In developing the 2015 Ninja H2, Kawasaki’s motorcycle and engine division was given complete access to all of KHI’s (Kawasaki Heavy Industries) departments, including their aerospace, gas and turbine divisions. The result: the ultimate motorcycle. The Ninja H2 doesn’t fit the sportbike mold, and further glitches in that matrix emerge when you hear it scream by at speed or pass through the world from its saddle.
When the H2 was first teased in 2014, the motorcycling community was frenzied. The last and only previous model to bear the H2 marque was the 750cc, three-cylinder, two-stroke machine from the early ’70s dubbed “The King of the Streets” — a bike infamous for its predilection towards ludicrously quick, tire-in-the-sky acceleration. To measure up, this new H2 would need to move no slower than an amphetamine-fueled teleportation device. Something which, by all accounts, it does.
The engine, a 998cc inline-four-cylinder unit, is force-fed via an in-house developed supercharger to produce 210 horsepower. While that number is one that riders have come to expect from race-homologated, track-focused supersports, its delivery in the H2 is extraordinary. Connected to the crankshaft via a planetary gear set, the centrifugal-type supercharger’s impellers spin at upwards of 130,000 rpm. This pumps a whopping 200 liters of air, per second, into the intake manifold providing up to 34 psi of boost. Acceleration feels limitless, with full power seemingly available wherever the needle points on the tachometer.
Due to their place in the public eye, the motorcycle divisions of the Big Four Japanese manufacturers were traditionally used as showpieces for the amassed abilities of their diverse corporate reaches — a practice the recent recession had scuttled entirely. By emblazoning their Ninja H2 with the storied River Mark logo, Kawasaki has not only revived this practice, but they’ve put complacent builders on notice and resuscitated an entire industry.
Engine: 998cc Supercharged Inline-Four-Cylinder
Torque: 98.5 lb-ft
Curb Weight: 524.8 pounds