The Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR) has tested Kawasaki’s Ninja 400 motorcycle in the German-Dutch Wind Tunnels (DNW) facility in Flevoland, the Netherlands. The model being tested was the racing variant of the recently introduced Kawasaki 400cc class. Racers Scott Deroue and Robert Schotman are taking part in the Supersport 300 World Championship with this motorcycle, representing the MotoPort Kawasaki team. Deroue is currently in fourth place in the championship’s rankings. The test was aimed at investigating possible aerodynamic improvements to the motorcycle that would reduce air resistance (‘drag’) and allow it to reach higher speeds on the track. NLR supported the Kawasaki team in determining possible aerodynamic adjustments and conducting the wind tunnel test.

During the test in the Low-Speed Tunnel (LST), experts examined the drag of the motorcycle itself and the total drag of the bike and its rider. They investigated various configuration changes and also looked at the position of the rider. The wind load to which the motorcycle is subject was measured using a balance in the floor of the wind tunnel. The motorcycle was placed on a so-called ‘splitter plate’: an elevated platform that serves to keep the object being tested away from the turbulent boundary layer along the tunnel wall to ensure a homogeneous approaching flow. The motorcycle and the rider were tested up to the vehicle’s maximum speed of 200 kilometres per hour.

Kawasaki 400cc class in Low-Speed Tunnel (LST)

DNW has a number of wind tunnels capable of generating various wind speeds. The LST facility was particularly suitable for this test, since it is an aerodynamic wind tunnel capable of generating the motorcycle’s maximum speed and because it has the right dimensions for testing a full-scale motorcycle. In addition, the wind tunnel’s location in the Netherlands is convenient for Kawasaki, which has its European headquarters in Hoofddorp near Amsterdam.

The DNW wind tunnels are mainly used to test aircraft models, which are often manufactured by NLR itself in its model workshop. However, the wind tunnels and the relevant testing expertise can also be used for other purposes, including by the sports industry. The LST facility has previously been used by racing cyclists, speed skaters and bobsledders, for instance.

The current Supersport 300 rankings can be found at ‘WorldSSP300