Legend of the formidable Kawasaki Ninja H2R

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Being made exclusively for the track, the Ninja H2R and it’s 320hp madness is after all the most outrageously powerful motorcycle ever produced. This has forced me to think really hard how not to overstate all the marvels and the resulting supercharged hybrid of the Kawasaki Ninja H2R.

With many jaw dropping videos on digital networks as well as saliva-dripping reviews in US and UK high-street magazines, what contribution to knowledge could I possibly make by iterating on this side of the globe?

I’m 36 year-old, but I‘m no Rossi and I don’t intend to be fictional nor fictitious. Perhaps I’ll go through the press kit and tell you guys what’s in the brochure?

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After much pondering at all the bells and whistles of its street-legal H2 sibling (CLICK HERE for 10 things you need to know about the supercharged Kawasaki Ninja H2), the brief technical presentation by Kawasaki Motors Malaysia and BikeArt Racing Team on H2R earlier that morning recapped key features and differences between the two supercharged siblings. These include cam profiles, head gasket, compression ratio, clutch plates, titanium exhaust and ECU mappings.

Deemed to be too ‘hyper’ for the streets, the dB level from its titanium pipes threatens to impair hearing even at idlie. Imagine the shrieking scream it pumps out when blasting down the local highways at full throttle.

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After sampling the street version H2, we’ve been invited to have a go at the ridiculous H2R and later share our thoughts with the rest of the Malaysian Media and dealers during lunch break, here are some pointers from our brief encounter with the H2R.

Didn’t get to play with different traction-control (KTRC) settings. It was set at 3+ which is the highest safety net. I can recall the LED blinks, engine cut-off and backfires when traction control kicks in at almost all turns, most pronounced at Turn 2, 4, 9, 10, 14, 15.

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Despite the carbon fiber fairing costing RM30,000 a set, we would definitely like to try Setting 1-, 1 and 1+ next time to experiment the traction-control range, and hoping no costly high-side in the process!

H2R felt very dialled-in (no slack in ride-by-wire response and throttle cable), with the tyre-warmers doing their job in making sure the Bridgestone Battlax V01 race-compound tires to be much stickier than the Battlax RS10 (on street H2). The KYB race suspension rebound and recover quicker, and turn-ins are much sharper too. In a nutshell, it truly felt like a race-prepped bike.

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Exhaust note is monstrous, but honest – Coupled with the supercharger whine and chirps, it has no empty pulses and definitely no empty promises. Exhaust note truly represent rider’s throttle input so it becomes a game to get on super-smooth lines and early throttle roll-ons.

Felt much lighter, exactly a substantial 22kg off the street-H2 thanks to titanium pipes, removed catalytic-converter, carbon fiber (CFRP) wings, panels and bodywork all contributing to a much quicker steering and change in direction.

H2R engine revs freely and is ever so responsive. The ride-by-wire setting is different than the H2,  and cam profile is designed for mid-high-end power (instead of low-mid-end on the H2). The 1-litre supercharged engine delivers a smooth linear power and flat torque curve, any tuner would agree it’s almost near perfection. Pity for us the KTRC kept on interfering, forcing engine cut-offs when exiting turns and powering up.

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Dynamics is supersports-like – Although no match to Kawasaki’s WSBK Championship bike in ZX-10R, the H2R carries the same DNA and will definitely run-circles around the dated hyper-bikes like the ZX-14R and the Busa. The change in direction and flicks (Turn 2, 5 and 6) are very sharp although you do feel carrying the bulk of the Hulk. Nonetheless, the sheer size does add to stability especially in the turns.

The MotoGP and F1 dog-ring gearbox is precise, consistent, seamless and works in tandem with climbing RPM which propel you on the straights and also when throwing-off gears (approaching apexes). Wishing Kawasaki to integrate similar “auto-blip-assist” like in the new BMWs – so we can concentrate on our brake modulation when shaving-off 300km/h approaching Turn 1.

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** Did not get to sample Kawasaki Launch Control Mode (KLCM) at the starting grid and the Kawasaki Engine Brake Control (KEBC ) for reduced engine braking for advanced trackers.

Hence to put the Ninja H2R review into perspective, the short saddle time through 15 turns of Sepang tarmac was enough to present glimpses of its explosive supercharged hybrid muscle, transmitted through its composed trellis frame. The balance of the chassis was demonstrated at wide-open-throttle (WOT) and during heavy braking (Brembo pumps and monoblocs) as well as turn-in and mid-turn steering.

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With adjustable military-grade electronics and space-age aerodynamics to prevent you from launching to the moon, the H2R can definitely be a tool to have fun at the track, even for the avid track-day goers and not only for race-bred bikers. The multiple safety nets can be reduced and turned off as the rider advances his riding skills.????????????????????????????????????The Kawasaki Ninja H2R proves that fireworks, frills and thrills can be bought, although they come at an arguably hefty price of RM299,999.

** Thank you to Kawasaki Motors (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd

Ninja H2 – RM153,900 (inclusive 6% GST, excluded OTR expenses )

Ninja H2R – RM299,900 (inclusive 6% GST, excluded OTR expenses )

** Photos by Abdul Shukor Md Janis, Aiemax Choomoo and Eugene Ong

Adam M.

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