If publicity was their goal, Kawasaki’s insane Ninja H2 is a winner, the world of journalists and bloggers spouting forth in celebration of this supercharged sensation. But what’s it really like? Only owners know for sure…
Rod Cussans, 48, Designer/Fabricator
Kawasaki Ninja H2 is a masterpiece, the Bugatti Veyron of bikes. I haven’t bought it as an investment, or just to look at, I bought it to ride. It’s just about to go in for its 4000 mile service. That’s not as simple as normal because each Kawasaki dealer only has one technician who is trained to service the H2, so you have to book it in when he’s available. Watching the first service at 600 miles was fascinating because they have to measure the supercharger end float (how much the supercharger rotor moves axially), so you could see the turbine itself. Very sexy.
The technician let me measure the end float – you’ve got a jig which holds the dial gauge to the frame and then you push the turbine in and pull it out with your little finger to measure the movement. It was 0.10mm, which was micron perfect. It’s going to be interesting to see the wear on that as the miles go by.
The finish and quality is good. I parked next to an MV Brutale the other day and the frame was so poor compared with the Ninja H2’s. It was a block of council flats next to the Sears Tower. There’s a lovely resonance to the sound too. I used to have a ZZ-R1100 and that had a similar resonance, but when I got my ZX-12R the noise was more muted – it was more like a sewing machine. I was expecting the Kawasaki Ninja H2 to be even more muted than that, but it’s not. Plus the sound of the supercharger chirping lets you know when you’re getting a move on – you don’t really hear it below 7000 rpm.
I didn’t like the standard tyres. They’re very track focussed and look trick with their lack of tread but the back tyre was finished in 1600 miles, and a good bit of that was running in. I’ve now put Bridgestone Evo S20s on it (a dual compound road-orientated sports tyre). After 2500 miles it’s not far off finished.
Kawasaki Ninja H2 is difficult to ride smoothly because if you hit a little divot in the road and your throttle hand moves, the front end will come up and in a click you’re doing 20mph more. It’s definitely capable of catching people out. And it is fast. I had a GSX-R1000 follow me once and when I met the rider later he said when the road opened up I was like a bullet out of a gun. Gone. It’s an incredible thing. Saying that, it does attract some negativity – I had one guy on a ZZR1400 ask me if it was a penis extension.
I am going to modify it though. I’m 6ft 2 so the seat needs moving back and because the bike wants to wheelie all the time I’m going to put a longer swingarm on – if the new twin-sided swingarm is in the style of the trellis frame I think it would look ok. And although the wheels are gorgeous, I might replace them with carbon ones to save more weight. It might end up as the world’s first H2 hardtail chop.
Mick Godfrey, 50, Sales Director
I’ve raced Superbikes in World Endurance and at the TT – I came second to Michael Dunlop in the Classic Superbike race in 2012 – but, power-wise, there’s nothing like the Kawasaki Ninja H2. I took it out at Donington and got it spinning out of the Melbourne Loop and it was terrifying. When other bikes spin, you’ve still got a bit of grip and can control the slide, but not with this. It was like hitting ice. The power comes on so hard the tyre stands no chance. It was my fault because I had it on the least amount of traction control, but even so, I rode it round and put it straight back in the van.
I’m a complete Kawasaki nut. I’ve sold them for over 25 years and I’ve got a collection of 12 classic Kawasakis – there’s a 1972 Z1 in my living room. I just had to have the Kawasaki Ninja H2 – it’s the only handbuilt Kawasaki that’s not a race bike. I’m not a rich bloke so I bought it on PCP, and I’m expecting to be paying for it until I retire. I put down a big deposit and it’s £180 a month.
When I first rode it I was intrigued by the chirping noise the supercharger makes. One of the technical guys at Kawasaki told me it’s due to the impeller blades coming back down through the sound barrier (which is why you hear it rolling off the throttle and on some gear changes). Is that the coolest thing ever?
It’s not appreciably faster than anything else because superbikes these days are all so quick – it’s not as if you could leave a ZX-10R standing. Mind you, saying that, a friend who has one says that after 1000 miles the engine loosens up and it goes up another level. So perhaps I haven’t seen the best of it yet.
I’m never going to ride it just because I need to get somewhere. I’m lucky to be able to ride all sorts of bikes, so when I ride the Kawasaki Ninja H2, it has to be a nice day and I go out for two hours and enjoy it. It’s a special bike and I want it to feel like a special occasion. I leant my bike to R&G so they could make a range of accessories for it, and I’ve fitted one of their tail tidies. They also made me a paddock stand because the single-sided swingarm and five stud wheel means you can’t use a normal stand or one that fits Ducatis.
I’m already blown away by it. Just little things like the quickshifter – I use them on race bikes – which works so well on the Kawasaki Ninja H2. Even the way people look at you is different – I’ve had bikers nudging each other and pointing at it as I ride past, and the general public just stare at it. I’ve never known anything like it. I’m not normally into all that, but it does make me smile under my visor seeing people’s expressions say, ‘what the hell is that?’.