® Kawasaki's Fantastic H2, an Introduction

The Excitement Begins
It was June of 2014 when word of the H2 first surfaced at Kawasaki's U.S. office, Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. (KMC). We were all astounded. From the beginning this was an unusual bike. Cloaked in secrecy as is customary with new product, this bike was even more in blackout mode.

My favorite image. The bike simply drips with impact, passion, purposefulness. The H2R has got to be the most businesslike mass-produced Japanese litrebike in decades.
Moreover, it was accompanied by almost an indifference at Corporate that was at first perplexing. In time it became clearer why. First, it was because this new model was being more completely controlled by the parent company, Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI), than had any Kawasaki models in recent time. From the KHI-designed teaser videos on www.ninja-h2.com to the lack of media invitation to the one-time only resurrection of Kawasaki's historic River Mark logo, this was Kawasaki Japan's show all the way, no mistake about it.

This is not to say Kawasaki incorrectly marketed the product. Though many of us at KMC felt that the bike should, in keeping with its performance personna and ineligibity for road racing, be a 1400 or 1500cc brute, KHI purposely chose to make it a 1000 so as to have the huge backdrop of an entire open class sportbike market against which the H2 would be contrasted and judged. As a result, though literally owing nothing to Kawasaki's ZX-10R, the H2 has much of the 10R's overall architecture.

The H2 has generated an immense amount of buzz. Cycle World magazine penned an exclusive article that was embargoed until November 4, the date of the complete announcement at EICMA in Germany, and they released their online article on that very day, though a smaller "heads up" article came out a bit before that. KHI was pretty canny about the H2, releasing a series of "teaser" videos on ninja-h2.com, one at a time, over a period of months, each video revealing just a bit more, until the last several (there were 26 in all) openly communicated about the product. Jay Leno and Ricky Gadsen also eventually got into the act, with videos of their own. So much was the hype generated and so slowly was information about the bike released to the public, that in the early days someone on Facebook posted a $1000 offer for just a picture of the bike.

Equally interesting is the way the H2 and H2R were developed. Instead of building a hot rod that was streetable, and then amping that up to racetrack level, KHI did the opposite. They focused on building the bike they could build if there were absolutely no restrictions, no regulations, and it wasn't until that was done that they then embarked on making a street legal version. Two things resulted from this. First, and most importantly, I believe it resulted in a sharper focus on performance than would otherwise have been possible. Secondly, it made the spun-off road bike a much better product; the two bikes are very very close performance-wise, with the road bike retaining a remarkable amount of the balls-out character of the track model. Interestingly, there are literally only eight major performance parts separating the two bikes. This methodology was repeated in the marketing strategy. KHI's original plan was to announce the R model as a stand-alone bike, with no mention of the street model. Everyone would assume there was only one bike, and then months later Kawasaki could announce the road bike as an alternative for those who felt they couldn't commit to owning a track-only machine. A neat idea, but the fact of the road bike's existence immediately leaked out overseas and by the time of KMC's official November 4 press release the two-stage intro had been abandoned. Retained however is the ethic of this bike being a one-off build, an elitist's motorcycle choice. The H2 has no flooring plan, and U.S. and Canadian dealers are strongly discouraged from having a bike on the sales floor. This is part deliberate exclusivity and part necessary planning on KHI's part. As customers submit deposits to their dealers (10 percent, non-refundable), KHI builds bikes accordingly. No more and no less.

What Makes the H2 Special
It's no secret this is a very special motorcycle. The story goes that one engineer on the Ninja team developed the H2 project as a personal goal. Later, when he was in a position to act on it, he of course assembled a team and got buy-in from other parts of the company. The result is that, though KHI is understandably proud of the significant use of their various divisions having contributed technology to the project, the bike unmistakably bears this one man's stamp. The H2 is unique in several ways. Obviously the first mass-produced, warrantied, supercharged, speed-limited street-legal road bike, the H2 and H2R are also the first Kawasakis to have a single-sided swingarm and a trellis frame, the first Kawasaki having stainless steel valves, the first Big Four offerings to use the black chrome paint process, the first Kawasaki products in a score of years to bear Kawasaki's historic aircraft logo/River Mark, only the second Kawasaki design boasting an LED headlight, the third having monoblock brake calipers and ride-by-wire and the fourth Kawasaki motorcycle benefitting from a cassette type transmission. And in the R model configuration, the H2 is the first of any of the Big Four's products to have an almost exclusively carbon fiber body.

The H2's Reason for Being
So why did Kawasaki build this bike? The answer all of us came up with early on was simply, "because we can." It makes a lot of sense. But it soon became clear this was not the whole answer or even the best one. The answer to the question "why?" lies in the choice of the bike's name. By calling the bike the "H2," Kawasaki is communicating something elemental about their objective in creating this product. The original H2 of the 1970s was a bike that unabashedly cashed in all the usual marketing chips: refinement, handling, and broad appeal, trading them for something only testosterone-drenched minds could thoroughly appreciate: raw acceleration. That is precisly the H2's heritage and message. The H2 of 2015 doesn't attempt to be the fastest, glitsiest, most technological, or most iconoclastic, just the world's mass-produced easily attainable machine that most rudely compresses the jelly in your spinal column. That's it. This bike is a ride that has you smirking in your helmet and instantly clearing your bike want list to make room for this motorcycle at the top. Guaranteed. The fact is, KHI apparently did not expect to sell many H2s and have actually expressed surprise that at the close of the ordering period just a few days before Christmas, 1100 deposits had been received worldwide (total of both models), with just a little over 200 of these in the U.S. Roughly 1/10 of all units sold are R models.

Not Your Average Sport Bike
Here are some examples of the bike's aforementioned one-off, special build ethic. Some of the H2's components are non-rebuildable. The transmission, for example, and the brake and clutch hydraulics. The transmission because it is hand-shimmed at the factory, the Brembo hydraulics for almost the same reason, namely, hand setup at Kawasaki Japan. The H2R's carbon fiber replacement parts are said to be available by request only, and will be manufactured as needed (by the same group that makes carbon fiber for Kawasaki's race program), at breathtaking costs (an estimated $1500 for one of the R model's wings, for example) and presumably also a bit of a wait while the part is hand made and then sent across the water. Further, the current plan is for U.S.-bound R models to be accompanied at purchase by a spare set of slicks, tire warmers, and a full set of race stands, front and rear. Woohoo!

Both bikes produce over 20.5 psi intake boost for a total of over 35 psi inside the airbox. The R model makes 326 PS, equal to 321 hp, the road bike 210 PS, or 207 hp. The last few hp in each case due to the ram air system. The R model weighs just 476 lbs, the road bike just short of 50 pounds more, for 525 lbs. This gives the R model a power-to-weight ratio of 1:1.48. For perspective, Ford's V-8-equipped F150 produces the same horsepower but weighs almost 12 times as much as the H2R. Thus the Ford would have to make 3900 horsepower to have the same power-to-weight ratio. Think about that for a moment. When it comes to acceleration, power-to-weight is all-important, and remember, the H2 is all about acceleration.

Intake and Supercharger
Speaking of acceleration, let's take a look at the bike's intake system. While both bikes have ram air feeding directly into their superchargers, the R model has twin ram air intakes, while the road bike has one. The R model mounts its air filter directly behind the intake openings in the bike's front cowl, at the beginning of the ram air tube, while the road model has it mounted at the supercharger, at the end of the ram air tube. Both air filter elements are of a special high-flow design that has been used on only three other Kawasaki models, and neither filter is serviceable.

The supercharger is arguably the most interesting piece in the bike. Not terribly technological in itself, it is its solution to a well-known problem that is intriguing and startling. You see, centrifugal superchargers are not known for being all that user-friendly. They are basically turbochargers that are mechanically driven instead of exhaust driven, thus the centrifugal supercharger avoids at least one of the three problems inherent with turbos, the varying density of exhaust gases. It does not however avoid the second big disadvantage of centrifugal superchargers, and that is the fact that they are not positive displacement, that is, they do not move the same amount of air with each revolution, as does the more conventional Roots type supercharger. So it has that against it, as compared with the types of supercharger found in say, the Chevy Corvette, or for that matter, Kawasaki's own Ultra series supercharged personal watercraft (which actually use a smaller version of the Corvette unit, even made by the same manufacturer). Moreover, the third problem with centrifugal superchargers is that they, like turbos, inherently require a lot of rpm to move any air at all. They take time to spool up. Kawasaki attacked this last issue with the out-of-the-box solution of a built-in planetary gearbox, as part of the supercharger. This gearbox speeds up the supercharger's impeller shaft some eight times, which added to the gear and chain drive system coming into the gearset, results in an almost 1:10 overall supercharger drive ratio (specifically, 1:9.18). This is such a simple answer to the rpm problem that it is at once elegant and stupendous. KHI apparently has some experience with planetary gear systems as it builds them in its jet plane engines. But what it means to us is an awesomely high speed supercharger, whose impeller spins at well over 130,000 rpm! Now think of it. At idle, the supercharger's 5-axis CNC machined impeller is already turning almost 10,000 rpm! Incredible!

Despite the 20.5 psi boost (higher than even the company's 17.4 psi Ultra watercraft) the H2 and H2R do without an intercooler, a fact that Cycle World's Kevin Cameron found alarming (see his three videos on the H2 on the magazine's website). Kawasaki Japan has given three reasons for not using an intercooler, none of which involve the weight penalty, but you have to believe that was a factor (the intercooler in the Ultra watercraft is huge, larger even than the boat's supercharger). First, it is said that the supercharger, designed and built by KHI in-house, is inherently free from heat-producing compression within itself. This property of centrigugal superchargers is in fact well known, and therefore makes sense. Second, we are told that the ram air tube is carefully designed so that the intake air's density and speed lend themselves to keeping the air temperature low. Third, there is the bike's aluminum airbox, which while designed for maximum sealing also has an undeniable heat sink effect, drawing heat out of the compressed air. The supercharger's construction is otherwise fairly simple and is amply illustrated by a cutwaway drawing that shows how rotational motion comes in on the chain sprocket, moves along the shaft, goes into the planetary gearset, then into a bearing, and on to the supercharger's impeller. The bearing is an interesting piece. A plain bearing, it floats in oil, having oil on both its inside and outside surfaces. This serves three purposes. One, it allows the bearing to find its own rpm, thus limiting the shaft-to-bearing friction. Honda used this same technique in their 1982 and 1983 CX500 and CX650 Turbos, in which the turbocharger's bearing spun at half shaft speed. Second, the oil surrounding the bearing lends a cooling effect. And third, the oil serves as the system's shock damper, that is, it accepts and dissipates harmful load peaks arising from abrupt use of the throttle. The picture of the overall supercharger drive system shows crankshaft to gear to chain to supercharger shaft, to planetary gearset to impeller. Note the chain and chain tensioner. The drive system made up of gear and chain is lubricated by no fewer than three separate oiling points, including two directed on just the link plate type chain. The chain's tensioner, like most today, is hydraulicly assisted.
From one of the teaser videos. Those look like cylinders, don't they? They're not. They're throttles! These are the largest, at 50mm, that Kawasaki has ever used on a production sport bike.

Airbox and Throttles
The supercharged air then enters the aluminum airbox, which has a blowoff valve bolted to it at the front. The blowoff valve acts pretty much the same as the one on Kawasaki's supercharged Ultra watercraft. That is, the valve has two modes. The side of the valve attached to the airbox has the all-important boost-limiting function. The valve cracks open at the predetermined 20.5 psi boost pressure, producing a chirping sound that can be heard in ninja-h2.com teaser video number 2. There is also a vacuum side of the valve, which is connected to the intake manifold and which detects abrupt changes in intake pressure, opening a valve completely in response, so that shock waves in the intake manifold don't reach back to the supercharger impeller and potentially harm it.

The throttle bodies are unique among Kawasaki products by being bolted onto the engine and not spigotted as is the usual practice. Dozens of bolts hold down the injectors, through a layer of rubber suspension, to the cylinder head. Incidentally, the throttle bodies must be removed for periodic replacement of the supercharger's oil gallery filter. The huge 50mm (i.e., two inches, larger than ever used before on a Kawasaki sport bike) throttle bodies are single throttle instead of the usual sportbike dual throttle, but still retain the sport bike oriented dual injector system, the upper injectors chiming in at very high engine rpm (complementing ram air) and ultimately contributing over 70 percent of the total fuel delivery at extreme high rpm. The upper and lower fuel injectors are both 4-hole units, as opposed to the 8-hole and 12-hole type used on other Kawasaki products. The Keihin throttles are ride-by-wire, or as Kawasaki calls it, Electronic Throttle Valve (ETV), a system Kawasaki has already used on two other products. ETV is used on the H2 for two reasons. First, to provide the obligatory top speed control on the road model. And second, to support rider assistance electronics such as traction control and power modes, on both bikes. The throttles are on the parts block list, a list kept at KMC as a filter through which users much go to buy parts. Because the R model uses non-street-legal parts that the company does not want to show up on the street, an H2R owner must show documented proof of ownership to buy certain parts. The blocked H2R parts include the ECU, the camshafts, the exhaust, the fuel pump, and the throttle bodies, which incidentally must be programmed into the ECU if they are ever replaced.

The H2 ignition is pretty standard collapsing field inductive discharge, and like other Kawasaki sport bike ignitions is coil over plug for computerized independent control of individual cylinder ignition timing. There is a knock sensor incorporated which listens for detonation and when detected momentarily rolls back the ignition timing. It does this invisibly, that is, with no histrionics, i.e. no lights or buzzers or the need to reset. Just like on a car, and just like on one other Kawasaki product. This is the third knock sensor used by Kawasaki on its vehicles. The ECU is encased in aluminum instead of the usual plastic, to aid in cooling of this high-powered 32-bit processor. Both models have a camshaft position sensor, but in an unusual place, on the intake cam rather than on the exhaust, this for enhanced emsissions control on the road model.

Bottom End
The crankshaft is porkchop style and is bulkier than usual, with 38mm mains compared with the ZX-10R's 35mm, and beefier connecting rods. The pistons are lightweight cast to offset some of the surplus reciprocating weight inherent in the rods, and there are double the usual number of oil jets, with four dedicated to just the exhaust side of each piston, for a total of eight. The crankshaft drives not only the supercharger but also twin counterbalancers, much like those on the ZX-14R. The crankcases are special in that they are thicker-walled than what would be expected, use larger than usual head bolts, facilitate a cassette gearbox, and have uniquely-machined cylinders. The cylinders are torque-bored and torque-honed. The only other Kawasaki engine that has this technology is the ZX-10R. Both engines do it to enable low-friction piston rings for added power. The breathing system in the H2 crankcase is more elaborate than that in most sport bike engines, having a lot more in common with the company's Ultra series supercharged watercraft engines, engines that have some pretty elaborate breathing/oil separation systems. Likewise, the H2 pushes its crankcase pressures through intricate paths to separate the oil out and return the air to the intake. What is unique is the H2 does this all within the crankcase itself, whereas the Ultra engine uses a remotely-mounted cannister to do the same job.

Lubrication and Cooling
Speaking of oil, on the lubrication side of things, the H2 has an oil pump that is very large, in fact nearly half the size of the alternator rotor! Add to this an oversized oil filter, the aforementioned piston jets, some unique oiling jets in the transmission (as we will see in a moment), a crankcase-mounted oil cooler, and a lubrication circuit dedicated to just the supercharger (for both the chain drive and the planetary gearset), and we have a pretty robust oiling system. Oil starts its path at the usual places, the number two and number four crankshaft main journals.

The cooling system on the H2 begins with a radiator that is the same size as the one on the ZX-10R but not the same radiator at all. Instead, it is made to a racing design that allows it to be more efficient and together with the bike's special cowl design results in 50 percent greater cooling ability. Don't forget the oversize thermostat and the special added cylinder head cooling passages also.

The exhaust on both H2 models, like most Kawasaki sport bikes have hydroformed headpipes and is a 4-2-1 system. Things start getting special when you see the exhaust mounted to the cylinder head's oval exhaust ports. Furthermore, the two H2 models have very different exhaust systems. The R model's is titanium throughout, exquisitely hand-welded, does not have a butterfly valve, has headpipes with two diameters (predominantly 48mm), lacks joined headpipes, and has an absolutely piercingly-loud "silencer." Curiously, the owner's manual for the R model specifies on page 3 that the sound level of that model's exhaust is 120db, presumably to warn the owner that some racetracks may have prohibitions against the bike due to its sound level. The exhaust on the road bike is made of stainless steel, is robot welded, has headpipes of only one, 45mm diameter, has the usual butterfly valve, and has the expected, massive, heavy and quiet street type silencer. The almost 50 lbs added curb weight of the road model is said to be due to this muffler, and no doubt is also due to the street bike's plastic bodywork used in place of the R model's carbon fiber.

The H2 clutch is a back torque limiting type such as found on many Kawasaki models, wherein the clutch center is made of two pieces joined by ramps that cause the halves to separate slightly when fed back torque, such as when downshifting. The arrangement allows the clutch to absorb some of the engine's energy so that it is not fed into the rear shock and thus the rear wheel is less prone to hop. The clutch is not the assist/slip design currently the rage in sport bike technology. Like Kawasaki sport bikes made previously, the clutch's back torque limiting property is tunable by adjusting the assembled height of the clutch assembly, and the road and track bike clutches differ in the number of plates. The transmission. Ahh, the transmission! Very special. First, the moto-GP inpired transmission is vertically stacked. Not unusual with sport bikes, a design that allows for a short wheelbase. Also cassette type, again not all that remarkable. However, unusually, the H2 transmission's gears are arranged in a pyramid stack, meaning their sizes progress uniformly across their shafts, with first gear output shaft for example being the rightmost gear on the shaft, 2nd is next on the left, 3rd is next, and so on across the shaft. This is an unusual thing, but is just the beginning as the shift forks are about double the normal size and control not slider gears as is common but instead slider rings, called "dog rings" in the industry. Dog rings instead of slider gears allow for quicker shifting due to less mass. There's still more. The gears are assembled onto their shafts by hand and individually shimmed at the Akashi factory, and as such the gears are not available separately but only as a shaft with gears already assembled, for both input and output shafts. Further, all the gears on the input shaft are fixed gears, and all the gears on the output shaft are freewheeling gears, another unusual design. Finally, the transmission has what is Kawasaki's first set of oil jets squirting onto the system, two for each of the three shift forks and six more for the six oversized gear ratios, for 12 jets total. To top it all off, both models incorporate an electronic quick shift system that interrupts the ignition system for faster shifts, operated by a switch on the shift lever. The switch is a hall effect type so that the system works only on upshifting, and a menu choice in the instruments allows the rider to choose to turn quick shifting ("KQS") on or off as desired.

Frame and Swingarm
Moving onto the chassis, the bike's most prominent chassis feature is of course the trellis or birdcage type frame, and the single-sided swingarm. Both firsts for Kawasaki, the frame came out of a single, simple requirement, namely a short wheelbase. This, engineers say, ensures flickability. The engineers discarded the standard monocoque and spar frames as choices because their rigidity works against short wheelbases, causing bikes equipped with them to pitch fore and aft over bumps. The trellis frame compliments the suspension by flexing enough to make a short wheelbase machine easier to live with. Lightness was also a consideration of course, and despite the material used in the frame not being anything exotic like chrome molybdenum steel, the frame is lighter than alternate frames would have been. The members of the frame are each carefully calculated to have just the right strength, through diameter and thickness choices made in design. Added benefits of this frame are increased airflow to the engine, and of course it looks really bitchen! And then there is the frame's green paint, a really beautiful metallic color that is new for Kawasaki. The swingarm is of course single-sided, and is mounted to the engine, not to the frame. The only major chassis component the frame actually supports is the fork. A special procedure is followed for bolting up a special plate to the engine and then the swingarm is fixed to the plate. The frame is added last, over and on top of it all.

Chassis Geometry
Despite the two bikes having the same frames, the same forks and swingarms, and the same wheel sizes, the geos and ergos of both models are not exactly the same, though close. What makes the two bikes different is their respective suspension settings, different rear sprocket sizes, and different rear tire widths. The H2 rake is 24.5 degrees, trail is 103mm, and the wheelbase is 57.28". The R model by contrast comes in at 25.1 degrees, 108mm trail, and a 57.08" wheelbase. Both models have computerized steering dampers fitted, as with a couple of other Kawasaki models. The Electronic Steering Damper (ESD) is designed to lighten damping at low speeds and firm it at higher ones. It also detects large changes in speed, either up or down, and reponds with increased damping in either case. Or as Ricky Gadsen says, "Yeah, it's nice to have that steering tighten up while the front wheel is up in the air..." The ergos on both bikes are very close to those of the ZX-10R, and if anything are slightly relaxed in comparison, with a little more seat height, slightly more forward footpegs and slightly higher handlebars.

The seat section has that obvious set of hip supports, and they are adjustable if you take the seat off and apart and reassemble it, likely to be a one-time thing for most owners. The adjustment range is 15mm fore and aft. Also hidden in the seat assembly is the bike's toolkit, including the large hook spanner needed to adjust the drive chain. The seat's back pad is removable for storage of very small items such as your bail bondsman's phone number...

Suspension, Wheels, and Brakes
The fork is a quality, 43mm DLC (diamond like carbon) coated, three-way unit, a KYB air/oil separated (read segregated cartridge) inspired by the fork used on the 2005 KX250F. The rear shock is a four-way unit (two compression adjustments) with a remote manual preload adjuster peeking out above the swingarm. The wheels do not match in their appearance, because they were designed to each be best at different things. The front wheel's task is to be lightweight, the rear's to be rigid. Special angled aluminum valve stems are required to clear the enormous 330mm front brake discs and also provide good resistance against leaking in reponse to high speed centrifugal forces. The manual specifies that the valves be positioned at 45 degree angles for wheel balancing purposes, and recommends static, not dynamic, balancing. The brakes all all Brembo, the clutch hydraulics also. Neither front or rear hydraulic master or caliper cylinders are rebuildable, in keeping with typical Brembo practice. The front brake discs are mounted on billet aluminum centers for good warpage resistance and improved cooling, and a groove around the front brake discs' perimeter is said to enhance cooling also. The rear fender is hugger style on both bikes. ABS, in the form of Kawasaki's KIBS (Kawasaki Intelligent Braking System) is standard on both models. Found on three other Kawasaki models, KIBS is the first mass-produced ABS to incorporate engine input to control front brake pressure in the presence of potential rear wheel lifting, to reduce the lifting in other words. Kawasaki presently has nine different types of ABS on its motorcycles, none of which by the way can be turned off, with the sole exception the R model H2, on which it can be turned off. On the road bike, ABS cannot be turned off. The tires are of course different on the two bikes, with sport tires on the road bike and genuine racing slicks (soft compound front, medium rear) on the R model.

The bodywork on the two bikes varies considerably. Both utilize the new-for-Kawasaki black chrome paint, which is said to be hand applied except for the final layer which is robot-applied, and is not with present technology repairable. And although they look similar, the cowls on the two bikes are not interchangeable, being differently shaped and having different windscreens. The R model's bodywork (except for the rear fender) is of course all carbon fiber, and simply beautiful, with deep, shiny gel coat. Plenty of aerodynamics abound on the two bikes, with a bit more on the track bike, but both have lots. The track bike has two sets of wings, one with downturned "winglets," same as on a jet plane. The wings add downforce and actually work, as proven by top speed runs in which they were removed to get 5 more mph. The aerodynamics continue with the presence of "Gurney flaps" (Google it), small ridges on the topsides of the wings (and on the mirror stalks of the road bike) which assist the downforce effects and were first used by car racing legend Dan Gurney.

The battery on both bikes is an 8.6 amp/hour unit, pretty small by motorcycle standards but still larger than the battery on the ZX-10R. Lighting is of course limited on the R model, though the R model does, like the road bike, have a taillight (required by some racing organizations) and a full set of handlebar switches (though some are obviously not used on the R model). The road bike has an LED headlght, Kawasaki's second on a street bike, and specially designed to be small and unnoticeable. Of all the lights on the road model, only the license plate light is not LED. Even the instrument lighting is LED on both bikes.

Speaking of the instrument, even the backlighting is exotic on the H2. Three settings allow user-setting its brightness, with the middle setting allowing for automatic brightness control through an ambient light sensor. The instrument contains a very intricate set of menus for many different settings, many of which riders have come to expect, such as the changing from metric to Imperial display values, clock, lap timer, shift light etc. Also part of the menu system is the ability to set the traction control and so forth. The two bikes' instruments display the expected boost, odo, and gear position, but also ECO, and Fuel Consumption, and have both Shift Lamp and Shift Rev (rpm indicator).

Rider Assistance Electronics, that is, electronics designed to make the experience equally inspiring across a broad spectrum of riders' abilities, are a large part of these two bikes. KTRC, Kawasaki's traction contol, offers a range of increasingly more controlling settings, beginning with levels of control that allow wheel slip under some conditions (such as roadracing) and ending with settings which do not allow wheel slip under any circumstance. Unique to this model, Kawasaki has incorporated a system similar to that Tom Sykes had on his 2013 World Superbike championship winning race ZX-10R, which adds in-between steps to the standard three KTRC settings, so that the H2 rider actually has nine choices overall. KLCM, Kawasaki Launch Control Mode, borrows from Kawasaki's motocross bikes a system that allows the rider, once it is set, to hold the throttle to max and focus on his holeshot, while the system pulls up a special ignition/fuel map that demphasizes horsepower and emphasizes torque, for best takeoff result. It also shuts off automatically at third gear, just as on the motocross bikes. Much more sophisticated than the KX250/KX450 system however, the H2's KLCM limits the engine rpm to 6,500 and monitors engine heat and cycles down and eventually shuts completely off in the event the system is over-used. KEBC, or Kawasaki Engine Brake Control, when turned on lessens engine braking by slightly increasing throttle opening, a system that the current ZX-10R has also and which functions through that bike's dual throttles, whereas the H2's system works through ETV. Rain Mode, which is available only on the road model (the owners' manual for the R model warns, "Do not ride in the rain..."), is actually a power mode with a new name. When activated, the road bike's power is reduced some 50 percent, and at the same time KTRC Mode 3, its most intrusive setting, is activated, for good measure.

The maintenance picture on both models, as could be expected, requires more commitment on the part of the owner, than is common on many motorcycles. This begins with a Max Record function that stores the bike's maximum speed, rpm, and intake boost, for easy retrieval. In addition, the track bike has a maintenance schedule that adds more checks, and more frequent checks, of many of its systems, and this is further supported by a warning system that tracks accumlated hours of post-8,000 rpm use and displays warnings when that time has added up to 15 then 30 hours, with the R model's service manual specifying corresponding services. One example is replacement of the connecting rods and exhaust valves at 60 accumulated hours. Both bikes also have rather frequent supercharger checks, namely at 7,500 and 15,000 miles, and the R model recommends very frequent replacement of the drive chain, fuel pump, rear wheel rubber dampers, and the transmission output shaft bearing, for example.

Tools and Accessories
Kawasaki is offering some accessories for the H2 that will include race stands and several special tools. As previously mentioned, R models which go to U.S. buyers will benefit from coming standard with the race stands, some tire warmers, and an extra set of slicks, that is, as part of the purchase price.

Cycle World magazine called the H2 The Great Disrupter, saying, "With the original H2 and Ninja 900 of 1984, the new H2 and H2R will define Kawasaki for the coming decades...Consider the motorcycle market disrupted." Indeed.

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