Tuesday 30 September 2014

Origami Panigale

So, today the Kawasaki H2 was unveiled at the Intermot show in Cologne. This should come as a surprise to no-one because Kawasaki have been releasing a series of teasers for the last couple of weeks. I watched the first few but found them a bit frustrating and not very interesting and so I didn't bother with the rest of them.

(I have a very short attention span and if I go to the trouble of clicking on something, you better reward me pretty quickly! Whatchagonnado!? It's the way god made me...)

Anyhow, despite the teasers I was looking forward to seeing the thing.

Kawasaki H2

Well, the thing everyone should be getting all excited about is the alleged 300hp motor. But the thing everyone is actually getting exciting about, is the fucking winglets!

So what is it? Well its a litre super-bike with a supercharger putting out 300hp. That's a lot. Currently, state of the art super-bikes are nudging 200hp so that extra 100hp is quite a leap. There are already turbocharged Hayabusas putting out more power than this, but typically they're lowered and stretched to promote stability whereas the H2 looks like a regular sport-bike (quite a lot like a Panigale, in fact!). So presumably, the winglets are there to produce down-force to stop the thing from looping at high speed.

But they don't look very plausible. And by the time you get to go into your local dealership and buy a H2, I don't think it'll be making 300hp, so maybe you won't need them...

Every now and then a motorcycle comes along and changes the game. In the late sixties, Honda reinvented the motorcycle with the four cylinder overhead cam CB750 and the in 1973 Kawasaki changed the world with the DOHC 900cc Z1. And pretty much every four cylinder motorcycle produced ever since owes the Z1 a debt of gratitude.

In the mid '80s, Kawasaki pulled another trick with the liquid cooled, 150mph GPZ900.

In my memory, the game-changer that stands out is the Honda Fireblade. Prior to the Fireblade, top class sport-bikes were big fat powerful things with the emphasis on power and maximum speed (FZR1000s, GSXR1100 etc). The Fireblade turned all that on its head. Yes it was powerful (130hp used to be powerful) but the emphasis was on light weight and handling and all your modern-day sports-bikes owe the '92 Fireblade a debt.

The Buell XB series came out in 2003 and was ignored by pretty much everyone ('cept me, I bought one). But then a couple of years later, sports bikes started to grow underslung exhausts and tiny wheelbases. And they'd probably be sporting rim mounted brakes discs if it wasn't for patent restrictions. Just sayin'...

And then there are bikes that cause a whole load of fuss upon their release but don't really make much of an impact. There are probably a couple of these every year, but the best example I can think of is the six cylinder Honda CBX1000. Did it change the game? No, not so much. Six cylinder engines just never really caught on. It was (and still is) a spectacular thing, but its a bit of a dinosaur from an evolutionary standpoint.

So the new H2? Is it the new Fireblade? Or is it the new CBX?

I dunno...

It's much easier to be disparaging of new things than to look at them without prejudice. I remember when the first Hayabusa came out in 1999 with its controversial bodywork - I thought it was repulsive. I also remember that the first time I saw one, I made a point of overtaking it on my CX, in the rain, on the Darndale roundabout just so I could show the Hayabusa pilot my disparaging look.

So I can clearly remember having very strong negative feelings about it, but I can't remember why. Because now, I think the first Hayabusa is a thing of great beauty and one day, I'll probably buy one.

So the Kawasaki H2? Only time will tell...

#OrigamiPanigale #KawasakiH2 #Mercenary #MercenaryGarage

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