Built Beyond Belief
The launching point for the development of the Ninja H2 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. Updated for 2016 with new Assist & Slipper clutch, ECU settings and new Mirror Coated Spark Black finish.
The Ninja H2
Development pursued two paths. The first was a closed-course model (Ninja H2R) that allowed an unadulterated pursuit of performance free of the limitations that street riding would impose. This was followed by a street model (Ninja H2), based closely on the closed-course model, that would meet all market regulations. The results were incredible, with both models offering a sensory experience surpassing anything that riders can find today.
- The Ninja H2 is powered by a supercharged engine based closely on that developed for the over 300 PS Ninja H2R.
- High output notwithstanding, the compact design is on par with power units found in supersport litre-class models.
- Proudly displays the Kawasaki River Mark on the front of the Ninja H2.
- 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.
When it came to naming this model, using "Ninja" - a name synonymous with Kawasaki performance and shared with many legendary models over the years - was an obvious choice. the Ninja H2R is also named for another epoch-making model, whose 2-stroke 748.2 cm³ Triple gave it an intense acceleration that made a sensation around the world: the 750SS Mach IV, also known as the "H2".
The supercharger used in the Ninja H2 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 H2. The highly efficient, motorcycle-specific supercharger was the key to achieving the maximum power and the intense acceleration that engineers wanted to offer.
Impeller is formed from a forged aluminium block using a 5-axis CNC machining centre 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.
Designed for the performance parameters of the closed-course Ninja H2R and shared with the street-going Ninja H2, the objectives for the 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 at high speeds, 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.
Using a trellis frame construction offered an elegant, lightweight solution to meeting the performance requirements for the chassis of the closed-course model. Able to harness the massive power of its 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 high speeds. Its open design also helps effectively dissipate heat generated by the supercharged engine. Output on the Ninja H2R exceeds 300 PS; output for the Ninja H2 is 200 PS.
Development of the trellis frame made good use of the latest analysis technology and substantial test rider feedback. Pipe diameter, thickness and bend of each piece of the trellis frame were carefully selected to obtain the necessary stiffness for that part of the frame. The trellis pieces are made primarily from high-tensile steel.
As speed increases, wind resistance increases exponentially. To enable high-speed operation, a combination of high power and slippery aerodynamics was needed.
With power requirements taken care of by the supercharged engine, the next step was to design bodywork that both minimised drag and added control when riding at high speed.
Assistance from Kawasaki’s Aerospace Company was enlisted in creating the aerodynamically sculpted bodywork to ensure maximum aerodynamic efficiency.
Contributing to high-speed stability, the Ninja H2 features mirror stays with airfoil cross-sections. Like the wings on the closed-course model, they were also designed by Kawasaki’s Aerospace Company.
Their trailing edges are equipped with Gurney flaps that increase the effectiveness of the simple airfoil shape, allowing greater downforce to be generated with a smaller surface.
Despite it’s familiar In-Line Four configuration, the Ninja H2 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 of the closed-course Ninja H2R, the whole engine was designed to be able to handle stresses 1.5x to 2x greater than on a naturally aspirated litre-class engine. In fact, aside from its camshafts, head gaskets and clutch, the engine unit is exactly the same as the unit designed for the Ninja H2R.
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.
Because the dog rings are much lighter than transmission gears, this type of transmission offers a much lighter shift effort. Shift touch is also improved, and a much shorter shift time is possible—which facilitates quick acceleration.
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 Craftmanship
Wanting to ensure a bold design worthy of a model that carried both the “Ninja” and “H2” names, the prime styling concept chosen for the Ninja H2 was “Intense Force Design.” As a flagship for the Kawasaki brand, it required presence, and a styling that reflected its incredible performance.But the design is much more than cosmetic. While its edged styling certainly looks the part, the Ninja H2 also possesses a functional beauty: each piece of its bodywork was aerodynamically sculpted to enhance stability at high speeds; the cowling design also maximises cooling performance and heat dissipation, aiding in achieving the engine’s incredible 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 H2 is a showcase of craftsmanship, build quality and superb fit and finish—right down to the brilliant silver-mirror paint specially developed for this model.
Although the Ninja H2’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.
Engine and Chassis Management Systems
KTRC (Kawasaki TRaction Control)
The new KTRC system used on the Ninja H2 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, Mode 2 for the street, and Mode 3 for wet pavement conditions. A Rain Mode is also available.
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.
Rain Mode can be turned on and off independently from KTRC. Activating Rain Mode sets KTRC to Mode 3+, and also limits power output, torque and response. Similar to a Low Power setting, maximum engine output is less than 50% of full, with a milder throttle response.
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.
KIBS (Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System)
Kawasaki’s supersport-style ABS is standard equipment on the Ninja H2. 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 H2.
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:
- Rear lift suppression.
- Minimal kickback during operation.
- Accounting for back-torque
Electronic Rider Support
Complementing the Ninja H2’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 H2’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.
The new instrumentation design combines a full digital LCD screen with an analogue-style tachometer. LCD screen uses a black/white reverse display (white characters on a black background), contributing to the high-quality image. In addition to the digital speedometer and gear position indicator, display functions include: odometer, dual trip meters, current mileage, average mileage, fuel consumption, coolant temperature, boost indicator, boost (intake air chamber) temperature, stopwatch (lap timer), clock and the Economical Riding Indicator. Tachometer design uses an actual needle, but the black dial “face” looks blank until the engine speed increases. Backlit rpm numbers light up to chase the tachometer needle as it moves around the dial. Compact new handle switch design allows all instrument functions to be controlled from the handles.
KQS (Kawasaki Quick Shifter)
The Ninja H2 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.
New Kawasaki Silver-mirroe Paint with Glass Flakes
Glass flakes in the first clear coat catch the light, giving the paint a high-quality metallic-style appearance.
The silver-mirror spark black paint used on the Ninja H2 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.
Original Design Wheels
Cast aluminium wheels were designed specifically for the Ninja H2. 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.
To ensure sufficient tyre durability when riding at high speed, high-performance tyres must be used. A massive 200 mm rear tyre transmits the Ninja H2’s power to the tarmac. The Ninja H2 is able to use high-performance street tyres.
Given the Ninja H2’s high-speed potential, 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 H2’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.
A large ø250 mm disc generates strong braking force at the rear.
KYB AOS-II racing suspension makes its debut on an on-road bike.
Based on the Air-Oil Separate cartridge fork developed for motocross racing, this is the industry’s first use of this high-performance racing suspension on an on-road motorcycle.
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.
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.
The Ninja H2 is equipped with all the lights needed for street-legal operation. With the exception of the bulb illuminating the license plate, all lighting equipment on the Ninja H2 is of the LED type. Bright, compact LED headlamp positioned low, at the front of the upper cowl, contributes to the “Intense Force” design. Design of the LED front position lamps brings to mind the sharp fangs of a predator.
The Kawasaki River Mark
The Kawasaki River Mark is a long time symbol of the Kawasaki Heavy Industries Group dating back to the 1870s.
Special permission was obtained to use the River Mark on the Ninja H2. Usually, its use on a product is reserved for models of historical significance.
High Precision Production
Unlike a standard mass-production model, the high-precision production of the Ninja H2 requires greater hands-on participation by skilled Kawasaki craftsmen. Each step, from metalworking, treatment, welding, painting to assembly, fine-tuning and inspection is carefully attended to in order to create a product of superior quality. Within Kawasaki’s Akashi Factory, production takes place in an area dedicated exclusively to the Ninja H2.
Assist & Slipper Clutch: Lighter Lever Operation
The Assist & Slipper Clutch uses two types of cams: an assist cam and a slipper cam. When the engine is driving the rear wheel the assist cam functions as a self-servo mechanism, pulling the clutch hub and operating plate together to compress the clutch plates. This allows the total clutch spring load to be reduced, resulting in a lighter clutch lever pull when operating the clutch. Compared to the previous clutch, the Assist & Slipper clutch offers a 40% lighter clutch lever feel, contributing to reduced rider fatigue when street riding.
When excessive engine braking occurs – as a result of quick downshifts (or an accidental downshift) – the slipper cam comes into play, forcing the clutch hub and operating plate apart. This relieves pressure on the clutch plates to reduce back-torque and help prevent the rear tyre from hopping and skidding.
Changing the clutch hub material from steel to aluminium provides a weight savings of approximately 1 kg.
ECU Updates: Optimised Control
New engine settings offer optimised power delivery. Electronic system settings were also tweaked, resulting in more natural power delivery when in Rain Mode.
Prepped for Data Logger
In preparation for an aftermarket data logger, a CAN coupler is provided inside the canopy.
Ninja H2 Bottom Line
- The Ninja H2 is a road registerable mass production model.
- The number of Ninja H2 available in Australia is limited.
- There are a limited number of specially appointed and trained Kawasaki Ninja H2/H2R Dealers selling and servicing the Ninja H2 and Ninja H2R models.
Follow this link to view the global Ninja H2/H2R website: Ninja H2R