying a couple of big trips on my Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Explorer long-termer in 2022, I fancy more of the same. 

Michael Neeves with the Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE long-term test bike

1370 miles

Start a two-week riding holiday to Sicily with my girlfriend. The Kawasaki rocks alarmingly on its damping-less (when switched off) electronic suspension in the Channel Tunnel train on the way through. After we stay in Paris, Annecy, Turin, Lake Como, Sienna and Rome and Naples.

The supercharged motor is effortlessly smooth and powerful, it sits on some of the plushest suspension of any production bike and has a superb app-based satnav display. But the riding position is cramped for both of us and road spray soaks the pillion through the gap between the rear mudguard and radar sensor.

I’d like a taller screen and topbox, but there aren’t any accessories around for the ’23 model right now. Shaft-drive would be good for a big trip like this, but the standard centrestand is handy for chain cleaning and I love the smell of GT-85 in the morning. Average two-up mpg: 44.

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE long-term test bike at service station

2770 miles

Arrive at our B&B in Naples on a sunny Saturday April afternoon and park outside to check in. We come out to find the Kawasaki stolen, never to be seen again. Fly home. 

10 miles

God bless insurance. Collect second H2 SX SE. It’s the same spec, minus the Akrapovic end can (and a £1296 saving), but looks aside, there’s no difference in sound or performance. 

1883 miles

Set off on a six-day, 2134-mile riding holiday to the Alps with my brother and mates. Learn a number of things: the radar cruise only works between 40-99mph, the brakes fade on mountain switchbacks, no one is a fan of the H2 SX’s looks and with so little grunt and so much weight it needs to be thrashed to keep up with their Ducati Multistradas, BMW S1000XRs and KTM Super Dukes.

Electronics are sometimes wafty. The quickshifter is intermittent, the radar cruise distance can’t be set on the move and the dash sometimes freezes while you are using the satnav. Average solo mpg: 47.

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE long-term test bike European tour

6713 miles

Swap standard brake pads for SBS Evo Sinter in search of more feel and bite, but they’re just the same. I’m pretty sure it’s Kawasaki’s cornering ABS setup that robs the Brembo Stylema calipers of their power. Head off on a two-week, 4516-mile tour to the south of France, Spain and Portugal with my girlfriend. It’s a lot of riding compressed into a short space of time two-up, but a walk in the park for the good ship Kawasaki. It doesn’t get stolen this time either, which is a result.

13,560 miles

Here in the middle of winter the Kawasaki impresses more than it did during the summer, where judged against other sports-tourers and tall-rounders it isn’t as spacious, or sporty as it could be. But now its plush suspension, weight and smooth power make riding in tricky conditions a joy. Headlights are superb, but it could do with a heated seat and some back-lit switches. 

14,750 miles

Time to wave goodbye. It perhaps isn’t my personal cup of tea, yet I can’t help but admire the Kawasaki’s engineering, build quality and downright smoothness. I’ll genuinely miss it.

Tyre report: 11 months in rubber

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE Metzeler Roadtec 01 tyre

Bridgestone S22 – OE sports tyres. They do the job, but aren’t confidence-inspiring, especially in the cold and wet. Start to square-off within 2000 miles.

Michelin Road 6 – These sports-touring tyres make a big difference. Ride quality improves and they have big grip from the get-go. Bike is stolen within 1938 miles.

Dunlop Roadsmart – Just as reassuring as Michelins, but a slightly sportier ride. Handle hot tarmac chasing my mates through the Alps superbly. Swap them to test something else at 3960 miles and they still look new.

Metzeler Roadtec 01 – MCN sports-touring tyre of the year. They warm up fast, have loads of wet and dry grip, a plush ride and last ages. I change them after 7738 miles with the rear slightly squared.

Pirelli Angel GT 2 – Similar feel and mid-winter confidence to the Metzelers, but sportier, like the Dunlops. Barely scrubbed in after 1190 miles.

Winter wonderbike | Long-term Kawasaki H2 SX SE shines in the gloom

Published 08.03.2024

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE ridden on the road by Michael Neeves

Riding through the winter isn’t always bad. As I write this on a crisp, sunny January Tuesday, after a blast on bone dry roads, my Kawasaki has made me smile. Sure, I’ve had to break out the heated kit, but the H2 SX seems to relish cold tarmac more than any other bike.

The way it digs in and finds grip is impressive, and that’s down to its beautifully plush electronic Showa suspension, the creamy way the supercharged inline four delivers its power, its heft and ultra-stable chassis architecture. It might be the most expensive sports-tourer money can buy, but few machines can match the Kawasaki’s sophistication and easy speed. It’s impressing me more now than it did in the summer.

It’s just as friendly when the winter is at its worst. I recently found myself in sub-zero temperatures on a B-road that I’d assumed had been salted. I only knew it hadn’t when the H2 SX started to gently yaw over patches of ice. On a shorter, lighter bike I’m sure it would’ve snapped sideways and into a hedge, but the good ship Kawasaki sorted itself out and ploughed on, leaving my heart beating through my throat.

2023 Kawasaki H2 SX SE long-term test bike right side

Another time I endured a 170-mile night ride from the Midlands to southeast Kent in such heavy rain it added nearly two hours to my journey. Smeary, salty water on my visor and mirrors reduced visibility to a hazy, kaleidoscopic mess. I could rarely see clearly enough behind to attempt a motorway overtake and wearing so many layers, full-on, over-the-shoulder lifesavers were tricky. I had no choice but to sit in traffic.

But the Kawasaki made the journey far easier with its radar cruise control, blind spot detectors, cornering lights, heated grips and the ability to electronically soften the suspension, power delivery and ramp up the traction control. 

My Metzeler Roadtec 01 SE sports-touring tyres might have done more than 7500 miles now and are a little squared-off, but the tread is deep and they’re still grippy and confidence inspiring in filthy conditions like these. 

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE Metzeler Roadtec 01 tyre

Need new tyres? Read Neevesy’s Metzeler Roadtec 01 SE review

Weather protection is excellent, but the H2 SX is crying out for an adjustable screen, a heated seat and its very many switchgear buttons could do with being backlit so you can see them at night. But none of this detracts from how enjoyable the Kawasaki remains when summer is just a distant memory.

I clean it after every ride this time of the year, and its quality always gleams through with zero corrosion or furring of nuts and bolts. It might be a 200bhp supercharged monster, but it shines on my winter travels.  

It’s not you, it’s me | Long-term Kawasaki H2 SX SE test bike gives Neevesy mixed feelings

Published 17.01.24

Michael Neeves with his long-term test Kawasaki H2 SX SE

I’ve spent plenty of quality time and miles with my £26,349 Kawasaki super-tourer this year. It’s my daily transport, holiday bike and all-round mile-muncher. We’ve clocked over 13,000 miles together over the past five months and regular readers will know I’m on my second H2 SX SE. I did 2770 miles on the first one before it was stolen in Naples during a riding holiday with my girlfriend.  

There’s no getting away from it: the Kawasaki is eye-wateringly expensive. The firm’s own Ninja 1000SX Tourer costs £13,499 and does essentially the same job, albeit without the whoosh of a supercharger and a raft of tech that includes radar cruise, automatic high beam, and blind spot indicators, on top of the usual electronic bells and whistles. 

It needs to be built to perfection for the money and the good news is, it is. The H2 SX SE oozes quality with deep paint and despite dipping its toe into the winter is corrosion-free. The plush ride is one of its strong points and there’s a wide range of electronic suspension adjustment. It’s all done with a simple press of a button via the superb colour TFT dash, which doubles up as a wide-screen satnav when linked to a phone, via the third-party Sygic app. 

Kawasaki H2 SX SE right side on winter road

With its smooth power delivery, the addictive rush of 197 supercharged bhp and chirp from the supercharger on the overrun, the H2 SX’s 998c inline four-cylinder engine is the highlight. I’ve never ridden a bike that attracts so much admiration from the public, either. To them it’s a big, green supercharged spaceship and that makes people smile. 

There’s no question it’s a motorcycling tour de force, which is why I feel bad criticising it. It doesn’t have many faults, other than the lack of brake feel and the quickshifter only working occasionally. It’s me that doesn’t quite gel with the Kawasaki and that’s down to my size, plus the way I sometimes like to ride. 

At six foot I’m a bit too tall for it. The pegs squash my knees, the bars are too sporty and the screen too low. I haven’t found an aftermarket screen with the new H2 SX’s headlight sensor cut-out as yet. Long distances aren’t as comfy as they could be. High rear pegs mean it only suits a smaller pillion, and with a new radar sensor positioned where the mudguard used to be on older models, there’s no protection from road spray on the back. 

Kawasaki H2 SX SE engine

It doesn’t quite cut it when I want to let what’s left of my hair down, either. The motor lacks the bottom end grunt you’d expect from an engine like this (Suzuki’s Hayabusa is more urgent on the throttle) and the bike is slow steering into corners, but the chassis has been designed to be long and low for stability, so that’s no surprise. 

I accept I’m trying to put a square peg in a round hole here. It’s not the bike’s fault it isn’t sportier, or more roomy. I’ve always liked the idea of sports-tourers, but the new breed of tall-rounders and adventure machines offer just as much sparkling performance with even more room for you to move around, they’re the bikes for me. 

Update eight: A voyage too far? Neevesy crams in 4500 miles over a two-week holiday

Published 15.11.23

Kawasaki H2 SX SE in Tarifa

I’m no Nick Sanders, but covering so many miles in a short space of time, two-up on holiday, requires a fair amount of riding. My pillion and I had two days off, but for the rest of the trip we hit the road between 8am and 9am, just so we could get to our next destination in enough time for a proper look around.

Our smooth, supercharged riding days were between 125 and 450 miles and took in France, Spain, Portugal, back into Spain and France, staying in Calais, Limoges, Andorra la Vella, Pamplona, Gijon, Cascais, Seville, Tarifa, Nerja, Altea, Tossa Del Mar, Cassis and Troyes. 

Grinding out the miles may have been relentless at times, but was it too much? Of course not. What’s not to like about riding the best roads in Europe in the late summer sunshine? It was a breeze for the H2 SX, too. It always started on the button, never missed a beat and unlike my last riding holiday earlier in the year, it didn’t get stolen. For a touring bike, it isn’t actually that roomy for a pillion, but up front the Kawasaki is comfy enough for eight-hour riding days.

Neevesy makes a fuel stop in Europe with the Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE

September is a great time to explore Europe. It’s still warm, but not stifling and apart from half a day’s drizzle in Portugal it was sunny all the way. Towns and resorts are still bustling, but with the kids returned to school the roads are quiet. Sometimes you’ll have huge swathes of countryside all to yourself. 

Scaling the heavens up the N22 and CG-2 into Andorra is the trip’s first gift and from there it’s into Spain for a dream riding roads greatest hits: the snaking N-260 west past Jaca along the base of the Pyrenees and from there the verdant majesty of the NA-1300, GI-2125, GI-2634 and N-634 to Bilbao via Tolosa and Azpietia. I’ve never ridden the Picos mountains before, but the ride from Gijon to Leon via the N-630 showed me what I’d been missing all this time. 

Winding through Portugal’s Douro Valley the N222 is a gem for the scenery as much as the bends and enduring the huge crosswinds on the twisty N-340 to Tarifa in southern Spain is worth it, just to be able to see Tangier, just 20 miles across the Straight of Gibraltar.

Kawasaki H2 SX SE and Michael Neeves by the beach

The A-1102 from Sorbas to the A7 motorway near the Almeria circuit is a press launch staple, as well as one of my all-time favourites and the G-682 north along the coast from Tossa Del Mar, followed by the D559A into Cassis in the south of France are the last beautiful bends before jumping on the motorway. 

The only downside to all this is how riding a holiday gets you in such blissful routine of hitting the road each day, it’s hard to click back into normal life. Roll on next year.

Update seven: Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE goes from supercharged scratcher to big-mile muncher

Published 11.10.23

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE long-term test bike onboard

I’ve spent the last 36 years searching for the perfect handling bike. For me it’s always been one that’ll hold its own in a corner without turning into a big, wobbly mess. European road-going superbikes and super-nakeds have all ticked that box, as have most of the bikes I’ve been lucky enough to race, but more recently I’ve realised ‘fine handling’ can mean a whole other thing, thanks in part to the Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE

A combination of advancing years and a taste for touring, especially two-up, has steered me more towards wanting a ride that’s more comfort and less outright performance. It happens to us all. The good news is the rise of electronic suspension has made finding the perfect set up quicker and easier than twiddling screwdrivers. 

My H2 SX SE is a bit big for proper fruity action, but its ride quality is one of the best around. That’s all down to its long and low chassis, and quality semi-active Showa forks and shock. The ability to fine tune the suspension at the press of a switch makes the bike better still. I use the standard ‘Road’ mode when I’m by myself, with its balance of comfort and suspension control. But when carrying a passenger, the goal is to make things as plush as can be.

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE long-term test bike left side

Less compression damping

Selecting ‘User’ mode lets you delve deep into the damping settings. I’ve settled with the compression damping on minimum each end (-5) to help cushion the bumps and reduced the rebound damping ever so slightly (-2), but not too much so it doesn’t affect stability. 

Mid-way rear preload

The mechanically adjustable front preload is fine in its standard setting, but there’s a choice of three electronic rear preload settings: solo, solo with luggage, and pillion with luggage. The middle setting offers the best balance of comfort and support for carrying a pillion.

It’s worth noting that with the engine switched off the suspension defaults to its ‘loosest’ damping setting. This makes the Kawasaki sit low at a standstill, which can make the sidestand hard to get down with the weight of a passenger on uneven ground. It bounces around parked-up in the Eurotunnel train, too. 

Tyres make the difference 

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE long-term test bike tyres replaced with Metzeler Roadtec

There was a huge difference between the soft and cuddly standard Metzeler Tourance Next rubber and the harsher (and noisier) Bridgestone AT41s I ran on my Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Explorer last year. It’s the same story with the Kawasaki. The original H2 SX SE Bridgestone S22 sports tyres have a firm ride, but the sports-touring tyres I’ve tried this year are plusher.

Michelin’s Road 6 fitted to my first H2 SX (stolen in Naples) were significantly more confidence-inspiring, as were Dunlop Roadsmart IVs. Now I’m using Metzeler’s Roadtec 01 SE. They’re the final piece of the handling jigsaw. With its softer suspension set-up and velvety tyres, my H2 SX SE is more motorway cruiser than supercharged scratcher. Nowadays that suits me just fine. 

Update five: Can the Kawasaki H2 SX SE carry the kitchen sink on tour? Not easily…

Published 06.09.23

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE long-term test bike on tour

Kawasaki list the Ninja H2 SX SE as a sports tourer on their website, next to the class-leading Ninja 1000SX. Making 197bhp from its supercharged inline four its sporty credentials aren’t in any doubt, but how good is it at crunching out the miles? I’ve ridden to Europe twice so far, on my own and with a pillion and it’s been a story of two halves, especially when it comes to carrying stuff. 

My H2 SX SE is the £26,349 Tourer version (the base H2 SX SE is £25,649) and comes with a pair of lockable 28-litre hard panniers as standard (£854.75 bought separately). They’re well made, don’t stick out too far when filtering, are easy to operate and idiot proof… almost. Riding away from my house recently I spotted the left pannier following me along the road, like a bouncing football where I hadn’t put it on properly. Lucky it happened at 10mph at the end of my street and not a couple of hours later charging down the A1.

They’re big enough to take a full-face helmet when needed and I’m also using the optional £88.95 inner bags. They’re light, easy to carry and leave enough room in the pannier for waterproofs, tools and the like. I also use a tank bag to carry things I need to hand and to lean up against. It’s a blessed relief from the SX’s sporty clip-ons on a long journey. I’ve tried a magnetic Oxford and quick-release
SW-Motech kit. Both are superb.

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE long-term test bike pannier

The space starts to run out when there’s two of you. A top box and rack combo would be the obvious answer, but Kawasaki don’t do one for the H2 SX, which seems like an oversight as they do one for the Ninja 1000SX. But luggage maestros Givi are one of the few companies that do and sent one for me to try. 

I had to strip the Kawasaki’s back end to fit it, which takes a couple of hours and it’s only when it was a mass of screws and green bodywork strewn on the garage floor, I realised there was something amiss. Turns out the 2023-model H2 SX is subtly different to the previous version. Now there’s a radar sensor for the blind spot indicators, between the back light and the numberplate holder. The Givi bolts and brackets didn’t fit and they don’t make an updated kit yet, so it’s back to the drawing board. The only solution has been for us to wear rucksacks. 

New tech has also stopped me from getting a different screen. The standard one is too low and noisy in a headwind. Kawasaki don’t do a taller option and while there are aftermarket versions they don’t fit the ’23 model with its cut-out in the screen for the auto hi beam camera. As a friend said to me recently the new H2 SX seems almost accessory-proof… and I think he’s right.

Update four: Neevesy’s back on the road with his Kawasaki H2 SX… MkII

Published 02.08.23

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE long-term test bike in Austria

Thanks to the power of insurance, I have a replacement Kawasaki H2 SX, just five weeks after my original was stolen in Naples. It’s good to be back.

There are many things that could make Kawasaki’s supercharged wonderbike even better, like stronger brakes, a roomier riding position, taller screen, fewer kilos and for the electronics to be less glitchy, but I didn’t realise how much I’d missed it until it had gone. The H2 SX is just so smooth, from the ride quality to the way the engine builds its thrust.

Back on my travels

My first ride on ‘MkII’ was down to Brands Hatch to ride my 20bhp-more powerful, 100kg less S1000RR race bike. The BMW felt like a toy by comparison and so light it felt like I could’ve lifted it up and put it under my arm. It’s rawer, accelerates with more venom, brakes harder and leans further, but after a nearly a year away it scrambled my brain and tore my muscles. Getting back on the H2 SX for my two-hour ride home was like slipping into a warm bath. It was magnificent.

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE long-term test bike by the sea

MkII is ‘just’ the £26,349 Tourer and not the £27,649 Performance Tourer I had with its Akrapovic end can and tinted screen. It goes and rides the same, although the standard end can is a monster of a thing.

After Brands was a two-up weekend away in north Devon. It was my first visit and I didn’t realise just how great its roads are there, especially the B3227 close to where we stayed in Bampton. Winding through dense woodland it could easily be New Zealand or Tasmania.

The six day, 2134-mile mile trip to the Alps that followed is what the H2 SX was made for. It whooshes effortlessly along motorways and scratches through Austrian, Swiss and Italian mountain passes. Ridden in isolation it’s superb, although I wish the bars were higher and the pegs lower. I haven’t been able to find a taller aftermarket screen for it either, due to the cut out for the auto hi beam camera on this 2023 model.


It was interesting riding with friends and not other road testers. When I test bikes for ‘work’ they’re generally against similar rivals and the differences between them are relatively small. Here I’m with a BMW S1000XR, KTM 1290 Super Duke R (with a touring screen) and three Ducati Multistradas: a 1200S, Pikes Peak and Pikes Peak V4.

They’re all roomier and can traverse a mountain a whole lot quicker. They’ll all out-grunt the peaky Kawasaki out of hairpins, too, especially at altitude. Getting a nearly 300kg fully-loaded H2 SX to change direction through a series of bends is like wrestling a crocodile. But pushing it into a corner with a straight inside arm like Schwantz, or one of those American police gymkana riders helps it steer. No one was particularly liked its looks, either.

The adaptive cruise control can sometimes have a mind of its own riding in a group. It unexpectedly accelerates and slows down when its radar misses something. The sat nav is generally brilliant in all its wide screen glory but relying on Bluetooth and data to do its job, it often drops-out or takes an age to load. When you’re leading the way with five hot, impatient friends in tow it can get stressful.

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE long-term test bike touring group

A separate dedicated sat nav would be more relievable. I had brief problems with the fuel gauge showing empty, it not firing up one morning, the dash freezing when connected to the app and the quickshifter only working some of the time.

Despite its quirks I still love the Kawasaki on a big trip. Sure, I wish it had more ‘sports’ and more ‘tourer’ about it, but for floating along and devouring miles it’s brilliant.

Dunlop RoadSmart IV tyres

I swapped the OE Bridgestone S22s sports tyres to sports touring Michelin Road 6s straight after running-in my original H2 SX. They’re grippier in the cold and wet, deliver a plusher ride and showed zero signs of wear for the few thousand I covered before it was stolen.

For ‘MkII’ I kept the S22s on for 1862 miles. In hotter conditions they’re good all-rounders, but not exceptional and had started to square-off. I’m now on Dunlop’s sport touring Roadsmart IV. They’re grippy in all conditions, have sporty steering and after 2155 miles the rear still looks like new.

Update three: It was all going so well… until Neevesy’s Kawasaki was stolen in Naples

Published 28.06.23

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE long-term test bike at service station

If you’ve ever had your bike pinched, you’ll know that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realise it’s gone. You walk to where you left it and for a brief, brain-fuddled moment you convince yourself you’ve parked it somewhere else. You look around in the vein hope it’s been moved a few feet, before reality comes crashing down.

I’ve never had a bike stolen before now. I’d parked my H2 SX outside a Naples B&B my girlfriend and I were checking into and when we came out it was gone. It happened in the middle of a sunny April afternoon and the Kawasaki was only left for time it took to be shown how the toilet worked, but that was enough.

It was my girlfriend’s birthday. The plan was to have breakfast in Rome, ride two hours to Naples and enjoy the rest of the day there. At least we managed the first bit. After that we were going to ride down to the toe of Italy, over to Sicily and back home again, via the ferry from Palermo to Genova. We briefly thought about continuing by hire car or train, but it wouldn’t have been the same. We flew back the next day, carrying our bags on the plane and wearing our bike kit.

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE long-term test bike stolen in Naples

Naples is a vibrant, beautiful place with a wild and sometimes dark underbelly, which is part of its appeal. It’s like no other place in Italy and possibly even the world. Helmetless scooter riders buzz around the streets in their thousands and bashed up cars simply drive wherever they fancy. That day the Napoli footballists were about to play an important game. The pavements resembled crowded tube platforms, teeming with fans, blue and white flags, streamers and posters of their beloved Maradona.

My shiny metallic green Kawasaki with its big yellow UK numberplate must’ve looked like a carnival float rolling through the grey streets. If I were to guess, we were followed and the bike was taken the moment we stopped and disappeared from view.

I received a message on Instagram afterwards by a chap named Aldo. He told me the La Sanita area of Naples is ‘very dangerous and still ruled by Camorra clans’. They never mentioned that on Booking.com…

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE long-term test bike Italian fuel stop

With that in mind it was lucky we didn’t have the bike forcibly taken off us, luggage and all. I hadn’t locked it when I checked into the B&B, but that probably wouldn’t have stopped a gang lifting it into a van. I’d planned to move it to an underground car park a few doors up after checking in, too, but that might not have saved my poor Kawasaki, either.

There are a couple of lessons I’ve learned. I’ll always use my lock more and never ride a 27 grand motorcycle through the streets of Naples again. Thank heavens for insurance.

Update two: Neevesy gets to know his Kawasaki en route to Italy

Published 24.05.23

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE long-term test bike Colliseum

Living with a big sports tourer for the first time has been a voyage of discovery. Hewn from solid green my Kawasaki weighs 267kg, making it the heaviest bike I’ve owned. I’d normally scoff at such bulk, but for touring that mass gives the Kawasaki a reassuring solidity at speed and the ability to carry a nine stone pillion without ever upsetting its balance.

It flows surprisingly serenely through corners, especially on the Michelin Road 6 sports touring tyres I’ve fitted. The ‘original equipment’ Bridgestone S22 tyres were fine for the 600-mile running-in period, but the French rubber has superior wet and cold weather grip, a plusher ride and gives you more confidence to throw it hard on its side.

I love the way big four-cylinder Kawasakis make their power, too, especially when there’s a supercharger bolted on for good measure. Making a claimed 197bhp the H2 SX is superbike-quick, but eerily smooth and unruffled. It doesn’t have tons of ‘Busa-like bottom end power, which is a bit of a surprise, but you’re never left dancing on the gear lever for a cheeky overtake, either. It’s not too bad on fuel for such a beast. I’ve averaged 47mpg for normal riding and a 196-mile tank range, but for our two-up trip to Naples we averaged 44mpg and a 184-mile range (compared to around 50mpg/330-miles, two-up on my old Triumph Tiger 1200 GT Explorer).

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE long-term test bike Arc de Triomphe

Semi-active suspension is handy at the best of times but even more useful for pillions who feel every bump through the seat. The further south in Italy you go the more broken the roads get, but it’s easy to keep things smooth in an instant by winding-off rear compression damping via the dash controls.  On the flip side it’s hard to get the side stand down with the engine switched off and the weight of a passenger aboard (the shock sinks as it defaults to zero damping and preload) and the bike rocked so much on the channel tunnel I had to stand guard to stop it toppling up and over.

£27,649 gets you a spaceship’s worth of gadgets, which gives this top spec H2 SX SE a sense of luxury, compared to a humbler sports tourer. The sat nav is superb (see box-out), as are the heated grips, but heated seats and backlit switches are conspicuous by their absence. The quickshifter doesn’t always work, either.

I can take or leave the radar-controlled cruise, but it makes two-up motorway riding smoother. The system gently scrubs-off speed as you approach slower traffic and holds you at a distance until it moves aside. From there you need to manually introduce the throttle to avoid the Kawasaki’s keenness to charge straight back to cruising speed.

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE long-term test bike in the Alps

Its centre stand makes life easy and although I miss my old Tiger’s shaft drive, I strangely enjoy each day’s post-ride ritual of cleaning the chain with a spray of GT-85 and a rag.

For a sports tourer the Kawasaki isn’t the last word in comfort, especially for a for a six-footer like me. The bar position is sporty, the seat gets painful after three or four hours and I wish there was slightly more legroom. The low screen creates a lot of wind noise, but a taller Pyramid Plastics version is on its way. Pillion pegs are mounted high and with such a big gap between the back mudguard and the rear seat where the blind spot radar sits, there’s no protection from road spray in the rain.

56 litre panniers are standard on this Performance Tourer version and there’s enough luggage space for a short trip, but for our two week trek we used a magnetic M15R Oxford tank bag and each wore a rucksack. I say two weeks…my Kawasaki was stolen in Naples, but more about that next time.

Best integrated sat nav yet?

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE long-term test bike sat nav

Kawasaki’s 6.5in dash has the ability to turn into a full screen colour sat nav. The superb Sygic map app guided us through France and Italy perfectly and it’s free to download, but you can upgrade via a subscription to get extras like live traffic and speed camera information. You need to pair Kawasaki’s SPIN app to the dash at the same time as the Sygic app, which is a faff each time you set off and leave your phone unlocked, too. That quickly drains its battery, but there’s a 12v power socket in the dash and under the seat.

Update one: Neevesy looks forward to a year of supercharged touring

Published 19.04.23

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE long-term test bike

Saying goodbye to the Triumph Tiger GT Explorer I lived with for the last six months was hard. It was a bike that made me realise why adventure bikes are so popular and it’s nothing to do with their off-road aspirations. It was just so damn comfortable on long rides.

With more big trips planned for this year I’ve opted for something that could be just as luxurious: Kawasaki’s H2 SX SE. It’ll have its work cut out to be as comfy as the Tiger, though and costing an eye-watering £27,649 it also needs to prove its worth a whopping £9154 more.

It gets off to a good start with its equipment level, though and comes with electronic delights that include an all-singing colour Bluetooth dash, auto-high beam headlights, radar-controlled adaptive cruise control, blind spot indicators and a collision warning system. They’ve all appeared on the H2 SX since our Editor, Richard Newland ran the original in MCN’s 2018 long term test fleet.

Michael Neeves with the Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE long-term test bike

There’s also goodies like cornering traction control and ABS, anti-wheelie, rider modes, heated grips, a quickshifter, Brembo Stylema calipers, a single sided swingarm and of course a supercharger. This is also the Performance Tourer model with an Akrapovic end can and quick-release clip-in panniers.

I’ve already had to get used to looking after a chain again after a six month shaft drive reprieve and the riding position feels relatively cramped and superbike-like after the spacious, upright Tiger. The screen is too low and noisy for me, too. The H2 SX has the feel of a ‘90s Busa or ZZ-R with a modern twist, but I’m liking it so far, especially now it’s had its 600-mile service and I can experience the turbine-smooth magnificence of its engine.

My first two-up trip down to southern Italy is just around the corner and although there’s 56-litres of room in the panniers, I need a bit more carrying space. Kawasaki don’t offer an accessory top box and only list a tiny tank bag, which seems odd for a bike designed for touring, so I need to widen my search, which will include getting a taller screen.

Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE long-term test bike tyre swap

I’ve fitted new Michelin Road 6 sports touring tyres already, though. My journey will be knocking on the door of 3000-miles and I’m not sure the standard Bridgestone S22s will go the distance, especially as Mr Newland didn’t get anywhere near that mileage from the older S21s.

They’re not the grippiest, either, which was highlighted after I rode on a sports touring tyre test recently. After a day spent on rubber that warms up instantly, I got back on the Kawasaki, pitched into the first corner with similar gusto and it just refused to lean. S22s are decent tyres, if they’re the ‘replacement’ versions you buy from a shop, but the ‘OE’ versions aren’t anywhere near as good. The Michelins are night and day more confidence-inspiring already.

It’s going to be a supercharged year of tours on the Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE. I’m heading to southern Italy, riding to the Austrian Alps in the summer and finishing off with a lap of Spain. If that doesn’t reveal the Ninja’s touring prowess, I don’t know what will.

Contact: michael.neeves@motorcyclenews.com