Kawasaki H2 SX SE test


4 cylinders in line, compressor, 998 cm3, 210 hp at 11,000 rpm, 137.3 Nm at 9,500 rpm, 260 kilos, € 21,999

Kawasaki reinvents the super-fast and sensational sport-GT

"I’ve got one, boss!" Cries Pinot, a simple cop, his jowls red with candid and sincere joy, proudly emerging from a bush where he had cowardly hid to hunt down the odious delinquent who drives at 95 km / h on a deserted and straight road. Under the cap of this simple cop on a mission to restore public finances, there is no room for doubt: this spacecraft that appears between two Dacia and a Kangoo is a candidate for prison, of course! So what was our pandora’s surprise to see that the green machine was traveling at the legal speed: 90 km / h, a small 3500 rpm in sixth, comfort, quiet the cat. Caramba, still missed !

If the weak souls will be trapped, we understand however the vagueness in the soul of our poor civil servant. Look there, this Kawasaki H2 SX SE: with its LED headlights, its chiseled lines (which we owe to Juichi Onayagi, the house stylist), its racy look, it has the head of the job. Everything with her is an arm of honor to the pseudo-road safety well-thought. Its lines exude the kilometer / hour, its pace glorifies the final victory of the kW over Aeolus, god of the wind, just at a standstill, it maddens Chantal Perrichon’s pacemaker. An H2 SX SE is a compressor road and the compressor is made to compress the air a little and distances a lot. You can not stop progress !

Kawasaki H2 SX SE review

With this machine, Kawasaki is back again in force on a niche which, in France, has fallen a little into disuse. Because if, in the course of the 90s, the sport-GT was seen as the ideal machine to the point that almost all manufacturers had some in the catalog, the segment is no longer as promising: as evidenced by the 94 sales of Suzuki Hayabusa in 2017, certainly offset by the 976 examples of Kawasaki Z 1000 SX which found buyers.

But the H2 SX SE is also something else. It is the start of a new era, no less. Because the motorcycle will follow the same path as the automobile and tend towards downsizing: small turbo engines provide the power and torque of larger blocks, but do better, due to their smaller displacement. unitary, on homologation cycles (which are absolute pipeau, but as long as everyone believes in it, it will work like that) and come out with lower CO2 rates. SO goes the world. We know that, in addition to Kawasaki, manufacturers like Suzuki and Honda are seriously working on the issue..

The Kawasaki H2 SX SE

However, it was Kawasaki who had drawn the first, with the sulphurous H2, holding in this its reputation as a manufacturer who dares absolutely sensational machines, a little offbeat and which, above all, put a big slap on everything else in terms of performance. , as before the 900 Z1, 1300 Z, ZX 750 Turbo, 900 Ninja and many more.

One difference, however: with the H2, we were in the exception, in the machine entirely dedicated to performance. The H2 SX SE is targeting another niche: not that of general public motorcycles, but almost, in any case that of mass-produced and mass-market motorcycles. Let it be said: the compressor is in the place !


No "standard" version with us: Kawasaki will not import the H2 SX, all dressed in black, but only the SE version, which requires you to like green, because there is only one color. . The reason is simple: according to the importer, the price / equipment ratio of the H2 SX SE makes it an essential offer and does not justify the presence of the standard version in the catalog. Before going any further, a little bit of vocabulary: at Kawasaki, SE does not mean "electronic suspensions", but "special edition", which can cause a little confusion, because the sporty ZX-10R SE is especially special because that it has electronic suspensions. Good…

Only the SE version will be marketed in France

Notwithstanding, don’t think that to create this machine Kawasaki put an H2 and a Z 1000 SX in a shaker and shaken well, for a long time. In other words, if it uses compressor technology and the same mechanical basis as the H2, the SX SE version is brand new and goes far beyond a simple wrapping..

The fairing of the Kawasaki H2 SX SE

Ergonomics, dashboard, electronics, engine, equipment, the differences are major with the ballistic missile which lends its name and its turbine. The frame has also been redesigned to be able to accept the presence of a passenger and the loading capacity is 195 kilos, as on a Z 1000 SX (against 105 on the Ninja H2). That’s not all: the H2 SX SE inaugurates, at Kawasaki, the first color TFT instrument panel (with several display modes) as well as the first cornering light. Of course, the safety package is complete: ABS with cornering function, launch control, traction control (with wheelie management), engine brake adjustment and, for the first time on a Kawasaki sport-GT, cruise control ( the second in the history of the green brand; the first was fitted to the VN 1700 Voyager). There is also an up & down shifter. As well as a cornering light with 3 LEDs per side. The total, therefore !

The different assistances are set up at the comodo

Note the perfect integration of the side cases, which have been designed to withstand high speeds on the motorway. Designed by Givi, they have a capacity of 28 liters (5 kg load) and accept a full face helmet. They remain optional, however, for the modest sum of 851 euros. Note that an optional Akrapovic exhaust is also available, at 1221 euros.

Kawasaki H2 SX SE suitcases

Finally, the "high-end" side of this machine is illustrated by the presence, not of the Kawasaki logo, but of that of KHI, Kawasaki Heavy Industries..

The H2 still sports the KHI logo

In the saddle

A low seat (15mm) is available as an option: this brings the seat height to 820mm instead of 835. Admittedly, the H2 SX SE remains an intimidating and relatively bulky motorcycle, but its ergonomics are more natural than that of the ‘a ZZR 1400, for example, with a more upright driving position, with less bent arms and legs, as well as a narrower tank. In fact, the driving position is tilted a little forward, but not excessively. It should be noted that the crutching / unbuttoning of the power station is done without major effort.

Kawasaki H2 SX SE seat

Once on board, you get to know the new controls, the color TFT instrument panel and all the functions offered, with two display modes, Sport and Touring, which prioritize information differently. The ergonomics of the whole are rather easy to understand. The "mode" button on the right allows you to go to the instrument panel to adjust the various functions and displays; on the left, three buttons allow, with short or long presses, to go through the information of the on-board computer to the settings of the machine’s electronics.

Kawasaki H2 SX SE TFT speedometer

With one press on the starter, the compressed 4-cylinder comes to life with a rather metallic sound. Almost no inertia to the gas stroke: it bodes well for the future !

Engine and transmission

Beware of appearances: if the name and the turbine remain, if the power is close (210 horsepower with the Ram Air), the engine of the H2 SX is very different from that of the H2. And we are not talking about a simple modification of mapping: from the bottom to the top engine, the modifications are substantial, with nothing less than the cylinder heads, cylinders, crankshaft, camshaft, exhaust (more compact, it passes from a volume of 10 l on the H2 to 7 liters here and weighs two kilos less), injection ducts and gearbox ratios which have been modified. The shape of the turbine has also been changed. Finally, the compression ratio has been seriously increased, from 8.5 to 11.2: 1.

The Kawasaki H2 SX SE engine

The objective: to make it more flexible and more economical, to lower its operating temperature, without however removing the sensational aspect of very typical accelerations … Because the H2 SX SE still offers 210 hp at 11,000 rpm ( in dynamics, with the Ram Air) and 137.4 Nm at 9,500 rpm. Nothing but the technical sheet impresses. Regarding the character of the engine, were the objectives achieved? We will see it in the following paragraphs.

Let us not forget, however, that the H2 SX SE has three engine maps: in Low, it is 50% of the power which is available, 75% medium and 100% in full, of course..

Contrary to appearances, the engine is very different

Unlike many motorcycles which have a "fork" gearbox, the H2 SX has a dog clutch gearbox. The stock shifter works in both directions, above 2,500 rpm. The operation is transparent on the whole, with however a little jerk here and there…

Note the presence of a launch control: by pressing two buttons, the system is activated. Then, you have to stay full throttle (the electronics then set the speed to 6500 rpm) then adjust the clutch (staying fully) to achieve the perfect start. It is both intimidating at the beginning, quite easy to achieve afterwards, even if the machine ends up rearing up when the power really arrives, in the backfires of the ignition cuts that keep the machine on the ground. !

Kawasaki H2 SX SE test under acceleration

In the city

The suspense, unbearable, posed in the paragraph above, will quickly be swept away. The H2 SX SE, from the first meters, reveals an incredible smoothness of operation. The 4 cylinder is extremely smooth at low revs, its throttle response is smooth and smooth, and basically supercharger or not, it performs like any other big well-bred 4 cylinder. In short, softness on the program and correct agility too. The steering angle is 30 °, to facilitate maneuvering.

In fact, we cruise on the boulevards in 5th or 6th, at the edge of 2000 rpm. For now, the monster displays a benevolent face. The temperatures being cool in this sunny winter, the engine did not give off too much heat. Kawasaki insists on lower operating temperatures compared to the H2. In the same way, this one showed itself infernal in town in particular by the fault of a dead point almost impossible to find; this is no longer the case on the H2 SX SE, with a very high gearbox.

Kawasaki H2 SX SE road test

Please note: if we crossed Lisbon during rush hour, the Portuguese capital is far from offering the same level of congestion as Paris, city of Lights and above all stillness. Knowing that if the overall width is reasonable (775 mm, without the suitcases), the presence of these requires a little attention, because they are a bit wider than the handlebars. There is thus a way to cochetize; cochetiser, verb from the first group consisting of getting very wet after hitting a dick (be careful, that’s not what you think). The maneuver can be fortuitous.

On motorways and main roads

7000 rpm: no, this is not the 4 cylinder rpm at 130 km / h, but the range you have left when you drive at 130 km / h in the last gear. Cracks in math will have done the subtraction themselves: we cruise at 5000 rpm. The 4-cylinder purrs gently, without vibrations, the cruise control does its job, everything is fine. The driving position is quite comfortable, the saddle and the suspensions are very easy to use, the small personal effects are in the suitcases, everything is fine. End of paragraph ?

Kawasaki H2 SX SE test on departmental roads

We could. Except that Hiroyuki Watanabe, the project manager of the H2 SX, had a mission: to make it, according to him, "the fastest sport-GT of the Autobhan". For that, we must therefore go to countries where there are Autobahnen, or at least plan to ask them for political asylum. That’s what we did. And this, especially since the cruise control is active up to 200 km / h and the suitcases have been intensely tested on German highways and Kawasaki does not impose any restrictions: we can keep them to make a Vmax, which should then approach 300 km / h. On reading this sentence, a collective syncope struck the Road Safety offices while a collective orgasm affected the Nantes automatic infringement processing center. Moral of the story: you can’t please everyone.

Kawasaki H2 SX SE test, top view

The compressor is felt around 6000 rpm. In other words, in times 130 on the last report, it sends first a little nicely, before strengthening thereafter. Under these conditions, it is possible to wonder if a ZZR 1400 in full, with its higher torque (158 Nm) and available lower (7500 rpm), would not do better. That said, once in its rev range, the compressed 4-cylinder really sheds, with an absence of mechanical inertia that the big 1400 cannot match. Let it be said: the doors (not from the penitentiary, that c ‘is the second step), but serious delinquency is quickly overcome. In reality, if we stay a little hooked on the throttle, the slightest straight line is found swallowed at supersonic speeds. It will therefore take the mental strength of the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and Rika Zarai together not to wish to overtake a Kangoo Diesel and end up at more than 250 km / h a few seconds later (in fifth, because it breaks around 254 km / h counter and when passing through 6, acceleration continues without downtime!). However, it will allow you to see that the stability is not a problem..

On departmental

The suspension settings are easy to reach (on the top of the fork tubes and via a thumbwheel at the rear and everything is fully adjustable) and we can then see that the H2 SX SE is quite flexible in suspension, to the benefit of the comfort on bumpy roads. Because in sport-GT, there is GT and suddenly, we check that the H2 SX SE can wind quietly. Once again, the flexibility of the 4 cylinders is an ally, the not too extreme driving position is appreciable. Despite its weight, the machine is rather agile, places itself with precision and accepts changes in trajectory without too much complication. The H2 SX SE doesn’t have a steering damper (unlike the H2, which has an electronic component), but despite the copious power, we didn’t feel any shady wiggles from the front end under heavy acceleration..

Kawasaki H2 SX SE cornering test

And on the sport side? In intermediate gears, the liveliness of the 4-cylinder is really impressive. From 6000 rpm, the compressor gives you truly amazing acceleration, mixing the big torque of a maxi displacement and the liveliness of a sports car. Here the ZZR 1400 cannot compete and this combination is unique on the market, but here too shift into third gear and you end up at prohibited speeds! Side sensations, obviously, it is terribly addictive and we appreciate, in these circumstances, the ease with which the H2 SX SE throws itself from one turn to another, making relatively forget its weight, with a precise direction and which does not ‘not widen. We will not compare it with the precision of a real sportswoman in these conditions, but there is no doubt that there is already a way to have fun, even at a fast winding pace..

Kawasaki H2 SX SE handling test

The noise of the compressor is present, but less than on the H2 where it borders on the satanic hoot! You can hear it mainly when decelerating, around 6/7000 rpm, on second and third gears. Atmosphere !


If the trellis frame remains inspired by that of the H2, the modifications are numerous. First, with the reinforcement of the rear part, for the presence of the passenger and luggage. If the trellis seems identical to that of the H2, the thickness of the tubes has been increased from 22.2 to 28.6 mm: we can see it, it has nothing to do with it. !

The steering column bracket has been moved forward 15mm to facilitate the steering angle (27-30 °). Tilting the engine forward 2 ° improved the center of gravity and agility. In terms of stability, the single-sided arm has been lengthened by 15 mm and the wheelbase by 25 mm..

Kawasaki H2 SX SE shock absorber

While the front is fitted with a classic 120/70 x 17, the 190/55 x 17 rear tire is 10 mm narrower than that of the H2, to promote agility. The H2 SX SE is mounted in Bridgestone S21.

In the end, this machine weighs 18 kilos more than the H2, but 9 less than the ZZR 1400.


Kawasaki H2 SX SE brake test

Unlike the standard non-imported version, the H2 SX SE has braided brake hoses. At the front, the 320 mm discs are clamped by radial 4-piston calipers; the device is supported by a 250 mm disc at the rear. Of course, the ABS with "turn" function is there. No criticism to make on the device: despite the power and vigor of the acceleration, the power and the precision of the dosage are there and, throughout this test, we had no complaints about the braking . Even during the braking tests on the Estoril circuit, where you come downhill at the end of the straight line, over bumps, at 280 km / h. Under these conditions, the H2 SX SE moves a bit, the rear wiggles a bit, but we keep our line and lap after lap, the braking intensity does not weaken. Suffice to say that on the road, there is little chance of grasping the limits.

Kawasaki H2 SX SE brake

Comfort and duo

If the driving position is downright liveable and if the driving hours show a completely pleasant level of comfort and even, even, quite unexpected, we can nevertheless specify that the protection could have been refined a little. Nothing to say at the level of the legs, but it remains a little tight at the level of the helmet (even if the bubble does not generate aerodynamic turbulence), but the hands are exposed. In this case, we appreciate the presence of the original heated grips. On the passenger side, the presence of suitcases requires a little gymnastics to get on board, but the saddle and the overall ergonomics seem very frequent. It will be necessary to hang on during heavy acceleration, but the grab handles are sized accordingly.

Kawasaki H2 SX SE test on small roads

Consumption & autonomy

Kawasaki announces a beautiful sobriety with this H2 SX SE, comparable to that of the 1000 Versys and Z 1000 SX, that is to say of the order of 5.7 or 5.8 l / 100 on average. Which, associated with the 19-liter tank, would allow well over 300 kilometers of range. On this point, let us be clear, we have some doubts. First, the dashboard autonomy indicator is quite fanciful. With him, it is the last who spoke who is right: put gas and the value flies, stay calm and it goes down. He is not good at averaging and as it is the same on the GTR 1400 and ZZR 1400, one could suggest to Kawasaki to change supplier..

The 19-liter tank offers good autonomy, provided you stay wise ...

That said, we found that on average values, consumption could remain under 6 l / 100 in quiet use, but soared beyond 10 l as soon as we get a little excited. The objective set by Kawasaki seems achievable, provided that the potential of the machine is not exploited and that the compressor is kept below the trigger threshold..


Nice paradox: the Kawasaki H2 SX SE is the motorcycle of the future that glorifies the values ​​of the past. The future with its compressor, which is certainly one of the technical solutions that will become popular in the coming years; the past is that blessed time when Visa GTIs were seen jumping from aircraft carriers and speed and power were synonymous with progress. Which poses a real question: this machine is obviously very technological and reassuring, but it appears more and more out of step with this era of road repression that you are experiencing more and more intensely every day. In fact, where to use it fully? Not easy.

However, it is in a country with the strictest speed limits, the USA, that the sports car and motorcycle market is the most supplied. Simply because having a high-performance and technological machine is rewarding.

In fact, falling for an H2 SX SE may first be a militant act: that of asserting your choice for a motorcycle with character, a machine with high performance, which will show its singularity in the future. of connected gear that may be closer than expected. It is reaffirming his passion, his love of motorcycles of characters. And this is not to anticipate disappointments, far from it, because the compressor has virtues, of course, among which the combination between the torque of a large and the liveliness of a small. In fact, the H2 SX SE offers something unique on the market. Experienced bikers will discover new flavors !

The H2 SX SE offers something unique

And by the way, Kawasaki continues to assert itself as the official supplier of thrills: a posture a little against the tide, but whose flavors are all the more delicious. We remember Morgan Spurlock’s movie, Supersize Me: here is Supercharge Me, a new way to devour the road !

Strong points

  • Militant act !
  • Sharp look
  • Sensational engine
  • Performances
  • Technology & equipment
  • Complete and readable dashboard
  • Overall comfort

Weak points

  • Should come with 3000 license points
  • Where to use it fully ?
  • Protection to refine
  • Sobriety announced to be verified…
  • Sounds (exhaust & compressor) a little shy
  • One color

Kawasaki H2 SX SE technical sheet

Test conditions

  • Itinerary: 1 and a half day of testing, 250 kilometers on the road around Lisbon (Portugal) and acceleration and handling workshops on the Estoril circuit
  • Motorcycle mileage: 400 km
  • Problem encountered: some nice losses from the front and rear during the photo shoot, on a road without any grip … But, on the contrary, there is also the joy of having the machine freely, thanks to a GPS installed and thus be able to conduct its test freely: the good practices being made to be shared, some other manufacturers could be inspired by them !

The competition: Kawasaki ZZR 1400, Suzuki GSX 1300 R Hayabusa and occasionally, possibly, BMW K 1300 S, Honda VFR 1200…

Kawasaki H2 SX SE video test

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11 thoughts on “Kawasaki H2 SX SE test

  1. @waboo, thank you late for your feedback.

    For the consumption I dare to hope that the 300km are not too difficult to reach anyway.

    Can we consider to be lethargic the fact of respecting the highway code? ?

    If it can allow to gain 100km of autonomy I will be tempted to try lol

  2. We double check this !

    I have it again in test for a more precise point and video…

    Stay tuned!

  3. Motorcycle tested several times and order placed.

    Nothing to do with the old models, everything has been revised

    -Lightened cycle part with the Flex Frame which is lighter, and with a swingarm, also reworked and lighter.

    -Dynamic Pro on board this time, at the very least almost 10 kg less.

    -Best suspension that have been firmed up.

    -The engine keeps the same power, on the other hand more torque and the gearbox stage also revised, it extends more on the last 3 reports.

    For the detractors of the KTM, fortunately it can stand up to it, it is a 1290 with 165 HP, to note that at BMW this power is at the wheel and not engine, there are many tests on the bench which certify it. . It’s like comparing the S1000RR with the Panigale 1199, the S1000 remains on the most powerful machine in weight-power ratio..

    I also tested before the KTM which is really angry and fantastic but my choice is on the XR because the cycle part and the way of taking it are in my opinion and taste, a real plus on the XR. As some say, go have a test drive of this 2020 XR a real gem.

    The price can seem prohibitive, on the other hand at BMW the odds of the occasion remain also very strong, one falls back on its "rims"

    Ride Safe

  4. The price may seem "democratic" compared to its big size, but 13000 € for a roadster if it is marked with the propeller is big nonsense.

  5. The front face I can’t get used to …

    What use of a monster of power like this ?…

    On circuit OK; but then on the departmental roads where you can no longer drive with radars everywhere and the omnipresent repression …

    For wealthy motorcyclists and in + it is necessary to add the expensive options like always. at BMW.

    A + … VVV … zouc.

  6. Ah yes, ouhlala, what a utility?…

    Damn long live the rabajoies I swear, you’re right, no use, moreover I propose that we purely and simply prohibit the production of any sports machine, farewell ferrari, maserati, R1 or other GSXR (it will make happy … Zouc at least!), and zouh, all in scooters restricted to 90 (since anyway on our departments armored with radars …….)

    If it is not unfortunate the reactions of some …..

  7. Agree with Zouc, no use in town and on the road, better to take a 600-750 gsxr or zx636r type and have fun with it.

    They will sell anyway but not as much as a Z750 for example. Then it’s always a pleasure to see a beautiful car or motorcycle machine on the road. There is something for every taste

  8. Beautiful and in addition it is much more practical than a 125 but if you don’t like it you don’t look at it.

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