Kawasaki is an international corporation founded in Japan in 1886. Though they produce a wide variety of products including personal water crafts, ships, industrial plants, tractors, trains, and aerospace equipment, the company is best known for its Kawasaki Motorcycles division. This branch of the company produces a wide variety of models of motorcycles, both on-road and off-road, as well as all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).
The first motorcycle engine that Kawasaki ever produced was actually developed by the aircraft division of the corporation in 1949. Development was completed in 1952 and the engine was mass produced starting in 1953. The engine was an air-cooled, 148 cc, four-stroke single cylinder.
Shortly after this engine hit the market, the first complete Kawasaki motorcycle was produced. It went under the name Meihatsu at first. At the time, Meihatsu was a subsidiary of Kawasaki Aircraft. This initial model of motorcycle was successful enough for the company to open a factory dedicated to motorcycle production in 1960.
During this period of time, Kawasaki bought another motorcycle company called Meguro. The first couple of models produced after the purchase were given the Meguro brand name. These models included the Meguro K1 and the Meguro SG.
It wasn’t until 1963 that the motorcycle division of the company changed its name officially to Kawasaki Motorcycle Co. The motorcycles that the company produced from this point on were marketed with the name Kawasaki.
Kawasaki had expanded its motorcycle business into the North American market by the late 1960s. Several of its four-stroke motorcycles enjoyed much success in the country. One of the most popular was the Kawasaki H1 Mach III, produced in 1968. Several enduro motorcycles also caught on and were financially successful in the United States.
Kawasaki remains a very successful motorcycle manufacturer today. They produce a wide range of motorcycle models that are sold in countries all around the world. These models range from several styles of off-road bikes to several styles of on-road bikes.
The current face of Kawasaki motorcycles is the brand’s flagship Ninja H2. The motorcycle is classified as a “supercharged supersport” and is set to be Kawasaki’s most powerful street legal motorcycle to date. Though the bike is not yet available for purchase, it is set to be released sometime in 2015.
The Kawasaki Ninja H2 features a variable-speed centrifugal-type supercharger. In preliminary testing, the motorcycle has been shown to produce over 300 horsepower. This is, remarkably, 50% more power than its closest rival. The Ninja H2 has been shown to reach speeds of over 200 mph.
Unlike most of Kawasaki’s other high-performance motorcycle models, the Ninja H2 does not use the platform of the popular Ninja NZ-14 hyperbike. Instead, it is based on the brand’s literbike platform. The liter-class is currently at the center of the high-performance platform and allows for the best chassis and suspension design.
The central feature of the Kawasaki Ninja H2 is undoubtedly its engine. It uses a 998cc inline-4, four-valve, dual overhead cam engine combined with a two-speed centrifugal supercharger to produce over 300 horsepower. A series of gears and shafts that connect the flywheel to a planetary drive power the supercharger. The Ninja H2 is the first production motorcycle in the world that utilizes a supercharger.
A number of electronic aids are set to grace the Ninja H2 to increase performance. These include an anti-lock braking system (ABS), traction control, engine braking control, and launch control. Kawasaki also focused much attention on the motorcycle’s aerodynamics, constructing much of the bike out of carbon fiber.
Kawasaki currently produces an extensive number of motorcycle models. These can be broken down into a variety of categories. These categories include special purpose, cruisers, dual-purpose, off-road, street bikes, sports, supersport, sports touring, and scooters. A few of the more popular categories are broken down by model type below.
Cruisers: Kawasaki’s current line of cruisers consists of the Vulcan S, Vulcan 1700 Voyager, Vulcan 900 Classic, Vulcan 900 Custom, and Vulcan 1700 Nomad.
Sport: Kawasaki’s current line of sports motorcycles consists of the Z1000, Ninja 1000, Ninja 650, Ninja 300, Verseys 650, and Verseys.
Supersport: Kawasaki’s current line of supersport motorcycles consists of the Ninja ZX-14R, Ninja ZX-10R, and Ninja ZX-6R.
Touring: Kawasaki’s current line of touring motorcycles consists of the Verseys 1000 LT, Verseys 650 LT, Vulcan 1700 Voyager, Vulcan 1700 Vaquero, Vulcan 1700 Nomad, and Concours 14.
Over the years, Kawasaki has supported numerous motorcycle racing teams in a variety of different motorsports. Many of their racing teams are named “Team Green” because of the green color that most of their motorcycles take.
Kawasaki has achieved particular success in Grand Prix, MotoGP, Superbike, and Motocross racing. Within these different disciplines of racing, Kawasaki riders have won numerous championships in countries around the world.