I traded my 2017 Ninja 1000 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.
After three summers on the N1K, and some stupidly fast multi-day trips with my buddies on their 14's my body was feeling it, especially 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 90 - 100mph, the vibes in the bars, pegs, and especially the tank just wore me down. It is a great sporty bike up to 140kmh, and fine doing passes up to 180kmh, but tiring for anything above that for extended periods of time.
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.
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 'Wing...."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 diminutive 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 was hugely impressed but in the end decided against it as I felt I "Just wasn't there yet". I see it more as my "Last bike". Plus, it needed about $2,000 in front and rear suspension from Traxxion to be sprung properly.
Great bike, but I really wanted my unicorn. A bike I didn't have to modify extensively like I have with every one of the 16 bikes I've owned.
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 with 25 years riding, 16 bikes....bla bla bla .............I know what I am talking about and when I told 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.
Some 10mm riser plates from Japan have been ordered (Not much available aftermarket for these limited production bikes). After a 500mile day ride yesterday, I experienced no discomfort with the high pegs. Raising the bars 1cm should help. And the seat! Well, I have never found a stock seat that was comfortable, and to my surprise, the stock seat works, works really well. No changes needed there. Did a ride out to Nelson and back for an overnight and even though temps ranged from 5C to a high of 13C, with rain and fog, I got off the bike in my garage, stared back at it and said to myself "Wow, I'm not sore anywhere". That's a first for me. Closest experience would have been riding my Concours 14.
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, it brakes better, and of course the power difference is significant.
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. I could ride this thing 180kmh all day long.
I like comparing the H2SX to the 14R I had. 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 just could not get comfortable on the 14R despite what I feel is the best engine on the market. My "long torso, short legs" never fit the bike.
The H2SX sits in between the N1K and 14R with about 90% of the power of the 14R but significantly better handling, way better suspension (the best stock suspension I have ever ridden), better tech, better ergos (for me), and better looks.
After almost 3,000kms on the H2SX in a couple weeks, The only mods needed have been bar risers, frame sliders, and a plethora of RAM mounts for my Doo-Dads. That's it! 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. And that's what i was hoping for.