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Intermot: 2019 Kawasaki Ninja H2 'The maddest just got madder'

Published: 02 October 2018

There’s still something exciting and dangerous looking about the Ninja H2, and with even more power on tap for 2019 it’s certainly not going to be losing many traffic light grand prix.

The headline for this first major update to the H2 is a peak power growth of 30bhp, taking it to a bottom-clenching 227bhp. But this increased brutality is also being delivered with more refinement.

2019 Ninja H2 Bike facts

  • Engine: 998cc supercharged inline four
  • Performance: 227bhp / 104.5ftlb
  • Weight: TBC
  • Seat height: 825mm
  • Price: £26,499

The first-generation bikes snatchy throttle was already largely cured, and the new H2 borrows tech from the SX version which is likely to further smooth out that gargantuan thrust.

The air filter, intake chamber, spark plugs and ECU all now come from the silky-smooth H2 SX, while the H2 retains its full-aggression version of the supercharger (as opposed to the SX’s ‘balanced’ version). Kawasaki say this sharing of parts means that the H2 delivers the same mpg as before, despite the serious hike in output.

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More oomph deserves more retardation, and that’s led Kawasaki to fit the latest Brembo Stylema calipers, which boast a super-rigid body construction, and increased pad cooling capability. This, say Kawasaki, will result in a more instant and predictable bite from the lever, and more consistency during repeated abuse as the fluid will stay cooler for longer.

In the rider’s eye view is a new TFT dash also borrowed straight from the H2 SX, but now updated to support smartphone connectivity via Kawasaki’s new Rideology app. Once connected you’ll be able to see battery condition, fuel level, riding logs and service interval information on your phone. But if you’ve got any sense, you’ll just be out riding it, not staring at its stats on your mobile.  

Introduced in 2015, this is the first major evolution for the supercharged behemoth and Kawasaki have worked hard to make it cleverer, stop faster and despite the power increase, not use any more fuel.

Engineering overhaul

The boost in power is huge – up from 197bhp to 228bhp at the crank, it's the biggest single gain we’ve seen in the evolution of any bike.

Kawasaki aren’t revealing the full extent of the engineering changes yet, but with huge power gains on the current model available just by remapping the ECU, it’s obvious the base engine is capable of more power than it has been producing so far.

The new bike is fully compliant with Euro4

However, are there more to the tweaks than that. In a bid to aid rideability, Kawasaki say a number of parts crossover from the Kawasaki H2 SX sports tourer. The new bike boasts new plugs, a new ECU, a new air-filter and intake chamber.

There’s also new Brembo Stylema calipers, first seen this year on the Ducati Panigale V4. Lighter and more rigid than any other superbike caliper on the market, they offer class-leading power – which will be needed, as we suspect the bike won’t be any lighter than the genuine 260kg kerb weight of the previous model. It also boasts new Bridgestone RS11 tyres, while retaining the Öhlins TTX36 shock introduced in 2017.

The 2019 H2 has new instrument panel, too, inspired by the cluster on the H2 SX. For the first time it features a TFT dash, plus smartphone connectivity - allowing you to monitor battery condition, fuel level, service intervals and log your riding

The ability to heal itself

Another new feature is the self-healing paint – the first we’ve seen on a production bike – which can remedy minor scratches itself. The technology has been seen in automotive applications before and uses a polymer that ‘melts’ imperfections smooth in hot sunlight, but Kawasaki’s version is claimed to be faster and more effective than ever before.

Prices and on-sale dates are yet to be announced, but as before, there will be a standard machine and a plusher Carbon model. With all the new tech, expect prices to be higher than the current £25,499 stocker or £27,999 Carbon.

"The visual impact and engineering prowess of the Ninja H2 will surely increase thanks to this major update," commented Kenji Nagahara, Managing Director of Kawasaki Motors Europe.

"This Supercharged machine is the physical embodiment of our corporate strength. The addition of more power, smart phone "Rideology" technology and other specification upgrades for 2019 shows that, as a company, we are constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible and delivering cutting edge motorcycles to the market."

New TFT screen dash

The bike will feature a new TFT screen

As the world of electronics evolves, more and more bikes are gaining full-colour TFT dashes, including the incoming 2019 Kawasaki H2. First seen on the Ducati Panigale in 2012, they’ve filtered down the biking pecking order until some now appear on 125s.

And with last year’s sports touring Kawasaki H2 SX featuring a similar item, it isn’t a surprise that the H2 has followed suit this year.

Digital, LCD ‘seven-segment’ displays have been around for over 20 years, but TFT (Thin Film Transistor) takes things to another level. These full-colour displays employ the same kind of high-resolution screens that we use every day on our mobile phones and can display any information you want, in any format, without being restricted like a normal digital display.

The TFT system is an evolution of that older digital LCD display. Like any screen, an LCD is made up of thousands of individual pixels. LCD dashes use chemical and electrical properties to create an image on that screen using those pixels: an electrical charge actually causes the liquid crystals to change molecular structure to allow different wavelengths of backlight to pass, therefore altering the display we see.

A TFT dash panel features several layers of filters in between two glass panels. Two polarizer filters, colour filters and two alignment layers are what determines exactly how much light passes through and the colours that are created.

The TFT layer itself controls light flow with what is in effect a minute transistor controlling each pixel. A colour filter displays the colour while the top layer houses your visible screen. The back light is provided by LEDs, which keep the display unit thin.

TFT display cross-section

The layers of a TFT display

  1. Glass plates
  2. Horizontal and vertical polarizers
  3. See 2
  4. RGB colour mask
  5. Horizontal and vertical command lines
  6. See 5
  7. Rubbed polymer layer
  8. Spacers
  9. Thin film transistors
  10. Front electrode
  11. Rear electrodes

Of course, the TFT display needs to be sent information, which is the job of the graphics chip in the circuit board. This takes information from the central processing unit and determines how each of the individual pixels are used to display information. This is a difficult job in itself.

To make the image, a chip first creates a frame out of straight lines. It then fills in the remaining pixels and determines lighting, texture and colour to create a single image, which is then constantly evolved and updated at 30 fps. Just like any digital screen, what's displayed is down to the complexity of binary input data, meaning any kind of display is possible rather than just traditional bike parameters.

However, there is more to come. While the H2’s display only uses TFT for part of it, as this technology gets cheaper and screens get bigger, you’ll see electro-mechanical devices like rev counters become a thing of the past as more bikes go down the TFT route.

See this bike debut in the UK at Motorcycle Live from 17-25 November at The NEC.

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