Kawasaki H2

Fast Bikes - - FEATURE -

There aren’t many other bikes to have di­vided opin­ion like Kawasaki’s H2. Then again, there aren’t many other man­u­fac­tur­ers with the swingers to re­lease such a techno queen. To some, it’s an ugly mon­stros­ity that’ll never chal­lenge garage space. To oth­ers, it’s the per­fect van­ity mir­ror and 200bhp su­per­charged com­pan­ion. Ei­ther way, I’m not sure how I could live with con­tin­u­ally buff­ing the H2’s chrome paint and re­mov­ing pal­try boot scuffs, al­though I could cer­tainly live with the Ninja’s dy­nam­ics.

De­spite 200bhp, men­ac­ing looks and su­per­charged sta­tus, the H2 is ac­tu­ally rather af­fa­ble – vastly more so than the heinous H2R. Much of this is due to clever ride-by-wire strate­gies and a ver­sa­tile engine with bi­nary man­ners. I wouldn’t tor­ment my gran by in­sist­ing she rides it, but there are no nas­ties in the H2’s ar­moury. There’s a tight, com­pact feel to the rid­ing po­si­tion. Your limbs are well within reach of one an­other, but it’s not cramped. If any­thing, the er­gonomics pro­vide a sense of con­trol to pro­ceed­ings. That seat de­sign isn’t purely for cos­metic rea­sons – it’s there to pre­vent the pi­lot from fall­ing off the back un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion.

Thrash­ing an H2 comes with a unique sound­track. It’s a cross be­tween be­ing stuck in a bird aviary and a bass bin at a rave. With ev­ery por­tion of revs dished out, there’s a dif­fer­ent noise to ac­com­pany the may­hem. Euro 4 com­pli­ancy hasn’t af­fected the H2’s noise, nor has it af­fected the power in any way. It still pulls cleanly from 2,000rpm but doesn’t start bust­ing your balls un­til 10,000rpm where the dash starts hav­ing a fit. It may not boast stu­pe­fy­ing peak power but it’s the way in which it gets to the red­line that im­presses with a con­stant surge of meaty torque. It’s not rev­o­lu­tion­ary fast, but the noise and su­per­charged meth­ods mean a height­ened sense of speed.

A soft throt­tle re­sponse makes light work of slow-speed drudgery and the H2 oozes smooth­ness at less com­mit­ted speeds. With su­per-wide work­ing pa­ram­e­ters, the engine al­lows cruis­ing around in top gear at 30mph without any hes­i­ta­tion, and the gear­box and other an­cil­lar­ies just add to the silky out­put, bar the clutch. That’s a tad heavy. Chas­ing Alan, who was aboard the K5, my­self and the H2 mar­malised them through traf­fic with instant grunt on tap. It’s only when the roads opened up and the K5 was al­lowed to breath that the power de­fi­ciency was pal­pa­ble.

Rid­den hard, the elec­tron­ics of­fer far more than a safety blan­ket, which is use­ful when there’s a su­per­charged lump un­der­neath you. Far from slug­gish, it takes some boss­ing in change of di­rec­tion – no sur­prise given its quar­ter-of-a-ton per­for­mance on the scales – and the anti-wheelie acts as more than just an anti-flip de­vice, help­ing the bike steer un­der hard ac­cel­er­a­tion.

On the road its mass feels well cen­tralised and ut­terly con­trol­lable, with an as­sur­ing dollop of me­chan­i­cal grip at ei­ther end and a very planted mid-cor­ner stance. It’ll take a well-spanked con­ven­tional su­per­bike to shake the Ninja, though its weight and idio­syn­cra­sies soon in­ter­vene. I say con­ven­tional, as the H2 car­ries some­thing unique to the su­per­sports sec­tor other than wear­ing a blower. On track, it’s a good few sec­onds off the lat­est litre bikes thanks to its quirks. Top-shelf Brembo brak­ing halts 240kg with ease and a plush lever to boot. Soft sus­pen­sion dives and de­liv­ers oo­dles of com­fort­ing weight trans­fer, yet a pos­i­tive by-prod­uct of the soft­ness is bump man­age­ment and cop­ing with UK sur­faces. The damp­ing is ex­quis­ite, reg­u­lat­ing its weight and sup­ply­ing stroke con­trol that you’d ex­pect from a £25k beast.

The H2 makes blitzing around a dod­dle.

Kawa... bunger!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.