caught in the wild

Kawasaki H2

So ugly, yet so beautiful…

When you read the words ‘it looks better in real life’ you can usually assume the subject matter isn’t what you’d call easy on the eye. Kawasaki’s H2 and track only H2R are not what you’d call classically beautiful like, say Ducati’s original 916, and I don’t think anyone is going to describe them as easy on the eye. After seeing one in the wild at this year’s Isle of Man TT races (coverage to come) I can confidently say that beauty is in the eye of the key holder.

Kawasaki h2

On the plus side, you can’t see the bike from here.

As you’d probably already know by now, the H2 (and its H2R track only sibling) are powered by centrifugally supercharged in-line four cylinders displacing 998cc. The bike pictured is the ‘road orientated’, if you could call it that, version of the H2 which means it’s only pushing out about 150 kilowatts and has lost the crazy wings that adorn the H2R. Let’s rewind though. This is the low powered version of Kawasaki’s new flagship and it’s still funnelling 150+ kilowatts to its 200 section rear tyre, which according to the pilot of this bike only lasts “about 450 miles when you’re pushing on”. The tyre in the picture below had last the owner about a week’s worth of hard riding on the Isle’s torturous 31 mile road. Both road and track versions only come in the ‘one’ colour, which could be described as chrome. That is until you see it in changing light and changing angles. All of these bikes are painted by hand at Kawasaki and to achieve the colour that is sometimes chrome, sometimes black and occasionally a dark shade of brown, an actual layer of silver is lay over the panels which is created due to a chemical reaction between a solution of silver ions and a reducing agent.

Look closer. That rear tyre hasn't even managed 700kms.

Look closer. That rear tyre hasn’t even managed 700kms.

After the H2’s looks, arguably the biggest draw card to the bike is the fact that it’s been fitted, from the factory, with a centrifugal supercharger. These superchargers are a belt driven turbine (unlike a turbocharger that uses exhaust gasses to turn the impeller) and unlike their roots, or screw type counterparts, they make boost in a linear fashion. The harder the bike is revved and the faster the supercharger is spun, the more boost it will make. The supercharger was actually designed by Kawasaki in-house and feeds up to 30psi of boost into the H2’s engine. To say that this bike is fast is an understatement. Motorcycle News (MCN) in the UK has not only called it ‘one of the most important bikes of our generation’ but has also revealed that it is the fastest accelerating production bike that they have ever tested.  It manages to be the fastest bike they’ve ever tested while weighing in at 236kg, or about 50kg heavier than Ducati’s Panigale.

Not a badge you see on a motorbike everyday.

Not a badge you see on a motorbike everyday.

For the $35,000 (Australian Dollars) price of admission you not only get the fastest bike (in a straight-line) on the road, but you get one with the previously mentioned supercharger, traction control, launch control, ABS and a quick-shifter all as standard. I’m not trying to say that $35,000 is cheap but for your money you’re getting one of the most unique motorcycles built in the past decade and when it will reach 180 MP/H in under 15 seconds from rest, I think you’re getting your money’s worth. You certainly won’t lose it in the car-park either…

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