2020 Kawasaki Z H2 (bike review)

FIRSTLY, hats off to the person who thought it would be a great idea to supercharge a 1000cc naked bike, and in doing so, create the Z H2. This person truly deserves to be immortalised or receive a knighthood, at the very least.

The 2020 Kawasaki Z H2 is mind blowing, and just perhaps that sentence in itself could be one of the biggest understatements of 2020. If looks could kill, the Z H2 would be on death row for murder.

Let’s just say this bike looks as though it has a missile launcher hidden on it somewhere. From its iridescent Kawasaki green frame to its spectacular shadow chrome highlights and black tank, the Z H2 certainly means business and looks as fast as hell.

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Kawasaki’s Z brand has a rich history that stretches back nearly 50 years. The launch of the Z H2, with its character defining supercharged engine, signals the launch of the next chapter of Z series bikes for Kawasaki.

Not surprisingly the centrepiece for the Z H2 is its supercharged liquid-cooled, 4-stroke In-Line 4-cylinder motor, with 147.1kW of power and 137Nm of torque. And at 239kg, the numbers stack up to hint at just how exhilarating it is to ride.

Twist the throttle hard and this bike is scary fast. We are not just talking make your sphincter clench tight, we are talking make your butt hole clench so tight that it will take a few minutes off the throttle to relax back to normal tight. And it’s addictive.

It makes you want to twist more and more, hang on tight and push yourself further to see what this bike is truly capable of. This is the sad part for most of us. This author is not a GP rider nor pretending to be one, which means we’re not riding anywhere near its limits.

It’s still great fun to ride though, especially when it wants to lift the front wheel as you accelerate hard and flick through the gears via the quick shifter. Even at speeds in excess of what we are prepared to put into words, it lifts effortlessly, as if it’s just showing off.

If you don’t become addicted to the power, well the sound of the supercharger will most definitely hook you. It’s like a magical symphony as the supercharger whirls up under acceleration and winds down as you downshift through the gears.

It’s enough to make you want to change gears just for the sake of it. For the record, the Kawasaki quick shifter is dual direction and matched to a 6-speed dog-ring style transmission. It’s the same kind of technology commonly found in MotoGP and Formula 1.

The true beauty of the 2020 Kawasaki Z H2 though is in the power delivery. Although it can be scarily fast, it can also be easily managed and is quite pleasant to ride, even when you are not trying to run at full throttle.

Its more upright riding position lends itself to the naked styling of this bike, making it more comfortable than a traditional super sport bike in terms of how you sit. In fact everything is in a relaxed position, including controls and foot pegs.

It makes it easier if you want to get down over the tank and get into some more performance orientated riding too.

What makes the Z H2 such a joy to ride is its on road feel, which comes thanks to a specially designed lightweight trellis frame, built from high tensile steel, with carefully selected diameter thickness.

The result is the bike has the necessary stiffness to deliver the rigidity for the high powered supercharged engine. The frame’s open design also helps dissipate heat generated by the power plant.

Showa SFF-BP front forks feature, with a large diameter piston, adjustable pre-load and dampening. A double sided swing arm lifted from the Ninja ZX-10RR supports the rear. It’s a package that feels good, especially when cornering under under acceleration.

Stopping power is important when riding a bike like the Kawasaki Z H2, and dual 320mm discs feature up front and deliver a tonne of halt when needed. This is helped by BREMBO M4 .32 monobloc calipers, and a fine-tuned Nissen master cylinder.

The rear has a single 260mm disc fitted. Three rider modes are available, including Rain, Road and Sport, as well as a manual configuration setting. The Z H2 also supports the Rideology smartphone app.

Sport is the definitive pick for obvious reasons, firming up the the suspension and making the big Kawasaki feel like a proper beast. Ride modes are selectable on the fly, and there’s electronic cruise control for freeway riding.

Interacting with the Z H2 is easy too, with a full colour TFT display providing impressive functionality. Colour choice is simple too, it only comes in Metallic Spark Black, with Metallic Graphite Grey and Mirror Coated Spark Black.

The 2020 Kawasaki Z H2 is very good, and needs to be too, because it’s up against the Ducati Streetfighter, KTM 1290 Super Duke and Aprilia Tuono; all of which are worthy challengers.

Should you want a Z H2 though, and we reckon you might, you can own one for $23,000 ride away. It comes with a 24-month factory warranty.

Our test bike was provided by Kawasaki Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Kawasaki Z H2, contact your local Kawasaki dealer. Images courtesy of Cameron Cooke Photography.


Riding experience
Style and comfort
Braking and handling
Technology and connectivity
Overall bike performance


Pros - supercharged power plant; smoothness of quick shifter; great looking bike.
Cons - fuel economy; ruining your undies; can make for a wild ride.
Andrew Jenkin
Andrew Jenkin
Andrew Jenkin is the ride editor at Exhaust Notes Australia, founding editor of Two Wheel Addicts, a contributor at Bike Review and panel judge for Harley Davidson's Breakout Boss competition. Andrew has a love for anything on two wheels whether that be sports, naked or adventure bikes, with a guilty pleasure for cruisers.


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<strong>Pros -</strong> supercharged power plant; smoothness of quick shifter; great looking bike.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> fuel economy; ruining your undies; can make for a wild ride.2020 Kawasaki Z H2 (bike review)