Kawasaki Showcases First Hydrogen-Powered Motorcycle Prototype

Hydrogen-powered, supercharged Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX 7 photos
Photo: Kawasaki
Hydrogen-powered, supercharged Kawasaki Ninja H2 SXHydrogen-powered, supercharged Kawasaki Ninja H2 SXHydrogen-powered, supercharged Kawasaki Ninja H2 SXHydrogen-powered, supercharged Kawasaki Ninja H2 SXHydrogen-powered, supercharged Kawasaki Ninja H2 SXHydrogen-powered, supercharged Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX
The decarbonization revolution is well underway in the automotive world, with the industry's goal being zero emissions by mid-century. For the most part, motorcycle makers all over the globe seem to be following a similar path to automakers, so they are hard at work to make their products electric and safer. However, since motorcycles need to be light and sleek to deliver on the performance front, hydrogen is seen by many as a better solution to store and move energy around than electricity.
At the Japan Mobility Show back in October, Yamaha presented the HySE project, short for Hydrogen Small Mobility and Engine Technology, which mated a hydrogen combustion engine with a large storage tank on the luggage rack. The revolutionary hydrogen-powered scooter is the result of a collaboration between Yamaha, Honda, Toyota, and Kawasaki. The latter has been further exploring that concept and has now unveiled a supercharged, zero-emissions, hydrogen-powered Ninja H2 SX.

The Ninja H2 HySE hydrogen motorcycle was shown to the public before, but only in renders, so many were quick to label it as vaporware. Kawasaki has moved fast with the development, though, and the bike has already entered the prototyping stage, and the company claims testing is set to begin early next year.

The Ninja H2 SX is a hypersport bike powered by a supercharged 998cc inline-four making 197 hp, lending the prototype some good bones to start with. Kawasaki says the HySE prototype is equipped with a hydrogen engine based on the H2 SX's mill and developed in collaboration with Toyota.

Besides exploring the future of the brand in terms of green propulsion and alternative fuel, the new hydrogen engine was also designed for and fitted onto the HySE-X1 side-by-side for the Mission 1000 program at next year's Dakar Rally.

The Japanese company has recently showcased the hydrogen-powered Ninja H2 SX at its Group Vision 2030 Progress Report meeting. As you can see in the images, the addition of hydrogen-holding panniers on each side of the bike resulted in a considerably bulkier and more angular design compared to the regular SX. Moreover, the motorcycle manufacturer developed some new bodywork for the hydrogen-powered bike, such as new, completely different panels and a discrete H-shaped headlamp.

Nothing about the rest of the bike is discreet, though. From the bulbous front fairing to the oversized hard panniers at the back that house high-pressure gas cylinders, this bike has a quite muscular profile and looks like something taken out of a dystopian manga.

Since the design is in such an early stage of development, there are no details regarding the motorcycle's specifications, like output, fuel consumption, or range.

While some may argue that Kawasaki's prototype clearly shows that hydrogen is not the solution for creating a clean combustion engine, we should keep in mind that this is merely a technical exercise proving that the HySE project is feasible. We'll see how successful it can be once it reaches the production stage, which is still quite far away in the future.

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About the author: Ancuta Iosub
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After spending a few years as a copy editor, Ancuta decided to put down the eraser and pick up the writer's pencil. Her favorites subjects are unusual car designs, travel trailers and everything related to the great outdoors.
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