As most of you can tell, I switched to a new bike last week. I traded my 2017 N1K for a 2019 H2SX. As with most things there is a story behind most decisions, and I figured I would share just so you have some real world perspective.
I owned a fully modded 2012 N1K, and traded in a fully modded GSX-R750. The Gixxer was an amazing machine, a weapon even, but my old broken body just could not handle pegs that high, and toward the end of a typical 700km day ride, my knees were in agony. I research the heck out of things whenever I want to buy something, and the 2012 N1K checked all the boxes. I rode that N1K for 5 seasons.
Then Kawasaki did their "Autumn Thing" where they blow out a few select models, in this case it was the ZX-14R. Three in my riding crew all bought one as well. The pricing was just too irresistible. A winter modding the crap out of the ZX-14R, and a summer of riding, and in the end, it just wasn't for me. There is something fucky about the ergonomics, specifically the peg location, that I could just never get comfortable on the damn thing, despite the joy of having 195 rear wheel hp. I literally wanted the pegs moved back like 4 inches from stock. So, back it went and in its place a 2017 N1K. Three summers on it, and some stupidly fast multi-day trips with my buddie's on their 14's and my body was feeling it, specifically the vibration. The N1K is in a class by itself, don't get me wrong, but when you are "commuting" on a straight section of road, or big sweepers, in between the twisty sections for 30-60mins, at commuting speeds of 100-110mph, the vibes just wore me down.
Like most of you, motorcycles are a passion of mine, and I am always looking for my next bike. This may sound like an eclectic short list, but the H2SX, the BMW R1250RS, and the new style Goldwing Bagger (no top case) all intrigued me enough to go test ride them.
The Goldwing was $27K, the BMW $22K, and the H2SX also $22K. (Canadian dollars).
Goldwing up first. I spoke to so many people, online and in -person before throwing a leg over this thing, and I had my doubts about all the raves on the new Goldwing...."It's fast........it can rail corners.....it is nothing like the old Goldwings..........it will surprise you. Whatever these people were smoking, I wanted some. Sure, its BIG, but it is dimunitive compared to the old style. Sitting next to a Honda ST, they are about the same size, and the Goldwing even slightly narrower. They dropped 100lbs of it from the previous model, but its still heavy AF, right?
Fast forward to the test ride. I got the front wheel off the ground in 1st and 2nd gear. I could drag a knee on this thing easily. No bike has a better looking dash, headlights, or an engine this smooth. The center of gravity is so low, that you forget you are on a heavy bike once you are over 10 miles per hour. I decided against the Goldwing as I felt I "Just wasn't there yet". I see it more as my "Last bike".
- Ergos: You are sitting in a chair, so your back is vertical. Been there, done that with my 2007 HD Road Glide. Must buy the backrest, otherwise your posture goes to shit
- Suspension: Waaaay to soft for a rider like me. Add $2,000 to the purchase price to fit the bike with Traxxion Dynamics front and rear.
On to the BMW. I spent some time on the S1000XR, and soon came to the conclusion that the ergos weren't all that different than my friend's KTM 1190 Adventure. He has been struggling with windscreens all year, and even ran without a windscreen for a couple of months. Naked offered the cleanest air, and the best airflow on hot days, but at the speeds we "commute" it just beats you up. The big challenge with these Adventure bikes is wind management. There is just no way you can avoid buffeting when your helmet is that far away from the windscreen. So the XR dropped off my list rather quickly.
The R1250RS seemed to be perfect for me. Lower seat, higher bars than my N1K, an amazing looking dash, shaft drive, and a redesigned motor. Let's go for a rip! Man, I like this bike. I've ridden a few boxers in the past, and their unique characteristics always turned me off. This new shift-cam is a real peach. First let me tell you I have owned half a dozen BMW's from Z4's to 545i's, and my buying experience as well as my service experience has been nothing short of stellar. BMW Bikes? I worked with two local dealers and my feedback (this was my feedback to them as well) was that they could stuff their arrogant attitude right in their tailpipe. I am a serious rider, I have my race licence, countless track days, 25 years riding, 16 bikes....bla bla bla .............I know what I am talking about and when I tell them "I am buying a new bike in the next 48 hours, what's the difference between trading in my 2017 N1K and the 2020 R1250RS?", all I got was "Well, we can't give you a number because we would have to bring your bike in to the shop, inspect it top to bottom, and spend $100 to check Carfax. Without a pending deal in hand, we can't give you a number". Serious? Good bye
Needless to say H2SX won. I wanted less vibration at high speed, cruise control, and suspension that was good enough that I didn't have to spend $2-3000 to upgrade it. In fact, I'm at the point now that I don't really want to mod bikes (much) anymore. I loved the cruise control, and the suspension is the best I have ridden on a stock bike. The rear seat is large enough that I don't need a tail rack for my dry bag when I go on multi-day trips. Every aspect of the stock bike was perfect, except for two things (1) the pegs are high, about the same as the N1K in terms of seat-to-peg, and (2) the bars are low, about the same as my N1K with the Speedy Moto clip-ons.
Easy fixes right? Well, not really. My Speedy Moto clip-ons fit fine, but the bars that Kawasaki uses on the H2SX are about 1-2mm smaller in diameter. Dayam! Would have been perfect as the Speedy Motos offered about a 2cm rise. Some 10mm riser plates from Japan have been ordered. I'm considering lowering pegs, but not a fan of making a brake lever and shift lever work with them, plus the issue of dragging pegs. After a 500mile day ride yesterday, I experienced no discomfort with the high pegs. Raising the bars 1cm should help.
The H2SX is a very impressive motorcycle, but don't let anyone tell you it is a sport-touring bike. It is a sport-bike through and through. You do not feel the extra weight over the N1K, it turns as well, and it brakes better. This is the first bike I have ever ridden where my sit bones were not in agony mid way through a 500 mile day ride. I was very pleased.
I can't hear the exhaust. All I hear is the airbox, the sound of the propeller, the angry birds chirping whenever you lay off the throttle above 8,000rpms. Strangest sounding bike I have ever ridden. It needs a muffler for volume so I can ride this thing off the exhaust note and not look at the tach. The bike is so smooth to ride, with only a slight vibe in the bars, that you lose track of how fast you are moving. 160km/hr on it feels like 120km/hr on the N1K. Reminds me of my Concour 14. No sensation of speed.
Neither is it a replacement for the 14R. I like to use the "Tuner Car with a supercharged V6 versus a big German sedan with a small block V8" analogy. Yeah, they make similar HP and Torque, but they feel very different. The 14R feels heavy because it is heavy. The H2SX is heavy, but you don't feel it one bit. There is no better motor than the 14R IMHO. I wish Kawasaki would just put it 3 new models, or at least re-design the 14R with a new tail section, LED headlights, and some better ergos.
I was on and off the bike for 12 hours yesterday, 500 miles of 80% twisties, and I climbed off the bike and said to myself "this is the best I have felt after a long day riding since my Concours 14".
I am pretty sure that I won't be doing any major surgery to the H2 SX, it's THAT good right out of the box.