Kawasaki expands its supercharged family with a new sport-touring variant of its Ninja H2 with the 2018 Ninja H2 SX and H2 SX SE.
The Beating Heart
The H2 SX carries a supercharged, 998cc liquid-cooled Inline Four that is tuned for “balanced” street performance. There’s 197 horsepower on tap from the powerplant at 11,000 rpm and just over 101 lb-ft torque at 9500 rpm. These figures correspond closely to the 98.4 lb-ft and near 200 horsepower offered currently by the street-oriented Ninja H2, which serves as the base of the SX.
But optimizing fuel efficiency was another focal point in development of the engine, and Kawasaki claims 25% better mileage than the H2.
To achieve this, the Japanese manufacturer revised the Ram Air intake on the left side of the upper cowl (with a 20% smaller front face compared to the H2) and changed the shape and angle of the blades of the forged aluminum, CNC-machined impeller. The intake chamber is upgraded also, all in an effort to optimize airflow, enhance low- to mid-range performance and save weight.
Airflow was further refined for the SX with smaller diameter throttle valves, down from 50mm to 40mm, along with shorter intake and exhaust cam profiles. The intake and exhaust ports have been changed too.
Altered piston crowns contribute to a higher 11.2:1 compression ratio. Kawasaki asserts more efficient combustion on the SX so cools the pistons by way of single jets rather than the dual jets used on the H2, thereby allowing the oil pump to operate at a slower rate. This helps to enhance fuel efficiency and reduce weight slightly owing to the reduced volume of oil needed for operation.
Used petrol exits out smaller diameter header pipes and a silencer with three internal chambers.
Get in Gear
As with the H2, the H2 SX comes packing a six-speed dog ring transmission. First and second gears are longer than on the sport version, and a hydraulic clutch engages gears by way of a dual cam assist and slipper set-up. One cam operates assist functionality and the other provides slipper functionality.
Holding it All Together
The high-tensile steel trellis frame is altered to better accommodate luggage or a passenger on the SX, resulting in a 430-pound payload, according to Kawasaki.
Primary differences from the sport frame are revised rake, up to 30-degrees from 27, a two-degree tilt to the engine for better stability and lower center of gravity along with a reinforced, longer rear frame. A lengthened swingarm results in a wheelbase almost one inch longer than the H2.
Soak up Bumps and Haul to a Stop
A 43mm USD fork is fully adjustable and a KYB monoshock out back is borrowed from the 2015-2016 model year H2. It’s a gas-charged unit with piggy-back reservoir, equipped with compression and rebound damping and preload adjustment via a remote dial for tool-free changes.
For brakes, the H2 SX comes equipped with dual 320mm discs, radial-mount calipers and a radial-pump master cylinder. At the back there’s a 250mm disc and twin piston caliper.
The SE model packs steel-braided brake lines for better brake feel, and both editions come with the Kawasaki Intelligent Anti-Lock Brake System.
Cast aluminum wheels with five-spoke design are wrapped in Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S21 tires, 120/70-17 front and 190/55-17 rear. The SE model features machining on the spokes and wheel rim tape for some added flair.
Experience the Ride
Kawasaki sought to strike a balance in terms of ergonomics between the ZX-14R and Ninja 1000, not as forward leaning as the former and not as upright as the latter, to ensure comfortable touring and sporty rides alike.
There are two rider seat options, a 32.8 inch high Comfort Seat and 32.2 inch Low version. For the SE model, there’s two-tone leather and suede seats with double stitching for rider and passenger.
Full fairings provide a sleek, sporting look and aerodynamic efficiency. They’re designed to also shield the rider from windblast at higher speeds. The standard version comes with a lower windscreen while the SE model features a taller option to better protect from air in a more upright position.
The instrument panel is a combination of analogue tachometer and full digital LCD screen on the SX. The SE model comes complete with a full color TFT LCD screen.
The Ninja H2 SX comes complete with a robust electronics package. A Bosch Inertial Measurement Unit gathers data from six “degrees of freedom” which are acceleration on longitudinal, transverse and vertical axes along with roll rate and pitch rate.
The IMU provides input to the Kawasaki Cornering Management Function, which modulates brake force and engine power through corners. The KCMF utilizes Kawasaki Traction Control, Kawasaki Engine Brake Control, Kawasaki Intelligent Anti-Lock Braking and Kawasaki Launch Control Mode (on the SE model) to achieve smooth transitions and acceleration in the turns.
KTRC provides three ride modes while riders will also be able to select from three different power modes as well. KIBS takes information from front and rear wheel sensors along with hydraulic pressure at the front brake, along with additional engine information from the ECU to determine appropriate braking response. KLCM comes standard on the SE model and allows riders to take off from a stop with the throttle wide open, limiting engine speed to 6250 rpm and limiting wheel spin on takeoff.
There’s also a Kawasaki Quick Shifter included on the SE model (not available on the standard SX) while both feature a first for Kawasaki sport touring machines – electronic cruise control.
All About Style and Convenience
The front of the SX is designed with elements that place it squarely in the H2 family, with the Kawasaki River Mark emblem, full fairing body work and sharp lines throughout. It’s got an LED headlight similar to that on the H2 and an LED taillight in an “H” pattern. The SE edition comes with LED cornering lights also.
The H2 SX has a mounting system for easy installation of the accessory panniers offered by Kawasaki. Each provides 28-liters of storage space. They’re color matched to the motorcycle and lock by way of the one-key system that makes use of the bike’s ignition key.
The Ninja H2 SX will come in Metallic Carbon Grey/Metallic Matte Carbon Grey and the Ninja H2 SX SE will be available in Emerald Blazed Green/Metallic Diablo Black. Stay tuned for pricing and availability.