Review: 2022 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE

2022 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE is one of the few motorcycles designed by engineers with no accountants in the room.

2022 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE

2022 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE is the ideal Sport Tourer to do-it-all for people who want to have everything available in a modern motorcycle, with no cost-cutting measures. Kawasaki has a wide range of products for different budgets, and the new H2 SX SE is exclusively for high-income enthusiasts that want to have a special motorcycle meant to be ridden instead of keeping it as a garage queen.

When I say it is meant to be ridden, it’s the versatility aspect that makes the H2 SX unique. It is a motorcycle with no compromise, as it does not punish the rider in any type of situation. It’s not just extremely fast on a straight line, but it can also handle twisty roads exceptionally well. It can be an excellent daily rider with all the comfort, safety, and tech features. It is also ideal for long trips with good weather protection, roomy ergonomics, and optional side bags that can be installed easily for more cargo space.

Speaking of ergonomics, the seat is very comfortable even for large adults. 2-up riding is doable as it comes with a wide passenger seat. In typical Kawasaki fashion, the seat height is low, making it very accessible for shorter riders. At 6’1”, it was very comfortable, but I wouldn’t mind a taller seat, especially for longer rides. Overall, the ergonomics are ever so slightly more aggressive than the Ninja 1000SX we reviewed last year, making it very comfortable yet sporty for pretty much all types of situations.

Kawasaki updated the H2 SX this year, but for an untrained eye, it looks pretty much the same as the old version. The updated upper cowl styling along with the new windshield offers great wind protection. I don’t find the new H2 SX particularly beautiful with the single LED headlight located in the middle, it definitely has a unique industrial look with sharp body lines and aggressive front fascia.

2022 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE carries the brand’s design language well and the design also represents Kawasaki’s industrial background. At the end of the day, the brand is called “Kawasaki Heavy Industries”, specializing in manufacturing aerospace, defense, heavy equipment as well as motorcycles. In fact, Kawasaki’s aerospace and gas turbine divisions designed the supercharger. It is the first and only forced induction engine used in a motorcycle from the factory, with a warranty.

It’s basically a variable-speed centrifugal supercharger, connected to the flywheel by a series of gears. It is built in-house by Kawasaki, and it does not come with an intercooler. Centrifugal superchargers are much better when it comes to heat management compared to traditional roots-type chargers, but they look, sound, and feel more like a turbocharger. So there is no traditional blower whine here.

The biggest problem with the centrifugal superchargers and turbochargers is the “turbo” lag. Adding an intercooler to the system would not only add complexity and unnecessary weight, but it would also take more time to spool up, which means it would take more time to force compressed air into the combustion chamber. For a modern automobile, it’s acceptable to a certain point, but it’s not ideal for motorcycling.

That’s how Kawasaki’s aerospace division was able to solve the turbo lag problem, by keeping things simple. As a result, adding a supercharger to the inline-4 cylinder hides the fundamental flaw of an inline-4-cylinder engine. It is very responsive and torquey at lower RPMs. As you rev the engine higher, things get more dramatic and intense. The 998cc engine pumps out 197 horsepower at 11,000 RPM and 101 lb-ft of torque at 8500 RPM.

Although the maximum torque and horsepower figures look similar compared to the outgoing model, there are some changes in the engine and transmission. New for 2022, Kawasaki revised the camshafts, changed exhaust design for better flow, and also updated the second gear for less drivetrain noise. As a result, the bike offers more torque in the midrange and slightly more horsepower throughout the RPM range.

Despite the changes, it still has the traditional 4-cylinder character even with the forced induction, giving its peak power at very high RPM. It doesn’t matter which gear you are in, things get serious above 6000 RPM. The biggest difference is that below 6000 RPM is still usable, unlike naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engines, you don’t have to stay in the powerband all the time. Overall, it’s an overwhelmingly fast bike, even for the most experienced riders.

If you want to have extra stopping power, which you definitely should for a bike like this, the SE trim comes with the upgraded Brembo Stylema 4-piston calipers along with dual 320mm front discs. For 2022, the master cylinder is also upgraded to Brembo for a better brake feeling. I’m sure Kawasaki-branded calipers are more than enough to stop the H2 SX, for the price you expect to see fancy components.

The more you ride the Ninja H2 SX SE, the more you feel Kawasaki is actually challenging with the European exotics when it comes to the build quality, feeling, and refinement. The fit and finish are excellent like the high-end European entries. The paint job is excellent, green flakes with the black paint look very premium. Aside from that, it also feels premium when you start riding it. It definitely has great road manners with very smooth and predictable throttle mapping.

The features are as important as overall build quality, and the 2022 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE comes with pretty much all features available in a modern motorcycle, maybe even more than that. The most significant update for 2022 is the Adaptive Cruise Control system, Forward Collision Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Tire Pressure Monitoring System. It’s a pretty common safety feature list for automobiles, but it is a totally new era for the motorcycling world.

Compared to the outgoing model, Kawasaki also added the Skyhook Technology to their KECS electronic suspension system with the H2 SX. The suspension system is still made by Showa, but the Skyhook technology is only available with the SE trim. The semi-active suspension automatically adjusts the suspension settings based on your riding style, weather conditions, and overall weight. You can also fine-tune the compression, rebound, and preload settings individually.

Thanks to the adjustable suspension, the H2 SX SE can be quite comfortable as a daily rider, and you can just switch to the firmer setting for twisties or spirited riding. For a bike that almost weighs 600 lbs, going around the corner with the H2 SX is a lot easier than you thought it would be. You can carry a lot of speed through the corner, the chassis stays planted and it gives a lot of feedback to the rider. The only time you feel the extra weight and longer wheelbase is the tight corners and low-speed maneuvers compared to track-focused liter bikes such as the ZX-10R.

Unlike the previous model year, you no longer get a half analog half digital screen. 2022 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX comes with a new 6.5” color TFT dash that shows a lot of information, the resolution is great, and it’s super easy to read. The only gripe that I had is the button layout, which I found confusing, so you really have to take your time to get used to it. The buttons are also small and located very close to each other, making it harder to navigate through the menus without taking your eyes off the road.

Let’s be honest – for many North American riders, motorcycling is no more than a hobby, and motorcycles are toys, rather than a necessity. When budget is no concern, the 2022 Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX SE is one of the few Sport Touring bikes available for those who want to have an exotic all-rounder. Everything from its paint job to the unique tech & features, and the supercharged engine sound, it just feels special in every way.

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