A large number of manufacturers around the world are trying to create electric motorcycles, from California-based Zero to our very own homegrown brands like Tork, Matter and Ultraviolette. However, between electric motorcycles and traditional petrol ones lies a middle ground hitherto unexplored until now – hybrid motorcycles. And Kawasaki has unveiled the world’s first production hybrid motorcycle, the Kawasaki Ninja Hybrid 7, to occupy this niche.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that it was a Japanese bikemaker who created the world’s first hybrid motorcycle, as it was Japanese companies who made hybrid cars mainstream, namely Toyota and Honda. That being said, it is a bit of a surprise that Kawasaki managed to beat Honda to the punch.
Like every other Ninja since Kawasaki started using the name back in the 80s, the Ninja Hybrid 7 is a sportbike. It packs in the 451cc parallel-twin engine from the recently-revealed Eliminator 450 performance cruiser, but pumps out 57PS – 8PS more than the Eliminator 450. This engine is coupled with a 48-volt battery and 9kW (12.2PS) electric motor for a combined total of 69PS, like most 650cc to 700cc sportbikes. In fact, Kawasaki claims the performance is similar to those motorcycles, with outright acceleration risking that of litre-class machines, and the fuel-efficiency of a sub-500cc bike!
The transmission is unique as well, as it needs to channel power from both the engine and the motor, and offers the rider a choice between shifting manually or letting the transmission decide automatically. There are three ride modes as well – Sport-Hybrid which prioritises performance, Eco-Hybrid which gives a higher weightage to fuel economy and finally a self-explanatory EV mode.
Kawasaki calls it the “first mass-produced Strong Hybrid” motorcycle. We are really intrigued by the concept, and alongside the Ninja ZX-4R, it seems like Kawasaki is not resting on its laurels and pushing the boundaries of motorcycle innovation.