I’m a gearhead. 100% dyed in the wool lover of all things mechanical. Before me, my father was a gearhead, too. He owned and raced open cockpit, open wheel cars in the Midwest. I guess the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. I have been fascinated with different configurations of the internal combustion engine my entire life. When my wife and I plan vacations, I look for places to go to feed my fix. When we went to Disney in Orlando, I made a point to spend a day at Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing. When we went to my wife’s childhood home near DC, the Smithsonian Aerospace Museum became the focus of my study.
Over the years, I’ve raced at Bonneville with the J&P Cycles Streamliner, and done the Southern California Dry Lakes testing. A big Radial Airplane engine? I drool. A fuel injected hot rod? I get weak in the knees. You get the drift.
I’ve been hearing wild rumors that Kawasaki was going to produce a supercharged “Super Ninja.” Well, the rumors are true! Kawasaki has been letting out little snippets of information whetting the appetite of Gearheads like me. They started with a blank sheet of paper and used what appears all of their considerable engineering resources to design a jewel of a machine.
This one minute video showing the supercharger design fascinated me for about 15 minutes. I’m not here to make this a commercial for Kawasaki, and those are the only links I’ll provide about this mammer-jammer.
I have seen reports of 300+ horsepower out of 1000 CC’s for the H2R (race version). 1000 CC’s is 61 cubic inches. That’s a whopping 4.9 horsepower per cubic inch. As a comparison, a 358 cubic inch Nascar engine produces in the neighborhood of 865 HP. This works out to 2.4 HP per cubic inch. How sick is that? Another thing to consider is the power to weight ratio. A typical Nascar machine weighs in at 3,300 pounds. Producing the afore mentioned 865 HP that works out to 3.8 pounds per HP. This H2 Kawasaki tips the scales at 525 Pounds. The Kawi moves 1.75 pounds per horsepower. That means each HP the bike makes moves less than half the weight – simply mind boggling.
Understand, I have made my living for a long time working with Harley-Davidsons. To give us a little perspective, a stock Harley Street bike produces 75 HP on a good day. With a Touring bike weighing over 800 pounds, each HP a Harley produces has to move 10.6 pounds. I know that comparing the H2 to a Harley Dresser is comparing apples to oranges, but what will be easier to accelerate? On a side note, 240 MPH top speeds are reported in reach of this monster.
Now, I’m stone cold in love with the idea of this supercharged hot rod. In my younger, wilder days, I rode a turbo-charged 88 cubic inch Pan-Shovel. Getting that to work right took a lot of work, but it was very rewarding. As I rode it around, I found it very easy to outdrive the brakes and tires I was using. What does that mean? I’m a big guy (over 250 pounds) and the bike wasn’t light either. This bike was wicked fast, and I found that other people on the road had no comprehension of how fast I was going and how quickly I would come up on them. Folks thought they had plenty of time, and I was there so fast I just about had to lock up my brakes to avoid accidents. Eventually, the pressure of riding like that got old. I had decent triple disc brakes, and sticky tires, but the acceleration of the mass we provided and limits of traction as we attempted to stop (or stay out of trouble) wore me out. I didn’t make anything near 300 HP. I ended up taking that turbo bike off the streets and racing it exclusively because of the danger to ride on the street.
Frankly, this H2 with its huge power, light weight, and today’s drivers frightens me. I’m not saying that the bike itself is anything but an engineering marvel. However, riding this on the street will be like holding a loaded gun to your head. While everything about this excites me, I blanch at the thought of a less experienced rider getting on one of these, grabbing a handful of throttle, and getting in over his head due to the unearthly acceleration. It brings to the table a question for Kawasaki….. While it’s a marvelous design, is there a place for it? WHY KAWASAKI?