This was an exciting week to be a motorcycle enthusiast. Dozens of new motorcycle designs were unveiled at INTERMOT, the International Motorcycle, Scooter and E-Bike Fair in Cologne, Italy. Perhaps the most anticipated though, was the new Kawasaki H2. Kawasaki had been teasing this bike for the entire month of September, allowing only small glimpses of what seemed to be a radical departure from the sportbike status quo.
These teaser videos sparked much debate over what the new bike would be. What was it? A 750cc triple? A ZX-14 killer? After over a month of waiting, yesterday Kawasaki finally pulled the cover off their new H2R, a track only not-street-legal superbike for lunatics. The supercharged 998cc engine puts out 296 horsepower, and while we don’t have full specs on the bike yet, it certainly appears to be not much bigger than a ZX-10R. Everything about this bike is new. A steel trellis frame, a single sided swingarm, and carbon bodywork that looks like it was designed by guys who work in the death star, complete with the Kawasaki River Emblem from the 1870’s.
This thing is so radical, it has naturally been rather polarizing. Some love it, some hate it, others just aren’t sure what to make of it. But one of the big questions I have seen posted lately is what is one to do with THAT much power? I mean come on, 3 HUNDRED HORSEPOWER?! Obviously on the street that’s just pure crazy talk, but even on a track, those straightaways are going to be oh so much shorter, breaking points much, much earlier, and corner exit will be a tricky dance to say the least. And Kawasaki is making us wait a whole month more before we find out details about the street version. Speculation is the road going H2 will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 200-220 horsepower. That’s ZX-14R territory, but in a package that is much more compact and (I’m assuming) lighter and more nimble – where do I sign up?!
Even though that is certainly a ton of power, and surely capable of obliterating any speed limit in mere seconds, I want to ride this thing – bad. Maybe it will be featured in an upcoming episode?
The bottom line is this: Just about any sportbike you can buy these days is capable of go-directly-to-jail speeds. Worse yet, I guarantee someone will launch themselves off the side of the road, into a building, or into another vehicle on this thing. They already do it on today’s bikes. Sure, having that kind of power on tap may encourage some wild riding behavior, but ultimately it comes down to the individual rider. You have to ask yourself: am I responsible enough to handle this bike? Remember the old saying, “with great power comes great responsibility.”
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