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Kawasaki H2 profile

June 2021, by Guy 'Guido' Allen

Kawasaki H2

Bigger and a little less unruly

'Widow-maker' is the term that still springs to the lips of observers when Kawasaki's mighty string of late sixties to mid-1970s two-stroke triples is spoken of, particularly the premium gear. One of the later versions, a Mach III, is up for auction in Australia.

Kawasaki H1

Whether the reputation is really deserved is up for debate, but there's little doubt the initial run of 500s, the H1, startled more than its fair share of riders. The 500 triple had a deserved reputation for being a little more engine than the chassis could cope with.

These days, the specs are far from terrifying: 60 horses in a 174kg (dry) package. Launched not long after Honda's CB750-Four, it was a noisy and less refined package that had much of the stomp of the Honda, albeit delivered in a more peaky fashion. More critically, it was lighter and could hose its four-stroke rival across the quarter mile – by about a second for a time of 12.4sec.

Kawasaki branched out with the three-cylinder theme, producing a 250 (S1), 350 (S2) and 400 (S3) variants. Of the three, the 400 was arguably the sweetest and best-mannered of the triples.

Kawasaki H2

It went on to produce the 750 H2 series in Mach III and Mach IV form, which could claim a distant connection to the factory's F1 racers. By now we're talking 74-ish horses and a much better sorted package.

The increase in capacity allowed a much broader spread of power delivery than the 500 ground-breakers, while the chassis had been through significant revisions and was a much tidier handler.

There is a little local race history, with a highlight being a win in the 1972 Castrol 6-Hour production race. Mike Steel and Dave Burgess did the honours, with 334 laps. They were ahead of the second-placed Honda CB750-Four (Garry Thomas and Max Robinson) by two laps, and the third-placed Ducati 750 GT (Ken Blake and Jeff Curley) by four.

That was an event filled with famous names – see it here.

For a collector, you might just want the 500 and 750 – the first effort, and the ultimate. In either case, you're in for an interesting ride.

The bike shown here is a 1973 Mach III up for auction via Shannons in Australia, with an estimate of Au$28-34,000 (US$21-26,000, GB£15-18,500).

The auction runs June 8-15 and the full catalogue is here.


Classic Two Wheels has dug out two contemporary road tests for two different generations of Kawasaki's two-stroke weapons: a 1969 Mach III 500 and 1972 Mach IV 750. See them here.

Kawasaki H2

Kawasaki H2

Kawasaki H2

Kawasaki H2

Kawasaki H2

Kawasaki H2

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