Top 10 Excellent and/or Interesting Things About the New Kawasaki H2 SX SE


Tuesday we published our epic review of the amazing new supercharged wonderKawi, complete with bonus poetry reading video! Today, we milk that sucker yet again with this Top Ten List!, complete with a few tidbits that got left out before! All that’s left now is a comparo with the KTM Super Duke GT.

2018 Kawasaki H2 SX SE First Ride Review

10. Excited engineers

Mr. Watanabe, Project Leader of the H2 SX, last led the redesign of the 2013 ZX-6R. On that bike, his team worked and tested and made changes that resulted in one horsepower differences, sometimes only 1/10 of a horsepower. “On the H2 SX, as we tested different components including impellers, we found differences of up to 10 horsepower. A very exciting project!”

Meanwhile, Joey Lombardo and I were excited to find where the air filter goes on the SX – just inside the long intake tube on the left side of the bike.

9. Cooler than the H2 and most motorcycles

American Kawasaki’s Minoru Kanamori started out wanting to be Kenny Roberts, but wound up being a Jet Ski champion instead. Over in the watercraft department, they’ve been topping 1498cc Fours with Roots-type superchargers outsourced from companies like Eaton for years, and extracting 1890 pounds of thrust. That’s no big deal, because a Jet Ski has an unlimited source of cooling medium – whatever it’s floating in.

The H2 SX is a different animal entirely, Mr K. tells us. This is the first supercharger KHI has made inhouse, and it’s a modern marvel of engineering. Not only did KHI do a thing the usual vendors said couldn’t be done (it’ll never work without an intercooler!), the thing produces a deliciously smooth powerband and puts out less heat than eight out of ten motorcycles we ride.

Minoru at the office:

8. Sealed for Your Projection

The supercharger assembly runs such tight tolerances, there’s no taking it apart for R & R if it should for some reason take a dump. Kawasaki seems confident that’s not going to happen. The impeller and planetary drive that spin it up well past 100,000 rpm ride on roller bearings lubed by internal oil galleries from the engine.

7. The power of KHI impels you

Again according to Mr. Jet Ski Kanamori, KHI was flying a bit blind when it built the H2’s first supercharger. They designed and tested 30 impellers before they found the right one, top of the photo here. With the H2 SX, they settled on the right blade for the job, the botton one, in only seven tries. Planetary drive gears and superchargers aren’t exactly new tech, but they are as far as motorcycles are concerned. If the SX is successful, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised to see more supercharged models coming down the pipeline. Forced induction is a good thing when it adds power and efficiency.

6. There’ll be enough to go around

Tragically, too many of us still can’t afford a $19,000 motorcycle. But a lot more than can afford a $28,000 one, which is what the H2 sold for – when Kawasaki was still accepting pre-orders for them, that is. The H2 and H2R ($55k) were conceived and built as blue-sky engineering projects, with no emphasis placed on practicality. The SX takes a different tack; it’s all about supercharged performance for everyday use by the (upscale) masses. Kawasaki’s Croft Long says supplies might be tight at first, but eventually there’ll be enough to go around for everybody who wants one.

5. Cruise control

First time it’s been done on a Kawasaki sportbike/sport-touring bike. To me, almost anything with this feature becomes a sport-touring bike by default – so much better for your psyche and your physiology. CC expands your horizons.

4. Fuel efficient

In addition to the fact that you need to burn lots of gas to make 2 or 300 horsepower, the original H2 needed to burn even more fuel as a safety measure to keep its highly pressurized internals from overheating. With the SX’s higher compression ratio, lower boost, and throttle bodies shrunk all the way from 50 to 40mm, it offers much of the H2’s performance along with Ninja 1000 fuel economy – around 40-42 mpg in normal riding. Its five-gallon tank should get you 200 miles before it runs dry. That’s way better than most 200-horsepower motorcycles.

3. 12,000 RPM are plenty

The original H2 and H2R made most of their crazy horsepower between 12 and 14,000 rpm, which is nice if you’re at Bonneville or on the banking at Daytona and spending most of your time above 120 mph or so. Not real practical most of the time. On our dyno, the SX makes peak power at just 10,300 rpm, and it’s above 80 pound-feet of torque at just 6800 rpm. If you’re the never-satisfied type, it also looks like a little ECU tuning could harvest rich gains between 10,300 and the 12,000 rpm redline. Not bad from 998 cubic centimeters.

2. Safety first

Kawasaki Cornering Management Function uses both KIBS (Intelligent Braking) and KTRC (Traction Control) to assist you as you make your merry way through yon corner by suppressing the tendency for the bike to stand up while braking into a turn. The new Bosch IMU helps the system maintain optimum hydraulic pressure based on the bike’s lean and pitch angles. Unlike systems that rely solely on pre-set limits, this one also incorporates feedback from the rider for even more control and is even more advanced than the similar system introduced on the H2/H2 R. It sees you when you’re sleeping, it knows when you’re a-brake.

1. Rivermark: It’s the Nicest Kawasaki ever

They’ve often been too fast for their own good, sometimes crude, always a party and mostly indestructible – but Kawasakis haven’t usually been all that nice. This one is – in quality, more than a match for anything from Germany, Italy or Japan. Its KYB suspension isn’t active, but it’s perfectly calibrated for fast road riding and running to the corner store. It’s true, the SX isn’t much lighter than a ZX-14R, but the reduced gyroscopic force of that 998cc engine compared to a 1441cc one makes the H2 SX much more willing to do your direction-changing bidding, which is a good thing since it whistles into corners with ZX-14R-style velocity. Also, those smaller pistons and the SX’s dual counterbalancers make this one the smoothest-running Kawi four-banger I’ve ever ridden. They sweated all the details on this motorcycle, and they all come together to make riding it a workout for the adrenal gland, a ton of blown hairball fun, and the fastest, most effortless way ever to get from Point A to B in a straight or curved line on two wheels. When will it end?

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