2015 Kawasaki Ninja H2 First Look Review

The other shoe has dropped in Kawasaki’s seemingly interminable tease campaign for its pair of hyper-performance sport bikes. Last month, we got a look at the track-only Ninja H2R, and now Kawasaki has revealed the street-going version–the 2015 Kawasaki Ninja H2.

With an emphasis on raw power, the new Ninja H2 features a 998cc inline-4 with a proprietary Kawasaki supercharger that pumps out 20.5 psi of boost pressure. Four 50mm fuel injectors with dual injection then deliver the charged intake to the combustion chamber.

The supercharger utilized various divisions of the parent Kawasaki Heavy Industries Group, including the Gas & Turbine Machinery Company, Aerospace Company, and Corporate Technology Division. In conjunction with the H2R, the Ninja H2 is unquestionably a halo product, as the H2’s $25,000 price tag and limited production attests.

According to Kawasaki sources, “One of the greatest benefits of designing the supercharger in-house and tailoring its design to match the character of the Ninja H2 engine was that engineers were able to achieve high-efficiency over a wide range of conditions, something that would not have been possible by simply using an aftermarket automotive supercharger.

The source went on to explain, “The importance of high efficiency in a supercharger is so that, as air is compressed, power-robbing heat gain is minimal. And while many superchargers are able to offer high-efficiency operation in a limited range of conditions, the KHI-designed supercharger for the Ninja H2 offers high efficiency over a wide range of pressure ratios and flow rates – so it is over a wide range of engine- and vehicle speeds. This wide range of efficient operation (similar to having a wide powerband) translates into strong acceleration. The supercharger’s high efficiency and minimal heat gain meant an intercooler was unnecessary, allowing savings in both weight and space.”

A planetary gear train off the crankshaft runs the supercharger. The impeller speed is 9.2 times that of the crankshaft, so the supercharger’s impeller shaft spins up to nearly 130,000 rpm. A CNC machine uses a forged block of aluminum to create the 69mm impeller, which has 12 blades at the base that narrow down to six blades at the tip, according to Kawasaki. This creates a pumping capacity of 200 liters per second with the air intake speed hitting as much as 1000 meters per second. The result is a charge that tops out at 2.4 times that of atmospheric temperature.

Air is fed to the supercharger via a single ram air intake in a nearly straight line, with the duct’s shape optimized to work as efficiently as possible with the impeller. The air cleaner is directly in front of the supercharger.

The air filter gets its air from a six-liter aluminum intake chamber. Aluminum was selected as a material, as it dissipates heat (keeping the air cool) and the rigidity of the aluminum pressurizes the air to 29.4 psi.

A Kawasaki spokesman describes the complex movement of air and fuel once it’s mixed: “Inside the intake chamber, newly developed Kawasaki technology contributes to the engine’s high performance. The top injectors spray fuel onto stainless steel mesh positioned over the intake funnels. This has an ordering effect, creating a more uniform air/fuel mixture as the fuel is drawn into the intake funnel. The mesh also promotes fuel misting, which helps cool the intake air and increases combustion chamber efficiency.”

Cast flat-crown pistons are used, which have been implemented in the Green Gas Engine developed by Kawasaki’s Gas Turbine & Machinery Company. This helps the 2015 Kawasaki Ninja H2 run on pump gas without knocking. For added efficiency and lightness, the casting process removes unnecessary material. Low-tension piston rings lessen mechanical loss.

The exhaust valves are unusually high-tech — Inconel, a highly heat-resistant alloy, is used for the valve head and lower half of the tapered stem. The upper half of the stem is heat-resistant steel. Stainless steel is used for the intake valves. The valves are fed through straight exhaust port (one per valve) for efficient air removal. The cams have a profile that focuses on low-rpm torque production.

The cooling system is a combination of traditional water jacket (with a high air-flow radiator), a liquid-cooled oil cooler, and oil jets that lubricate supercharger, pistons (two jets per cylinder), and transmission.

Kawasaki tapped MotoGP and Formula 1 technology for the transmission, which uses a dog-ring type design. The Kawasaki Race Team assisted in the development. A dog-ring transmission keeps the gears in place during shifting, which means fewer moving parts, a lighter shift effort, improved feel, and faster gear changing (a quickshifter is standard), according to Kawasaki. Brembo supplies the radial pump master cylinder and release mechanism for the clutch, which also has an adjustable back-torque limiter to eliminate wheel shop during downshifting.

A trellis frame is tapped to handle the power produced by the supercharged 2015 Kawasaki H2 motor. Different pipe diameters, thicknesses and bends are used to optimize strength and flexibility. It is assisted by an Öhlins electronic steering damper, which adjusts its power using electronics and information provided by the ECU.

The engine is part of the frame, as the swingarm mounting plate bolts directly to the motor. This design eliminates the crossbrace in an effort to reduce weight. The swingarm is single-sided to allow the muffler to be mounted close to the bike’s center of gravity.

KYB provides the suspension for the 2015 Kawasaki Ninja H2, and it is fully adjustable. The front has AOS-II racing forks, with low friction and progressive damping. The cartridge forks keeps the air and oil separate, which is a technology developed for motocross and supercross racing. The shock mounts to the swingarm mounting plate and uses an updated version of Kawasaki’s Uni-Trak linkage system.

There is a pair of 330mm Brembo semi-floating discs in the front with rigidly mounted Brembo monoblock calipers. The radially mounted master cylinder pump is from Brembo, and there’s a single 250mm disc in the rear. KIBS — Kawasaki Intelligent Anti-Lock Brake System — is taken from the Ninja ZX-10R.

Five-spoke wheels are used, with a star pattern, with the technology coming from World Superbike competition. The rims are knurled to reduce tire slippage on the rim when the power from the supercharged motor hits.

Aerodynamics are designed to be neutral, favoring neither top speed or turning, with a focus on being sleek. Downforce is added by the upper cowl’s chin spoiler, for stability at high speeds. The mirror mounts were designed by Kawasaki Aerospace Company, and use airfoil cross-sections for additional downforce.

Ergonomics are slightly less aggressive than the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R superbike, and the hip-supporting pads are adjustable to rider preference.

To assist the rider on the track and street, the 2015 Kawasaki Ninja H2 has a full array of electronic. There are three levels of traction control — track, street, wet — as well as an off position. A separate Rain Mode turns on full traction control, as well as limiting power production. There is also a Low power mode when needed.

Lighting is via LED headlamps, taillight and turn signals, while a special high-tech paint gives the 2015 Kawasaki Ninja H2 a fully unique appearance.

As is Kawasaki’s custom for street legal bikes, there are no claims of horsepower and top speed figures for the 2015 Kawasaki Ninja H2.

Specifications: 2015 Kawasaki Ninja H2
Engine: Liquid-cooled inline-4
Displacement: 998cc
Bore x Stroke: 76 x 55mm
Compression Ratio: 8.5: 1
Fuel System: Fuel injection: 50mm x 4 with dual injection
Intake System: Kawasaki supercharger
Cooling System: Water-cooled
Lubrication: Forced lubrication, wet sump with oil cooler
Ignition: Digital
Transmission: 6-speed, return, dog-ring
Final Drive: Chain
Frame Type: Trellis, high-tensile steel, with swingarm mounting plate
Rake/Trail: 24.4˚ / 4 inches
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gallons
Front Suspension / Wheel Travel: 43mm inverted fork with rebound and compression damping,
spring preload adjustability and top-out springs / 4.7
Rear Suspension / Wheel Travel: Uni-Trak with gas-charged shock, piggyback reservoir,
dual-range (high/low-speed) compression damping, rebound
damping and preload adjustability, and top-out spring / 5.3 inches
Front Tire Size: 120/70 ZR17 M/C (58W)
Rear Tire Size: 200/55 ZR17 M/C (78W)
Front Brakes: Dual radial-mount, opposed 4-piston calipers, dual semi-floating
330mm discs
Rear Brakes: Opposed 2-piston calipers, single 250mm disc
Overall Length: 82 inches
Overall Width: 30.3 inches
Overall Height: 44.3
Overall Height Windscreen Lowered/Raised: N/A
Ground Clearance: 5.1 inches
Seat Height: 32.5 inches
Curb Weight: 524.7 pounds
Wheelbase: 57.3 inches
Color: Mirror Coated Black
MSRP 2015 Kawasaki Ninja H2: $25,000