It’s the world’s first hybrid bike – and right here’s my first impressions
I’m simply again from the launch of the brand new Kawasaki Ninja 7 hybrid bike in Barcelona. And it’s honest to say that I’m very impressed with it. It’s one of the crucial attention-grabbing bikes I’ve ever ridden, with an intriguing know-how set-up, and a very usable real-world efficiency.
Now, first up, we must always clarify what it’s. The Ninja 7 is a so-called ‘Sturdy Hybrid’ bike – the primary ever produced. It has a ‘regular’ petrol-powered engine, which is a 451cc parallel twin, much like that on the brand new Eliminator 500 roadster. That’s extraordinarily regular in some ways: a DOHC, 8v water-cooled twin, making 59bhp. The place it will get bizarre is after the first drive although: the clutch is managed by an ECU by way of a solenoid, as is the traditional sequential gearbox – it has a set of up- and down-paddles when the rider has handbook management of the gears. And behind the clutch is a sequence drive to a 9.5bhp liquid-cooled electrical motor positioned behind the cylinder block – much like the one on the brand new Z e-1 all-electric Kawasaki not too long ago launched. That motor has a 48 volt battery pack, weighing round 30kg, that sits beneath the rider’s seat, and is charged instantly from a generator on the engine. The Ninja 7 isn’t a plug-in hybrid, so you’ll be able to’t cost the battery individually, somewhat it expenses from regenerative braking if you’re slowing down, and step by step expenses as you trip usually.
The actually intelligent bit is the best way all these components work collectively. Because the bike’s laptop controls the clutch, it might join and disconnect the engine fully from the transmission when it needs, and add in electrical drive when handy. Which means the Ninja 7 can have three modes, beginning with a pure electrical mode, which limits velocity to simply beneath 40mph, with limited-but usable vary, making it splendid for silent working round city like just a little battery-powered scooter. Subsequent, there’s an ‘Eco’ hybrid mode, which provides within the petrol engine, giving full efficiency, however turning the motor off if you come to a halt, and pulling away from a cease with the electrical drive earlier than beginning the petrol aspect once more. Eco mode additionally has each computerized and handbook transmission modes, with the paddle shift on the left bars controlling the adjustments.
Lastly there’s a ‘Sport’ hybrid mode, which retains the petrol engine on on a regular basis, has handbook gearchange solely, and provides within the ‘E-boost’ perform. This mainly dumps within the electrical motor’s full 9.5bhp and 36Nm of torque for 5 seconds at a time, somewhat like a nitrous button. It regenerates rapidly, and you’ll add enhance frequently as long as the battery is charged. With the enhance button you get a really respectable 69bhp, making the Ninja 7 greater than nippy sufficient to match its 650-700cc efficiency claims.
We rode the Ninja 7 round Barcelona for a day and a half, and it’s honest to say it took a little bit of time to get your head round it. The controls are simple to make use of and logical, and the big TFT color sprint makes it simple to see what’s occurring. However you’re having to re-learn plenty of the muscle reminiscence actions used on a traditional bike, and it takes a little bit of time to get all of it straight in your head.
When you do although, it’s nice enjoyable. Spherical city you’ll be able to trundle by way of tight site visitors jams in electrical mode, silently and with no warmth belting out of the engine (it was foolish sizzling in Barcelona). Dial within the Eco Hybrid mode, in computerized transmission setting, and you’ve got a nippy scooter-like expertise, with sturdy drive, and the petrol engine stopped at site visitors lights, once more conserving you cool and quiet. Get out of city, and change to sport mode, and you’ll dial in your hooligan aspect: 69bhp with the electrical motor is respectable energy, and the automated gearchange is enjoyable to slam up and down as you brake onerous right into a bend and drive out the opposite aspect. You possibly can flick between the modes, and the automated or handbook gearbox actually simply, and when you get the cling of all of it, the little Ninja 7 is a correct hoot.
Away from the powertrain, the chassis is fairly customary sporty-road equipment. The metal trellis body, suspension, brakes, wheels and tyres are all very a lot within the line of the Ninja 400 and 650 mannequin vary. It’s a smooth, simple highway bike somewhat than a hardcore observe device in fact, however you’ll be able to very a lot have enjoyable on it. Having stated that, we have been just a little stunned that Kawasaki didn’t determine to place the brand new powertrain into one thing like a Versys somewhat than a sportsbike. The vary is definitely excellent, because of the significantly better gasoline consumption given by the hybrid system. Kawasaki claims it’s higher on fuel than a Ninja 250, and the claimed vary from the 14 litre tank is effectively over 230 miles, with a WMTC consumption determine in Eco mode of three.7l/100km or 77mpg (imperial). That’s nice for a 227kg 69bhp bike.
Extra – way more – on the brand new Ninja 7 subsequent month within the print difficulty!
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