The power of compressed air.
On its fairing, a barely known logo stands out – the Kawasaki river mark, dated 1878, intended for use on all the special and historical products of the Akashi manufacturing group. At EICMA in Milan, in November, it was clear that the litre-class Kawasaki Ninja H2R is something absolutely unique in the motorcycling world. Designed to be the ultimate motorcycle, it offers lightning acceleration and supersport-level handling that Kawasaki claims gives the rider a sensory experience surpassing anything available today. Built only for the track, the main feature of this supersport bike is its 998cc, four-cylinder, DOHC engine featuring four valves per cylinder, which yields extraordinary performance. How is it extraordinary? Well, the goal set out by the Akashi engineers was a power output of 296bhp. The revolution starts with the engine being equipped with a centrifugal compressor (photo 1), positioned behind the cylinder bank (photo 3). It’s operated by a series of planetary gears, which are set in motion by a chain drive (photo 2) that’s likely connected to the driveshaft. We don’t have confirmation about how it works as yet, since the Akashi engineers have been quite tight lipped. This system compresses the air entering the air box, which is then funnelled to the cylinders during the intake phase – increasing engine performance (and consequently power output). It’s not a conventional ‘turbo’ (it doesn’t utilise the exhaust gases to activate the impeller), but it’s quite close to it. The choices related to the bike’s construction taken by Kawasaki appear to be out of the box as well. The frame is a tubular high tensile steel trellis design. Given that the rear is quite slender, we can presume that the engine is a key element of the chassis. Kawasaki also took the assistance of its aerospace company in creating the aerodynamically sculpted bodywork to ensure maximum aerodynamic efficiency. The road legal H2 that produces 197bhp was also on display in Milan. We’ll have to wait and see how the Ninja H2R eventually fares. But Kawasaki deserves a pat on the back for these speed machines. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Japanese engineers dare to do so much!
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