Is the Ninja H2 SX SE the new boss at the traffic lights? RIDE’S drag demon drops the clutch at Santa Pod to find out...
IT’S BEDFORDSHIRE, BUT this evening Santa Pod could be California. Bathed in sunshine, the H2 SX SE’S green paint stands out as it cuts through hot hatches and drag bikes in the Pod’s paddock. We’re here for a run-what-you-brung; the quarter-mile strip has had a million-pound makeover over the winter so the drag-racing world is keen to try it.
Sign-on, queue up, flat out. There’s little prep for the SE; let tyres down a bit to give a bigger footprint, then turn off the traction control, check the quickshifter is on and we’re ready to go. The SE is the only road bike here. I’m not surprised when my opponent is a menacing ZX-10R dragster. At the start line I do the obligatory burnout for a few seconds; it’s easy to overheat the tyre and lose grip. Then it’s time to go — as soon as the lights flicker green, I fire the supercharged Kawasaki at the horizon.
The Ninja needs more skill to launch than a normally aspirated ZZR1400. Giving the supercharger the revs to get into the powerband means holding it at 7000rpm then balancing clutch slip — the ZZR drives off the line on a whiff of throttle. The H2 SX’S 200bhp motor is a bit peaky, so the challenge is getting away with maximum acceleration and minimal wheelie, slipping the clutch and trimming the throttle. Fortunately I make a clean getaway. I flick into second and dive under the screen. Hunkered down, throttle pinned, my left toe nudges the gear lever — the Kawasaki’s quickshifter is one of the best, letting me exploit the acceleration potential.
The H2 SX crosses the line in 10.3 seconds at 142 mph and I’m impressed. This is a street bike made for touring and it’s just done a 10-second quarter at its first go. And my competitor on the ZX-10R dragster? Beaten by a guy on a bike with panniers...
One of the first to take to Santa Pod’s brand-new strip Preparation involved slightly reduced tyre pressure for increased footprint H2 SX has launch control… but Bruce doesn’t need it to win