Fresh from the announcement that Kawasaki will unleash a pair of A1-licence-friendly all-electric Ninjas, it is pushing towards its long term goal of carbon neutrality with the introduction of what it describes as the world’s first "mass produced Strong Hybrid" in the shape of the the Ninja 7 Hybrid.
Pairing a 451cc parallel twin, water-cooled four stroke engine with a 9kW max traction motor, the Ninja 7 HEV delivers a 43.5kW output (the equivalent of 58bhp), rising to an impressive hybrid net power of 51.1kW (around 70bhp) thanks to "e-boost" functionality.
Depending on the riding mode, owners can experience a fully automatic riding experience (EV Mode), where it is as simple as twisting the throttle and off you go.
There's also a more involving manual button-shift experience in Sport-Hybrid mode, where riders can run up and down the six gears with physical buttons on the handlebars.
The hybrid system means the bike never has to be plugged in and instead, the 48V lithium-ion battery is charged by either the petrol engine or through regenerative braking as the rider applies the anchors or rolls down a hill.
It is possible to switch the machine into a fully-electric mode, although speed and range are both very limited. However, Kawasaki says it can help in some busy urban environments where the noise of a roaring petrol engine might put off other residents and road users. We're thinking inner-city underground parking situations for example.
The battery and electric motors are really there to boost performance and improve fuel economy. Thanks to the system, Kawasaki says the Ninja 7 Hybrid can initially out-accelerate a Ninja ZX-10R from a standing start, yet return the same sort of fuel economy figures as the marque’s very own diminutive Ninja 250.
Of course, adding batteries and electric motors adds weight, and this hybrid beast tips the scales at 227kg. Although that’s still a long way off something like Harley-Davidson’s gigantic Road King model. Plus, the Japanese marque has focussed heavily on the bike's balanced centre of gravity and ensured this feels like a true sports bike to ride.
What’s more, Kawasaki has made low speed manoeuvring easier with a Walk Mode, where the electric motor assists wheeling around the machine, and a reverse gear. Plus, an ALPF (Automatic Launch Position Finder) mode automatically selects first gear when the hybrid Kawasaki comes to a stop at the lights or a junction. This makes it easier to move away again.
Other tech highlights include a 4.3-inch, all-digital TFT colour instrumentation, LED lighting throughout and smartphone connectivity that allows riders to tap into the bike remotely for vehicle information on-the-fly.
There is no information on price yet, but you can bet it isn’t going to be cheap. First bikes will reach dealers in major markets from April next year.