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Kawasaki cross over with first hybrid motorcycle

Ninja 7 Hybrid

Kawasaki have been the most active of all the legacy manufacturers in the switch to electrification and, hot on the heels of the fully-electric learner legal models which have just arrived in showrooms, a hybrid machine is set to land in British dealerships next April.

Called the Ninja 7 HEV, the gamechanging hybrid mates a brand new 451cc parallel twin internal combustion engine with a small electric motor and battery. Kawasaki claim its new machine will offer performance in line with a traditional 650-700cc petrol bike, while the acceleration of a 1000cc superbike, with the fuel efficiency of a 250. It has a dual transmission system, allowing for the potential of manual or fully automatic transmission to be selected.

Riders can switch between three riding modes (SPORT-HYBRID, ECO-HYBRID, or full EV – although range and performance on the battery alone are expected to be limited). Each mode offers a distinct riding character for varying situations. The traditional petrol engine delivers just over 58bhp, with the electric unit boosting that by a further 12bhp, while the strong and instant torque of the electric motor should be responsible for that staggering acceleration claim.

Hybrids are fairly commonplace in the car world, but the 7 HEV is the first such two-wheeled vehicle. One of the biggest challenges of essentially packaging two powertrains in one chassis. Kawasaki have yet to release a weight figure for the HEV, or indeed the price. The battery is a 48v item placed at the centre of the bike, and the expectation that this will boost the efficiency while riding rather than providing anything other than very short spells only on electric power.

Other innovations include idling stop, which cuts out the internal combustion engine at a standstill to save fuel and reduce emissions, plus what Kawasaki call Automatic Launch Position Finder (ALPF) which – when selected – automatically selects first gear at standstill plus a forward and reverse “walk mode” to aid low speed manoeuvring and parking. 

The chassis is designed using a steel trellis design in line with most other Kawasakis. Styling is on the sporty side, living up to the Ninja name, and although price will likely determine its success, it looks like a very interesting machine.

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