The Milan EICMA show this year witnessed continuing momentum from Japanese manufacturer Kawasaki with a stunning array of six new models highlighted along with exclusive news of an Electric Vehicle, the announcement of a tie up with iconic Italian manufacturer Bimota and a burgeoning partnership with German automotive tech company, Bosch.
At a packed press conference hosted by Kawasaki Motors Europe on the impressive Kawasaki booth, three 2020 new models were revisited while three more were unveiled to the European motorcycle media “in the flesh” for the very first time in addition to a surprise interview with five-time WorldSBK Champion, Jonathan Rea.
Styles from naked to faired and retro to class leading sports touring formed the ingredients for a high impact unveiling ceremony punctuated by a keynote speech delivered by Yuji Horiuchi, President of Kawasaki Heavy Industries Motorcycle & Engine Company.
Drawing attention to the Electric Vehicle (EV) concept on show as part of the massive display booth, Horiuchi-san mentioned that the Kawasaki Rideology philosophy was key to the creation of the vehicle with the message that “fun to ride” is as important as the undoubted green credentials of a battery powered vehicle that – unlike most EV two-wheelers – includes a conventional clutch and four speed gearbox. Whilst not focused on mass production, the EV bike was, according to Mr Horiuchi, “just one” of the future technologies being investigated by Kawasaki engineers.
Technology also formed the next part of the revealing speech as Mr Horiuchi unveiled a new partnership between Bosch and Kawasaki regarding the Bosch Advanced Rider Assistance System with news that Kawasaki would be the first Japanese manufacturer to include this state-of-the-art rider aid on its motorcycles at some time in the future.
Of the new metal on show for the first time, the W800 showed just how authentic Kawasaki manufacturing is tracing an unbroken ancestry back to 1966 and the seminal W1; the very start of the famous four stroke, air-cooled classic line.
Highlighted too were worthy updates to two machines that form the backbone of the contemporary Kawasaki middleweight offering. The Z650 with a cleaner running engine, deeper padded passenger seat and new TFT meter plus styling upgrades was joined in a European exclusive unveil by the new Ninja 650 with sharp, aggressive styling and piercing LED headlamps.
Moving up the capacity scale, the TFT meter equipped Z900 for 2020 was shown with styling upgrades and a raft of new internal technology including integrated rider modes, power mode selection, an engine tuned for better acceleration and deceleration feeling plus cleaner overall running and emissions.
Those eager to see Kawasaki’s upgraded and updated sport touring offering were rewarded with first sight of the stunning Ninja 1000SX with 12,000km service intervals (common to all machines in the 2020 motorcycle range) and all LED lighting making sure that practical needs were met. Meanwhile a host of new rider aids adorn the supreme sports tourer with a Ninja edge such as the up/down quick shifter, assist and slipper clutch along with cruise control and a wireless throttle linked to electronic throttle vales.
Star though – and the machine that countless media came to see – was the new king of Hypernaked scene, the Z H2. Personally, unveiled by Mr Horiuchi, the 200ps Balanced Supercharged machine created a fitting crescendo to Kawasaki’s unveiling exercise.
With the technical tour de force engine mounted in a new trellis style chassis and an array of rider aids – including Kawasaki’s Rideology smartphone connectivity - that stretch into the distance, Kawasaki added this fourth Supercharged model to the 2020 offering and, at the same time, crowed the Z H2 as the logical head of the justifiably popular Z family.
Anticipating keen interest in dealerships across Europe after the EICMA show, the pressure is now on the Akashi factory to produce not just popular carry over models in new colour ways but a swathe of new models which, if visitor comments at EICMA are anything to go by, will be in huge demand.