This was a pretty easy pick. The newly domesticated version of the mighty supercharged Kawasaki makes enough power in stock form – 171 on our dyno – to provide even the sickest speedfreak a full dose, but it does so in a sneaky, gentlemanly way: That air-cooled supercharger means the 998 cc Four only needs 10,000 rpm to produce all that power, and it’s making 89 lb-ft. of torque at only 8600 rpm. Suddenly the world is flying into your faceshield at an alarming rate, with no vibratory or auditory warning. Holy Kawasaki! That’s what we call efficiency, of which another byproduct is the SE’s ability to squeeze 40+ mpg from a gallon of gas, which gives it 200-mile range.
There I was last Wednesday night in Stevenson, Washington, on the northern bank of the mighty Columbia River via the excellent hospitality of Yamaha for the launch of the new Tracer 900 GT. I was slurping a fine glass of the local vino when I overheard Greg the Rider magazine guy talking about riding home to SoCal on the new bike, via the Cascades and other places.