After taking Kawasaki’s ground-breaking supercharged Ninja H2R last year and running it against some modified supercars (“Showdown,” August/September 2015), I have to admit we’d kind of forgotten about the street-legal Ninja H2 brother to the racetrack-only H2R. That is, until I noticed that venerated speed merchant Brock Davidson of Brock’s Performance was doing a lot of R&D work on parts for the Ninja H2. Needless to say, the vast majority of Ninja H2 owners have been going to Brock’s Performance looking to unleash the power and speed potential of their “blown” bikes.
Those rusty old gears began to turn in my head: Why not build the ultimate “bolt-on” project bike? Davidson and I had talked last year about putting together a Ninja H2 project bike using his performance parts, and when Kawasaki gave us the green light to modify our test H2 that we had in the Sport Rider shop, the next subject of conversation was where would we conduct the testing? Originally the plan was to rent a suitable top speed venue to make our runs without any outside distractions. The subject of the Mojave Air and Space Port airfield in Mojave, California, and the bi-annual “Mojave Magnum” speed event came up, but the event was just two weeks away and a call to the organizers revealed that race entries for the first 2016 event in April were already sold out. We were put on the waiting list, but we certainly weren't getting our hopes up.
But then as luck would have it, the organizers called a mere five days before the start of the event, telling us that enough entries had cancelled that we were being offered a spot in the lineup. Davidson and I talked about our hatred of “fire drills” (i.e., rushing to put everything together at the last minute), but we both agreed the opportunity was too good to pass up, so he quickly overnighted a Brock’s Performance’s Ninja H2 Stage II Performance Kit, consisting of a Brock’s Performance Alien Head 2 full exhaust, Brock’s Flash Package (a Guhl Motors reflashed ECU and Dynojet Power Commander V), and a DNA air filter; a ceramic front wheel bearing set, fully adjustable rear suspension window links, and a steering damper riser kit (to allow the fork tubes to be raised without interference issues). Along with the Stage II Performance Kit, Davidson also sent his H2 clutch kit and a set of beautiful carbon fiber Rotobox wheels. He and SR assistant editor Will Steenrod assembled and dyno-tuned the Ninja H2 project in a mere two days, and we made it to Mojave in time for final tech inspection on Friday night.
The Mojave Magnum event spans both Saturday and Sunday, so even though we got out to the airfield bright and early on Saturday morning, we spent some time ironing out a few details and weren’t able to get into the staging line for our first run until around 11:00 a.m. Unfortunately, high cross winds (up to 35 mph) made Saturday more a lesson in survival than trying to go fast. After some increasingly nasty and violent wobbles at 197-plus mph, we decided to wait until Sunday when the weather forecast was much more favorable.
We woke up at O-dark-30 on Sunday in order to get in line early and be one of the first vehicles to make a run that morning. As I rode up to the start line, I noticed that none of the trackside flags were moving, and the airfield’s windsock was totally limp (unlike yesterday, when the flags and windsock were flailing in a straight horizontal position from the high crosswinds). Perfect conditions. Time to let 'er rip!
With no crosswinds, the Kawasaki was tracking straight and true, and I kept the throttle pinned as I watched the trackside timing markers flash by. I should note here that the Ninja H2 doesn’t exactly have much fairing to hide behind; at those speeds, the turbulence was violent enough on the top of my helmet, shoulders, and feet that I had to hold on tight with both my hands and legs to keep from getting blown off the bike.
When I got my timing slip, it was a relief (and satisfaction) to see the numbers: 193.9 mph in the half-mile, 216.7 mph in the mile…and a top speed of 221.6 mph at the 1.5-mile marker! When I showed the slip to Davidson, he was ecstatic, but I told him to calm down…because I knew we could go even faster. The Brock’s H2 was hitting the rev limiter before we past the mile marker, so I knew there was more speed in the bike.
So as we waited in line for our next run (I rode right back into the staging line in order to get in our next run as quickly as possible), Steenrod, Davidson, and our good friend (and veteran land speed racer) Scott Horner spun wrenches and busted knuckles to fit a one-tooth-smaller rear sprocket to raise the gearing. It was somewhat comical as we had to constantly move all our tools and other paraphernalia forward in the staging lane every time the line moved forward.
On my next run, everything worked just as well as the previous run, and as I focused on the 1.5-mile markers, I once again felt the engine hesitation as it hit the rev limiter. We could go faster still; and yet when I got my timing slip, I couldn’t believe it. The Brock’s Performance Ninja H2 achieved 197.7 mph in the standing half-mile, 220.4 mph in the mile (breaking the record set last year on the Brock’s H2 by veteran land speed racer Zack Millholland)…and a top speed of 226.9 mph at the 1.5-mile lights! Once again, Davidson was overjoyed when he saw the numbers, and once again, I told him we could go faster; I figured we could probably break 235 mph with the right gearing.
But we were cut down in our plans to go even faster. Find out the whole story in the upcoming August/September issue of Sport Rider, on sale on newsstands July 12.