If handling, performance, and speed are your top priorities, the Z H2 SE should be on your list of possibles

Kawasaki’s H2 Special Edition comes built around the Z-family flagship model with all of the supercharged yummygoodness of the previous version plus a handful of improvements for MY2021. New for this year, the electronic suspension control now comes with the stock equipment package and a beefed up brake system for even more stopping power. Sugomi styling remains a constant along with an electronics suite that rivals the best in the world to make this “SE” a solid competitor within the Hypersport sector specifically and among barely street-legal stoplight burners in general.

  • 2021 Kawasaki Z H2 SE
  • Year:
    2021
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Displacement:
    998 cc
  • Top Speed:
    175 mph
  • Price:
    19700
  • Price:

2021 Kawasaki Z H2 SE Design

  • Aggressive Sugomi styling
  • LED lighting
  • Color TFT display
  • Smartphone connectivity
2021 Kawasaki Z H2 SE
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2021 Kawasaki Z H2 SE
- image 988755
Nose down and tail up, the sugomi effect is clearly the dominant vibe from every angle.

The Japanese word for the design style is Sugomi, and for us monolingual English speakers, that means it embodies the spirit of a predator on the hunt, sort of like a great cat ready to pounce or a raptor swooping to its prey. Like the base model, the Z H2 SE benefits from extensive windtunnel testing and airflow-dynamics analysis that are apparent at a glance.

The drag-reduction efforts start right at the tip of the spear in the front fender that shunts the wind outboard away from the forks into the slipstream. A very Kawi-tastic front fairing carries its LED headlight in a safe little recess, but the LED blinkers are on short standoffs that leave them vulnerable in a drop or a slide.

Head-on, the fairing is a bit asymmetrical to accommodate the supercharger’s intake port where it can garner some benefit from the ram-air effect from the incoming air to maximize volumetric efficiency. The front fairing, beefy as it is, surrenders to the SE’s nakedness with an exposed radiator, engine, and exhaust headers. It looks like it has a chin fairing in profile, but each side is independent from one another with a huge gap in the middle for the headers, and an open presentation from that point back.

A bikini flyscreen creates an ever-so-small wind pocket for the pilot though you’ll have to tuck in as tightly as possible to find it. Honestly, it does more to protect the color TFT display that bundles all of the instrumentation, infotainment, and smartphone networking together in one location for ease and speed of access.

The 5.0-gallon fuel tank contributes a significant hump to the flyline in profile ahead of a precipitous drop to the deep-scoop saddle that pulls the pilot down into the machine. There’s a p-pad perched on the upswept tail section, but it’s fairly minimal with just enough padding to protect your passenger’s naughty bits, but little else. Clearly this is a bike with something of a solo-rider bias.

The taillight resides at the terminus of the subframe, well up out of harm’s way, but the plate and rear turn signals mount to a lick-em/stick-em mudguard, no doubt for ease of removal ahead of track days. Nose down and tail up, the sugomi effect is clearly the dominant vibe from every angle.

2021 Kawasaki Z H2 SE Chassis

  • High-performance SA electronic suspension
  • Eager in the corners and remarkably nimble
  • Specially-designed lightweight frame
  • Brembo Stylema brakes
2021 Kawasaki Z H2 SE
- image 988758
2021 Kawasaki Z H2 SE
- image 988752
2021 Kawasaki Z H2 SE
- image 988756

High tensile-strength steel tubing was the material of choice on the Z H2 SE for the mostly-exposed Trellis frame. It uses the engine as a stressed member to achieve its final structural rigidity with a yoke-style engineered swingarm to finish the skeleton.

>quote|title=The suspension is one of the areas that sets the SE apart from the garden-variety Z H2.|align=center> Showa’s SFF-BP front forks and Uni-Track monoshock take care of business on 4.7-inches and 5.3-inches of travel, respectively. Kawasaki’s proprietary KECS feature delivers semi-active electronic suspension as standard equipment this year. It delivers demand-driven damping adjustments through suspension sensors and an inertial-measurement unit. The IMU boasts an astounding one-millisecond response time with solenoid-controlled valves that offer near-instantaneous reaction times. Not only does this turn out a top-shelf riding experience, but you can quickly switch between race-tastic suspension settings and more cruise-friendly metrics to give the stems a multiple personality for true flexibility of utility.

The headstock sets a rake angle of 24.9 degrees with 4.1 inches of trail over a compact, 57.3-inch wheelbase to make the SE as eager in the corners and nimble as anything else Kawi has to offer. Cast-alloy wheels round out the rolling chassis in 17-inch diameter race-rated hoops, 120/70 ahead of a 190/55, that’ll take everything you and this machine can dish out in regards to all-out speed and responsible cornering, whatever that means within the context of your personal skillset.

Potential for great speed goes hand-in-glove with serious braking capacity, and so it is with Kawi’s updated SE. The update to the brakes include lighter-weight Brembo Stylema monobloc calipers complete with braided-steel lines that reduce mechanical losses at the anchors for more assertive braking actions. Kawasaki’s proprietary ABS (KIBS) feature adds a layer of corner-enhanced protection as part of the stock equipment package, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg of electronic rider aids.

2021 Kawasaki Z H2 SE Drivetrain

  • Supercharged 998 cc engine
  • 200 hp and 101 lb-ft or torque
  • State-of-the-art electronics
  • High output yet manageable power delivery
2021 Kawasaki Z H2 SE
- image 988760
2021 Kawasaki Z H2 SE
- image 988762
2021 Kawasaki Z H2 SE
- image 988761

The electronical delightfulness of the Z H2 SE extends well beyond ABS and infotainment with a veritable vegetable soup of acronyms. Suspension-control electronics and ABS are joined by a Launch Control, Corner Management, Engine Brake, Power Modes, and Riding Modes. A stock Quick-Shift feature lets you bang your way both up and down the range without ever touching the clutch lever or even rolling off the throttle. All told, the electronics cover just about every possible base; I think the only thing I don’t see is a wheelie control, but that may be built into one of the other systems.

As for the mechanicals, the water-cooled, inline-four mill delivers the goods with support from the supercharger to turn out a staggering 101 pound-feet of torque at 9,500 rpm backed up by 200 horsepower. A 76 mm bore and 55 mm stroke gives it a 998 cc total displacement with an 11.2-to-1 compression ratio that, coupled with the blower, will probably demand premium pump champagne to prevent knock, ping, and dieseling. Each of the four bores are fed by an individual, 40 mm throttle body with dual direct-injection for the fuel control and atomization.

Power flows through a slipper clutch for yet another layer of safety webbing with a six-speed transmission and chain-type final drive that turns in a top speed around 175 mph.

Engine: 4-stroke, 4-cylinder, DOHC, 4-valve, liquid-cooled, supercharged
Displacement: 998 cc
Bore x Stroke: 76.0 mm x 55.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 11.2:1
Maximum Torque: 101.0 lb-ft
Fuel System: DFI, 40 mm Throttle Bodies
Ignition: TCBI w/ Digital Advance
Transmission: 6-speed dog-ring, return shift
Final Drive: Sealed chain

2021 Kawasaki Z H2 SE Price

2021 Kawasaki Z H2 SE
- image 988763
2021 Kawasaki Z H2 SE
- image 988758
2021 Kawasaki Z H2 SE
- image 988764
In spite of the fact that the Z H2 SE is a rolling marvel of electronics and engineering, the factory still manages to keep the sticker below the $20k mark, if only just barely.

Usually, I would expect the price to be a firewall of sorts to limit the buyers to, hopefully, a more experienced clientele. Not so with Z H2 SE. The $19,700 starting MSRP makes it available to a fairly large slice of the sportbike public, but you’d better like that Kawi green trim over black, ’cause that’s all you’re getting off the showroom floor.

Electronic Rider Aids: Kawasaki Electronic Control Suspension (KECS) with Showa Skyhook Technology, KECS Linked Integrated Riding Modes, Kawasaki Cornering Management Function (KCMF), Power Modes (3), Kawasaki Launch Control Mode (KLCM), Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC), Kawasaki Launch Control Mode (KLCM), Kawasaki Engine Brake Control (KEBC), Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System (KIBS), Kawasaki Quick Shifter (KQS) (upshift & downshift), Electronic Cruise Control
Special Features: Rideology the App Smartphone Connectivity, TFT Instrumentation
Warranty: 12 Month Limited Warranty, optional Kawasaki Protection Plus™ 12, 24, 36 or 48 months
Color: Golden Blazed Green/Metallic Diablo Black
Price: $19,700

2021 Kawasaki Z H2 SE Competitors

2021 Kawasaki Z H2 SE
- image 988757
2017 - 2020 Ducati Monster 1200 / 1200 S
- image 832355
You can score a Monster 1200 for $15k, but if you want real power, you've got to roll with the Z H2 SE.

One super-de-duper sled deserves another, so I went straight to Ducati’s naked lineup for the Monster 1200.

Ducati Monster 1200

2017 - 2020 Ducati Monster 1200 / 1200 S
- image 861992

Even more naked than the Kawi, the Monster trims down by running a round headlight housing rather than encumbering the front end with the weight of a fairing, no matter how aerodynamic the latter may be. The Duc literally leaves nothing to the imagination so it shows off its own Trellis skeleton and L-twin powerplant. Both of these rides fall in the “I’d rather not” category as regards to the carrying of passengers, and come with little in the way of pillion comfort in their stock configuration.

Ducati slips a little in the electronics. Yeah, it rocks corner-enhanced ABS, traction control, and wheelie control with a Riding Modes feature that manages all of the above, so it has sufficient electronics even if it doesn’t exactly match the Kawi tit-for-tat. The Ducati lump also lacks a blower, but then most bike engines do, and so the Monster’s mill relies on its 1,198 cc, twin-cylinder layout and the 147 horsepower it brings to the table. Torque measures in at 91 pounds o’ grunt against 200/101 from the Kawi, and honestly, that’s to be expected. There’s just no substitute for the volumetric boost you get with a blower of any sort, but particularly from a supercharger.

The trade off, as usual, is the price. You can score a Monster 1200 for the everyday low price of $14,995, a sticker that leaves a lot on the table, but if you want real power, you’ve got to roll with the Z H2 SE.

Read our full review of the Ducati Monster 1200.

He Said

This thing is a bona fide badass right off the dealer’s lot. Electronics aside, you’d better respect this machine if you go to throw a leg over one, ’cause that blower is going to test your skillset something fierce. I hesitate to call it ugly, but it definitely has that je ne sais quoi the green machines are known for.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “You know, when you create a monster engine and then put a supercharger on it like Kawasaki did on the H2 and H2R, why not throw that same level of performance onto the naked sportbike line, too, right? I mean, let’s let everyone in on the fun. The downside (if there’s a downside, I dunno, maybe not) is the radiator on this thing is bigger than the one in my car. You just can’t hide that baby, but with this level of performance and sophistication, why bother trying. If handling, performance, and speed are your top priorities, the Z H2 SE should be on your list of possibles.

2021 Kawasaki Z H2 SE Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 4-stroke, 4-cylinder, DOHC, 4-valve, liquid-cooled, supercharged
Displacement: 998 cc
Bore x Stroke: 76.0 mm x 55.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 11.2:1
Maximum Torque: 101.0 lb-ft
Fuel System: DFI, 40 mm Throttle Bodies
Ignition: TCBI w/ Digital Advance
Transmission: 6-speed dog-ring, return shift
Final Drive: Sealed chain
Chassis:
Frame: Trellis, high tensile steel
Front Suspension / Travel: Showa SFF-BP Fork with KECS Compression and KECS Rebound Damping, 20 Turns Spring Preload Adjustability / 4.7 in
Rear Suspension / Travel: Uni-Trak®, Showa Shock with KECS Compression and KECS Rebound Damping, plus Manual Spring Preload Adjustability / 5.3 in
Rake/Trail: 24.9°/4.1 in
Front Tire: 120/70-17
Rear Tire: 190/55-17
Front Brakes: Dual 320 mm Disc w/Radial-mount Brembo Stylema Monobloc Calipers, Brembo Master Cylinder, KIBS
Rear Brakes: Single 260 mm disc with single-piston caliper, KIBS
Dimensions & Capacities:
Overall Length: 82.1 in
Overall Width: 31.9 in
Overall Height: 44.5 in
Wheelbase: 57.3 in
Ground Clearance: 5.5 in
Seat Height: 32.7 in
Curb Weight: 531.4 lb
Fuel Capacity: 5.0 gal
Details:
Electronic Rider Aids: Kawasaki Electronic Control Suspension (KECS) with Showa Skyhook Technology, KECS Linked Integrated Riding Modes, Kawasaki Cornering Management Function (KCMF), Power Modes (3), Kawasaki Launch Control Mode (KLCM), Kawasaki Traction Control (KTRC), Kawasaki Launch Control Mode (KLCM), Kawasaki Engine Brake Control (KEBC), Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Brake System (KIBS), Kawasaki Quick Shifter (KQS) (upshift & downshift), Electronic Cruise Control
Special Features: Rideology the App Smartphone Connectivity, TFT Instrumentation
Warranty: 12 Month Limited Warranty, optional Kawasaki Protection Plus™ 12, 24, 36 or 48 months
Color: Golden Blazed Green/Metallic Diablo Black
Price: $19,700

Further Reading

Kawasaki

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TJ Hinton
TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read full bio
About the author

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: kawasaki.com, ducati.com

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