Kawasaki used to supply engines for esoteric Italian motorcycle manufacturer Bimota and now they are collaborating to share engineering ideas such as hub-centre steering.
The first result of their collaboration is the upcoming Tesi H2 powered by a Kawasaki H2 supercharged 998cc inline four.
Not only is it propelled by the stonking supercharged H2 engine, but there is a fair bit of H2 in the “origami” design.
It now appears that the bike is near production with this image on the Bimota social media.
Bimota Tesi H2
In a reciprocal arrangement it seems Bimota’s predilection for hub-centre steering may make its way into a future Kawasaki.
The Japanese company has recently applied for a patent for a strikingly similar front suspension setup.
Don’t you think it looks very much like the Tesi H2?
Bimota Tesi H2
Hub-centre steering has been around since 1910, so it’s interesting that Kawasaki would ask for a patent.
Perhaps their design is slightly differennt.
It typically has the steering pivot points inside the hub of the wheel, rather than above the wheel in the headstock as in the traditional layout.
Australian film animator and self-taught engineer Ray Van Steenwyk has also invented a variation of the hub-centre arrangement.
It’s called the Motoinno TS3 and is based on an air-cooled Ducati 900 SS.
They claim the advantages are no dive under brakes, adjustable rake, a tighter turning circle and improve corner handling.
we’ve also seen huib-cetre steering making a bit of a comeback in some electric motorcycle designs such as this Japanese Zec00.
Meanwhile, there is no word yet on price for the limited-edition Tesi H2, but there is a rumour it will be near $A100,000.However, you can bet it will be eye-wateringly expensive being fettled with Öhlins suspension, Brembo brakes, plenty of carbon fibre and CNC machined bits and pieces.
As a guide, the current Ducati-powered Tesi 3D EVO is $A50,890 and the Tesi 3D Naked is $55,990.
Bimota Tesi 3D
That’s a lot more than the current Kawasaki H2 at $29,290, H2 SX SE at $34,999 or the Carbon version at $40,400.
Most significantly, the power figure has now been released and it’s the same as the H2 at 170kW (228hp), not like the track-only H2R at 240kW.
The current Tesi 3D models are powered by a 1078cc Ducati air-cooled engine from the old Monster 1100 which only outputs 78kW.
Tesi H2 will also be 24kg lighter than the H2 at 214kg, despite the seemingly heavy hub-centre steering.
Bimota has worked with Kawasaki before, using their engines and we expect the new ownership arrangement to result in more collaborative models.
The Italian boutique manufacturer was founded in 1973 in Rimini, Italy by Valerio Bianchi, Giuseppe Morri, and Massimo Tamburini who designed the beautiful Ducati 916 and equally elegant MV Agusta F4.
They have also had relationships other motorcycles manufacturers such as Ducati and the other Japanese manufacturers.
Tom began riding at the age of 10 and owns several motorcycles including a Vyrus 987 C3 4V worth more than $100,000.
His first movie role with a motorcycle was Top Gun where he rode the Kawasaki Ninja GPZ900R.
Since then he has ridden in many movies including Oblivion, Knight and Day, and Edge of Tomorrow.
But the GPZ900R is a long way from the H2R he rides in Top Gun 2.
The GPZ900R was made from 1984 to 1996 and had a 908cc transverse four-cylinder engine capable of 86kW of power and 85Nm of torque for a top speed of 254km/h top speed.
By comparison, the street-legal Kawasaki Ninja H2 Carbon (about $A44,000 sprint away) has 147.2kW (200ps/197hp) of power at 11,000rpm and 133.5Nm of torque at 10,5000rpm, but the supercharger boosts that to 154.5kW (210ps/207hp) and 140.4Nm.
However, Tom is riding the powerful track-only Ninja H2R which has 228kW (310ps/305hp) at 14,000rpm and 165Nm of torque at 12,500rpm. With maximum ram air, power literally blows out to 240kW (326ps/321hp).
So it seems the future for motorcycle engines might be blown, either with forced induction or exhaust.
The Yamaha patent filing shows drawings of a turbo in an MT-09 which is actually powered by a triple-cylinder engine.
However, patent drawings don’t necessarily mean they will build the engine, the bike or use the MT-09 to house the engine.
If it’s the MT-09 engine with a cylinder lobbed off, it would be about 588cc which would be the same engine capacity as the Suzuki Recursion turbo concept unveiled in 2013 with a single-overhead-cam parallel-twin turbo engine.
The switch to smaller, lighter, more powerful yet more fuel-efficient blown bikes makes a lot of sense given the stricter emissions rules in Europe and California, as well as tough imposts such as a charges for or restrictions on older bikes entering CBDs.
Turbo was the “next big thing” back in the ’80s with models from several of the Japanese manufacturers, including the Honda CB500 Turbo, Yamaha XJ650 Turbo, Suzuki XN85, and Kawasaki GPz750 Turbo.
They had manic light-switch power that made them not only difficult to control, but dangerous. They were also temperamental and unreliable.
However, modern low-boost mini turbos and superchargers which have revolutionised the car industry in recent years would be a lot more controllable and reliable than the temperamental rocketships of the ‘80s.
Turbos and superchargers require a fair bit of plumbing and coolers.
They are easy to fit in a car where space is not scarce like on a motorcycle.
The Yamaha patent presents two different solutions to the problem.
In one filling, the exhaust headers merge into one to pipe the gas through an intercooler into a low-mounted turbocharger in front of the engine with the catalytic converter underneath.
The other filing (top image on this page) has the turbo upside down and closer to the headers, allowing the cat to be mounted in front of the cylinders.
It is not only more compact but would also heat the cat faster and decrease emissions.
The latest model releases from the two recent motorcycle shows in Milan and Cologne prove that power is still king in the two-wheel world.
A new road leader has emerged and some older models have been pushed down the order.
The list of the most powerful is still dominated by the track-only Kawasaki H2R at 240kW.
New road king
However, the new king of the road-registered bikes is the 2019 Ducati Panigale V4R.
With 162kW of power it leapfrogs Honda’s RC213V-S which rates 158kW with a track kit, equal to the MV Agusta F4RC.
The V4R has been homologated so Ducati can go World Superbike racing again, so it is 998cc, not 1103cc.
Despite having fewer cubes, it has more poke.
Two bikes joining the top 10 are the updated BMW S 1000 RR with ShiftCam technology and 152kW, plus the 2019 Suzuki GSX-R1000 R1 in 10th place with 150kW.
Anyone who says power isn’t everything hasn’t twisted the throttle on a powerful sports bike.
Unfortunately, the only places left to experience these bikes is on unlimited-speed roads, at track days and in that all-important 100m traffic light drag.
There may not be many places left to experience the full power of some of the world’s most powerful bikes, but it’s always good to know the power is there.
So we’ve complied three lists of currently available new sports bikes with the most power, the most torque and with the highest power-to-weight ratio.
We have used factory supplied power and wet weight figures for Australia. The figures may vary slightly for some other countries.
For interest’s sake, we have also included at what revs they achieve peak power and torque to give you an indication of where they get most of their thrust.
Talk the torque
While the kings of power are important, torque is that thrust in the chest at the starting line that we all love.
The king of grunt is still the brawny Yamaha V-Max. Kawasaki isn’t far behind with its forced-induction models and the normally aspirated Kawasaki ZX-14R.
If you were to include cruisers, Triumph’s 2.3-litre triple would be the undisputed king with 203Nm of stump-pullling grunt and several other cruisers would also rate high, including Harley’s Milwaukee Eight 114-cube FXDR which makes 162Nm.
Power and torque are meaningless if your bike is a porker like the 310kg V-Max. So we’ve also compiled a list of the best power-to-weight ratio sports bikes.
Again the winner is the Kawasaki H2R track-only weapon which has more kilowatts than kilograms for a power-to-weight ratio of 1.11. That compares with the V-Max at 47ptw.
So if you want a lithe sports bike with a good mix of heady power and gut-crunching grunt, Kawasaki should be your first port of call, or go to your local performance shop for a supercharger or turbocharger.