Kawasaki attacks Intermot 2018 with 231-hp Ninja H2 and updated ZX-10R
When Kawasaki rolled out the H2 and H2R sportbikes, it became the only manufacturer to offer supercharged mass produced motorcycles. Three years later, the road-legal H2 has spawned a sport-touring sibling, the H2 SX, and has just received a 31-hp jump; yet Kawasaki's supercharger still plays uncontested in the market.
For 2019 the H2 doesn't change much from the outside, but its inner workings have undergone an upgrade process that resulted in 15.5 percent more power, bringing the tally up to an unprecedented 231 hp. This was made possible by employing a new airbox, air intakes, spark plugs and ECU programming – all coming from the H2 SX.
Kawasaki states that all this newfound horsepower will not weigh on the H2's fuel consumption, which is rather surprising given that the supercharger itself is not the SX unit that was redesigned last year to benefit mid-range torque over high-end power, but has remained unchanged.
The 2019 updates also include new front brake calipers, in the shape of Brembo's latest Stylema series that promises improved pad cooling and gentler initial bite.
The luxurious SE version of the H2 SX also donated its TFT color screen to the sportier H2, complete with Bluetooth connectivity via Kawasaki's Rideology app.
And, to cap it off, the new H2 sports a self-healing paint that is supposed to cover up small scratches by itself. It works by incorporating both soft and hard segments on the paint, which, when heated, work together like a "chemical spring" that absorbs the minor inconsistencies caused by a scratch. By heat, Kawasaki doesn't necessarily propose taking a blowtorch to the bike's fairings; the sun's direct heat should do the job just fine.
Apparently the mirror-like coating of the H2 is notoriously impossible to fix (without repainting the whole surface), so this new Highly Durable Paint is intended to make future H2 owners sleep a bit easier. Kawasaki even suggests that it heals way faster than similar automotive solutions that may take weeks to work their magic.
ZX-10R, ZX-10R SE and ZX-10R
Kawasaki's superbike clan was updated last year with separate basic and RR versions of the motorcycle that has been dominating the World Superbike Championship since 2015.
This year will see all three ZX-10R versions, ZX-10R, ZX-10R SE and ZX-10RR, equipped with the distinctive red cylinder head of the 2018 RR version. It was supposed to be the one with the racier camshafts and ready to accept an even more aggressive race kit, but in 2019 this becomes the norm throughout the model family; for more power, even angrier cams can be fitted.
Kawasaki has also redesigned the valve actuation mechanism, replacing the bucket tappets with finger followers. Gains include a 20 percent lighter valve system and allow for more aggressive cam profiles.
As a result, all ZX-10 models get a few extra ponies, raising the bar to 199 hp (148.4 kW) for the R and SE, and 200 (149.1 kW) for the RR – keep in mind that these values are measured without the ram-air effect, which would add even more power to the end result.
The SE version of the ZX-10R sports Kawasaki's electronic suspension system, KECS, forged Marchesini wheels and its fuel tank is coated with the same self-healing paint as the new H2.
As for the ZX-10RR, this is a track-focused, limited version that will be produced in only 500 numbered pieces, adorned with Pankl titanium connecting rods that shave 102 g (3.6 oz) per piece, collectively resulting in 5 percent less crankshaft inertia. This allows the four-cylinder powerplant to work 600 rpm higher for that extra 1 hp, also offering significant benefits in corner entry speed due to reduced crank inertia.
Ninja 125 and Z12
Kawasaki had been absent from the entry-level class for several years, but now two new 125 cc models come to fill this gap in its lineup. Available in sportbike Ninja and naked Z guises, the two new 125s are essentially the same motorcycle in different costumes.
Both are announced as roomy enough to host fully grown up European riders and both draw their styling cues from the corresponding bigger models of the Ninja and Z families, with the new steel trellis frame cloned after the H2 unit.
They run on a liquid-cooled, single-cylinder engine that produces 14.75 hp (11 kW) at 10,000 rpm and 11.77 Nm (8.7 lb-ft) at 7,700 rpm.
Their equipment includes the (compulsory for Europe) ABS, and they roll on 17-inch Dunlop tires.
They'll be available in a variety of colors, with Special Editions that differ only on styling details, such as two-tone paint schemes, wheel rim tapes etc.