Common Tread

2018 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX sport-tourer first look

Nov 07, 2017

Just how much sport can you put in your sport-touring with 200 horsepower?

Even if that's a question you never asked, Kawasaki is giving you the opportunity to find out with its new 2018 Ninja H2 SX and H2 SX SE, which were unveiled today at the EICMA show in Italy.

2018 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX
How many shades of gray? 2018 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX. Kawasaki photo.

The blown sport-tourer comes in two versions: the base SX in "Metallic Carbon Gray and Metallic Matte Carbon Gray" and the SX SE version in "Emerald Blazed Green and Metallic Diablo Black" (nobody ever just makes a black motorcycle any more). Both use a derivation of the 998 cc supercharged engine from the H2 that came out a few years ago, but Kawasaki says the supercharger, combustion chamber, cams, intake and exhaust have all been modified for the new motorcycle. Those changes improve fuel mileage and make the engine run quieter and produce less heat. It also weighs about seven pounds less than the H2 engine. According to Kawasaki, fuel mileage is similar to the naturally aspirated sport-tourers of the same displacement in the Kawasaki lineup, the Ninja 1000 and the Versys 1000, even though the H2 SX is making far more power. The power flows through a slipper-assist clutch.

That power is tamed by the now-required suite of electronic rider aids. There are three power modes, helpfully labeled Full, Medium and Low for minimal confusion, and three levels of traction control. The Bosch Inertial Measurement Unit adjusts braking and traction control  based on the lean angle of the bike. You also get the other quality components you'd expect on a premium sport-tourer, such as radial-mount, four-piston monobloc front brakes and fully adjustable suspension.

2018 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE
Plenty of power for two-up travel. Kawasaki photo.

The SE version adds more than a splash of green. Stepping up to the SE gets you Kawasaki's first TFT color dash and cornering lights built into the leading edge of the fairing on each side. It also has a quickshifter and launch control, though I'm not sure why the latter is relevant for a sport-touring bike.

The trellis frame was redesigned to handle a passenger and luggage. Payload is now 430 pounds. The H2 SX gets the same panniers and clean mounting system already seen on the Versys 1000 LT. With the bags removed, mounting points are not noticeable unless you really search for them.

2018 Kawasaki H2 SX SE
This image shows the cornering lights in use on the Ninja H2 SX SE. Kawasaki photo.

That raises an interesting question. With the H2 SX weighing 564 pounds and supposedly offering excellent wind protection, where does that leave the now aging 690-pound Concours 14? I half expected the H2-based sport-tourer to replace the Connie, but a 2018 Concours 14 is listed on Kawasaki's U.S.web site with an MSRP of $15,599. It will be interesting to see where the H2 SX lands in terms of price.

2018 Kawasaki H2 SX SE
2018 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE. Kawasaki photo.

With the new H2 SX models, the Concours 14, the Ninja 1000 and the Versys 1000 LT, Kawasaki now has arguably more sport-touring models (depending on the outcome of the inevitable debate over the definition of "sport-touring") than any other manufacturer, except for perhaps BMW. What's not debatable is that Kawasaki has the only supercharged sport-tourer — just in case your next trip requires 200 horsepower.