Supercharged savagery: A potted history of the Kawasaki Ninja H2R

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On Wednesday, October 28, 2020, Kawasaki UK announced they were now taking orders for their 2021-spec supercharged Ninja H2R.

Costing a hefty £49,000, would-be customers have until Friday, November 20 to make a purchase and must speak to their local Kawasaki dealer to secure their bike.

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With a claimed maximum power output of 321bhp with ram air, capable of over 200mph and confined to track use only, the blacked-out ballistic missiles are produced to order; due to only a lucky few riders possessing the funds and the resources to truly enjoy such a fast, niche motorcycle. 

The original Kawasaki Ninja H2R at Motorcycle Live

First introduced in 2015, the H2R continues to set the benchmark for power output from a production two-wheeler from a mainstream manufacturer; significantly outgunning the likes of the road-legal 221bhp Ducati Superleggera V4, which costs almost double the price, at €100,000.

Granted, what the Ducati lacks in ponies (and let’s face it, it’s got plenty) it more than makes up for in cornering prowess that the H2R couldn’t hope to compete with, but to squeeze more than 300bhp out of a supercharged 998cc four-cylinder engine is staggeringly good. 

Standing in a class of one and with no ability to be used on the road, you’re probably thinking the growling H2R has remained unchanged since its launch. However, Kawasaki have added little extras here and there to ensure it stays relevant; as well as an additional £8000 to its asking price over time.

Pulling a burnout on a Kawasaki Ninja H2R

Launched to the tune of £41,000, the first 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.

An early Kawasaki Ninja H2R with the side fairings removed

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.

Since 2017, the H2R has remained unchanged, however the price has continued to rise by a further £2000. If that’s a little out of your budget, you can now bag a used R at MCN Bikes For Sale for comparatively less money; with used models up for just shy of £35,000.

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Dan Sutherland

By Dan Sutherland

Senior Writer (motorcycling), sportsbike nut, currently riding a FireBlade