It’s the world’s first hybrid motorcycle – 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 vital fascinating bikes I’ve ever ridden, with an intriguing expertise set-up, and a extremely usable real-world efficiency.
Now, first up, we should 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, just 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 standard 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 series drive to a 9.5bhp liquid-cooled electrical motor situated behind the cylinder block – just like the one on the brand new Z e-1 all-electric Kawasaki lately launched. That motor has a 48 volt battery pack, weighing round 30kg, that sits below the rider’s seat, and is charged immediately from a generator on the engine. The Ninja 7 isn’t a plug-in hybrid, so you possibly can’t cost the battery individually, slightly it prices from regenerative braking once you’re slowing down, and regularly prices as you trip usually.
The actually intelligent bit is the way in which all these components work collectively. For the reason that bike’s pc controls the clutch, it will possibly join and disconnect the engine utterly from the transmission when it needs, and add in electrical drive when handy. Meaning the Ninja 7 can have three modes, beginning with a pure electrical mode, which limits velocity to simply below 40mph, with limited-but usable vary, making it ideally suited for silent operating round city like slightly battery-powered scooter. Subsequent, there’s an ‘Eco’ hybrid mode, which provides within the petrol engine, giving full efficiency, however turning the motor off once you come to a halt, and pulling away from a cease with the electrical drive earlier than beginning the petrol facet 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, slightly like a nitrous button. It regenerates rapidly, and you may add increase repeatedly as long as the battery is charged. With the increase button you get a really first rate 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 massive TFT color sprint makes it simple to see what’s occurring. However you’re having to re-learn loads 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 possibly can trundle via tight site visitors jams in electrical mode, silently and with no warmth belting out of the engine (it was foolish scorching in Barcelona). Dial within the Eco Hybrid mode, in computerized transmission setting, and you’ve got a nippy scooter-like expertise, with robust drive, and the petrol engine stopped at site visitors lights, once more conserving you cool and quiet. Get out of city, and swap to sport mode, and you may dial in your hooligan facet: 69bhp with the electrical motor is first rate 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 facet. 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 commonplace sporty-road package. 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 mushy, simple highway bike slightly than a hardcore observe instrument in fact, however you possibly can very a lot have enjoyable on it. Having mentioned that, we have been slightly stunned that Kawasaki didn’t resolve to place the brand new powertrain into one thing like a Versys slightly than a sportsbike. The vary is definitely excellent, due to the significantly better gasoline consumption given by the hybrid system. Kawasaki claims it’s higher on gasoline than a Ninja 250, and the claimed vary from the 14 litre tank is nicely 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 subject!
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