Once in a great while a motorcycle comes along that raises the performance bar to a whole new level. The Honda CB750 did just that in the 1969, and a few years later the original Kawasaki H2 Mach IV came along and kicked things up another notch. A 748cc, three-cylinder, two-stroke engine powered the 1972 H2 Mach IV. The peaky power plant produced a massive (for the time) 74 horsepower and earned the H2 the foreboding nickname “the widowmaker.”
Fast-forward 43 years, and Kawasaki has done it again with the absolutely ludicrous Ninja H2 street bike and H2R track weapon. Determined to once again stake its claim at the top of the super bike totem pole, Kawasaki unveiled the two supercharged machines last year. The numbers associated with the H2R in particular are like nothing we’ve ever seen before in the motorcycle world. The 998cc supercharged inline four cylinder belts out around 326 horsepower. In comparison, the previous king of the liter-bike hill, the BMW S 1000 RR, puts out 199 horsepower from the same size engine (minus supercharging, of course). To put that kind of power production in perspective, if the 2015 Dodge Viper put out the same horsepower per liter as the H2R, its 8.4 liter V10 would manage 2,738 ponies. Kind of makes the Viper’s actual output of 645 horsepower seem unimpressive, doesn’t it?
The H2R is relatively porky for a liter class bike at 476 pounds, but with over 300 horsepower on tap the bike’s power to weight ratio is virtually unrivaled. Each of the supercharged horses is only pushing 1.5 pounds of motorcycle (not including the rider). The previously mentioned Viper’s 645 horses are each hauling 5.3 pounds, barely better than the 1972 H2’s six pounds per horsepower!
Even when compared with the today’s ultra-fast hyper cars the H2R is in a class by itself. The Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, with its 16 cylinders, four turbos, and 1,200 horsepower, only manages 3.4 pounds per horsepower.