Hot on the heels of its new all-electric motorcycles, the Ninja e-1 and Z e-1, Kawasaki has trotted out the world’s first “strong hybrid” supernaked motorcycle. The all-new bike is called the Z7 Hybrid ABS. It’s loaded with cool, fascinating, and cutting-edge features. Here’s a look.
Kawasaki Z7 Hybrid ABS Power Unit
The coolest feature from an electrified perspective is the Z7’s hybrid power unit. The unique power unit of the bike combines a 451cc parallel-twin internal combustion engine (ICE) with a compact electric traction motor. This hybrid configuration is a motorcycle industry first. It blends the robust low-mid torque of the traction motor with the performance attributes of the ICE. The engine tuning is optimized to deliver substantial low-end torque that extends throughout the high-rpm range. The hybrid setup kicks out instant acceleration that is said to be comparable to a 1,000cc-class supersport bike. The term strong hybrid refers to the bike’s ability to run on electricity alone due to the large battery capacity.
Advanced Features Abound in the Engine
The ICE incorporates a range of advanced features that contribute to its performance. For example, to ensure efficient cylinder filling, it employs a downdraft intake, while the left and right intake funnels, varying in height, facilitate smooth response. Also, precise control is achieved using Electronic Throttle Valves (ETV) featuring 36mm throttle bores. Additionally, combustion efficiency is enhanced by fine-atomizing injectors with a droplet size of 60 microns. And finally, electrical interference is minimized by Denso stick-type ignition coils.
Powerful Traction Motor and Optimal Heat Management
Positioned behind the engine’s cylinder bank, the 7.0 kW (9.0 kW max) traction motor helps deliver quick response and strong low-end power. The traction motor is powered by a 28.6-pound 48V lithium-ion battery pack. Located beneath the seat, the battery pack is designed to charge while riding. This eliminates the need for external charging. To conserve space, the ISG inverter and DCDC converter are unitized. The traction motor is equipped with its own radiator for cooling. Additionally, the lower cowl of the bike uses an intricate duct layout. This ensures optimal heat management for both the ISG and battery pack components. Space efficiency is further enhanced by the oil pump, which operates independently of the engine and is driven off the transmission’s input shaft through one-way clutches. This configuration contributes to the overall functionality of the hybrid power unit.
Kawasaki’s First Integrated Starter Generator and a Regenerative System
The hybrid power unit of the Z7 Hybrid ABS integrates Kawasaki’s first Integrated Starter Generator (ISG) at the engine’s crankshaft end. Fulfilling the dual role of a starter motor and generator, the ISG prioritizes space conservation. A fully machined balancer shaft minimizes engine vibration for comfortable cruising. High-rpm performance is enhanced by an exhaust system featuring 31.8mm header pipes. Effective cooling is ensured by two radiators and a liquid-cooled oil cooler, supported by a meticulous heat management system directing hot air away from the rider. Furthermore, the Z7 incorporates a regenerative system. This efficiently recycles energy generated during deceleration back to the battery. This design extends the cruising range by harnessing otherwise lost energy. As the batteries near full charge, the regenerative function gradually tapers off.
E-Boost Bumps Power Output
The Z7 Hybrid ABS introduces the innovative e-boost feature. This feature temporarily boosts power output to that of a 650cc-class machine. Available in SPORT-HYBRID mode, this burst of increased power and torque enhances acceleration. It’s rider selectable and has a five-second limitation per activation. To engage e-boost, riders must meet specific conditions. These include reaching a minimum speed and opening the throttle past a certain degree. Once met, the e-boost indicator appears on the instrument display. Activating e-boost involves pressing the dedicated button on the right handle. The gauge changes color to purple, accompanied by a five-second countdown timer. During this period, the motorcycle generates the increased power. After the countdown, e-boost disengages. Riders can activate e-boost on the fly or when stationary, providing stronger acceleration from a standing start.
Electronically Controlled Six-Speed Transmission
Kawasaki’s Z7 Hybrid ABS features an electronically controlled six-speed transmission. It employs proprietary logic for seamless gear shifts and hydraulic clutch operation. It offers full automatic operation, manual button-shift, or customizable preferences. This eliminates the need for a traditional clutch lever and shift pedal. The gear pattern follows N-1-2-3-4-5-6. An electronic control unit ensures smooth shifts by managing engine and motor speed during upshifts and downshifts. In manual mode the rider employs shift buttons on the left handlebar. Automatic mode enables the bike to handle shifting, prioritizing fuel economy. The ECO-HYBRID Mode allows manual shifting based on the rider’s timing. The ECU seamlessly controls the hydraulic clutch, engaging and disengaging it through a dedicated oil pump, for optimal performance during gear changes and while stationary. The rider can deliberately select Neutral by shifting down when the bike is stationary, as the clutch remains disengaged during normal operation.
Three Drive Modes
The Z7 Hybrid ABS offers three drive modes. SPORT-HYBRID Mode unlocks the full potential of the hybrid power unit’s two-drive-system propulsion. This mode allows the engine to operate at full power. E-boost enhances acceleration, and riders can opt for manual transmission operation. ECO-HYBRID Mode prioritizes fuel efficiency and environmentally conscious riding. The traction motor operates alone when starting and transitions to hybrid electric vehicle power at around 2,000 rpm. The idling-stop function conserves fuel, and riders can choose between MT and automatic transmission (AT) without e-boost. EV Mode focuses on clean, quiet, and zero-emission operation for low-speed, short-distance scenarios. Traction motor-only operation and limited automatic transmission (AT) functionality in First gear through Fourth gear ensures quiet riding in residential areas.
Automatic Launch Position Finder
Kawasaki’s Z7 Hybrid ABS features Automatic Launch Position Finder (ALPF). When the motorcycle stops, the ALPF automatically returns the transmission to First gear, simplifying the acceleration process. This function seamlessly operates in manual transmission (MT) mode. In automatic transmission (AT) mode, the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) takes charge of gear selection. The ALPF system ensures a smoother and more user-friendly experience during stops and starts. However, if you desire manual control, you can deactivate the system, and the instrument screen will no longer display the ALPF indicator. This customization option allows riders to tailor their experience based on preference and situation.
Other Cool Features, Price
The Z7 has a ton of other cool features, including a lightweight trellis frame, high and wide handlebars, WALK Mode, smartphone connectivity, and a full-color TFT display. Additionally, the bike sports a relaxed riding position, adjustable front fork, a new Uni-Trak rear suspension, and robust braking system. The Z7 has an MSRP of $12,499 and it’s available now.