Kawasaki’s new Ninja H2 SX SE takes on the MCN250 test route

Is Kawasaki’s new Ninja H2 SX SE the ul­ti­mate do-ev­ery­thing road bike, or a one-trick pony ham­strung by its head­line-grab­bing su­per­charger?

Motorcycle News (UK) - - CONTENTS - By Richard New­land DEPUTY EDITOR

Lust is rarely a slave to logic. What­ever the al­lure; eyes, mouth, face, or... some­thing else, there’s al­ways a pri­mal phys­i­cal at­trac­tion to suck you in. Kawasaki’s Ninja H2 SX SE lacks sub­tle beauty, mak­ing do in­stead with a mus­cu­lar bru­tal­ity and Trans­form­ers an­gu­lar­ity that will ap­peal to some, but it’s what’s hid­ing up its skirt that re­ally turns me on.

When the orig­i­nal Ninja H2 made its de­but the buzz was all about bold power claims from the rev­o­lu­tion­ary su­per­charged 998cc en­gine. But while it was one hell of a ride, it lacked re­fine­ment and us­abil­ity. There were many ponies, but only one trick, and that got bor­ing af­ter the twenty-fifth time you’d

slowed down just so you could surf the adren­a­line of nail­ing it again.

Kawasaki’s end-game was al­ways to take their in-house de­vel­oped su­per­charger tech and democra­tise it for the masses, and this is their first at­tempt. Don’t let the Ninja H2 moniker fool you, this isn’t a loosely dis­guised orig­i­nal wear­ing a dif­fer­ent dress. They ride noth­ing like one an­other in the ar­eas that mat­ter.

Where once the en­gine’s de­liv­ery was a sledge­ham­mer that bru­tally wiped out the tar­mac be­tween you and the hori­zon, it’s now one of the most pleas­ing pow­er­plants on the road. Gluti­nous dol­lops of torque and power mean that it’ll pull from 2500rpm in sixth with the sort of surg­ing drive that an elec­tric train would be proud of. But get the blue bar climb­ing on the dash as the su­per­charger’s im­peller ac­cel­er­ates through the sound bar­rier, and it feels as vis­ceral as a su­per­bike mill.

It’s that light­ness and emo­tive ag­gres­sion in the en­gine that de­fines the ride, but doesn’t dom­i­nate it. You never lose the sense of the SX’S mass, but the speed at which the en­gine picks up its skirt fools your brain into shed­ding 50 ki­los off its mea­sured weight. The il­lu­sion is per­pet­u­ated by how the SX han­dles, and the sub­tle sup­port af­forded by the elec­tron­ics pack­ages, too.

There’s no semi-ac­tive sus­pen­sion and that’s a tick in the ‘pros’ col­umn for me. Very few electronic sys­tems work with­out dis­tract­ing quirks (BMW’S Dy­namic ESA be­ing one ex­cep­tion), while the SX’S well­com­posed me­chan­i­cal hard­ware de­liv­ers great con­sis­tency and feel.

On bumpy back roads and bil­liard-smooth A-road sweep­ers along the MCN250, the SX feels pli­ant and com­posed. The sup­port un­der brak­ing is excellent, es­pe­cially for such a big bus, and its sta­bil­ity and mid-corner se­cu­rity mean you soon find yourself push­ing harder than you might have ex­pected pos­si­ble.

There has been crit­i­cism over its lack of con­joined rider aids, but I’m not jump­ing on that band­wagon ei­ther. I’ve cov­ered over 3000 miles on this bike, and with the ex­cep­tion of a few miles in the var­i­ous modes for the sake of re­search, it lives in full power mode, with the trac­tion con­trol set to the least in­tru­sive ‘1’. Wet or dry, I’ve found no need to stray from those set­tings.

The only throt­tle crit­i­cism is how it picks up from com­pletely

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