– Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

2018 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE: MD First Ride

It wasn’t long ago that forced induction motorcycles were the exclusive province of enthusiast tinkerers with more time and money than common sense. Sure, massive horsepower was obtainable, but at the cost of anything resembling reasonable reliability or efficiency. You can credit Kawasaki for beginning to move the industry toward the “normalization” of forced induction, production motorcycles with the introduction of the H2 models a few years ago.

Now, Kawasaki wants to take another step. Continuing with supercharging, as opposed to turbo-charging, Kawasaki takes aim at riders who want to combine extreme performance with a much more comfortable, practical machine. To do so, Kawasaki has developed the Ninja H2 SX sport tourers, including both a standard model and the “SE” we tested yesterday.

We discussed all of the technical details in an earlier article, but plenty of it bears repeating, and emphasizing, here. Let’s begin by pointing out that the Ninja H2 SX SE is a premium motorcycle priced at $22,000 (the standard H2 SX is $19,000). This is Kawasaki’s current flagship machine, and it includes plenty of top-shelf features in addition to the amazing engine.

This steel trellis frame is exclusive to the H2 SX models. Although Kawasaki has several bikes now with steel trellis frames, this particular frame was designed to carry significantly increased passenger/luggage loads. A longer wheelbase, much more comfortable rider/passenger accommodations and incorporated saddlebag mounts distinguish the new sport tourers from their more aggressive H2 siblings. The SE we tested even includes heated grips (and cruise control).

As you might imagine, as a premium sport machine, the Ninja H2 SX SE also includes just about every electronic/computer aid currently available on a state-of-the-art motorcycle. We quote Kawasaki’s summary:

“The 2018 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX and Ninja H2 SX SE are designed to be premier, class-leading sportbike machines. The 2018 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX and Ninja H2 SX SE feature brand new Kawasaki Electronic Cruise Control, Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC), Kawasaki anti-lock Braking (KIBS) and Bosch IMU. Thanks to the Kawasaki proprietary software that works with the IMU, the Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX features six axes of measurement creating a highly advanced electronics package.”

The traction control (adjustable in stages, including off) and the KIBS operate with real-time input from the Bosch IMU. Essentially, the IMU factors in lean angle, G-forces, yaw, pitch, roll, etc. to help the rider maintain traction, and stay upright.

Kawasaki emphasized the importance of its proprietary software in the performance of its electronics package, and you would have to assume Kawasaki knows a thing, or two, about such software when you look at the dominance of three-time WSB champion Jonathan Rea on his Kawasaki superbike. Given the performance capabilities of the Ninja H2 SX SE we rode yesterday, this electronics package is an important component in the riding experience. Trust us.

While both the standard and the SE models feature LED headlamp and tail light, together with common engine and chassis components, the SE we tested has these additional features:

  • LED Cornering Lights
  • Multi-Function TFT Color LCD Meter
  • Larger Windscreen
  • Kawasaki Launch Control Mode (KLCM)
  • Kawasaki Quick Shifter (KWS) (up and down)
  • Steel Braided Brake Lines
  • Heated Grips
  • Centerstand

The cornering lights (three on each side of the fairing) light-up progressively as you lean the bike over in a corner. The new TFT instrument panel is gorgeous … with outstanding levels of brightness/contrast, and several modes that the rider can toggle through. In addition to changing the readout from white on black to black on white, you can switch the display from Touring Mode to Sport Mode, and emphasize different bits of information such as boost pressure and braking force (as well as a whole lot of other information made available by that proprietary software and IMU). Although we didn’t have a lot of time to play with the display, we can tell you that Kawasaki did a good job making each of these read-outs legible at a glance.

On the subject of adjustable performance, Kawasaki includes the ability to change engine braking forces from standard to “light”, and three power modes (Full, Middle (75%), and Low (50%)). From our brief experience, all of these adjustments work just about as seamlessly as you could expect, with the different power levels remaining smooth and predictable in their performance.

The KYB suspension is fully adjustable front and rear, including compression, rebound and spring preload. The rear shock even allows you to adjust two types of compression, high and low speed. You can adjust rear shock preload without tools by simply turning an external knob below the seat.

Did we mention the engine? The 998cc four-cylinder, supercharged engine is essentially all new in the H2 SX models. Compared to the prior H2 models, a myriad of new parts and designs were focused on increasing thermal efficiency to achieve excellent low-to-mid street power and improved fuel economy. Among the changes are new pistons, cylinder head and cylinder, new cam profiles, and a new supercharger impeller. The list of changes is long, but one of the results is striking. Compared to earlier H2 models, engine compression in the H2 SX machines has increased dramatically … from 8.5:1 to 11.2:1. Kawasaki emphasized that the supercharger is an in-house design which meets reliability standards set for all street legal motorcycles produced by KHI. To this end, it is relatively simple and without an intercooler, featuring “minimal heat gain”.

The six-speed transmission is a dog-ring-type, and the clutch is the now familiar “assist and slipper” that reduces clutch pull effort, and prevents rear-wheel lock-up following aggressive downshifts.

It is immediately apparent that the ergonomics of the H2 SX SE are very relaxed for a “sportbike”. The bars are relatively high and the footpegs are placed more forward and lower. This is not a bolt upright seating position like an adventure bike, or even a dedicated luxury tourer, but it is a comfortable enough perch for an extended trip.

When we first pulled out of the hotel parking lot to begin our test ride along with four other journalists, it was clear within the first half mile that this is a remarkably smooth inline-four powerplant. In fact, three of the other journalists agreed with me that the H2 SX SE was surprising in this regard.

The engine features two balance shafts, and, together with that smoothness, delivers its power in a largely predictable, linear fashion. Why do we say “largely”? Because below 7,500 rpm the bike simply feels like a fast, normally aspirated 1,000cc motorcycle. Plenty of power for around town where the tach will stay between 4,000 and 7,000 rpm. Then there is the power delivered about 7,500 rpm…

If you find yourself at 7,500 rpm, or so, on either the standard or SE version of the H2 SX, and you want to twist the throttle hard to the stops, make sure you have plenty of unobstructed road in front of you. Again, without any unnecessary drama, from just below 8,000 rpm until 11,000 rpm (where horsepower peaks at close to 200), this bike becomes a bullet. See that car a quarter of a mile in front of you traveling the same direction at 80 mph? Your closing speed to his/her rear bumper will shock you.

The last time I had a similar sensation of acceleration was aboard another Kawasaki … the ZX-14R. The difference is that the Ninja H2 SX SE goes about this business of mad acceleration in a different way. While the acceleration is stunning, the bike feels so smooth and unfussed that it is different from your typical, normally aspirated, mega-horsepower machine. Can a bike this quick, be “sneaky fast?” In a way, yes. You might find yourself asking, inside your helmet, “Did that just happen?” The sensation is almost surreal.

Aside from the engine performance, perhaps the most notable aspect is the suspension action. In a word, the suspension feels superb. The holy grail of suspension tuning (for a street bike, at least) is to combine sufficient stiffness (damping) to permit aggressive riding, with plush, supple absorption of stutter bumps (lane dividers, pothole edges, etc.). The Ninja H2 SX SE does this as well as, or better than, just about any other bike we can remember.

We never touched any of the suspension settings provided to us by Kawasaki for our test ride. In the afternoon, when the pace picked up, I did feel that my 210 pounds could use a bit more spring preload on the rear shock (easy enough to do with the hand crank available), but even without dialing that in I had no trouble keeping pace with some very fast riders. The bike handles very well, indeed, given a claimed wet weight of 573 pounds (with the 5.0 gallon tank full). The wide, high bars provide good leverage, and the bike tracks a smooth arc through corners, although you certainly won’t be flicking it from side-to-side like a dedicated supersport.

The quick shifter, combined with the excellent dog ring-type transmission allows you to completely forget about the clutch during aggressive riding. Full power upshifts and closed throttle downshifts without the clutch are smoother than anything we have experienced on a production street motorcycle. We don’t say that lightly … you have to experience it yourself to understand. Engine speed, of course, is precisely adjusted to match the needs of these downshifts and upshifts. It all happens instantly and seamlessly. Very impressive stuff.

It goes without saying that a bike like this needs outstanding brakes, and the Ninja H2 SX SE delivers. With steel-braided brake lines standard, the radial-mount, four-piston calipers offer a predictable, but strong, grip on the 320 mm dual discs in front. I purposely, repeatedly, stressed the brakes during one photo stop, and the power and modulation was fantastic. I thought I would induce a pulse from the ABS system, but never felt one.

Throttle response, always an issue with any Euro 4 compliant, fuel injected motorcycle, is outstanding. Opening a fully closed throttle, unlike many other Euro 4 compliant bikes, results in a seamless, snatch-free transition to power.

The only complaints we have concern seat comfort after several hours on the bike (it started to feel a bit hard), and the length of the reach to the bars (probably, a very subjective feeling).

In sum, after 180 miles aboard the 2018 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE, we are beyond impressed. “Stunned” might be the term we are looking for. The engine, suspension and transmission each perform near the pinnacle for such systems on production motorcycles. The fact that this bike combines all three, together with the rest of its attributes, underscores Kawasaki’s claim that this is a “premium” product, and its current flagship.

It is an expensive motorcycle, but, based on our test ride, a good value nonetheless. If you are an experienced motorcyclist looking for a thrill ride, but don’t want to suffer the traditional, sportbike ergonomics, the Ninja H2 SX SE may be calling your name.

Kawasaki offers a number of accessories for both H2 SX models, including the nicely integrated saddlebags shown in some of the photos. For additional details and specifications, visit Kawasaki’s web site here.

See more of MD’s great photography:



  1. remmy says:

    Dirk, how is the riding position compared to the Ninja 1000? About the same a bit lower?

    • Dirck Edge says:

      I think the Ninja 1000 is slightly more upright with less reach to the bars, but they are close.

  2. Mark in NYS says:

    After considering an H2 SX SE, I went with a KTM 1290 Super Duke GT. Just got it yesterday. Weight was the biggest consideration – KTM 503 lbs. wet weight vs. Kawi 573 lbs. And that’s with 6.1gallon fuel capacity for the KTM vs. 5.0 gals for the H2, so the differential is actually larger than 70 lbs.

    Riding the GT, light weight was one of my first impressions… light as a feather, flickable as hell, with a 173 HP Godzilla between your legs. Didn’t have the chance to test ride an H2, but from reviews it was clear handling is a bit tank like, esp compared to the KTM.

    Price was another factor. Compared to $22,000 MSRP on the H2 (bags not included), I scored the KTM for $15,500, bags included… $17,000 OTD with tax and reg.

    Plus, I’m replacing a Gen 1 FZ1 I’ve ridden for 8 years… so a switch from inline 4 to V-twin is a cool change of pace. Aesthetically, the Kawi didn’t do it for me. Green and black, eh.

    Super Duke GT aesthetics are definitely a matter of taste, but that sharp beak grew on me, and I love the color scheme of silver, black and a touch of orange. The GT is definitely a unique looking moto, whereas the Kawi is more of that almost commoditized Transformers style I dislike.

    I may regret the KTM in terms of reliability and dealer support, TBD. Then again, remains to be seen how reliable the Kawi supercharger is in the SX SE. Hey if it doesn’t work out with KTM, I might find myself on an H2 SX SE down the road.

    • Bob K says:

      Mark, that’s a great score. And it’s about the same price a friend of mine paid for his 1290R Super Adv last month. There is a tremendous bang for the buck for sure with the KTM. You also have to wonder, given the tube frame design and separate cylinder banks, how did KTM do it with 70 lbs less weight?
      I don’t think you’ll have to worry about reliability on the KTM. Texas is an orange state when it comes to dirt bikes, roughly 60% of all bikes on the trails and tracks here. And the KTM has been eating up a lot of BMW’s market in the adv segment here as well. So far, since the 1090 and 1190 have been out, between adv rider and the friends I have with them, none have had any complaints.
      Well, the only complain has been if you want the Akrapovic exhaust, you have to buy it through the powerparts at a ridiculously marked up price. Hence, none of my friends bought one. They got it from other manufacturers and easily saved $500 on just the Y-pipe and muffler.

  3. mickey says:

    ok, I have some questions maybe somebody more knowledgeable can address

    How much more complicated does the super charger make it over a normally aspirated engine?

    Is it going to take a specially trained mechanic to work on it?

    If so, will there be one at every Kawasaki dealership?

    Should it be durable enough to go say 50,000 miles without breaking down?

    Does it require extra maintenance?

    If a super charged engine is down horsepower and torque on the normally aspirated engine as stated below, what’s the point of the super charger?

    lets start with those….

    • Tank says:

      “will there be one (specially trained mechanic) at every Kawasaki dealership?”- Yes, and his name is Goober.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      There isn’t anything different about the engine that would require special training to work on. There is no intercooling, so this is pretty straightforward. I read that the tolerances of the supercharger are so tight that Kawasaki designed the supercharger as an unserviceable unit – it can’t be opened up.

      The supercharger is lubricated with engine oil, so I imagine the oil change schedule should be treat with great respect.

    • Dirck Edge says:

      On peak horsepower question, 1441cc ZX-14R makes roughly the same as 998cc H2 SX, but my opinion (I have ridden both) is that H2 SX is much faster in the real world. Power is much easier to use, and the bike handles better and is much smoother. H2 SX should have significantly better fuel economy, as well.

    • Sean says:

      I’ve read the owners manual. Other than an impeller shaft inspection once in awhile, maintenance is like every other bike. I don’t see why it wouldn’t be as reliable as any other modern sportbike. H2s have been out for awhile, and owners completely mod and abuse those bikes with little problem. Granted, some of their internals are different.

      The H2SX (and H2 of course) are “down” on normally aspirated bikes (which they aren’t, they are on parity) because Kawasaki has put the bike in gimp mode via the ECU. The H2SX ECU has already been de-restricted by someone and put down 222 rwhp, completely stock (a 50 rwhp gain).

      • Bob K says:

        Sean, do you know who that is and on what forum? I’d be curious to know if that 222 HP was confined to just one of the map power settings or if it affected the normal and rain maps too.

        • Sean says:

          Woolich Racing already has a setup for it. They posted preliminary results here (hopefully links work here) (moderator, please approve if this goes to moderation queue, just trying to answer Bob’s request)

          but are still refining. Obviously the ideal situation is de-restrict ECU, full system, and dyno tune. I’m sure you can eek ~250 rwhp out of the SX fairly safely.

          • mickey says:

            Im sure the ECU restriction is due to the manufacturers voluntary restriction of 186 mph max speed agreed to in the year 2000

          • Sean says:

            @mickey, yes the H2 was also extremely restricted out of the box. The “genetlemen’s agreement” does not extend beyond the factory walls. Once in someone’s garage I think Kawi just say “go crazy” especially on these supercharged bikes. The amount of untapped power just from simply derestricting the ECU is unreal.

          • Bob K says:

            Thanks Sean.

  4. Pacer says:

    I love the fact that motorcycles are becoming comfortable.

  5. Martin B says:

    Nice little bike that will warp the time/space continuum. Getting there will be ALL the fun. This will bring cities closer together, and all the boring straight bits can be deleted with a throttle roll on, just like fast forwarding through the ads on my TV recorder. All the car makers are now going with adaptive cruise control, which makes a lot of sense. Is this coming? “Short touring” will no longer apply to distance, only time taken. A new genuine rapid transit solution. I wonder how far it will go if you actually use the performance potential. Range?

  6. Mick says:

    Forced induction was perhaps a decent idea the last time around. Now it just seems to add complexity to to a system that already makes enough power. The V4 Ducati engine makes more power and probably weighs less.

    • paquo says:

      Yes it would make sense if it offered a distinct advantage-mileage and power. A 600 cc bike that makes litre bike hp and gets good mpg while still weighing less.

  7. zedXmick says:

    This is the motorcycle i’ve been waiting for. I owned a Yamaha Turbo bike waaay back in the 80’s….and just miss the full boost rush of a force fed engine. I owned a 2010 C14 for one ride season (7,200 miles) and that bike was to heavy,to hot and had way to many vibes. I currently own a VFR 1200 DCT (from new) and I think this H2SE will replace that VFR. I went to the IMS show in Minneapolis just to see and sit on this H2SE. I’m 6’4” and this motorcycle was just about the same as my VFR….slightly more upright. Kudos to Kawasaki for bringing this motorcycle to market and I have read with CPU remapping that 210 RWHP is within reach. Force fed engines are back!!

  8. Todd says:

    Can it power wheelie at 120?

  9. Tank says:

    Makes as much sense as a Dodge Demon.

  10. bmbktmracer says:

    According to an MCN dyno test, the H2 SX is down 7 HP and about 20 lb-ft torque compared to a ZX-14. At least it costs a lot more. With bikes likes this, it’d be really nice if reviewers could tell us about the service intervals/costs.

    • Chris says:

      I’m with ya, racer. Bought my first 14r and found out it was supposed to get a valve adjustment at 15,000. All good with maintenance like that. Only problem was there isn’t room to do the adjustment with the engine in the frame. Just south of $500 to have it done. Ouch. Told the service manager, no matter how they measure out, tell me they REALLY REALLY needed that adjustment. 8,000 and change on my newer 14r. Starting to squirrel money away now.

  11. Track Junky says:

    I can’t wait to get my hands on one. I have a 14R and I don’t want anything else….except this. It better blow me away because the big 14 sure does.

  12. Bruce says:

    I am surprised to see all of the positive comments. To me, on looks alone it will not sell, but the majority seem to disagree. I thought the same thing about the Superduke GT, and well, they were not big sellers. I love Kawasakis and hope they do well, but there is no way that I would buy a bike that reminds me so much of the green station wagon from the Vacation movie.

  13. Bubba Blue says:

    I don’t think they’ll sell very many. $20,000 of so is going to be a lot o’dosh to a millenial. And the insurance is going to be somewhat more expensive than the bike itself. Not too many mature riders are going to be shopping for one of these when they could get a Goldwing, Yamaha FJR 1300 or whatever from Harley.
    Also, they aren’t going to make many. Most dealers won’t get one.

    Nice bike, I’d like one, but I don’t think they sell many. I bet they’ll be discounted in the winter.

    • Scott says:

      The target demographic for this bike is Millennials?

      • j_cott says:

        I’m a 41 Gen-Xer and I WANT this bike. Finally a sport tourer with sport and not a heavy fat dog like the ST’s Concours BS that has been passed off as ST bikes the last few years. Something that can do what my old 996 Superhawk with bags used to do, and that my current DL1k will not. So, maybe I’m the target demographic

        But, even as someone further along in my career than a millenial, I’m still not able to fork over $22k. In fact, I’m going the opposite way – thinking of trading in my trusty DL, and the HawkGT that doesn’t get ridden like it should for a used SV1000. I’ve got too many bicycles, snowboards, skis, etc in my garage for 2 motos right now.

        in 5-10 years, maybe a different story – I’ll have the money. But, will I still have the back/butt stamina for this bike?

        Crossing my fingers I can pick up a used one for under $10k in a few years….

        Oh – and a CENTER STAND? ABOUT TIME a sporty bike came wiht one that wasn’t a couple hundee to add on from an aftermarket supplier!!!!

      • Bubba Blue says:

        I honestly have no idea of the difference between Millennials, Gen-xers, Gen-Y and Generation Screwed. That isn’t the point.

  14. Don says:

    I know that this review is of an SE version but I still think the author should have taken the trouble to list what you get for the extra money when buying the SE vs. the “standard” version.

    • Don says:

      Ok, I got that info from reading the first article.

    • Sean says:

      It’s literally right in this review, after the third picture, but there are a few they forgot:

      LED Cornering Lights
      Multi-Function TFT Color LCD Meter
      Larger Windscreen
      Kawasaki Launch Control Mode (KLCM)
      Kawasaki Quick Shifter (KWS) (up and down)
      Steel Braided Brake Lines
      Heated Grips
      12v socket
      Polished wheel edges and graphics
      Double stitched, two tone seat

    • Provologna says:

      Lack reading comprehension skills, much?

  15. WillieB says:

    Looks great but I could never pull the trigger on it. I could pull the trigger on another Ninja 1000 with the suspension / swingarm / center stand from this bike though.

  16. Tom R says:

    It is brave of Kawasaki to bring this mega-moto bike to market. Too much power for me, but having the choice to partake is good.

    The front of it is reminiscent of an alien from Independence Day, and the headlight size runs counter to the trend of bigger-is-better for visibility’s sake. The look is certainly distinctive, which is no doubt the point. Other motorcyclists will definitely notice as you pull into the usual rider gathering spots.

  17. Neal says:

    Awesome machine. The funky corporate hard bags cheapen it and are the only major miss IMO. Those are the same bags that come on the Versys 650.

  18. mickey says:

    A technical tour de force by Kawasaki. Well done. Not a motorcycle I would buy as it’s just too much for me, like someone said I don’t need or want a 200 hp sport-tourer. My current sport-tourer has 125 hp and it has plenty of motor and has carried me and my wife effortlessly to all 4 corners of the country.

    That said, I do have a couple 3 personal nitpicks about this Kawasaki as shown. I don’t really care for the headlight. That little projector beam looks silly to me. Unless proven to provide a superior beam, I’d prefer a 7″ headlight. I know I like the looks of a larger beam better. Looking at the head on picture above, that little light is hardly noticeable, and to me would be a hazard in traffic. Unless I missed it Dirck never said it was superior but maybe Kaw didn’t let him ride it at night. He did mention cornering lights though. Secondly the bags..they are oddly shaped and mounted too high and too far rearward and look like after thoughts, instead of integrated into the design. Will they hold a full face helmet? Again Dirck never said in his review. Bike does look good without them though. Lastly the muffler is still ugly. Probably better than in past years on Kawasaki’s, but still, I think they could do a better job with designing the muffler.I imagine the aftermarket will take care of that.

    ABS good, Heated grips good, cruise control good, all things that SHOULD come on any bike with sport-touring pretensions. I too prefer shaft drive on my sport-tourers but can understand why this bike doesn’t have it, as it is logically more sport than tourer.

    • VLJ says:

      Also, hey, your 125-hp sport-tourer weighs nine thousand pounds, and still does the job.

      Yes, those bags will hold a large, full-face helmet. No questions there.

      Regarding the headlight, I agree, it looks positively awful, and probably doesn’t offer the greatest illumination. The current Ninja 1000’s large, dual LEDs set-up is a million times better, plus both sides light up, as they should.

  19. My2cents says:

    Each time I come back and read this article I stare for a while at each photo, and the more I look the better I appreciate this motorcycle. Kawasaki has really come into the marketplace with something no one else offers. Bravo Kawasaki of all the current Japanese manufacturers you seem to found what has been lacking from this group since the 1970’s, putting imagination to paper .

    • Pacer says:

      I agree Kawasaki is on a roll. Their cruisers could use some help, but those sale are dwindling anyway. Every where else they are hitting on all cylinders.

      I will say that the Japanese manufacturers have been doing more than p phoning it in.

  20. North of Missoula says:

    Daddy Like

  21. jimmihaffa says:

    As good as this bike supposedly is based on the review, I would struggle to justify paying $22K for it. Aesthetically, to my eyes, it’s quite ugly. The view from the cockpit is an unholy mess. Not quite sure what Kawasaki was thinking for their sport-tourer, but the dash on BMW’s 1600gt, for example, is much cleaner and much more sorted. For the price, I would like to see adjustable or telescopic handlebars and, frankly, even more technology. I’ve owned many Kawasakis and love the brand, but to me, there’s always been an element of value in buying a Kawi and this one is too rich for my blood. I’ll wait for rendition 2.0 and hope it impresses me more….yes even at $25k.

    • Sean says:

      Why are you comparing this bike to a 1600GT, a full blown, nearly 800lb tourer (depending on trim)? The SX is basically a hyperbike with a little extra weight, a little more comfort, and the ability to slap on bags if you so desire to take a trip once in awhile.

      • bmidd says:

        Price, features and doo-dads.

      • Jimmihaffa says:

        Well, it’s not a race bike or corner carver bike. Sure, it leans to the sport oriented side in the sport-tourer segment, but in terms of cockpit layout, I think the 1600 Gt comparison is valid..or take an Fj 1300 if you must. The Kawi has sloppy and needlessly complex components, racebike style brake fluid reservoirs mounted with brackets that look like something you’d buy at Home Depot…not befitting a $22k motorcycle.

  22. VLJ says:

    Everything sounds great, especially the throttle response. My local Kawasaki dealer told me that the monster H2 they still have sitting on their showroom floor has the worst, most glitchy throttle response he’s ever experienced. He described the H2 and H2R as being basically undrideable on the street.

    This sounds so much better.

    That being said, I can’t believe a “premium/flagship” $22K Japanese sport-tourer doesn’t include the bags as standard. That’s just criminal. I mean, come on, Kawasaki. You’re charging Toyota Camry money for a dedicated sport-tourer, you had the good sense this time to include heated grips, cruise control, and a centerstand as standard, but you’re going to make us pony up even more for the most obvious item on any sport-touring rider’s wish list…lockable saddle bags?



    Oh well, way to stick it to your dealer network, Kawisaki. You have to know that every last customer with cash in hand is going to make his local dealer throw those bags into the deal for free, including installation. I know I sure as hell would.

    The main thing I get from the introduction of this model is that the model I really want is now just around the corner…

    …a Ninja 1000 with a lighter, steel trellis frame, smoother counterbalanced motor, factory heated grips, cruise control, centerstand, and no more dual-seashell exhausts that sit directly where the heel of your boots want to go.

    Basically, just take this H2 SX SE, ditch the supercharger, adjust the bar position to that of the Ninja 1000, include the hard bags (or force the dealer eat the bill for them), and there would be precious little reason to buy any other fast sport-tourer.

    Or, conversely, take a Ninja 1000 and add the steel frame, cruise, heated brips, centerstand, and smoother motor.


    I don’t need a 200-hp sport-tourer. No one does, really. A smoother version of the Ninja 1000’s motor is more than fast enough for the intended mission, and this new HX covers everything else that needs changing on the venerable Ninja 1K.

    • Bubba says:

      Sorry VLJ, the supercharger must stay!! It is the essence of the bike.

      • VLJ says:

        The supercharger is the essence of this bike, but it’s a trivial contrivance that relegates the bike to a microscopically tiny niche market. The more comfortable and still-plenty-fast Ninja 1000 with a lighter frame and single exhaust system, smoother motor, standard cruise control, heated grips, and centerstand will outsell this $22K H2 SX oddity by at least five to one.

        • TimC says:

          At $22k I expect the niche market to be intended. This will trickle down though and I can’t wait.

        • Bubba says:

          If the supercharged version were close to the non-supercharged version in price (realistically that won’t happen), the 5 to 1 ratio you mention would be reversed… the vast majority of buyers would go for the supercharged version, no doubt. Except for you, I guess, but everyone to their own.

          • VLJ says:

            The supercharged version will never be priced similarly to the non-supercharged version, thus relegating the supercharged version to a very tiny market of potential buyers.

    • Sean says:

      And I bet you exactly zero dealers (at least in the U.S.) will throw in free hardbags. LOL

      • VLJ says:

        They do it all day long on the Ninja 1000, which only costs $12,199, so I’m 1000% certain they’ll do it for the $22K doorstop gathering dust on their showroom.

        • Bob K says:

          Really, you think you’ll get the cases thrown in? I’m not buying that you will ever get $900 of luggage thrown in for free (the cost of the bags, fill panels, and lockset). I had to pay full price for mine.
          Also, your comment that the N1k has a smoother engine is bollocks. A forced induction engine will always be inherently smoother, because intake air is not sucking and blowing back and forth in the tracts, causing power impulses to be felt (something different than rocking coupling). Also, the H2 SX looks like it has a slightly better rider triangle than the N1k.
          As to the salesman stating the H2 on the floor has the worst fueling ever, probably should find out if the TPS has even been set properly. Also, the H2R fueling is purposely set for hammering it to the end of 1/4 mile, not lazily riding down a suburban street, something which I doubt he did given it isn’t street legal. The standard H2 should have been much better provided the mechanics checked the TPS. No complaints from every other owner of the H2.

          • VLJ says:

            Yes, I absolutely think I would get the cases thrown in, locks and installation included. I know this for a fact.

            I just had them thrown in on the Ninja 1K, along with GAP insurance. Doing the same on a slow-selling $22K bike will be a doddle.

            I never said the N1K is smoother than the HX. Where did you get that from anything I said? What I said was I’d like to see the N1K receive the improvements implemented on the HX, including heated grips, cruise control, a centerstand, a lighter chassis, and a smoother motor.

  23. Jorge says:

    I like all of it!….mostly. The nose is FUGGLY

    • superlight says:

      As are the fairing side strakes and that damn green color. The whole bike is ugly to me.

  24. fred says:

    A Super Duke GT with a blown 4 banger

    • VLJ says:

      Except a Super Duke GT has a more upright seating position, hardbags included as standard, and a truly stupid-looking, wildly overdone beak.

  25. Sean says:

    Wow, you sound very positive on the bike, which is good news because I want one!

    It reminds me of my much beloved VFR800, on which I toured extensively. But the SX has every high tech feature available, and power for days. If a tourer has a chain it must have a single sided swingarm in my book. I’ll just throw some bar risers on it and tear start putting down miles, at an eye watering pace.

    This may very well be my next bike.

    I also chuckle when this is clearly a sport-touring bike, then people start railing with “That ain’t no tourin’ bike. It’s leaned over and stuff!!” They seem completely incapable of comprehending that some people do indeed ride sporty type bikes long distances.

    • RyYYZ says:

      “If a tourer has a chain it must have a single sided swingarm in my book.”

      Uh, why? In my book if a bike with any touring aspirations has a chain, it must have a center stand so that you can lube the damned chain at stops without having to do the “lube 6 inches of chain, move the bike forward 2 feet, lube another 6 inches of chain…” shuffle. And this one has one.

      To be sure, as someone said the single-sided swingarm will come in handy for the frequent tire changes that will be needed, though.

  26. Uncle Hud says:

    This could be a dreamboat for those of us who want to ride across the continent, but still want to zip through twisties when we get there. It could also serve as a fine commuter vehicle, if the Aerostich fits in a saddlebag and I add a topbox for my briefcase.

    Two items:
    1) It’s new. Let’s see what wrinkles get ironed out over the next two model years.
    2) With saddlebags, bar risers, and the aforementioned topbox as optional equipment, how does the Ninja Green Monster’s price compare to other sport touring bikes?

    PS: I love my FJR, but ……

    • beasty says:

      “Let’s see what wrinkles get ironed out over the next two model years”.

      Just an opinion, but I think after two more model years, this iteration will disappear.

    • Bob K says:

      The cases and all the little bits like the brackets and trim panels and lockset will add about 1000-1100 extra.

  27. PN says:

    Really impressed. Always knew suspensions could be better if the OEMs wanted to cost spec them. Would love to have one of these and just go on a coast to coast trip.

  28. Vrooom says:

    The price seems reasonable for what you get. I have a BMW K bike that cost that new and the transmission is pure John Deere. It surely doesn’t make 2/3 of that horsepower, and while it may be more comfortable, a set of bar risers and new seat would get it there. I’d call this a win.

    • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

      exactly. If you can make a Hayabusa into a sport tourer, this thing can be modified pretty easily to be more comfortable. Corbin will build to spec.

      The more I think about it the more this bike seems like a natural for the Autobahn

  29. viktor92 says:

    My dream bike always was the Zx14R, but with so many praises to the new H2 SE, I’m recalibrating my preferences…

    • bmidd says:

      There are so many leftover brand new 14Rs out there, you could have 2 for the price of this bike.

  30. arnain says:

    mera comment kaha hai????

  31. Hot Dog says:

    Beautiful machine! The one thing that’d make it perfect for me would be a shaft drive (and maybe a slush box).

    • Shaft drive = More weight and $$$…

      • Tom R says:

        So? I won’t notice the weight and I don’t care about the $$$.

        Chains and sprockets suck. Always have, always will.

      • Bob K says:

        When paying 22k for a bike, what’s another 1k? The extra weight is no big deal, maybe 10 more lbs than a regular swingarm and chain setup. Loved everyone of my BMWs and only changing diff fluid every 10k miles. No chain lube flinging onto the tire is nice.

  32. Neil says:

    One thing about my Ninja 500 that annoyed me was the reach to the bars. My 250 had spoiled me with its nice short wheelbase. I think people will buy this for the supercharged motor. It looks great parked. Good machine for bike nights. I can see just getting on the slab and running thru a tank of gas. Next stop the next state. Of course a friend has a mint 5th gen VFR with 7500 miles for 2900 so I may not be able to say no to that.

  33. Wendy says:

    Based on the initial reviews, this is a very desirable machine. for the iron butted sports tourer, it could be a magic fit. Of course, the insurance companies will fatten up on a motorcycle that has this amount of performance. Thanks but no thanks.

    • Uncle Hud says:

      Hey, Wendy, my first reaction was, “WOW! This might make a superb IBR bike.” Let’s see if anyone pulls up to the start line on this Ninja Green Monster.

    • Bob K says:

      This is the only thing that worries me. Premiums. Even the Ninja 1000 is hefty for comp and collision even with a clean record for over a decade.

  34. Dino says:

    Interesting package, the whole thing.. Might have to get down to my local dealer and try not to get distracted by the 900RS (apples and oranges, sure… both delicious!)

  35. Buzzard says:

    Kawasaki does it again. Looks like it would be ok for comfort. Speed wise WOW! A all around balanced bike that looks GREAT!

  36. Thor says:

    To you guys complaining about the ergonomics – buy a Goldwing. My first touring bike was a 95 YZF600. My second one was a KLR650. I went all over the country on those two machines and had a great time. I currently have a first generation FZ1, which is obviously more comfortable (and surprisingly gets the same or better gas mileage). This Kawasaki would be the perfect all around machine for me as long as I didn’t include dirt on the menu. It would make a great commuter, could carve corners on weekends, and then hit the open road for long trips. It’s obviously not for everyone and wasn’t intended to be.

    • Selecter says:

      Yes, to all of the above.

      Judging by the photos above (and actually sitting on them in showrooms…), this is THE archetypical sport-touring seating position. Not like an ADV bike. Not like a Gold Wing. SPORT touring.

      Exactly the first thing I thought when I started reading about the H2 SX – “this would be perfect to do everything except dirt on”. Shame I just flat don’t have the $20,000+ to acquire one…

      • Bob K says:

        I’ve explored a lot of dirt roads in Death Valley on my Ninja 1000…slowly. Obviously, I was very selective with my routes and mindful of my speed, but I got to see quite a bit. I just had to make sure I washed off all the Borax when I got back to civilization. But yeah, this should go everywhere else just fine.

    • John says:

      Here here!

  37. downgoesfraser says:

    I agree with Jeremy.

  38. WSHart says:

    Cool bike. Unfortunately, that riding position looks more “short touring” than “sport touring”.

    • todd says:

      Why is that? It looks very neutral to me, pretty close to identical to the riding position on my K75S. I can tour comfortably all day long on that.

    • TimC says:

      Any more upright and it’s a standard.

    • Bob K says:

      Rider traiangle looks extremely similar to the Ninja 1000 and my previous BMW R1100SA. Both bikes, I’ve done 1500 mile days on comfortably.

  39. beasty says:

    I like the cornering lights, center stand, slipper clutch and the steel braided brake lines. The seating position looks very similar to my Z900, which was very uncomfortable. I’m curious about gas mileage and gear ratios.

  40. John says:

    I like the idea of supercharging or electric motor assist, but it makes a whole lot more sense to me in a small engine, like 300-500cc. Because I like small engines, but I also don´t like to rev a motor at very high revs just to go at traffic speeds.

    • Bill says:

      I agree totally. A supercharged 500 could be a whole line-up. Or just a standard like they used to be and make of it what you will.

    • TimC says:

      Living in Denver and riding higher up than that, I hope this becomes more widespread indeed.

  41. Tom K. says:

    To quote an old friend, “This thing scares me, and I ain’t afraid of nothing”.

  42. Marc T says:

    What is the intended audience for this bike? I’m always looking for the ultimate sports/touring bike. Kawasaki has obviously nailed the “sports” part, with this and previous normally aspirated models. What about the “touring” part? You state that the riding position is more upright, but that there’s a long reach to the bars and you were uncomfortable after a few hours. And how many miles did you get out of that five gallon tank? I see a couple of modest sized panniers, but could I add a soft sided tail bag to haul more stuff? In other words, what would would a thousand mile trip on this bike be like? Extended touring, even at high speed, seems somewhat problematic.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      “Extended touring, even at high speed, seems somewhat problematic.”

      Well, to be fair, they already make an extended touring bike.

      This bike is for those looking for novelty, insane speed, sport, and the ability to travel if desired. The whole point of a sport touring motorcycle is compromise. Kawasaki just figured the engine didn’t need to be part of that compromise.

    • Uncle Hud says:

      “… what would a thousand mile trip on this bike be like?”

      I’ve done several Iron Butt SaddleSore 1,000 trips on my FJR, and I didn’t need any luggage since the SS1K is completed in less than 24 hours. I’ve also done a 50CC ride — Jacksonville to San Diego — in less than 50 hours. Luggage was a shaving kit and my pajamas.

      If you’re gone for more than 5 days, find a hotel with a washer/dryer and do laundry after dinner.

      This is strictly an on-pavement bike with cruise control, ABS, and the ability to carry freeway speeds all day long. You won’t need a barbecue grill and extra fuel cans.

      • mickey says:

        or better yet wear quick dry shirts, shorts and sox (like C9 apparel) under your outter riding gear and you can wash them out in a motel sink, wring em, hang em up to dry and they will be dry by morning. They roll up tiny and take up virtually no space. I wear one set and pack two (2 shirts, 2 shorts, 2 socks), and can travel for weeks without having to go to a laundry mat, as in 6,000 mile trips.

    • Bob K says:

      Mark, I’m on the list for this at Mancuso Powersports in Houston. I own a Ninja 1000 currently for ST duty. This H2 SX, by the spec sheet, looks amazingly dimensionally comparitive to the N1k. It is ever so slightly bigger but that will be a good thing as a little more room is usually most welcome. The riding position of my N1k looks the same as the H2 SX as far as the rider triangle goes. I will have no doubt that the H2 SX will be an even better tourer than the N1k.
      Comfort wise, I don’t know what Dirk is complaining about. I still use the stock seat on my N1k, which looks miserable by comparison to the H2 SX seat, and I’ve been from Houston to San Diego and back twice a year since I got it in 2011. Each time I do that trip across I-10 and I-8, I do it in one sitting, all 1450 miles of it every time, only stopping for food and bathroom breaks. And then there is my yearly 2-3 week vacation which is usually between 5000-8000 miles. The H2 SX will be fine all day and night, especially with a much smoother engine and other refinements like better aeros, better lighting, better suspension and better gas mileage. I usually get 38 mpg at 70-75 mph. Supposedly the H2 SX will get 41. I wouldn’t hesitate taking this to St. John’s Newfoundland or even doing the Trans-Lab again now that it’s been paved over. Was a little slow going back when it was just graded gravel.

  43. Someone always says, “If they could just……” If they could just put this engine and suspension in the new retro Z… I would have that 70’s bike with tachyon drive, balanced warp cores, subspace communications and zero field effect kinetics.

    • Dino says:

      don’t forget the balanced Flander’s valves.
      THEN you would have something.

      • beasty says:

        I happen to have a set of seven balanced Flanders valves. There were eight, but my cousin decided to use one as a gravy ladle. The fat and flour rendered it useless.

  44. If I had FU money, this is what I would buy…for the tickets alone

  45. Jeremy in TX says:

    Sounds like they nailed it. Consider that premium motorcycles from just about any manufacturers is in the $20K’s these days, I’d say this is indeed a good value for the money.

    I also think it is a great looking machine, too.