Up-Close with the Kawasaki Ninja H2

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With the track-only Kawasaki Ninja H2R putting out 300hp from its supercharged 998cc displacement, the 200hp Kawasaki Nina H2 street bike seems positively demure, by comparison.

Of course, any 200hp machine is more than a handful, and we doubt many H2 owners will keep their machines street legal for very long — it’s been explained to A&R that it doesn’t take much work to uncork the H2…we’re just not sure if that’s a good or bad thing though.

Ostentatious might be the best way to describe the new H2. Bringing back forced induction to the sport bike scene is a pretty bold move from Kawasaki, and something we will likely see more of from the Japanese manufacturers. The styling of the H2R was certainly…eye-catching…with all the winglets and dramatic lines, the H2 street bike is only slightly watered-down from that lurid design.

The steel trellis frame is a painted radioactive green, and glows under critical lighting. The long sweeping carbon fiber intake runs down the side of the motorcycle, to the red-painted centrifugal supercharger. We go back and forth as to whether we like the exposed belly of the H2 — is it a throwback or a misstep?

The half-fairing look is a design language that we haven’t really seen in the market the past decade, which can lead the eye to tell the brain that the Ninja H2 is “missing” a piece. It does leave the exhaust headers visible though, which soothes our motolust. We’ll have to chew on it further.

What we don’t have to chew on is how Kawasaki integrated the requisite signals and lights into the H2, keeping the lines of the track-only H2R intact, without having a “last-minute addition” effect on the machine.

For those who don’t know, the Japanese invented the single-side swingarm for motorcycles, so it is refreshing to see an OEM from the island nation reclaim that design element from the Europeans. The star pattern on the exposed wheel is an interesting choice to our eye though, as it adds to the busy nature of the H2’s lines.

Everything about the Kawasaki Ninja H2 screams over-stimulation, which is a double-edged sword in terms of design vs. engineering. We imagine though that if you’re dropping the $25,000 to own an H2, then you don’t mind on making a scene at your local bike night…and the H2 certainly will do just that.










Photos: © 2014 Rob Harris / Canada Moto Guide — All Rights Reserved

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