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7 months ago

RF FEB 2021 ONLINE

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Whistle? Yup! Standing

Whistle? Yup! Standing on the side of the road taking pics – you hear the supercharged whistle long before the soft hum of the 1000cc engine. It’s quite weird – futuristic and ever so cool! The H2 Naked features the same 998cc supercharged powerplant as the H2 SX line, with a few notable changes to fit this naked bike application. An all-new chassis, comfortable ergonomics, and an updated electronics package is what makes this bike so user friendly. Changes to the engine from the H2 SX gives the bike more low-end and mid-range oomph. On this one, Kawasaki engineers developed new model-specific fuel maps, and an entirely new exhaust system with longer header pipes, that prioritize low-end and mid-range power whilst still meeting Euro 5 emissions standards. The final piece of the puzzle is shorter final-drive gearing. Ride-by-wire throttle tech allows for three preset and one customizable ride mode. Once behind the handlebar of the Z H2, riders will have the choice of Sport, Road, Rain, and Rider modes all displayed on the really neat TFT display. This compact TFT is shared across several Kawasaki models. It works and looks the part, relaying everything you’d ever need to know at a glance, in or out of direct light. Racers will love the lean angle indicator. The modes adjust the levels of traction control, throttle response, and all other electronic aids. Sport and Road share a throttle map, which is a sporty pairing well suited with the H2’s personality. TC is bumped down to the lowest setting in Sport, giving you plenty of leeway; Road reigns it in a bit. Rain cuts power and softens the throttle considerably, while also jacking up TC to its maximum settings. Rider mode allows you to customize the Z to taste. As linear and easy to control as the supercharged engine is, it’s still good to have state of the art technology watching over your shoulder. Standard features assisted by the six-axis Bosch IMU include cornering ABS, three-level lean-angle-detecting traction control, wheelie control, slide control, cruise control, and launch control. Also, three power modes are available— Full (full power), Middle (75 percent power), and Low (50 percent) to let you tailor the maximum output to your needs. Naturally, we rode her mostly in full power mode… You’d expect a bike like this all to be about superbike speed and scrunched up ergonomics. But it’s not. The Z H2’s upright position make riding around town, hitting the freeways, or even the track, a relaxed affair. The bars are noticeably taller than the H2 SX platform, creating a sporty, yet neutral riding position. The seat height is accessible for most, and we could all get our boots on the ground. It’s actually a really comfortable motorcycle – that if you have the means you could use it all day every day. But like we say – you need to ride it to understand. In comparison to the H2 SX, the Z H2 has more snap. It’s so easy to hoik the wheel while pulling out of a corner, this bike can be manic, naked hooligan. Riding the bike, the Z H2’s supercharged powerplant is incredibly smooth. It does not hesitate. It does not rattle or vibrate. The gearbox on the Z H2 feels perfect, with its precise, easy shifting. You’ll never need to use light clutch unless you’re coming to a stop, thanks to the quickshifter that works well in either direction. Kawasaki says that you should only utilize it when the engine is spinning above 2500 rpm. On this bike, that’s easy. It delivers a smooth, refined ride. This bike proves that 197 horsepower at 10,500 rpm and 101 ft-lbs of torque at 9500 rpm can be calm. Power is everywhere, and it builds in a predictable, linear fashion. Like a Siren of old, it can lull you into a false serene bubble – until you need to open that throttle and the unbelievable acceleration will stretch your arms and crack your face into a smile as you scream with joy into your helmet. Fully adjustable Showa suspension keeps things in check. There is a 43mm SFF-BP fork with a linkage-assisted shock. Together, they do well to soak up the rough stuff. The setup on this bike leaned towards comfortable. For what we did it felt really, really good. The blend of a good chassis, excellent suspension and great tyre choice in the Pirelli Diablo Rosso 3 rubber that is fitted standard inspires much confidence in the rider. Just so well balanced – and although it’s fast as F… it just feels so lekker. Slowing things down swiftly are dual Brembo 4-piston M4.32 calipers clamping onto the 320mm floating rotors. Adjustable levers are also in the mix. Out back, a dual-piston caliper grabs onto a 250mm rotor and has an equally good feel. No complaints here, but we wonder why Kawasaki has not fitted braided brake lines on such a high spec bike? Yes, the Z H2 is as happy plodding along through suburbia as it is running at flat taps through the Karoo. We have to be honest. We ran out of guts and road long before the bike ran out of steam… Sean Says: I really do like crazy motorcycles, bikes that you just know that if you disrespect it, will kick you solidly in the nuts and the Kawasaki Z H2 supercharged hypernaked is possibly the most insane naked bike out there. Bolting a supercharger to an already insanely fast 1000cc motor and then sticking it in an unfaired street fighter style bike sounds like an idea born out of snorting way too many coffee beans, but it really works and works extremely well.