Motorcycles

Kawasaki plots new heading for the Z streetfighter family

Kawasaki plots new heading for...
Is the 2017 Kawasaki Z900 destined to replace the Z1000?
Is the 2017 Kawasaki Z900 destined to replace the Z1000?
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The new Z650 adopts Kawasaki's twin-cylinder ER engine in its streetfighter range
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The new Z650 adopts Kawasaki's twin-cylinder ER engine in its streetfighter range
The 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR in action
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The 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR in action
Although even more race-oriented, yet the 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR will be road legal
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Although even more race-oriented, yet the 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR will be road legal
The 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR will only be available in Winter Test black color
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The 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR will only be available in Winter Test black color
The 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR from above
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The 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR from above
The 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR engine is based on the ZX-10R unit with modifications in order to better accommodate racing parts
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The 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR engine is based on the ZX-10R unit with modifications in order to better accommodate racing parts
Sculpted RR engine covers set the 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR apart
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Sculpted RR engine covers set the 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR apart
The 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR sports an updated two-directional quickshifter
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The 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR sports an updated two-directional quickshifter
The Showa Balance Free forks and Brembo M50 monobloc calipers are a top package that didn't need to change in the 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR
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The Showa Balance Free forks and Brembo M50 monobloc calipers are a top package that didn't need to change in the 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR
The snow flake is a signature marking of the Winter Test color scheme, seen here in the 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR
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The snow flake is a signature marking of the Winter Test color scheme, seen here in the 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR
The the 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR is designed to further enhance the abilities of the 2016 World Superbike championhip-winning ZX-10R
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The the 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR is designed to further enhance the abilities of the 2016 World Superbike championhip-winning ZX-10R
The the 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR will only be available in limited quantities
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The the 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR will only be available in limited quantities
Modifications in the cylinders of the 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR
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Modifications in the cylinders of the 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR
Making room for high-lift racing cams in the 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR
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Making room for high-lift racing cams in the 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR
New Marchesini aluminium forged wheels for the 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR, with mass concentrated towards the wheel hubs for reduced intertia effect
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New Marchesini aluminium forged wheels for the 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR, with mass concentrated towards the wheel hubs for reduced intertia effect
The 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX in action
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The 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX in action
The 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX in action
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The 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX in action
The 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX received a host of updates for 2017
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The 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX received a host of updates for 2017
The 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX in the traditional green livery
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The 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX in the traditional green livery
The redesigned front cowl of the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX will offer better aerodynamic protection
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The redesigned front cowl of the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX will offer better aerodynamic protection
The adjustable screen of the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX
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The adjustable screen of the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX
The four-cylinder powerplant of the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX produces 142 hp (105.9 hp)
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The four-cylinder powerplant of the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX produces 142 hp (105.9 hp)
Although it didn't change in power output, the engine of the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX has received several important electronic support systems
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Although it didn't change in power output, the engine of the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX has received several important electronic support systems
New instrument panel for the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX
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New instrument panel for the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX
View from the rider's seat on the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX
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View from the rider's seat on the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX
Pannier mounts are now incorporated in the tail unit of the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX
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Pannier mounts are now incorporated in the tail unit of the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX
The left-hand switches on the handlebars of the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX control what is displayed on the dash
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The left-hand switches on the handlebars of the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX control what is displayed on the dash
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The rear suspension of the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX
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The rear suspension of the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX
Remote preload adjuster for the rear shock absorber of the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX
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Remote preload adjuster for the rear shock absorber of the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX
The 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX offers comfortable two-up riding
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The 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX offers comfortable two-up riding
The LED tail light of the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX
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The LED tail light of the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX
The 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX is ready for touring
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The 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX is ready for touring
The 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX in Candy Burnt Orange/Metallic Carbon Grey color
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The 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX in Candy Burnt Orange/Metallic Carbon Grey color
The 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX in Candy Burnt Orange/Metallic Carbon Grey color
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The 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX in Candy Burnt Orange/Metallic Carbon Grey color
The 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX in Candy Burnt Orange/Metallic Carbon Grey color
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The 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX in Candy Burnt Orange/Metallic Carbon Grey color
The new standard clutch of the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX provides an assist function at low speeds, and slipper function when downshifting at high revs
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The new standard clutch of the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX provides an assist function at low speeds, and slipper function when downshifting at high revs
The incorporation of a Bosch inertial oversees several high-end electronic systems of the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX
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The incorporation of a Bosch inertial oversees several high-end electronic systems of the 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX
The 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 in action
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The 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 in action
The 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 in action
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The 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 in action
The 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 in Metallic Spark Black color
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The 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 in Metallic Spark Black color
The Lime Green color option of the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650
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The Lime Green color option of the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650
The Lime Green color of the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 is also known as KRT Edition
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The Lime Green color of the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 is also known as KRT Edition
The 2017 Ninja 650 is the first production model to receive Kawasaki 's new trellis frame
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The 2017 Ninja 650 is the first production model to receive Kawasaki 's new trellis frame
The adjustable screen of the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650
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The adjustable screen of the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650
The proven 649 cc in-line twin-cylinder engine of the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650
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The proven 649 cc in-line twin-cylinder engine of the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650
New dashboard for the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650, similar to the one fitted to the new Z1000SX
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New dashboard for the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650, similar to the one fitted to the new Z1000SX
The rider's view of the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650
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The rider's view of the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650
The optional Kawasaki panniers of the 2017 Ninja 650
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The optional Kawasaki panniers of the 2017 Ninja 650
The 41 mm telescopic forks and two-piston brake calipers haven't changed in the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650
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The 41 mm telescopic forks and two-piston brake calipers haven't changed in the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650
New rear suspension set-up, courtesy of the new frame of the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650
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New rear suspension set-up, courtesy of the new frame of the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650
New swingarm for the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650
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New swingarm for the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650
The seating arrangement of the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650
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The seating arrangement of the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650
The new LED tail light of the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650
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The new LED tail light of the 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650
The 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 undressed, left side
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The 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 undressed, left side
The 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 undressed, right side
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The 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 undressed, right side
The 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 will also be available in the same Candy Burnt Orange color as the Z1000SX
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The 2017 Kawasaki Ninja 650 will also be available in the same Candy Burnt Orange color as the Z1000SX
The new steel trellis frame that Kawasaki just introduced for the 2017 Ninja 650 - and soon for the rest of the twin-cylinder ER range
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The new steel trellis frame that Kawasaki just introduced for the 2017 Ninja 650 - and soon for the rest of the twin-cylinder ER range
The 2017 Kawasaki H2 Carbon in action
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The 2017 Kawasaki H2 Carbon in action
The 2017 Kawasaki H2 Carbon brings the looks of the H2R to the road-legal H2
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The 2017 Kawasaki H2 Carbon brings the looks of the H2R to the road-legal H2
A carbon fiber front fairing is the main characteristic of the 2017 Kawasaki H2 Carbon
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A carbon fiber front fairing is the main characteristic of the 2017 Kawasaki H2 Carbon
The Mirror Coated Matte Spark Black color was, until now, available only for the H2R, but now also for the 2017 Kawasaki H2 Carbon
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The Mirror Coated Matte Spark Black color was, until now, available only for the H2R, but now also for the 2017 Kawasaki H2 Carbon
The carbon fiber cowl of the 2017 Kawasaki H2 Carbon can be retrofitted to any standard H2
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The carbon fiber cowl of the 2017 Kawasaki H2 Carbon can be retrofitted to any standard H2
A numbered engine cover declares the limited nature of the 2017 Kawasaki H2 Carbon
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A numbered engine cover declares the limited nature of the 2017 Kawasaki H2 Carbon
From the front only the mirrors reveal that this is the 2017 Kawasaki H2 Carbon, and not the H2R
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From the front only the mirrors reveal that this is the 2017 Kawasaki H2 Carbon, and not the H2R
The 2017 Kawasaki H2 Carbon in the coveted Mirror Coated Matte Spark Black color
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The 2017 Kawasaki H2 Carbon in the coveted Mirror Coated Matte Spark Black color
The supercharged four-cylinder motor of the Kawasaki H2 family produces 200 hp in the road-legal 2017 H2 and H2 Carbon versions
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The supercharged four-cylinder motor of the Kawasaki H2 family produces 200 hp in the road-legal 2017 H2 and H2 Carbon versions
Is the 2017 Kawasaki Z900 destined to replace the Z1000?
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Is the 2017 Kawasaki Z900 destined to replace the Z1000?

It is not customary at international motorcycle shows for manufacturers to tease new models ahead of other upcoming events, yet Kawasaki did announce two new Z variants to be unveiled later at EICMA. Intermot also hosted the debut of the Ninja 650, as well as several other interesting updates.

For Kawasaki it seemed that 2017 would be a rather quiet year, and its Intermot presence more or less seems to confirm this. There are important updates across the range indeed, but they're mostly focused on making the most of a roster filled with effective and popular models.

The Ninja 650 receives an important revamp with new frame and equipment, then there's also an even more track-oriented RR version of the ZX-10R superbike that was fully renewed last year, next to a collectible carbon-clad H2 variant, and the extensively refreshed Z1000SX.

As for big news, this will probably have to wait a few weeks. Currently Kawasaki offers the Z1000 and Z800 streetfighters, but this could change if we translate correctly what it implies with the two new Z-models scheduled for debut at EICMA in Milan, Italy, on November 8.

Z900 – Z650

The new Z650 adopts Kawasaki's twin-cylinder ER engine in its streetfighter range
The new Z650 adopts Kawasaki's twin-cylinder ER engine in its streetfighter range

Amidst Kawasaki's Intermot-related press releases, a surprising teaser announced two new Zeds – Z900 and Z650 – that could signal groundbreaking changes for both the Z and the ER model families.

The bigger of the two runs on a downsized version of the current Z1000 four-cylinder motor, scaled down to 948 cc thanks to a reduction in cylinder bore. Equipped with an assist and slipper clutch, and tuned according to the new EU4 emission rules, the new engine will output 123.6 hp (92.2 kW) with presumably stronger torque than the Z1000.

In terms of styling and equipment, the new Z seems to closely follow the current model's cues. The teaser photo at hand reveals that the Z900 will use conventional four-piston calipers at the front, instead of the 1000's radial ones. The press release acknowledges that the front 41-mm inverted forks and rear shock are adjustable for spring preload and rebound damping, so gone is the fork compression setting of the Z1000 as well.

Announced at 210.5 kg (464 lb), this weight would translate to shedding almost 10 kg (22 lb) off the Z1000 – should it refer to the mass of a fully fuelled motorcycle.

The new steel trellis frame that Kawasaki just introduced for the 2017 Ninja 650 - and soon for the rest of the twin-cylinder ER range
The new steel trellis frame that Kawasaki just introduced for the 2017 Ninja 650 - and soon for the rest of the twin-cylinder ER range

The most important feature of the Z900 (and the 650) is the new steel trellis frame, which comes into contrast with the twin-spar aluminium chassis of the 2016 models. According to Kawasaki, this change starred in the upcoming bike's successful diet, and can hopefully enhance the Zed's sport attitude as well.

A range that simultaneously includes the Z1000, Z900 and Z800 sounds rather improbable. Logic would suggest that the 900 will lead the sport naked model family, escorted by the entry-level Z650 – in a role that the Z800 is arguably too powerful to play.

As far as the Z650 is concerned, if it weren't for the new frame it would be just another motorcycle built around the proven 649 cc in-line twin engine of the ER-6. With the latest trellis frame making its production debut with the new Ninja 650, we might as well assume its mitigation to the rest of the family sooner or later.

Kawasaki also disclosed that at EICMA we shall be introduced to a special second Z900 model. Given that Kawasaki doesn't shy away from direct mentions to the legendary Z1 in the Z900 press release, could this by any chance be a tribute to the original 1972 903 cc icon?

ZX-10RR

The the 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR will only be available in limited quantities
The the 2017 Kawasaki ZX-10RR will only be available in limited quantities

Last year Kawasaki introduced a new ZX-10R which helped to further cement its World Superbike Championship dominance, but the competition keeps building up strength. In view of the recently unveiled new Suzuki GSX-R1000R, Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP/SP2 and the updated BMW S1000RR, Kawasaki responds with the ZX-10RR.

In this even sportier version, the cylinder heads have been modified to accept higher-lift camshafts, as the crankcase has been reinforced to ensure reliability when the engine is race-runed.

Kawasaki also throws in a set of lighter aluminum Marchesini forged wheels, optimized suspension settings and an updated quickshifter that supports downshifts as well as upshifts.

Designated as a single-seater, the ZX-10RR will be supported by a series of model-specific race parts. Painted only in Winter Test black scheme, it is targeted mainly to racing teams and will be manufactured in very limited numbers.

Z1000SX

The 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX in the traditional green livery
The 2017 Kawasaki Z1000SX in the traditional green livery

Built around the naked Z1000, the SX variant adds aerodynamic protection and a riding position that transforms the streetfighter into a very capable sport tourer. For 2017 the Z1000SX receives a series of updates that will benefit both its sport and the touring sides.

The 1,043 cc in-line four-cylinder powered model gets an assist and slipper clutch, and also receives the same Bosch inertial measurement unit that is used in the ZX-10R, adding selectable power modes, three-level adjustable traction control and cornering ABS to its list of talents.

Kawasaki also worked on the bike's looks, with redesigned fairings that combine enhanced aerodynamic protection with more aggressive lines and incorporated new LED headlights. The instrument panel is also new, in order to accommodate information from the new electronic systems, including an adjustable shift light and gear position indicator.

The long list of updates of the Z1000SX includes more comfortable seats for both passengers, and a new integrated pannier-mounting system. These, along with the improved aerodynamics and a gracious 19-liter fuel tank, should make for a very efficient sporty tourer.

Ninja 650

The 2017 Ninja 650 is the first production model to receive Kawasaki 's new trellis frame
The 2017 Ninja 650 is the first production model to receive Kawasaki 's new trellis frame

The fourth motorcycle to rely on Kawasaki's 649 cc twin-cylinder engine is a middle-weight sportbike that mimics the lines of the Z1000SX, powered by an engine of proven reliability and very high degree of adaptability – from the roadster ER-6, or the sport adventure Versys 650, to the cruiser Vulcan S. The in-line twin is of course now compliant with the latest European rules, so we can expect some minor power losses when Kawasaki releases the relative figures.

Similarly to the Z650, the big news here revolves around the new frame, which makes its first official appearance in a 2017 Kawasaki. Although focused on delivering efficient performance at a reasonable price, besides the basic brakes and non-adjustable (except for rear preload) suspensions, the new Ninja scores an assist and slipper clutch, as well as the Bosch 9.1M ABS as standard.

Since Kawasaki calls it a Ninja, it is by definition part of the Supersport part of the company's line-up. In essence though, the Ninja 650 is most effective in commuting duties, garnished with sport touring dexterity.

H2 Carbon

The 2017 Kawasaki H2 Carbon in the coveted Mirror Coated Matte Spark Black color
The 2017 Kawasaki H2 Carbon in the coveted Mirror Coated Matte Spark Black color

For 2017 Kawasaki introduced some updates for its two supercharged sportbikes, starring a new Ohlins TTX36 rear shock absorber and upgraded electronics by the implementation of a new inertial unit by Bosch.

The new variant that was first introduced at Intermot is the H2 Carbon, which is little more than the basic 200-hp H2 with a carbon cowl and a color scheme that until now was exclusively available with the 300-hp H2R. In fact the new H2 version simply provides customers the chance to get their hands on a bike that looks just like the unique H2R, but costs a fraction of the money and, most importantly, is road legal.

Source: Kawasaki

1 comment
Dan Parker
That last shot of the new H2 Carbon doesn't impress. I liked the original H2, but this one looks cluttered, gimicky and rather silly. As for the new Z1000SX, aside from some engineering upgrades it doesn't appear to be significantly different from the Ninja 1000.