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Kawasaki Unveils The Supercharged Z H2 SE

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Kawasaki’s Z H2 supercharged naked bike is a beast.  With an engine that is said to be putting out over 225hp, some might wonder what other updates the bike could use.  But Kawasaki has a few, and they’ve added them to the now unveiled Z H2 SE.  So what did Kawasaki do to change the Z H2 into the Z H2 SE?  Read on.

New Kawasaki Z H2 SE

Kawasaki says that the new Z H2 SE retains the ultimate combination of the standard model’s outright power and performance.  But the Z H2 SE adds KECS (Kawasaki Electronic Control Suspension).  It also combines KECS with Showa’s Skyhook technology that can make adjustments for road conditions in real-time.  Team Green says the system delivers both suppleness (ride comfort) and firmness (sport riding) for a smooth ride.

They’ve also added Brembo Stylema front brake components that provide even greater stopping power.  With 225+ hp on a naked machine, you will likely need all the braking you can get.

Z H2 SE suspension

But what is really new on the Z H2 SE is its suspension.  The 2021 Z H2 SE features KECS.  KECS is  Kawasaki’s semi-active electronic suspension system.  It adapts to road and riding conditions in real-time to provide the ideal amount of damping.  It does this by combining high-level mechanical components with electronic control technology.  Ultimately, KECS balances suppleness for daily commuting with firm damping when more sporty riding is called for.

Z H2 SE with Showa Skyhook technology

The Z H2 SE also uses Showa’s Skyhook EERA (Electronically Equipped Ride Adjustment) technology to offer an even more composed ride. Damping is adjusted electronically to suit the bike’s speed and suspension stroke speed.

Deceleration is also taken into account to manage the pitching that occurs under braking.  Kawasaki’s engineers fine-tuned Showa’s Skyhook software to ensure the Z H2 SE’s sporty riding character remains while delivering a smoother ride.

Z H2 SE SUSPENSION

A significantly upgraded suspension with automatic software assistance is a major change to the 2021 Z H2 SE.

This is possible because the suspension is continually adapting to the road’s surface in real-time. The Skyhook concept imagines a hook supporting the motorcycle’s sprung weight.  The system modulates the suspension’s damping force to allow the wheels to track the dips and bumps encountered while maintaining the motorcycle’s vertical position with minimal disturbance.

Z H2 SE skyhook

Showa’s Skyhook suspension smooths the ride by adjusting suspension damping.

When in Rain Mode, the Skyhook software reduces pitching while maintaining light steering.  The system makes the bike feel more planted by also taking into account vertical acceleration and pitch rate (each confirmed every 10 ms) when determining the damping force necessary.

System considerations

The system’s mechanical components are controlled via a solenoid valve with direct (single-stage) actuation. The result is a one millisecond reaction time, which is much quicker than systems that rely on step-motors or those that use pilot valves (two-stage actuation).  Such setups slow the system’s responsiveness.

The KECS system’s quick reaction time provides a more natural feeling and is ideal for sport riding applications.  In particular, the times where a real-time reaction to bumps and gaps in the road surface will enable superior riding comfort.

The suspension’s built-in stroke sensors on both the fork and rear shock provide real-time stroke speed and position information. The sensor coils provide inputs to the KECS ECU every millisecond and also receive information provided by the bike’s IMU (vehicle acceleration/deceleration), the FI ECU (which measures front and rear wheel speed), and the ABS ECU (measuring front brake caliper pressure) every 10 milliseconds. The KECS ECU then directs current to the solenoids to adjust damping as required by the situation.

Z H2 SE Suspension hardware

As for the suspension components themselves, the Z H2 SE has a 43mm Showa SFF-CA cartridge fork.  At the rear, a Showa BFRC lite rear shock set damping characteristics according to one of the integrated Riding Modes.  The bike’s pilot can choose from Sport, Road, Rain, and Rider Selected (i.e., manual) modes.  KECS then adjusts to the road surface environment in real-time to provide the “ideal” damping while using the bike’s speed, stroke speed, and deceleration.

Z H2 SE engine

The Z H2 SE’s supercharged engine is designed in-house in collaboration with several aerospace companies.  The fruits of their labor have resulted in a high output supercharged engine that can deliver power in a manageable fashion.  The water-cooled, DOHC, 4-valve, parallel 4-cylinder, 998cc supercharged engine is tuned to showcase its high-performance throughout the rpm range. Kawasaki says its broad powerband creates optimal low-mid range torque for light handling and all-out supercharged performance on the top end.

Z H2 SE engine

The beastly supercharged Z H2 SE engine.

The engine’s torque is more apparent in the low to mid-rpm range.  It emphasizes easy-to-handle throttle response and smooth acceleration.  But in the high-rpm range and as the speed increases, the supercharged engine’s power is the star of the show.  The Z H2 SE has a ram air intake with an air duct providing a clean path for air flowing linearly from the ram air intake to the supercharged engine for even higher performance.

Z H2 SE gearbox

The bike uses a dog-ring gearbox developed through feedback from Kawasaki’s racing team.  However, it uses gear ratios optimized for street performance.  Kawasaki Z H2 SE uses a novel approach to gear changes.  Instead of shifting the gears into place, the gears stay in place with the lightweight dog rings moving to engage the gears.  Kawasaki says this setup allows a lighter and shorter shift effort for quicker acceleration.

Z H2 SE gearbox

The Z H2 SE’s dog-ring gearbox.

Assist & Slipper Clutch

An assist and slipper clutch offers both a back-torque limiting function and a lighter feel at the clutch lever.  The assist function is most noticeable in stop-and-go traffic situations where the light lever pull helps to reduce rider fatigue.

The slipper clutch function allows a slipper cam to come into play when excessive engine braking occurs.  When it occurs, the slipper clutch forces the clutch hub and operating plate apart, which relieves pressure on the clutch plates, reducing back-torque and preventing the rear tire from hopping or skipping.

Chassis

The Z H2 SE uses a specially designed, lightweight, high tensile steel trellis frame that can manage the power of the bike’s supercharged engine.  Kawasaki says that the bike’s frame has a high-level of balance between flexibility and toughness, giving the ability to ride on a variety of roads.

Z H2 SE frame

The steel trellis frame provides an optimum balance of flexibility and toughness.

The Z H2 SE sports a double-supported swingarm similar to those found on Kawasaki supersport models. It offers the high rigidity and lightweight construction necessary for high performance. The swingarm mounting plate is located on the back of the engine, enabling it to act as a frame cross member, contributing to rigidity and weight reduction.

Brakes and wheels

New on the 2021 Z H2 SE is a premium spec Brembo front brake package.  The package includes Stylema monoblock calipers, a Brembo front master cylinder, and steel braided brake lines that offer stronger braking performance and enhanced control.

Z H2 SE BREMB0 STYLEMA BRAKE PACKAGE

A Brembo Stylema front braking package graces the front of the Z H2 SE.

Kawasaki says the Stylema calipers are lighter and have smaller external dimensions with less volume around the pistons and brake pads, enabling a more direct response.  The new calipers also cool more rapidly due to increased airflow around the brake pads and pistons.

The Z H2 SE’s unbranded (un-named) lightweight 17-inch wheels are outfitted with Pirelli Diablo Rosso III tires, front and rear.  Sizing is 120/70ZR17 at the front with a 190/55/ZR17 mounted on the rear.

Electronics and rider aids

The Z H2 SE comes with a wide variety of electronics and rider aids above and beyond those found in the bike’s suspension systems.  Electronic components and rider aids such as a Bosch IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) and Kawasaki Cornering Management Function (KCMF) monitor engine and chassis parameters.  The bike also utilizes inputs from multiple sensors to optimize ride quality via the Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC), Kawasaki Launch Control Mode (KLCM), and the Kawasaki Intelligent Anti-Lock Braking System (KIBS).

The bike also sports electronic cruise control and a KQS (Kawasaki Quick Shifter) for quick, full power upshifts and clutchless shifting.

All these electronics enable the rider to select power modes.  The pilot can choose from full, middle (75% power), and low (50% power) if desired.

TFT Color Instrumentation and RIDEOLOGY THE APP

With a 4.3 inch all-digital TFT color display, the Z H2 SE has a high-tech appearance and provides excellent visibility.  The bike’s display functions include a digital speedometer, gear position indicator, shift indicator, odometer, dual trip meter, fuel gauge, remaining range, current/average fuel consumption, outside temperature, coolant temperature, clock, boost pressure, and boost temperature.

Z H2 SE INSTRUMENT PANEL

The Z H2 SE’s full color TFT display.

RIDEOLOGY THE APP

Kawasaki’s Z lineup offers the addition of Bluetooth Smartphone Connectivity.  The instrument panel contains a chip that enables riders to connect their bike wirelessly.  Using RIDEOLOGY THE APP (yes, that is the name of the app), you can access, log, and review several different instrument functions.

Available information includes:

  • Vehicle Info
    • Check latest status update
  • Riding Log
    • Logs data detail for later and playback for review
    • Route, Distance & Time traveled can be logged for review
    • Detailed riding conditions can be recorded
  • Telephone Notifications
    • Provides notification of phone calls
  • Tuning
    • General instrument display setting changes can be made on your smartphone
    • Kawasaki Riding Management modes can be set

The app can also be used when the rider is away from the motorcycle.  If the rider has ridden with the app on, the latest riding information is stored by the app and may be viewed on the rider’s smartphone.

Pricing and colors

The Z H2 SE has an MSRP of $19,700.  It comes in Golden Blazed Green or Metallic Diablo Black colorways.

What do you think?

When extreme horsepower isn’t enough, Kawasaki’s Z H2 SE provides an additional dose of technology to make the ride more capable and interesting.  What do you think of the Z H2 SE?  Would you buy one?  Let us know in the comments below.

Specifications:

Engine Type 4-Stroke, 4-Cylinder, Liquid-Cooled, DOHC, 4 Valve Cylinder Head, Supercharged
Displacement 998 cc
Bore & Stroke 76.0 x 55.0 mm
Maximum Torque 101 lb.-ft @ 9,500 rpm
Compression Ratio 11.2:1
Fuel System DFI® with 40mm Throttle Bodies (4) and Dual Injectors
Ignition TCBI with Digital Advance
Transmission 6-Speed, Dog-Ring
Final Drive Sealed Chain
Rake/Trail 24.9° / 4.1 in.
Front Wheel Travel 4.7 in.
Rear Wheel Travel 5.3 in.
Front Tire Size 120/70-17
Rear Tire Size 190/55-17
Wheelbase 57.3 in.
Front Suspension 43mm Inverted Fork with KECS-controlled compression
and Rebound Damping and Manually-Adjustable Preload
Rear Suspension Horizontal Back-link, KECS-controlled compression
and Rebound Damping and Electronically-Controlled Preload Adjustment
Front Brake Type Dual Semi-Floating 320mm Discs with
Radial-Mount, Opposed Brembo Stylema 4-Piston Calipers
Rear Brake Type 260mm Disc with Opposed 2 Piston Caliper
Fuel Tank Capacity 5.0 gal.
Seat Height 32.7 in.
Curb Weight= 529.2 lb.

All photo credit: Kawasaki

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