In the realm of superbikes, speed comes in all shape and sizes. While it is virtually impossible to reach the limits of these models built for speed on the road, that’s when hitting the track for a few laps or a few quarter-mile runs come in handy. Two guys got to put two of the fastest bikes out there to the real test in the ultimate drag race.
Early in 2018, our colleagues at Motorcyclist had the chance to get their hands on Kawasaki’s flagship Ninja, the H2, and the proclaimed fastest superbikes on the market, the all-electric Lightning LS-218. After a casual, “real-life” ride around San Fran, riders Zack and Ari then headed to the Sonoma Raceway, north of San Francisco to see how the Kawi and the Lightning measured up, in a place where no speed limit sets the pace.
In the left coridor, the 2015 Kawasaki Ninja H2 weighing in at 525 lb and powered by a 998cc supercharged inline four mill developing 200 hp and 98.5 lb-ft of torque. In the right lane, the Lightning LS-218 tipping the scale at 496 lb, using a water-cooled 150 kWh electric motor capable of producing 200 hp and a staggering 198 lb-ft of torque.
With cameras mounted to face the dashboards, we get to be in the riders’ seat as the two speed demons go face to face on the quarter mile in an epic drag race. As soon as the green light comes on and the throttles are twisted, the two superbikes take off and for a few seconds, remain neck to neck until. Looking at the timers on both sides is dizzying and until the very end, there is no clue whatsoever about who is in the lead. So, who do you think won?
Warning: spoiler ahead.
Well, it looks like the electric motor was no match for the supercharger—the green monster crossed the finish line ahead of the Lightning by 0.09 seconds. The Kawi managed to reach a top speed of 148 mph while the LS-218 topped at 144.