PICS: Nick Guise-Smith
I MISSED out on a couple of big bike launches at the start of this year, and so, keen to make up for it, I've been borrowing the missing links for some quick spins round the UK roads. And close to the top of the list was this beastie - Kawasaki's H2 SX (here in posh SE form). It's the second of Kawasaki's supercharged machines (third, if you include H2R track bike…), and is totally different from the previous H2, a full-on sportsbike.
We picked the SX up from Kawasaki UK, and it’s immediately clear that this is a very serious machine indeed. The very nice man from the press workshop took us through the basics, but there are what seems like hundreds of buttons, and thousands of options on the (also very nice) colour LCD screen. I nod and smile, taking in about a quarter of what he says, and we head off, straight down to Sussex to take some photos of the beastie.
I’ve got a helper today, Mr Dave Smith, and he takes first go on the big green supercharged machine, while I stick to my long term Tracer 900 (it’s got my phone on there with the postcode where we’re meeting the new snapper, Nick). We’re down around Petersfield in no time and bosh out some quick shots on a fairly quick, wide corner.
First impressions of the SX are a big old bus, of course. With panniers on and the full fairing, it’s definitely up there at the top of the ZZR1400/Hayabusa class. But turning round in the road for pics, it feels much more manageable than I imagined – the claimed kerb mass of 256kg is 13kg less than the ZZR1400 – not a lot in context, but certainly a step in the right direction. Blatting back and forth on the photo corner, that manageability continues – it’s not at all imposing or scary to manhandle round.
Pics over, and we head back to London on the A3. Now, I am starting to get a bit scared – but more about hidden speed camera vans and unmarked cop cars than the H2 SX. Because the motor is utterly monstrous – a real gem of a powerplant. The acceleration is hilarious - of course, there’s loads of power and torques, but what many folk sometimes forget is that the chassis largely defines straightline acceleration for a big bike. Drag racers are all long and low and heavy – superbikes are short and tall and light. So where a litre superbike or the H2 will have to cut the torque at the back tyre, or else flip over the back, the SX has the geometry to apply more thrust before lifting the front – hence it can accelerate harder in a straight line, while remaining super stable and unflustered.
Even ‘going steady’ on the SX risks a ban, but I manage to rein it in a bit as we trundle up towards the M25. I distract myself from the mental throttle for a moment by flicking through some of the dashboard options – cruise control, full traction control setup, lean angle displays, boost pressure and temperature gauge, sport and touring dashboard setups – it’s going to take a week to work all this out on its own…
Luckily we have a fortnight’s fun on the SX. We’ll get her down to the Big CC dyno for a look, and generally see what we can find out about how she goes – hopefully before we end up in the back of a cop car being very sheepish indeed.