Tag Archives: Kawasaki Z H2

Kawasaki Announces More 2023 Returning Models

Kawasaki announced the return of several sport, retro sport, naked, cruiser, adventure touring, and dual-sport models to its motorcycle lineup. These 2023 motorcycles are set to arrive in Kawasaki dealerships during the summer months.

Models included in this announcement are the Ninja 1000SX, Ninja 400 and 400 ABS, Z H2 and H2 SE, Z900RS and Z900RS Cafe, Z400 ABS, the Vulcan S and Vulcan 900 lineups, 1700 Voyager ABS, Versys-X300 and Versys-X300 ABS, and the KLR650 lineup.

To read about the 2023 KLX300 dual-sport, KLX300SM supermoto, Ninja ZX-6R sportbike, and new Elektrode electric balance bike, click here.

2023 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX

Kawasaki 2023 returning models
2023 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX in Emerald Blazed Green / Metallic Diablo Black / Metallic Graphite Gray

The Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX is back with its refined sport-touring capabilities, combining the power of a supersport with the feel of an upright sportbike and familiar Ninja styling.

The Ninja 1000SX features a 1,043cc liquid-cooled inline-Four, Kawasaki Traction Control, Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Braking System (KIBS), Kawasaki Quick Shifter, 4.3-inch all-digital TFT color instrumentation, and electronic cruise control.

Related Story: 2020 Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX | Road Test Review

The Ninja 1000SX includes rider aides such as electronic cruise control and integrated riding modes that combine traction control and Power Modes, and it is compatible with the Kawasaki RIDEOLOGY THE APP.

This 2023 model will be offered in Emerald Blazed Green / Metallic Diablo Black / Metallic Graphite Gray starting at $13,199

2023 Kawasaki Ninja 400 and Ninja 400 ABS

Kawasaki 2023 returning models
2023 Kawasaki Ninja 400 in Metallic Magnetic Dark Gray/ Metallic Matte Twilight Blue

Ideal for both experienced riders and newer riders looking to step up from a lower displacement bike, the 2023 Ninja 400 sport motorcycle offers the largest displacement in its category.

The 2023 Ninja 400 features a 399cc liquid-cooled parallel-Twin, a slip/assist clutch, a lightweight trellis frame, Uni-Trak rear suspension, a 310mm semi-floating petal disc brake and 2-piston caliper in the front, and 220mm petal disc brake and 1-piston caliper in the rear.

Related Story: 2018 Kawasaki Ninja 400 ABS | First Ride Review

A low seat height (30.9 in.), twin LED headlights, and high-grade multifunction dash instrumentation make the Ninja 400 the ideal choice for riders looking to enter the sport-riding scene.

Kawasaki 2023 returning models
2023 Kawasaki Ninja 400 in Pearl Blizzard White / Metallic Carbon Gray
Kawasaki 2023 returning models
2023 Kawasaki Ninja 400 in Metallic Carbon Gray / Metallic Matte Carbon Gray

For 2023, the Ninja 400 and the Ninja 400 ABS are available in Metallic Carbon Gray / Metallic Matte Carbon Gray, Pearl Blizzard White / Metallic Carbon Gray, and Metallic Magnetic Dark Gray/ Metallic Matte Twilight Blue. The Ninja 400 starts at $5,299, and the Ninja 400 ABS starts at $5,699.

Kawasaki 2023 returning models
2023 Ninja 400 ABS KRT Edition in Lime Green / Ebony

The Ninja 400 ABS KRT Edition is painted in a Lime Green / Ebony color scheme and starts at $5,899. The Ninja 400 KRT Edition without ABS will come in the same color scheme starting at $5,499.

2023 Kawasaki Z H2 and Z H2 SE

Kawasaki 2023 returning models
2023 Kawasaki Z H2 in Metallic Phantom Silver / Metallic Carbon Gray

The flagship model of the Kawasaki Z lineup, the 2023 Z H2 features a balanced supercharged 998cc liquid-cooled inline-Four, a 6-speed dog-ring gearbox, a slip/assist clutch, a lightweight trellis frame, high-performance Showa suspension components, and Brembo monoblock brake calipers.

Related Story: 2020 Kawasaki Z H2 | First Look Preview

The bike also offers an IMU-based electronics package, Kawasaki Quick Shifter (KQS), Kawasaki Launch Control Mode (KLCM), Kawasaki Cornering Management Function (KCMF), electronic cruise control, integrated riding modes, all-digital TFT color instrumentation, smartphone connectivity via RIDEOLOGY THE APP, and LED lighting.

For 2023, the Z H2 comes in Metallic Phantom Silver / Metallic Carbon Gray and starts at $18,500.

The Z H2 SE offers the same features that come standard on the Z H2, with the addition of the Kawasaki Electronic Control Suspension (KECS) with Skyhook EERA Technology, which adapts to road and riding conditions in real-time, providing the ideal amount of damping by combining high-level mechanical components with the latest electronic control technology and reportedly giving the rider a smoother ride as it continually adapts to the road surface in real-time.

For braking power, the 2023 Z H2 SE will once again feature Brembo Stylema monoblock brake calipers, a Brembo front brake master cylinder, and steel-braided lines.

Kawasaki 2023 returning models
2023 Kawasaki Z H2 SE in Metallic Matte Graphenesteel Gray / Ebony / Mirror Coated Black

The 2023 Z H2 SE will be offered in Metallic Matte Graphenesteel Gray / Ebony / Mirror Coated Black starting at $20,700.

2023 Kawasaki Z900RS and Z900RS Cafe

Kawasaki 2023 returning models
2023 Kawasaki Z900RS in Metallic Diablo Black / Metallic Imperial Red

The Kawasaki Z900RS retro-sportbikes reignites the classic style of the original Z1 900 motorcycle.

The 2023 Z900RS and Z900RS Cafe feature a 948cc liquid-cooled inline-Four, a slip/assist clutch, horizontal back-link rear suspension, authentic retro styling, an iconic teardrop fuel tank, a tuned stainless steel exhaust system, a round LED headlight, and bullet-shaped analog dials.

Kawasaki 2023 returning models
2023 Kawasaki Z900RS Cafe in Metallic Diablo Black

For 2023, the Z900RS comes in a Metallic Diablo Black / Metallic Imperial Red paint scheme starting at $11,949. The Z900RS Cafe adds cafe-racer styling with a front cowl, a special seat, and a drop handlebar, and is available in Metallic Diablo Black starting at $12,399.

2023 Kawasaki Z400 ABS

Kawasaki 2023 returning models
2023 Kawasaki Z400 ABS in Metallic Matte Graphenesteel Gray / Metallic Spark Black

Described in a 2018 Rider First Ride Review as a “Ninja 400 with a flat handlebar and no fairing,” the Kawasaki Z400 ABS naked sportbike features a 399cc liquid-cooled parallel-Twin, a slip/assist clutch, streetfighter styling, a lightweight chassis, an upright riding position, a low seat height (30.9 in.), and standard ABS.

Kawasaki 2023 returning models
2023 Kawasaki Z400 ABS in Pearl Robotic White /Metallic Matte Graphenesteel Gray

For 2023, the Z400 ABS is available in Metallic Matte Graphenesteel Gray / Metallic Spark Black and Pearl Robotic White /Metallic Matte Graphenesteel Gray starting at $5,399.

2023 Kawasaki Vulcan S, Vulcan S ABS, and Vulcan S Cafe

Kawasaki 2023 returning models
2023 Kawasaki Vulcan S in Metallic Flat Spark Black

The Kawasaki Vulcan S sport cruisers are geared to fit a wide range of riders as a result of not only the bikes’ reported starting curb weight just shy of 492 lb but also the exclusive Ergo-Fit sizing system, which includes 18 possible configurations for the handlebar, footpegs, and seat.

Related Story: 2016 Kawasaki Vulcan S Cafe Road Test Review

Both bikes feature a 649cc liquid-cooled DOHC parallel-Twin and sportbike-derived chassis and suspension. The 2023 Vulcan S Cafe also comes equipped with three-tone paint, signature tank badging, sport striping, and a dark-tinted windshield deflector.

Kawasaki 2023 returning models
2023 Kawasaki Vulcan S in Cafe Pearl Storm Gray / Ebony

For 2023, the Vulcan S is available in a Metallic Flat Spark Black colorway starting at $7,349, the Vulcan S ABS is offered in Pearl Matte Sage Green / Metallic Flat Spark Black starting at $7,899, and the Vulcan S Cafe is available in Pearl Storm Gray / Ebony starting at $8,099.

2023 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic, Vulcan 900 Classic LT, and Vulcan 900 Custom

Kawasaki 2023 returning models
2023 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic in Metallic Spark Black /Metallic Magnesium Gray

In our “Middleweight Touring Cruisers” comparison test, which included the Vulcan 900 Classic LT, Rider EIC Greg Drevendstedt wrote: “Cruisers are about style and sensation. How a cruiser looks is just as important as how it sounds and feels.”

All three of the 2023 Vulcan 900 cruiser models feature a 903cc liquid-cooled, fuel-injected V-Twin and a low seat height (26.8 in.).

The Vulcan 900 Classic features rider footboards with a heel/toe shifter, tank-mounted instrumentation, and a 180mm rear tire. The Vulcan 900 Classic LT features a studded seat with standard passenger backrest, leather saddlebags, and a height-adjustable windscreen. The Vulcan 900 Custom features wide drag bars and forward-mounted footpegs, a low center of gravity for easy handling, custom styling with a teardrop tank, parallel slash-cut pipes, and pinstripe wheels.

Kawasaki 2023 returning models
2023 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic LT in Pearl Storm Gray / Ebony
Kawasaki 2023 returning models
2023 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Custom in Pearl Matte Sage Green / Flat Ebony

For 2023, the Vulcan 900 Classic is available in Metallic Spark Black /Metallic Magnesium Gray starting at $8,999. The Vulcan 900 Classic LT is available in Pearl Storm Gray / Ebony starting at $9,999 with a 24-month limited warranty, and the Vulcan 900 Custom is available in Pearl Matte Sage Green / Flat Ebony starting at $9,499.

2023 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS

Kawasaki 2023 returning models
2023 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS in Pearl Storm Gray / Ebony

The 2023 Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS touring cruiser features a 1,700cc liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, transverse 52-degree V-Twin, Kawasaki Advanced Coactive-braking Technology (K-ACT II) ABS, throttle-by-wire, and electronic cruise control.

Related Story: 2012 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS | Road Test Review

The bike has a frame-mounted fairing, an intercom-headset compatible audio system, and integrated luggage. For 2023, the Vulcan 1700 Voyager is available in Pearl Storm Gray / Ebony starting at $19,299.

2023 Kawasaki Versys-X 300 and Versys-X300 ABS

Kawasaki 2023 returning models
2023 Kawasaki Versys-X 300 in Pearl Matte Sage Green / Metallic Matte Carbon Gray

With a compact Ninja-derived 296cc liquid-cooled DOHC Twin, the Kawasaki Versys-X 300 is a nimble, lightweight motorcycle that’s suitable for commuting or touring.

Related Story: 2018 BMW G 310 GS vs. Kawasaki Versys-X 300 vs. Royal Enfield Himalayan

The Versys-X 300 has a lightweight chassis, long-travel suspension, a low seat height (32.1 in.), front cowling with a tall windscreen, and a rear carrier.

The 2023 Versys-X 300 is available in Pearl Matte Sage Green / Metallic Matte Carbon Gray starting at $5,899, while the ABS model comes in the same color scheme starting at $6,199.

2023 Kawasaki KLR650 and KLR650 ABS

Kawasaki 2023 returning models
2023 Kawasaki KLR650 in Pearl Storm Gray

The KLR650 sports a 652cc liquid-cooled Single nestled in a recently redesigned high-tensile double-cradle frame. In 2022, the bike was upgraded with new improved ergonomics, bodywork, a taller two-position adjustable windscreen, a larger aluminum rear carrier, increased generator capacity, and an LED headlight. It features all-digital multifunction instrumentation, an optional ABS system, and 7.9 inches of front travel coupled with 7.3 inches of rear travel.

Kawasaki 2023 returning models
2023 Kawasaki KLR650 in Pearl Solar Yellow
Kawasaki 2023 returning models
2023 Kawasaki KLR650 in Candy Lime Green

The 2023 KLR650 is available in three colorways – Pearl Storm Gray, Pearl Solar Yellow, and Candy Lime Green – and starts at $6,899. The KLR650 ABS is offered in Pearl Storm Gray starting at $7,199.

2023 Kawasaki KLR650 Adventure and KLR650 Adventure ABS

Kawasaki 2023 returning models
2023 Kawasaki KLR650 Adventure in Cypher Camo Gray

The KLR650 Adventure model is built off of the standard KLR650 platform and designed for the rider who is looking for increased carrying capacity and convenience. It comes equipped with factory-installed side cases, LED auxiliary lights, engine guards, a tank pad, and both a DC power outlet and USB socket. It’s available both with and without ABS.

The 2023 KLR650 Adventure is available in Cypher Camo Gray starting at $7,899, while the KLR650 Adventure ABS also comes in Cypher Camo Gray starting at $8,199.

2023 Kawasaki KLR650 Traveler ABS

Kawasaki 2023 returning models
2023 Kawasaki KLR650 Traveler ABS in Pearl Solar Yellow

The KLR650 Traveler model consists of the same features found on the standard KLR650 as well as a factory-installed top case and both a DC power outlet and USB socket. It comes equipped with ABS.

The KLR650 Traveler ABS is offered in Pearl Solar Yellow starting at $7,599.

For more information, visit the Kawasaki website.

The post Kawasaki Announces More 2023 Returning Models first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Riding the Motorcycle Century

Riding the Motorcycle Century
Child of the ’60s meets Bud Ekins’ 1915 Harley-Davidson in 1978. (Photo by Robin Riggs)

Looking through a file folder named “Cars & Bikes” on my computer the other day, I noticed that in 50 years of riding, I’ve experienced nearly the entirety of motorcycle history. From 1915 Indian board-track racers to a 2022 KTM 1290 Super Duke R Evo, that’s 108 model years’ worth. And in between were tests, rides, or races on more machines from every decade. Hardly planned, this all resulted from simply loving to ride, being curious, and, most of all, saying yes at every chance. Here are some of my favorite moto memories, one apiece covering 12 decades.

1915 Harley-Davidson Model 11-F

In 1978, Cycle magazine gave me an assignment after I joined the staff: Write a feature about anything I wanted. Interested in the history of our sport, I replied that I’d like to ride a really old bike. “Call this guy,” the editor said, handing me the number of Bud Ekins, an ISDT gold medalist and the stuntman in the epic The Great Escape jump scene.

Riding the Motorcycle Century
More than a century after its manufacture, this modified 1915 Harley-Davidson 11-F completed the cross-country Motorcycle Cannonball. (Photo by SFO Museum)

In his enormous shop, Ekins reviewed the starting drill for his 1915 Harley-Davidson Model 11-F: Flood the carb, set the timing and compression release, crack the throttle, and then swing the bicycle-style pedals hard to get the V-Twin’s big crankshaft spinning. When it lit off, working the throttle, foot clutch, and tank-mounted shifter – and steering via the long tiller handlebar – were foreign to a rider used to contemporary bikes. But coordination gradually built, and after making our way to the old Grapevine north of Los Angeles, I found the 998cc engine willing and friendly, with lots of flywheel effect and ample low-rpm torque to accelerate the machine to a satisfying cruising speed of about 45 mph. And its rider to another time and place.

RELATED: Early American Motorcycles at SFO Museum

1927 Norton Model 18 TT Replica

On a lucky trip to New Zealand, McIntosh Racing founder Ken McIntosh let me race his special Norton Model 18 in the Pukekohe Classic Festival. Unlike the exotic Norton CS1 overhead-camshaft model that likewise debuted in 1927 – a big advancement at the time – the Model 18 TT Replica used a tuned version of the company’s existing 490cc pushrod Single engine. Its name was derived, fittingly, from the sterling Model 18 racebike’s multiple Isle of Man TT wins. As such, the production TT Replica had as much racing provenance as you could buy at the time.

Riding the Motorcycle Century
The author aboard New Zealander Ken McIntosh’s 1927 Norton Model 18 TT Replica, which reached 80 mph on track. (Photo by Geoff Osborne)

I found it surprisingly capable, delivering a blend of strong power (a digital bicycle speedometer showed a top track speed of80 mph) and predictable, confident handling – despite the girder-style fork and hardtail frame. However, lacking gear stops in its selector mechanism, the 3-speed gearbox required careful indexing to catch the correct gear. But once I got the process down, the bike was steady, swift, and utterly magical, like the Millennium Falcon of Singles in its time.

RELATED: Retrospective: 1974 Norton Commando 850 John Player Replica

1936 Nimbus Type C

When a friend handed me his 4-cylinder Nimbus, it had big problems. The engine was locked solid, and my buddy wanted to get it running and saleable. Built in Denmark, the Nimbus is unique for several reasons. One is its 746cc inline-Four engine. Rather than being mounted transversely like modern multis, it was positioned longitudinally in the frame, with power flowing rearward via shaft drive. Interestingly, the rocker-arm ends and valve stems were exposed and, when the engine was running, danced a jig like eight jolly leprechauns. The frame was equally curious, comprised of flat steel bars instead of tubing, and riveted together. With a hacksaw, hammer, and some steel, you could practically duplicate a Nimbus frame under the apple tree on a Calvin and Hobbes Lazy Sunday.

Riding the Motorcycle Century
Bob Sinclair, former CEO of Saab Cars USA, loved motorcycles. He’s riding a Nimbus Type C sidecar rig with a furry friend as co-pilot. (Sinclair Family Archives)

Anyway, the seized engine refused to budge – until I attempted a fabled fix by pouring boiling olive oil through the spark-plug holes to expand the cylinder walls and free up the rings. Additionally, I judiciously added heat from a propane torch to the iron block. Eventually, the engine unstuck and, with tuning, ran well. But the infusion of olive oil created a hot mist that emanated from the exposed valvetrain, covering my gear and leaving behind an olfactory wake like baking Italian bread.

1949 Vincent Black Shadow

One blissful time, years before Black Shadows cost six figures, I was lucky enough to ride one. Seemingly all engine, the Black Shadow was long and low, with its black stove-enamel cases glistening menacingly, and its sweeping exhaust headers adding a sensual element to an otherwise purely mechanical look.

Riding the Motorcycle Century
Unquestionably the superbike of its day, Vincent’s 998cc Black Shadow was simultaneously elegant and menacing, and a big 150-mph speedometer let the rider know it. This is a 1952 model. (Photo by Clement Salvadori)

Thanks to the big, heavy flywheels and twin 499cc cylinders, starting the Vincent took forethought and commitment. And once the beast was running, so did riding it. A rude surprise came as I selected 1st gear and slipped the clutch near the busy Los Angeles International Airport. Unexpectedly, the clutch grabbed hard, sending the Shadow lurching ahead. The rest of the controls seemed heavy and slow compared to the Japanese and Italian bikes I knew at the time – especially the dual front brakes. The bike was clearly fast, but glancing at the famous 150-mph speedometer, I was chagrined to find that I’d only scratched the surface of the Black Shadow’s performance at 38 mph.

1955 Matchless G80CS

Despite not being a Brit-bike fan in particular, I’ve owned five Matchlesses, including three G80CSs. Known as a “competition scrambler,” in reality the CS denotes it as a “competition” (scrambles) version of the “sprung” (rear-suspension equipped) streetbike. Power comes from a 498cc long-stroke 4-stroke pushrod Single of the approximate dimensions of a giant garden gnome. Starting a G80CS requires knowing “the drill” – retarding the ignition, pushing the big piston to top-dead-center on compression, and giving the kickstart lever a strong, smooth kick all the way through. This gets the crank turning some 540 degrees before the piston begins the compression stroke again.

Riding the Motorcycle Century
A true garage find, this 1955 Matchless G80CS hadn’t been used since 1966. Now resurrected, the long-stroke 498cc pushrod Single shoves the desert sled ahead like the rapid-fire blasts of a big tommy gun. (Photo by John L. Stein)

Once going, the engine fires the G80CS down the road with unhurried explosions. Then at 50 mph or so, the Matchless feels delightfully relaxed; vibration is low-frequency and quite tolerable, and the note emanating from the muffler is a pleasant bark –powerful but not threatening. It is here, at speeds just right for country roads, that the G80CS feels most in its element as a friendly, agreeable companion. With such a steady countenance, it’s no wonder that G80CS engines powered tons of desert sleds. I just wouldn’t want to be stuck in a sand wash on a 100-degree day with one that required more than three kicks to start.

RELATED: Retrospective: 1958-1966 Matchless G12/CS/CSR 650

1961 Ducati Diana 250

During Ducati’s infancy, the Italian firm concocted a249cc overhead-cam roadster named the Diana. Featuring a precision-built unit-construction engine like Japanese bikes, it offered an essential difference: being Italian. And that meant all sorts of wonderful learning, as I discovered when, as a teen, I bought a “basket-case” Diana. The term isn’t used much anymore, but it means something has been disassembled so thoroughly that its parts can be literally dumped into a basket. In the case of this poor ex-racer, literally everything that could be unscrewed or pried apart was. The engine was in pieces, the wheels were unspoked, the frame and fork were separated, and many parts were missing.

Riding the Motorcycle Century
The author aboard his basket-case 1961 Ducati Diana. (John L. Stein archives)

Its distress repelled my friends but inspired me. Upon acquiring it, a year of trial-and-error work included rebuilding the scattered engine, designing and welding brackets onto the frame for a centerstand and footpegs, assembling the steering, fabricating a wiring harness, and ultimately tuning and sorting. This basket-case Ducati literally taught me the fundamentals of motorcycle mechanics, by necessity. And due to the racy rear-set controls I’d crafted, the machine had no kickstarter, necessitating bump-starting everywhere, every time.

The bike was never gloriously fast, but it carried me through my first roadrace at the Ontario Motor Speedway. After selling it, I never saw it again. Rest in peace, fair Diana. And by the way, the California blue plate was 4C3670. Write if you’ve seen it!

1971 Kawasaki Mach III

Stepping from an 8-hp Honda 90 onto a friend’s Mach III, which was rated at 60 hp when new, was the biggest shock of my young motorcycling life. I knew enough to be careful, not only because of the 410-lb heft of the Kawasaki compared to the Honda’s feathery 202 lb, but because the Mach III had a reputation as a barn-burner. It was true. Turning the throttle grip induced the moaning wail from three dramatic 2-stroke cylinders, and propelled the Kawasaki ahead with a ferocity I’d never come close to feeling before.

Riding the Motorcycle Century
Rated at 60 horsepower, the Kawasaki Mach III (officially known as the H1) was the quickest-accelerating production motorcycle of its time. (Photo by John L. Stein)

In those first moments of augmented g-forces, I distinctly felt that the acceleration was trying to dislocate my hips. In reality, it was probably just taxing the gluteus muscles. But regardless, I remember thinking, “I’ll never be able to ride one of these.” That clearly wasn’t true, but the memory of the Mach III’s savage acceleration and whooping sound remains indelible. Additionally, the engine vibration was incessant – there was simply no escaping it – and in those pre-hydraulic disc days for Kawasaki, the drum brakes seemed heavy and reluctant, even to a big-bike novice. Glad I found out early that the Mach III’s mad-dog reputation was real.

1985 KTM 500 MXC

If Paul Bunyan designed a motorcycle, this KTM 2-stroke would be it. For its day, the 500 MXC was extraordinary at everything, such as extraordinarily hard to start; the kickstart shaft was a mile high and the lever arm even higher. At over6 feet tall in MX boots, I still needed a curb, boulder, or log handy to effectively use the left-side kickstarter. The motor had so much compression (12.0:1) that this Austrian Ditch Witch practically needed a starter engine to fire the main one. Once, I was stuck on a desert trail with the MXC’s engine reluctant to re-fire. Not so brilliantly, I attached a tow line to my friend’s Kawasaki KX250 and he pulled me to perhaps 25 mph on a nearby two-lane road. Before I could release the line and drop the clutch, my buddy slowed for unknown reasons. Instantly the rope drooped, caught on the KTM’s front knobby, and locked the wheel, slamming the bike and its idiot rider onto the asphalt. The crash should have broken my wrist, but an afternoon spent icing it in the cooler put things right.

Riding the Motorcycle Century
A beast to start and a blast to ride, this 1985 KTM 500 MXC 2-stroke was also comically and maddeningly tall. So was the desk-high kickstart arm. But, oh my, how the Austrian Ditch Witch could fly. (Photo by John L. Stein.)

When running, though, the MXC was spectacular. Capable of interstate speeds down sand washes and across open terrain, the liquid-cooled 485cc engine was a maniacal off-road overlord. The suspension included a WP inverted fork and linked monoshock with an insane 13.5 inches of travel out back. I bought the 500 MXC used for $500, and I had to practically give it away later. But now, I wish I had kept it, because it was fully street-plated – ideal for Grom hunting in the hills today.

1998 Yamaha YZF-R1

On a deserted, bucolic section of Pacific coastal backroads, I loosened the new Yamaha R1’s reins, kicked it in the ribs, and let it gallop. And gallop it did, at a breathtaking rate up to and beyond 130 mph. That’s not all that fast in the overall world of high performance, but on a little two-lane road edged by prickly cattle fences and thick oaks, it ignited all my senses. What had been a mild-mannered tomcat moments before turned into a marlin on meth, but it wasn’t the velocity that was alarming.

Riding the Motorcycle Century
Superbike tech leapt ahead with Yamaha’s YZF-R1. Its performance rang every alarm bell in the author’s head. (Photos by Yamaha)

No, the point seared into my amygdala was how hard the R1 was still accelerating at 130 mph. Rocketing past this speed with a ratio or two still remaining in the 6-speed gearbox sounded every alarm bell in my head, so I backed down. Simply, the R1 rearranged my understanding of performance. But simultaneously, it made every superbike of the 1970s, including the King Kong 1973 Kawasaki Z1 – the elite on the street in its era – seem lame by comparison.

2008 Yamaha YZ250F

After 25 years away from motocross, in 2008 I bought a new YZ250F and went to the track. Oh, my word. The dream bikes of my competitive youth – Huskys, Maicos, Ossas, and their ilk – faded to complete irrelevance after one lap at Pala Raceway on the modern 4-stroke. Naturally it was light, fast, and responsive, but the party drug was its fully tunable suspension. By comparison, everything else I’d ridden in the dirt seemed like a pogo stick. Together, the awesome suspension and aluminum perimeter frame turned motocross into an entirely different sport, and I loved it anew.

Riding the Motorcycle Century
Contemporary technology turned riding motocross from torture in the sport’s early years to the best workout – like simultaneously using every machine in the gym at maximum effort. Training and racing this 2008 Yamaha YZ250F produced heartrates just shy of running a 10k race. (John L. Stein Archives)

In retrospect, the glorious old MX bikes were dodgy because real skill was required to keep them from bucking their riders into the ditch. But, surprisingly, I found motocross aboard this new machine still merited hazard pay, for two reasons: 1) Thanks to the bike’s excellent manners, I found myself going much faster; and 2) Tracks had evolved to include lots of jumps, sometimes big ones. Doubles, step-ups, table-tops – I later paced one off at Milestone MX and realized the YZ was soaring more than 70 feet through the air.

2017 Yamaha TW200

There’s something about flying low and slow that’s just innately fun. Just ask the Super Cub pilots, lowrider guys, or Honda Monkey owners. After a day in the Mojave, plowing through sand, sliding on dry lake beds, and dodging rocks and creosote bushes, Yamaha’s TW200 proved equally enamoring. Yes, it’s molasses-slow, inhaling hard through the airbox for enough oxygen to power it along. And it’s built to a price, with an old-school carburetor and middling suspension and brakes.

Riding the Motorcycle Century
For flying low and slow on a dry lake bed, the fat-tire Yamaha TW200 is righteous. Learn to dirt-track early in life, and the skills last forever. (Photo by Bill Masho)

Nonetheless, its fat, high-profile tires somehow make it way more than alright, kind of like riding a marshmallow soaked in Red Bull. Curbs? Loading docks? Roots, ruts, and bumps? Scarcely matters at 16 mph when you’re laughing your head off. Top speed noted that day was a bit over 70 mph – good enough for freeway work, but just barely. So, actually, no. But throttling the TW all over the desert and on city streets reminded me just how joyous being on two wheels is.

RELATED: Small Bikes Rule! Honda CRF250L Rally, Suzuki GSX250R and Yamaha TW200 Reviews

2020 Kawasaki Z H2

Building from its supercharged Ninja H2 hyperbike, Kawasaki launched the naked Z H2 for 2020. Lucky to attend the press launch for the bike that year, I got to experience this 197-hp missile on a road course, freeways, backroads, and even a banked NASCAR oval. The latter was, despite its daunting concrete walls, an apropos vessel to exploit the bike’s reported power. Weighing 527 lbs wet, the Z H2 has a 2.7:1 power-to-weight ratio – nearly twice as potent as the 2023 Corvette Z06.

Riding the Motorcycle Century
Exploiting Kawasaki’s 197-horsepower Z H2 definitely required a racetrack. (Photo by Kawasaki)

Supercharged engines are known for their low-end grunt, and the Z H2 motor was happy to pull at any rpm and in any gear. But it fully awakened above 8,000 rpm, as the aerospace-grade supercharger began delivering useful boost. From here on, the job description read: Hang on and steer. Free to pin it on the road course and oval, I did. And not for bravado’s sake – I really wanted to discover the payoff of having so much power. As it turns out, a supercharged liter bike dramatically shrinks time and space, making it a total blast on the track – and absolute overkill on the road. Watch where you aim this one.

Based in Southern California, John L. Stein is an internationally known automotive and motorcycle journalist. He was a charter editor of Automobile Magazine, Road Test Editor at Cycle, and served as the Editor of Corvette Quarterly. He has written for Autoweek, Car and Driver, Motor Trend, Cycle World, Motorcyclist, Outside, and other publications in the U.S. and abroad.

The post Riding the Motorcycle Century first appeared on Rider Magazine.
Source: RiderMagazine.com

Kawasaki Z H2 Review | Naked and blown on the road…

Motorcycle Test By Adam Child ‘Chad’
Photography by Simon Lee

Kawasaki’s Z H2, a supercharged 998cc inline four producing 197bhp and 137 Nm. However, despite its amazing, match-winning engine output, the Z H2 is anything but a race bike, and hides a split personality. This ridiculously aggressive H2 can be as docile as the friendly old dog that frequents the local streets, but with a snap of the throttle, will turn around and bite your leg.

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H2

Love the chirp

The impeller on the Z H2 is smaller than the H2’s, but it’s sill spinning very quickly (with a 9.2 ratio impeller-to-crank speed), quickly enough to break the sound barrier and create a brilliant chirping sound. This occurs from around 6000 rpm and upwards, even at standstill, and is most noticeable when you close the throttle at high rpm.


While every other major manufacturer seems to increase capacity in search of extra power, Kawasaki has opted for a different and highly addictive alternative, a supercharger.

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H2

Kawasaki’s first supercharged bike, the H2 (and H2R) launched in Qatar back in 2015, was a colossal 220 hp statement of intent – I know because I was one of the first outside Kawasaki to ride it.

The H2 was then refined, calmed and re-shaped as the H2 SX, a sports-touring mile muncher, which despite its sleek bodywork, shares many similarities with the new naked Z H2.

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H2

The Z H2 uses the SX’s 69 mm diameter ‘balanced’ supercharger impeller to help deliver a huge vat of mid-range torque and low to mid-range power. Don’t be fooled; they haven’t added too much water to a quality Scottish malt, this Z H2 will double the length of your arms with a half-twist of the throttle.

That 197 hp peak figure is just 3 hp shy of Kawasaki’s benchmark superbike, the ZX-10R, while its peak torque, delivered at 8500 rpm, 1000 rpm earlier than the H2 SX, is 137 Nm versus 115 Nm for the ZX-10R sportsbike. The result is instant thrust that’s hard to keep up with at first. The rear tyre finds plenty of grip thanks to sophisticated electronics, so you just sit back and wait for the bike to try and rip your arms from their sockets.

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H2

But there is that flip side. Flick into one of the softer rider modes and the angry tiger transforms into a lazy house cat. The throttle response is smoother than an Italian waiter’s chat-up lines. Even a relatively new rider could jump on the Z H2, ride to the shops and back and never feel intimidated. The original H2 was a little sharp on the throttle, but, as with the H2 SX, that has been ironed out with the Z H2.

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H2

Rider aids and electronics

Obviously power is nothing without control, and Kawasaki has delivered. There are four rider modes – Sport, Road Rain, and a specific Rider mode which lets you pick and mix the rider aids and settings to your personal taste.

You can even turn off the traction control of you’re brave enough. The pre-programmed rider modes change the engine power, its character and traction control intervention. The rider aids are changeable on the move, and everything is clearly displayed on the latest TFT full-colour dash.

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H2

The electronics are excellent, sophisticated and hard working – they have to be on a bike that will try and lift the front wheel in the first three gears. But the intervention is smooth not dramatic; not a power cut but a control.

In addition to the conventional riders aids, the Z H2 has launch control, cruise control, cornering ABS and an up/down quickshifter. The only negative aspect is the new switchgear, which takes a little getting used to.

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H2


The ingredients are all there: Showa 43 mm SFF Big Piston forks, which are fully adjustable, a single Showa rear shock, now connected to a double-sided swing-arm not a single-sided unit like its supercharged siblings. Brakes are impressive Brembo M4.32 monobloc items.

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H2

Kawasaki stresses this isn’t a track bike, On the road the handling is impressive, stable and predictable. The weight is noticeable, you can’t throw it around like a conventional lightweight naked, but it’s not bad. On the road, even at a brisk pace, I had few complaints, while the Rosso 3s gave great feedback at knee-down levels of lean. On the track I’d want to play with the suspension to get the right set up, but for 90% of the time the ‘showroom’ set up works.

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H2

It’s just fun

Like a ZZR1400 or Suzuki Hayabusa, it’s almost impossible to ride slowly and legally, it’s so much fun. It has bucket loads of torque, but you can’t help but dance on the quickshifter to get the supercharger spinning again, which results in eyeball popping acceleration. Crack the throttle in second gear and 100 mph passes all too easily. You have been warned.

Let’s not mention the weight: At a claimed 236 kg the Z H2 isn’t a featherweight, but in Kawasaki’s defence it was never described or intended as such. On track, there are lighter, sportier super-nakeds with less power that would certainly show the Kawasaki a clean pair of heels if the track was twisty enough.

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H2

However, despite the on-paper weight, the Z H2 carries it well, the suspension copes quite reasonable, and the extra kilos do add some stability and a sense of reassurance. The only downside is the bike’s physical girth; it’s noticeably wide around the fuel tank, which is a constant reminder of the weight of the bike.


Looks are subject to interpretation, but juding by social medi reactions the fan club for the Z H2’s styling is small. I wouldn’t describe the Kawasaki as ugly, but it’s certainly not going to be everyone’s taste.

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H2

I like some aspects of the bike, the non-symmetrical face and huge air-duct on one side of the headlight in particular.

The trellis frame not only keeps the motor cool but looks attractive, the clocks are clear and the Brembo M4.32 calipers add an air of quality.

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H2

The Z H2, like all recent bikes from Kawasaki, does have a feeling of quality. But I’m unsure about the look of the front end, the verdict is still out. What do you think?

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H2


At $23,000 in Australia, the Z H2 is quite aggressively priced in comparison to international markets. In the UK this bike costs the equivalent of $30,000 AUD. 

Ducati’s larger 1200cc V4 Streetfighter is a lot more expensive, does have a little more power but less torque.

The downside to the Supercharged Zed is its running costs. Rear tyres don’t last long if you like to play a little. Then there is the fuel consumption; get the supercharger spinning and it will drink quicker than Trev at a press launch.

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H2


The limitation isn’t the engine but how strong your arms are. I can see the Z H2 appealing to Suzuki Hayabusa and Kawasaki ZZR1400 owners, a modern B-King for 2020 perhaps.

It’s refined, riddled in the latest rider aids, and the supercharger is very addictive.

Running costs are going to be high, but if you want something fuel efficient buy a Honda C-90.

If you can live with the looks, you’ve got one of the fastest accelerating bikes on the road.

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H ZH Review

Kawasaki Z H2

Kawasaki Z H2 Review Specifications

Engine Type Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke In-Line Four
Displacement 998 cc
Bore x Stroke 76 mm x 55 mm
Compression Ratio 11.2:1
Valve System DOHC 16 valve
Fuel System Fuel Injection
Ignition Digital
Starting Electric
Intake System Kawasaki Supercharger
Transmission 6-speed, Return, Dog-ring
Suspension – front Showa SFF-BP forks.
Suspension – rear New Uni Trak, Showa shock
Wheel travel – f/r 120 mm / 134 mm
Ground Clearance 140 mm
Brakes – front Dual 320 mm Discs
Brakes – rear Single 260 mm Disc
Wheel Size Front/Rear 17M/C x MT3.50 / 17M/C x MT6.00
Tyre Size Front/Rear 120/70ZR17 M/C 58W / 190/55ZR17 M/C 75W
L x W x H 2,085 mm x 810 mm x 1,130 mm
Wheelbase 1,455 mm
Seat height 830 mm
Fuel capacity 19 litres
Curb Mass 239 kg
Max Power 147.1 kW (197 hp) @ 11,000 min
Max Torque 137.0 N.m (14.0 kgfm) / 8,500 min
Colour Metallic Spark Black with Metallic Graphite Gray and Mirror Coated Spark Black
Warranty 24 Months Unlimited Kilometres
RRP $23,000 +ORC

Source: MCNews.com.au

Kawasaki Z H2 | The Z line has a new head honcho for 2020

Kawasaki Z H LHS
2020 Kawasaki Z H2

Kawasaki had hinted that more supercharged machines would be on the way and most pundits had predicted that forced induction would soon be appearing on lower capacity machines, and perhaps not remain the domain of the more premium H2 and H2R machines.

Kawasaki Z H Stripped
The 2020 Kawasaki Z H2 features an eye-catching high tensile steel trellis frame

Today Kawasaki released the new Z H2, not a lower capacity model, but perhaps the Z H2 will lower the entry price for those yearning for some supercharged goodness.

Kawasaki Z H Top
Kawasaki also make note of the asymmetric intake design on the Z H2

Pricing is yet to be announced and the lower entry point is only our speculation but it seems likely. The Z H2 is set to arrive in Australia sometime early in 2020.

Kawasaki Z H RHR
2020 Kawasaki Z H2

The new bike boasts just under 200 horsepower from its supercharged 998cc in-line four-cylinder engine but of course boost is all about torque and here the numbers are more impressive, 137 Nm at 8500 rpm to be precise.

Kawasaki Z H Engine
Kawasaki are claiming 147.1kW of peak power on the Z H2

Kawasaki could obviously pushed those numbers lower down in the rev range but seemingly tuned the bike for ease of use.

Kawasaki Z H Engine
Torque is also an impressive 137 Nm on the 2020 Kawasaki Z H2

As you would expect it comes with a full suite of electronic safety and assist systems with IMU driven multi-level traction control and ABS along with riding modes, quick shifter, launch and cruise control. 

Kawasaki Z H Bars
An extensive electronics system is found on the Z H2 including KTRC, KLM, Ride and Power modes, RBW, a Bosch IMU and more

Smartphone connectivity via Bluetooth is also integrated into a colour TFT display and all lighting is LED.

Kawasaki Z H Dash
The 2020 Kawasaki Z H2 is also adorned by a full colour TFT LCD display

The new high-tensile steel trellis frame uses Showa components front and rear to suspend the 239 kg (wet) Z H2. Preload and damping adjustable SFF-BP forks look after the front. 

Kawasaki Z H Front
Lighting on the 2020 Kawasaki Z H2 will be full LED except in the USA

Brembo supplies monobloc radial M4.32 calipers while the master-cylinder is sourced from Nissin.

Kawasaki Z H Brakes
Brembo M4.32 monobloc calipers are also featured on the Z H2

The riding position has been designed to off a more upright and relaxed rider triangle in comparison to its H2 siblings, keeping with the thinking behind the entire Z line up of Kawasaki machines.

Kawasaki Z H Cockpit
2020 Kawasaki Z H2

Forced induction requires lower tension piston rings thus the casting processes are more exact than generally used and the bores are honed with a dummy head in place, normally only seen in blueprinted engines.

Kawasaki Z H Swingarm
New Uni Trak rear suspension is also found on the 2020 Kawasaki Z H2

As per all of Kawasaki’s supercharged machines, no intercooler is fitted and the supercharger does not have its own oil circuit, instead it combines with the overall lubrication system of the engine. No doubt due to packaging concerns, it’s not a car after all…. A liquid-cooled oil cooler is present though to help keep temperatures under control along with radiator shrouds carefully designed to manage air-flow. The trellis frame also plays its part in helping the engine shed heat.

Kawasaki Z H Tank
2020 Kawasaki Z H2

With Euro 5 emissions restrictions in mind a new exhaust system has been designed with a large catalytic converter but by doing away with the normal pre-muffler Kawasaki look to have done a great job of packaging that under the machine.

Kawasaki Z H Stripped
The exhaust on the 2020 Kawasaki Z H2 has been optimised at the collector but still features a large muffler

The trade off is quite a large muffler, but I favour that over some of the monstrosities now seen hanging under many modern machines that look crap in the showroom even before they get dirty, which is when they really start to look like shit. That Kawasaki manage to package a supercharger in the Z H2, AND manage to route the exhaust system smartly is some feat, kudos to them on that score.

Kawasaki Z H Muffler
The Z H2 muffler won’t win any accolades but Euro 5 dictated the design

The trademark modern Z bike proboscis around the headlight area aside, its also a pretty good looking machine. 

Kawasaki Z H RHF
2020 Kawasaki Z H2

What will be the next supercharged package to come from Kawasaki…?

2020 Kawasaki Z H2 Specifications

Engine type Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke In-Line Four
Displacement 998cc
Bore and Stroke 76.0 × 55.0mm
Compression Ratio 11.2:1
Valve system DOHC, 16 valves
Fuel system Fuel injection
Intake system Kawasaki Supercharger
Maximum power 147.1 kW {200 PS} / 11,000 min-1
Maximum Torque 137.0 N.m {14.0 kgf.m} / 8,500 min-1
Ignition Digital
Starting Electric
Lubrication  Forced lubrication, wet sump with oil cooler
Transmission 6-speed, return, dog-ring
Final drive Chain
Clutch Wet multi-disc, manual, slip & assist
Frame type Trellis, high-tensile steel
Wheel travel front 120mm
 Wheel travel rear 134mm
Tyre front 120/70ZR17 M/C 58W
 Tyre rear 190/55ZR17 M/C 75W
Rim size front 17M/C × MT3.50
Rim size rear 17M/C × MT6.00
Caster (rake) 24.9
Trail 104mm
Steering angle (L/R) 29/29
Suspension front Showa SFF-BP telescopic forks
Suspension rear New Uni Trak rear suspension, Showa shock
Brakes front Dual 290mm discs, Brembo M4.32 front brake calipers
 Brakes rear Single 226mm disc
Overall length 2085mm
Overall width 810mm
Overall height 1130mm
Wheelbase 1455mm
Ground clearance 140mm
Seat height 830mm
Curb mass 239kg
Fuel capacity 19 litres
Display TFT LCD
Lighting LED (excluding USA)
Technology Power Modes, KCMF, KIBS. KTRC, KQS, KLCM, Cruise Control, Bosch IMU

Source: MCNews.com.au