Built Beyond Belief
The launching point for the development of the Ninja H2R was a strong desire to offer riders something they had never before experienced. Convinced that a truly extraordinary riding experience would not be found on a motorcycle that merely built on the performance of existing models, the design team committed to developing the “ultimate” motorcycle from a clean slate. The bike needed to deliver intense acceleration and an ultra-high top speed, coupled with supersport-level circuit performance. To realise this goal, help was enlisted from other companies in the Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) Group, precipitating an unprecedented level of inter-company collaboration.
The Ninja H2R
- The key to achieving this incredible performance lies in the engine’s supercharger—a motorcycle-specific unit designed completely in-house with technology from the Gas Turbine & Machinery Company, Aerospace Company and Corporate Technology Division.
- For example, the carbon-fibre upper and lower wings that add stability for riding in the ultra-high speed range were designed with assistance from Kawasaki’s Aerospace Company.
- Proudly displays the Kawasaki River Mark on the front of the Ninja H2R
The Quest for Power
The Super Charger
The supercharger used in the Ninja H2R was designed by Kawasaki motorcycle engine designers with assistance from other companies within the KHI Group, namely the Gas Turbine & Machinery Company, Aerospace Company, and Corporate Technology Division. Designing the supercharger in-house allowed it to be developed to perfectly match the engine characteristics of the Ninja H2R. The highly efficient, motorcycle-specific supercharger was the key to achieving the maximum power and the intense acceleration that engineers wanted to offer.
The objectives for the Ninja H2R’s chassis were to ensure unflappable composure at ultra-high speeds, offer cornering performance to be able to enjoy riding on a circuit, and finally to have a highly accommodating character. Ordinarily, high-speed stability can easily be achieved with a long wheelbase, but a shorter wheelbase was selected to achieve the compact overall package and sharp handling that were also desired. The frame needed not only to be stiff, but also to be able to absorb external disturbances, which, when encountered while riding in the ultra-high speed range, could easily unsettle the chassis. A new trellis frame provided both the strength to harness the incredible power of the supercharged engine, and the balanced flex to achieve the stability and pliability for high-speed riding.
As speed increases, wind resistance increases exponentially. To be able to operate in the ultra high speed range, a combination of high power and slippery aerodynamics is needed.
With power requirements that are being looked after by a supercharged engine, the next step was to design bodywork that both minimised drag and ensured control when riding at ultra high speed.
Assistance from Kawasaki's Aerospace Company was enlisted in creating th aerodynamically sculpted bodywork to ensure maximum efficiency.
Impeller is formed from a forged aluminium block using a 5-axis CNC machining center to ensure high precision and high durability. The 69 mm impeller features 6 blades at the tip, expanding to 12 blades at the base. Grooves etched into the blade surfaces help direct the airflow. Impeller’s pumping capacity is over 200 litres/second (measured at atmospheric pressure), with intake air reaching speeds of up to 100 m/s. After passing through the supercharger, air pressure is increased to as much as 2.4 times atmospheric pressure.
Using a trellis frame construction offered an elegant, lightweight solution to meeting the performance requirements for the chassis. Able to harness the massive power of the more than 300 PS engine, it has a balance of stiffness and flexibility that enables a very high level of stability while being able to handle external disturbances at ultra-high speeds. Its open design also helps effectively dissipate heat generated by the supercharged engine.
The Kawasaki River Mark
The Kawasaki River Mark is a long time symbol of the Kawasaki Heavy Industries Group dating back to the 1870s.
As a policy, the use of the Kawasaki River Mark on products is rare and limited to models with historical significance.
Permission to use the Kawasaki River Mark was granted for the Ninja H2R.
Despite it’s familiar In-Line Four configuration, the Ninja H2R power unit is loaded with technology developed specifically for this supercharged engine: some new, others with know-how from the Kawasaki Group. Every component of the engine was chosen to achieve a certain function. In order to accommodate the higher air pressure from the supercharger as well as ensure a high reliability with the over 300 PS output, the whole engine was designed to be able to handle stresses 1.5x to 2x greater than on a naturally aspirated litre-class engine.
To facilitate smooth, quick shifting, a dog-ring type transmission was selected. This is the kind of transmission commonly found in MotoGP or Formula 1, and was developed with feedback from the Kawasaki Racing Team.
Unlike a standard motorcycle transmission in which shift forks slide the gears into position, with a dog-ring transmission the gears all stay in place. Only the dog rings move, sliding into position to engage the desired gear.
In the interest of keeping the engine compact and simple, a single lubrication system provides cooling oil for the engine components, supercharger and transmission.
Oil jets lubricate the supercharger chain at the contact points (two places) where the chain meets the upper and lower gears.
In addition to the two oil jets, the supercharger drive train’s lower gear has an oil passage.
Inside the engine, there are two oil jets per cylinder to ensure the hot pistons are effectively cooled.
Transmission oil jets (first use in a Kawasaki motorcycle) enable a compact transmission with high durability.
Styling and Craftsmanship
To ensure a bold design worthy of a model that carries both the "Ninja" and "H2" names, the prime styling concept chosen for the Ninja H2R was "Intense Force Design".
As a flagship for the Kawasaki brand, it required presence, and a styling that reflected the incredible performance. The design needed to be so much more than merely cosmetic. While it certainly looks the part, the Ninja H2R also possesses a functional beauty: each piece of bodywork was aerodynamically sculpted to ensure stability at ultra high speeds; the cowling design maximises cooling performance and heat dissipation, aiding in achieving the more than 300 PS output; and the RAM Air duct is ideally positioned to bring fresh air to the supercharger.
More than any motorcycle Kawasaki has built to date, the Ninja H2R is a showcase of craftmanship, build quality and superb fit and finish - right down to the high-tech mirrored finish black chrome paint specially developed for this model.
Although the Ninja H2R’s high performance cannot be denied, since it was not intended to be a race bike designed to turn quick lap times as efficiently as possible, it did not need the spartan accommodation found on most purpose-built supersport models. The man-machine interface enables riders to enjoy the bike’s performance with a modicum of comfort. While the riding position, ergonomics and cockpit layout were all designed first and foremost to put the rider in the best position to control this amazing machine, the impression from the rider’s perspective is one not of austerity, but rather plush quality, high-tech control, and an impeccable fit and finish.
Electronic Rider Support
Complementing the Ninja H2R’s incredible engine and chassis performance, advanced electronics work behind the scenes to provide rider support. Depending on rider preference, many of the systems may be turned off. And while the high-performance engine was designed to be accommodating even without the benefit of electronic assistance, when electing to fully experience the Ninja H2R’s intense acceleration or high-speed potential, these systems are available to provide an extra degree of rider reassurance. The advanced, high-tech design of the instrumentation conveys the image of piloting a jet fighter aircraft. Handle control switches put all mode selection and display options at the rider’s fingertips.
Engine & Chassis Management Systems
KTRC (Kawasaki TRaction Control)
The new KTRC system used on the Ninja H2R combines the best elements of Kawasaki’s earlier traction control systems. Multi-level modes offer riders a greater number of settings to choose from, with each mode providing a different level of intrusion to suit riding conditions and rider preference, and all modes designed to manage output when a sudden slip occurs. The new system offers both enhanced sport riding performance and the peace of mind to negotiate slippery surfaces with confidence.
Riders can choose from three modes, each offering a progressively greater level of intrusion. Each mode has three rider-selectable levels, adding more or less intrusion (rider preferences for each mode are programmable for on-the-move selection), for a total of nine possible settings. Riders may also elect to turn the system off. Mode 1 is for the circuit, Modes 1 and 2 are tailored for circuit riding, while Mode 3 settings were optimised for street-like conditions.
Using complex analysis, the system is able to predict when traction conditions are about to become unfavourable. By acting before slippage exceeds the range for optimum traction, drops in power can be minimised, resulting in ultra-smooth operation.
KLCM (Kawasaki Launch Control Mode)
Designed to assist the rider by optimising acceleration from a stop, KLCM electronically controls engine output to prevent wheelspin and minimise wheelies when launching.
Riders can choose from three modes, each offering a progressively greater level of intrusion. Each mode allows the rider to launch from a stop with the throttle held wide open
KEBC (Kawasaki Engine Brake Control)
The KEBC system allows riders to select the amount of engine braking they prefer. When KEBC is activated (by selecting “LIGHT” in the KEBC settings), the engine braking effect is reduced, providing less interference when riding on the circuit.
KIBS (Kawasaki Intelligent andti-lock Brake System)
Kawasaki’s supersport-style ABS is standard equipment on the Ninja H2R. This is the same base system used on the Ninja ZX-10R, with programming and settings revised to suit the performance parameters of the Ninja H2R.
High-precision brake pressure control enables the system to avoid reduced brake performance due to excessive pressure drops, allows lever feel to be maintained when KIBS is active, and ensures ABS pulses feel smooth (not heavy).
High-precision brake pressure control also offers a number of sport riding benefits:
1. Rear lift suppression.
2. Minimal kickback during operation.
3. Accounting for back-torque
Riders have the option to deactivate the system. There are three possible settings:
ON – KIBS affects both front and rear brakes
R OFF – KIBS affects only the front brakes
OFF – KIBS is deactivated
KQS (Kawasaki Quick Shifter)
The Ninja H2R is the first Kawasaki motorcycle to be fit standard with a quick shifter.
Complementing the engine’s strong power and the dog-ring transmission, a contactless-type quick shifter enables quick upshifts for seamless acceleration.
Ohlins Steering Dampener
Unlike a mechanical steering damper—in which the settings, once fixed, must cover all riding conditions and speeds—the damping characteristics are changed electronically according to vehicle speed, and the degree of acceleration or deceleration. At low speeds, the settings were chosen such that damping does not interfere with the bike’s intrinsic lightweight handling. At high speeds, damping increases to provide enhanced stability.
Kawasaki’s electronic steering damper was jointly developed with Öhlins, one of the most popular and respected manufacturers of steering dampers.
Electronic steering damper provides just the right amount of damping based on what the bike is doing. Using input from the rear wheel speed sensor (provided via the engine ECU), the electronic steering damper’s ECU determines the vehicle’s speed as well as the degree the bike is accelerating or decelerating.
Original Silver-mirror Paint
The silver-mirror paint used on the Ninja H2R was developed by Kawasaki specifically for motorcycles. Its highly reflective, glasslike metal appearance adds to the bike’s stunning design. While paint similar in appearance may be found in custom circles, this is its first use on a mass-production vehicle in either the automotive or motorcycle industries. Strict Kawasaki quality control measures ensure a long-lasting finish.
In the shade the paint appears black, but once in the sunlight its highly reflective surface takes on the appearance of the surrounding scenery. The stark difference in the way the paint appears in the light and the shade emphasises the beautiful curvature of the bike’s sculpted bodywork. The highly reflective surface is created by inducing a silver mirror reaction (a chemical reaction between a solution of silver ions and a reducing agent) that forms a layer of pure silver. This Ag layer is what creates the paint’s glasslike metal appearance. Compared to candy paints, which use aluminium flakes to enerate a sparkling effect, the Ag layer appears as a uniform metallic surface.
Original Design Wheels
Cast aluminium wheels were designed specifically for the Ninja H2R. Star-pattern 5-spoke wheel design was selected based on analysis and testing to determine the optimum rigidity balance for high-speed performance. The analysis technology used in their development comes from World Superbike.
High Speed Tyres
To ensure sufficient tyre durability when riding in the ultra-high speed range for which the Ninja H2R was designed, high-performance tyres must be used
The Ninja H2R is equipped with slick tyres. The Bridgestone RACING BATTLAX V01 commercially available superbike racing tyres are rated for ultra-high speed operation.
In order to maintain both straight-line stability and the control to change direction while running at ultra-high speed, a number of aerodynamic devices ensure the front wheel has strong contact with the ground.
In place of mirrors, the Ninja H2R features CFRP wings mounted on the upper cowl. Designed by Kawasaki’s Aerospace company, they feature winglets to help smooth airflow near the wingtip by reducing the strength of the wingtip vortices that would otherwise cause turbulence or disturb the laminar flow needed for the wings to effectively generate downforce.
Shaped For Speed
Two-blade wings are also featured on its side cowls. These wings also feature winglets and further add to the downforce generated by the chin spoiler and upper wings.
KYB fully adjustable mono-shock rear suspension offers superb stability. Top of the rear shock mounts to the Swingarm Mounting Plate. (Again, no need for frame cross-members.)
The bottom of the rear shock is mounted via revised Uni-Trak linkage that offers excellent feedback regarding the rear tyre’s grip condition to the rider. The new linkage, situated below the swingarm also mounts to the Swingarm Mounting Plate.
Given the ultra-high speed range that the Ninja H2R was designed for, the brakes chosen were the best available for a mass-production model. Special tuning then ensured that all play was removed from the system, so that when the brakes were called for they would respond immediately.
A pair of massive ø330 mm Brembo semi-floating discs with a thickness of t5.5 mm deliver superb braking force.
Grooves running down the centre of the outer edge of the discs increase their surface area for greater heat dissipation.
Dual radial-mount Brembo cast aluminium monobloc calipers grip the front discs. The highly rigid opposed 4-piston calipers with ø30 mm pistons contribute to the Ninja H2R’s superb braking force, as well as a high-quality image
Brembo radial-pump master cylinder and reservoir receive extra attention before being shipped to Kawasaki. Each part is examined and adjusted to eliminate any ineffective (idle) stroke.
KYB AOS-II racing suspension makes its asphalt debut.
Based on the Air-Oil Separate cartridge fork developed for motocross racing, this is the industry’s first appearance of this high-performance racing suspension for asphalt use.
Designed for low friction, the ø43 mm front fork offers superb action: smooth initial action is followed by strong damping at the end of the stroke.
As the suspension works, a large ø32 mm free-floating piston at the bottom of the oil-damping cartridge pumps oil up to a sealed area between the inner and outer tubes. The oil in this area provides a friction-reducing film on which the tubes can slide against each other, resulting in extremely smooth action.
Ninja H2R Bottom Line
- The Ninja H2R is a closed-course model; it may NOT be ridden on public roads.
- The Ninja H2R is a mass production model.
- The number of Ninja H2R available in Australia is very limited.
- There will be a limited number of specially appointed and trained Kawasaki Ninja H2/H2R Dealers selling and servicing the Ninja H2 and Ninja H2R models.
- More information available shortly.
More info on the global Ninja H2/H2R website.