One of the stars of the show at the Esposizione Internazionale Ciclo Motociclo e Accessori (EICMA) show in Milan this year is the 2018 Kawasaki H2 SX, Kawasaki’s supercharged superbike now tamed for sports-touring duties. More than just a model make-over, the H2 SX comes with a revised frame, a new engine and a riding position halfway between the ZZR1400 and Z1000 SX.

There are two versions of the H2 SX, the base model and the SE, which both carry the same four-cylinder, liquid-cooled, supercharged power plant mated to a six-speed gearbox. However, the H2 SX comes with an extensively redesigned engine, with enough changes made to call it entirely new.

The supercharger impeller and intake system are completely reworked, with new pistons, cylinder head, cylinder, crankshaft and camshafts. Other all-new items include the throttle bodies and exhaust system, now 3 kg lighter, and the gear ratios have been revised to suit sports-touring use.

Power has dropped to 197 hp, but mid-range torque has been punched up to suit the SX’s role as a highway mile-muncher. With the redesigned intake and new throttle bodies, the H2 SX boasts of better fuel mileage, which means the 19-litre fuel tank should give more distance compared to the sports-oriented H2 and H2R.

Seating is now a two-seat affair, with the rear passenger given a wider and comfortable seat, while the rider gets more padding for extra comfort. There are two optional seats available – a comfort seat with more padding that offers a relaxed knee bend, and a low seat that drops the rider 15 mm closer to the ground.

Braking for the H2 SX is done by Brembo, using the top-of-the-line M50 callipers as per the H2, while suspension is fully-adjustable, front and rear. It would have been nice to have semi-active suspension on a machine of this calibre, perhaps in a future model.

New to the H2 SX is of course the panniers, which are sold as an optional accessory. Designed to complement the lines of the bike, the mounting points for the panniers blend visually into the bodywork, ensuring that the H2 SX still looks good with the panniers off.

While looking visually pleasing, it should be noted the panniers do make the H2 SX rather wide in the beam, despite the fairing having been slimmed down from the H2. We got on the H2 SX for size, and were very aware that the panniers stuck out a fair way on either side.

Unique to the SE model are several items, amongst which is launch control, a first for a Kawasaki sports-tourer. Also standard equipment on the SE are LED cornering lights, a three-element unit mounted on the left and right sides of the fairing that are activated when the bike is leaned into a corner, with the number of lit elements determined by the lean angle.

Inside the cockpit the H2 SX comes with an LCD screen, while the SE version comes with a full-colour TFT-LCD unit that has two user selectable modes – Touring or Sport – that displays different parameters for the type of riding being done. Also fitted to the H2 SX SE is launch control and a quickshifter.

Other differences between the SX and SX SE are steel braided brake lines on the SE, a 12-volt DC socket, larger windscreen, centre stand, heated grips and wheels and rear-hub with machined accents. Both SX models come with Kawasaki’s standard suite of riding aids, including traction control, cornering ABS, cornering management, electronic cruise control and engine braking control.

It should be noted that some of the equipment fitted to the SE version of the H2 SX cannot be retro-fitted to the base model, thus the buyer of the SX has to make a decision at the point of purchase as to which variant he or she wants. There are only two colour options available – Metallic Carbon Gray/Metallic Matte Carbon Gray for the 2018 Kawasaki H2 SX, and Emerald Blazed Green/Metallic Diablo Black for the H2 SX SE.