'We want a bike like Knight Rider’s car KITT, that is the inspiration’
During the Intermot show earlier this month, MCN grabbed Tsuyoshi Shibata, Kawasaki Motors Europe Product Planning Manager, about Kawasaki’s future plans, supersport sales and superchargers.
MCN: Kawasaki now have production supercharged models, will there be more?
TS: Last year we showed the Soul Charger and Spirit Charger at the Tokyo Show and EICMA and while we didn’t speak about capacity, the H2 was always a pinnacle machine. The H2 showed how far we could go in terms of performance, but we now need to hit a balance between economy, usability and power.
MCN: So are more affordable supercharged bikes coming?
TS: Yes, that is our dream, to offer supercharged bikes to normal riders. Only Kawasaki can offer supercharger technology thanks to our dedicated technology within the company. We would like to offer a range of supercharged bikes.
MCN: What benefits would a smaller capacity supercharged model have?
TS: It would be smaller, lighter weight and break the limit of engine displacement. It would make more power for less capacity. The capacity range doesn’t mean anything anymore – it is all about the power and torque. It doesn’t matter the H2R is 999cc, it is an H2R. A smaller capacity bike could just be a name, not a number.
MCN: Honda have stopped CBR600RR production for Europe, while Yamaha are set to launch a new YZF-R6. Who is right?
TS: There is no right or wrong, but it is very difficult for supersport bikes in Europe as they are too expensive. Supersport used to appeal to younger riders, but the class moved too much towards competition and lost its fun appeal and accessibility. The new Ninja 650 may be a better future than a supersport bike.
MCN: Kawasaki recently announced it was working on Artificial Intelligence, can you explain more?
TS: The idea is that the rider and the motorcycle communicate with each other. In the development team we say we want a bike like Knight Rider’s car KITT, that is the inspiration. The idea is to have a motorcycle that feels like a friend or partner, it is still very much a dream as this technology is very far ahead.