s you lean Kawasaki’s 2018 Ninja H2 SX SE into turns at night, its central headlight beam is supplemented by cornering lights—a set of three LED lights set into the right and left leading edges of the full-coverage fairing, each directed to be effective at different lean angles. A single cornering light aimed into the turn would point more and more downward as the motorcycle’s lean angle increased, lighting a shorter and shorter area. That is why there are three per side, the combination intended to have maximum effectiveness at 10, 20, and 30 degrees of lean and selected by the lean-angle-detecting Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) on the supercharged sport-tourer.

Kawasaki, H2, supercharger, LED, lights
Now you see it, now you don't: Kawasaki's new IMU-controlled LED cornering lights demonstrated as they are intended to work in a corner at night.Courtesy of Kawasaki

We have all at some time been startled by something materializing from the low-contrast "gray zones" at the edges of our headlight beams and have wished we could see such things sooner and more clearly. In the past, various automakers have offered steered cornering lights, the most famous of which may have been the central steered headlight—known as the "cyclops eye"—of the 1948 Tucker car. BMW, KTM, and Yamaha offer systems similar to that of the Kawasaki.

The key to Kawasaki’s innovation is the presence of the on-board IMU, already present for in-corner operation of systems such as ABS and traction control. Detecting the beginning of turning, the system switches on the inside cornering light appropriate to the machine’s degree of lean. According to Kawasaki, the result is controlled wider illumination of the turn, without blinding oncoming motorists.