Kawasaki plan su­per­charged 800cc sport­bike bike for the masses

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - By Ben Purvis & Andy Downes

Kawasaki’s Kenji To­mida said H2’s tech­nol­ogy would suit other bikes

This im­age, crafted us­ing in­sider in­for­ma­tion from Kawasaki, is the best in­ter­pre­ta­tion yet of the su­per­charged su­per­bike the Ja­panese firm could use to rip up the class rules next year.

Ru­mours and Kawasaki trade­marks sug­gest the new bike will be called ‘Ninja R2’. While the ca­pac­ity of the en­gine has not been of­fi­cially re­vealed, it’s ex­pected to be a su­per­charged mid­dleweight with a ca­pac­ity of just above 800cc, and could pro­vide a real al­ter­na­tive to the cur­rent crop of 1000cc su­per­bikes.

The Ninja R2 is a mouth-wa­ter­ing prospect, and ev­i­dence for the model is build­ing. With no scope to race its su­per­charged en­gine tech­nol­ogy, Kawasaki have the free­dom to de­velop a main­stream bike with­out hav­ing to con­form to con­ven­tional ca­pac­ity lim­its or other rac­ing ho­molo­ga­tion-led de­sign de­ci­sions.

Al­though our Ja­panese sources say Kawasaki are close to set­tling on an en­gine ca­pac­ity of frac­tion­ally over 800cc for this model, a smaller ca­pac­ity ver­sion could fol­low.

That the en­gine should be smaller than that of the H2 hy­per­bike first seen at the 2013 Tokyo Mo­tor Show is no sur­prise. At last year’s EICMA show in Mi­lan, Kawasaki pres­i­dent Kenji To­mida re­vealed that the su­per­charged en­gine tech­nol­ogy of the H2 – de­vel­oped en­tirely in-house by Kawasaki – was al­ways in­tended to be scal­able to suit other ap­pli­ca­tions.

The Ninja R2 is just one of at least three mod­els Kawasaki are be­lieved to be work­ing on us­ing forced in­duc­tion tech­nol­ogy. Last year the firm re­vealed the SC-01 and SC-02 con­cept bikes (far right), also giv­ing an in­di­ca­tion of how widely this tech­nol­ogy may spread through­out the Kawasaki range.

Also in 2015, Kawasaki un­veiled the ‘Bal­anced Su­per­charged En­gine’ (right) – a se­cond-gen­er­a­tion su­per­charged four-cylin­der mo­tor that took cen­tre stage at the firm’s Tokyo Show stand. While tech­ni­cal de­tails are scant, we un­der­stand that this is the circa-800cc mo­tor that will power the R2. The ca­pac­ity, while con­sid­er­ably smaller than the 998cc H2, is higher than many were ex­pect­ing, with ru­mours abound­ing of a 600cc su­per­charged en­gine be­ing in de­vel­op­ment. But the 800cc de­sign makes more sense.

A higher, 800cc ca­pac­ity won’t lead to an en­gine that’s sig­nif­i­cantly larger in its ex­ter­nal di­men­sions and will al­low it match nat­u­rally as­pi­rated 1000cc su­per­bikes for per­for­mance. While far

more af­ford­able than the H2, no su­per­charged four-cylin­der is ever likely to carry a 600cc-sized price tag.

It also fits neatly with Kawasaki’s own name for the en­gine. The term ‘Bal­anced’ is un­der­stood to de­fine the mo­tor’s mix of power and torque and the way it de­liv­ers that per­for­mance to the road.

The big 998cc mo­tor of the H2 was a state­ment of ex­cess, par­tic­u­larly in its more ex­treme 310bhp H2R form, and a small, scream­ing ver­sion would be just as hard to ride. An 800cc vari­a­tion al­lows for a fairly compact, light­weight mo­tor that pro­vides more than enough per­for­mance with­out need­ing to be tuned to the hilt and filled with the ex­pen­sive com­po­nents and ma­te­ri­als that would en­tail. With fairly mod­er­ate lev­els of boost, some­thing in the re­gion of 190bhp and around 80ftlb of torque should be eas­ily achiev­able.

An in­te­gral el­e­ment of its per­for­mance will be the vari­able ge­om­e­try su­per­charger in­take shown on the Bal­anced Su­per­charged En­gine con­cept. It fea­tures ra­dial elec­tron­i­cally-piv­ot­ing blades that change pitch to al­ter the vol­ume, speed and di­rec­tion of the air­flow into the su­per­charger, giv­ing the en­gine man­age­ment an­other tool to con­trol the bike’s per­for­mance and econ­omy.

Other Kawasaki pa­tents have also sug­gested that fu­ture su­per­charged mod­els could fea­ture a dual-speed su­per­charger, able to switch gears to al­ter its speed rel­a­tive to the en­gine, and an in­ter­cooler to make the com­pressed in­take air cooler and denser. How­ever, the use of an air­flow con­trol sys­tem is an eas­ier and cheaper way to achieve the sim­i­lar power char­ac­ter­is­tics.

The R2 name sug­gested for the new bike comes from a se­lec­tion of ti­tles that

have been trade­marked by Kawasaki in Ja­pan. Th­ese names in­clude Ninja R2 and Ninja R2R – sug­gest­ing that a higher-per­for­mance ver­sion of the new bike is also on the cards, just like the H2R.

In terms of styling, our im­age takes its in­spi­ra­tion from the orig­i­nal H2 but also from Kawasaki’s fu­ture styling di­rec­tion, which was hinted at last year by leaked im­ages of the nextgen­er­a­tion Ninja 300. The slanted, re­verse-rake headlights with jut­ting spoil­ers un­der­neath them are key to its bold new look.

One big ques­tion mark re­mains over tim­ing of the bike’s un­veil­ing. If the timescale of the trade­mark­ing of the H2 name is ap­plied to the R2, then this bike could be seen as early as the end of 2016, but our sources in Ja­pan and Europe sug­gest 2017 is more likely.

Whatõs it got?

■ Tyco BMW paint scheme and colour-matched pil­lion seat cover ■ Forged wheels ■ Gear Shift As­sist Pro ■ Dy­namic Damp­ing Con­trol ■ Dy­namic Trac­tion Con­trol ■ Akrapovic sports si­lencer ■ Cruise Con­trol ■ HP Footrests and levers ■ LED in­di­ca­tors ■ Heated grips ■ Pre­mium stor­age pack­age of pad­dock stand, BMW pit mat and in­door bike cover ■ Anti-theft alarm

Bal­anced Su­per­charged En­gine has ca­pac­ity of

around 800cc

Ninja R2 should make around


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